How to: Refrigerator Repair

by Shaun McCamey

A broken-down refrigerator is more than just an inconvenience; it is an emergency for most people. The question you need to ask yourself is, can I fix this, or should I try to fix it? To answer the question, you must first know the difference between a DIY refrigerator repair problem and something that needs expert service. 

Repairs That Require Professional Service

Anything that involves the sealed or electrical system of the refrigerator requires expert service. The sealed system consists of all the components that comprise the refrigerant such as:

  • Suction tube

  • Condenser

  • Compressor

You must have the proper licensing to work with the sealed system. You also want to stay away from the electrical system because it is a potential safety hazard. 

What are Some Common DIY Repairs?

That’s not to say there are not some repairs you can do to save time and money. 

Door Gasket

If you see frost in your refrigerator or freezer, the problem may be with the door. Frost can be a sign that it is not closing or sealing properly. Some of the newer models come with door alarms, but even that is not a guarantee that it is getting a proper seal. 

There are a few things you can do to ensure the door closes fully: 

  • Be vigilant when shutting the door. Do a double-check to be sure. 

  • Set the unit up to lean back a little bit. In other words, raise the front legs to give it just a slight tilt to pull the door shut even if it isn’t closing correctly. It doesn’t take much of a lean.

  • Change out the door gasket — the rubber seal that goes around the door. Newer models may have a press-in gasket system, meaning all you do is pull the old one off and push the new gasket into the groove. For older units, it may not be worth the cost, so it’s time to consider a new refrigerator. 

Uneven Doors

For side by side or subzero refrigerators, you might notice the doors are out of alignment. Often this requires an adjustment to level the unit. Look again to the feet in front of the refrigerator to fix the problem. 

In some cases, there may be a different adjustment mechanism just for the doors. Google your model number to see how to make this repair before beginning. 

Dirty Condensor Coils

Cleaning the condenser coils is something you should do even if you are not having a problem because it improves the efficiency of the refrigerator. Dirty condenser coils can affect the temperature of the unit.

Locate the coils, top or bottom, and dust off the debris. 

Dirty Water Filter

You might notice a change in how your refrigerator makes ice. The cubes may be the wrong shape, or they may all be coming out on one end. Those are classic signs of a dirty water filter. You should plan on changing the filter every six months or so. 

Not all refrigerators are worth fixing. If you decide that it's time to replace yours, let one of our experts help you find the perfect model.