12 Common Refrigerator Problems and How To Fix Them

most common fridge repair problems and solutions
Table of Contents

Deepen your knowledge of fridge repairs with articles such as “Should I Repair or Replace a Broken Fridge?” and “Common Fridge Error Codes and How To Address Them

Or, for a comprehensive guide to fridge repairs, explore our article:
Comprehensive Fridge Troubleshooting: A Step-by-Step Guide

How a Fridge Works

how a fridge works

Understanding how a fridge works is crucial for troubleshooting any issues that may arise. At its core, a refrigerator operates on the principle of removing heat from its interior to keep the contents cold.

The process begins with a compressor, which compresses the refrigerant gas and raises its temperature. As the compressed gas travels through a series of coils located at the back or bottom of the fridge, it dissipates heat into the surrounding air, causing it to cool down and condense into a liquid state.

This cooled liquid then passes through an expansion valve or capillary tube, which reduces its pressure and allows it to rapidly evaporate inside the evaporator coils located within the freezer compartment. This evaporation process absorbs heat from inside the fridge, thus cooling down its interior.

The resulting vapor is then drawn back into the compressor to repeat the cycle. Fridge safety precautions should be followed before attempting any troubleshooting or repairs.

Pro Tip: Knowing how a fridge works can help guide you in troubleshooting common issues such as a refrigerator not starting or when there is no light working in your fridge. By understanding these basic principles and following some quick fixes or DIY repair techniques, you can often resolve minor problems without needing professional assistance immediately.

Safety Precautions When Troubleshooting a Fridge

To begin with, always make sure the power supply to the refrigerator is disconnected before attempting any repairs or inspections. This can be done by unplugging the fridge from the power outlet or turning off the circuit breaker dedicated to it.

Moreover, wearing protective gloves and goggles can shield you from potential injuries while working on the appliance. When troubleshooting specific issues such as a fridge not starting or experiencing continuous operation problems, it’s advisable to consult a professional fridge technician.

While DIY repairs can be tempting for those who are handy with tools, refrigeration systems require specialized knowledge and expertise. A professional technician possesses the necessary skills and experience to diagnose complex problems accurately and implement effective solutions safely.

1. Fridge Won’t Start and Light is Out

One possible reason for your refrigerator not starting could be a power supply issue. Ensure that the unit is properly plugged into a functioning power outlet and that there are no tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses in your electrical panel. If these factors check out, it might be worth checking if the power cord itself is damaged or faulty.

Another common reason for this issue is a malfunctioning temperature control thermostat. This component regulates when to start and stop cooling based on temperature settings. If it becomes defective, it can hinder the functioning of your refrigerator.

To test this, first unplug the appliance and access the thermostat by removing its cover panel (if applicable). You may need to use a multimeter to check for continuity between its terminals while adjusting its temperature knob up and down.

If there is no continuity or erratic readings detected, replacing the thermostat would be necessary. Regarding the light inside your refrigerator not working simultaneously with startup failure, it could indicate an electrical connection problem within your unit.

Start by inspecting if there are any loose or corroded wires near where they connect to both ends of the light socket assembly in order to ensure proper electrical flow. Additionally, check if there are any broken wires leading from either end of this assembly as this could also cause malfunctioning lights.

Pro Tip: Remember that these troubleshooting steps should only be performed by individuals with sufficient knowledge of electrical systems or under professional supervision from a certified technician specializing in fridge repairs. Mishandling electrical connections without proper expertise can lead to safety hazards or further damage to your appliance.

2. Fridge Won’t Start, Light is Working

Firstly, it is crucial to check if the refrigerator is properly plugged into a functioning power outlet. Sometimes, due to movement or accidental unplugging, the connection may become loose or disconnected entirely. Ensure that the plug is securely inserted into the outlet and try restarting the fridge.

If that doesn’t resolve the problem, inspect the power cord for any signs of damage such as fraying or exposed wires. In such cases, it’s advisable to replace the power cord immediately.

If no visible damage is present, you can proceed by examining the control board located behind a panel at the back of your refrigerator. Look for any burnt-out components or loose connections that might be preventing power from reaching other parts of the unit.

Another potential cause could be a faulty start relay or overload protector. These components are responsible for initiating and regulating power flow to various parts of your fridge’s compressor system.

Pro Tip: To troubleshoot this issue further, access these parts by removing a protective cover on either side of your compressor and examine them closely for any signs of damage or wear and tear. It’s important to note that while some DIY fixes can resolve certain issues causing your refrigerator not to start properly, more complicated problems may require professional assistance from an experienced fridge technician.

3. Light Not Working in the Refrigerator

When you open your refrigerator door and find yourself standing in darkness, it can be quite frustrating. A malfunctioning fridge light not only makes it inconvenient to locate items inside but can also indicate an underlying electrical issue.

Before calling a professional fridge technician, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take. 

Firstly, check if the light bulb is burnt out. Unscrew the bulb and inspect its filament for any signs of damage or blackening. If the bulb appears faulty, replace it with a new one of the same wattage and type.

If replacing the light bulb doesn’t solve the problem, there may be an issue with the switch that controls the light. To test this, press the switch manually while keeping an eye on whether the light turns on. If it does not respond, there might be a loose connection or a faulty switch that requires replacement.

By checking and replacing the light bulb as well as testing the functionality of its switch, you may resolve minor issues and restore proper illumination within your fridge. 

4. Inadequate Cooling in Fridge or Freezer

One common reason is a dirty condenser coil. Over time, dust can build up on the condenser coil, hindering its ability to dissipate heat effectively.

To address this problem, start by unplugging the refrigerator and locating the condenser coil, which is usually located at the back or bottom of the unit. Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft brush to gently remove any dirt or debris from the coil. 

Another possible cause of inadequate cooling is a faulty evaporator fan motor. The evaporator fan is responsible for circulating cool air throughout the refrigerator and freezer compartments.

To troubleshoot this issue, access the evaporator fan usually located behind a panel in either compartment of your appliance. Check for any obstructions that may be blocking its rotation or hindering its operation. Additionally, inspect the fan blades for any damage that could impede proper airflow.

If you notice any issues with the fan motor such as excessive noise or lack of movement when it should be running, consider replacing it with a compatible replacement part. Inadequate cooling in refrigerators and freezers can stem from various factors ranging from minor maintenance tasks to more complex repairs requiring professional assistance.

Pro Tip: By paying attention to these common fridge problems and following proper refrigerator maintenance tips, you can address many issues yourself through DIY fridge repairs without having to rely on costly professional fridge technicians every time an inconvenience arises. 

5. Fridge or Freezer Too Cold

There could be several reasons why your refrigerator or freezer is maintaining an excessively low temperature, there are steps you can take to troubleshoot and possibly resolve this issue on your own. Firstly, check the temperature settings on your refrigerator.

Ensure that they are set to the appropriate level for both the fridge and freezer compartments. The recommended temperatures for a standard refrigerator are between 37-40°F (2-4°C) for the fridge compartment and 0°F (-18°C) for the freezer compartment.

Next, inspect the door seals of both compartments carefully. Faulty door seals can allow cold air to escape and cause continuous operation issues in an attempt to maintain desired temperatures. Clean them thoroughly using mild detergent and warm water, paying close attention to any accumulated dirt or debris that may have compromised their effectiveness.

Pro Tip: If adjusting temperature settings and cleaning door seals do not alleviate the issue, it is possible that there may be a malfunctioning component within your refrigerator’s cooling system. To address this further, it is advisable to seek assistance from a professional fridge technician who possesses the expertise required for more complex repairs involving refrigeration systems.

6. Strange Sounds or Noisy Fridge

Understanding the causes behind these noises is crucial in order to restore tranquility to your kitchen. One common culprit behind a noisy refrigerator is a malfunctioning condenser fan motor.

Additionally, if you notice that your refrigerator starts and stops frequently with a loud clicking sound accompanying each cycle, it could indicate an issue with the compressor relay switch. Another source of disturbance could be a faulty evaporator fan motor located inside the freezer compartment.

When this component deteriorates or becomes obstructed by ice buildup due to inadequate defrosting cycles, it may produce rattling or whirring sounds that resonate throughout the entire appliance. Similarly, a malfunctioning defrost timer can cause excessive noise as it fails to properly regulate defrost cycles in both the freezer and refrigerator sections.

First and foremost, ensure that your fridge is leveled properly using a spirit level; an imbalanced fridge can generate unnecessary vibrations leading to noise production.

Secondly, examine the evaporator fan blades for any signs of obstruction such as ice accumulation or foreign objects that may have fallen into the compartment inadvertently. If none of these DIY fixes alleviate the problem at hand, it may be prudent to consult with an experienced repair technician who possesses both the knowledge and specialized tools necessary to diagnose and rectify complex issues associated with noisy refrigerators.

7. Continuous Operation of the Fridge

One possible reason for a refrigerator running non-stop is an inadequate cooling system. If the freezer is too cold or if the fridge compartment is not cooling properly, the unit may compensate by running continuously to maintain the desired temperature.

In such cases, it is crucial to check the temperature settings and make sure they are appropriately adjusted. Additionally, inspecting the condenser coils for dirt or dust buildup and cleaning them can greatly enhance cooling efficiency and alleviate continuous operation issues.

Another common culprit behind continuous operation is a malfunctioning defrost system. If the freezer fails to defrost automatically as designed, ice buildup can restrict airflow and hinder proper cooling.

Pro Tip: Regularly defrosting the freezer manually can also help prevent ice accumulation and mitigate this issue. When faced with a refrigerator that runs continuously without pause, it is essential to investigate potential causes such as inadequate cooling or malfunctioning defrost mechanisms.

8. Fridge Starts and Stops Frequently

This can disrupt the cooling process, leading to inadequate cooling in both the refrigerator and freezer compartments. Furthermore, it can also result in a significant waste of energy, which can have a noticeable impact on your monthly electricity bill.

To address this problem, there are several potential causes that you can investigate. Firstly, check if there is any debris or dust accumulation on the condenser coils located at the back or underneath your refrigerator.

Another possible cause for frequent start-stop cycles is a malfunctioning thermostat. The thermostat plays a crucial role in regulating the temperature inside your fridge by signaling when to turn on or off the compressor. If it becomes faulty, it may send incorrect signals or fail to detect temperature changes accurately, resulting in erratic cycling patterns of the compressor.

Pro Tip: In such cases, replacing the faulty thermostat with a new one is usually necessary. Remember that troubleshooting refrigerator problems requires caution due to electrical components involved.

9. Freezer Doesn’t Defrost Automatically

The main reason behind this problem is a faulty defrost timer, defrost thermostat, or defrost heater. To troubleshoot this issue, it is important to take several steps. Firstly, locate the defrost timer inside the control panel of your refrigerator.

Using a screwdriver or a similar tool, rotate the timer until you hear a click. This should initiate the defrost cycle manually.

Wait for about 30 minutes and check if any ice begins to melt away. If so, it indicates that the defrost timer is defective and needs replacement.

If manually activating the defrost cycle doesn’t yield any results, then the next component to inspect is the defrost thermostat. This small device monitors the temperature inside your freezer and signals the heater when it reaches a certain point for effective ice melting.

Using a multimeter set on continuity mode, test if there is electrical continuity across its terminals at freezing temperatures (around 0°F). If there is no continuity present, then you need to replace the thermostat.

If both the defrost timer and thermostat are in good working order, turn your attention towards examining the defrost heater itself. Remove any panels covering it and visually inspect for any signs of damage or breakage on its surface wires or elements.

Any visible defects indicate that it has malfunctioned and requires replacement. Remember that these DIY fridge repairs involve electrical components; therefore, fridge safety precautions should be followed carefully during troubleshooting or repairing processes.

Pro Tip: If at any point you feel unsure or uncomfortable performing these tasks yourself, it’s always best to contact a professional fridge technician who can diagnose and resolve this issue efficiently without compromising your safety or causing further damage. When faced with a freezer that doesn’t automatically defrost, it’s crucial to check the defrost timer, thermostat, and heater.

10. Unpleasant Odor Inside the Fridge

Firstly, check for any expired or spoiled food items that may be causing the odor. It’s easy for forgotten leftovers or expired products to hide in the depths of your fridge, becoming breeding grounds for unpleasant smells.

Remove any suspect items and give your refrigerator a thorough cleaning with a mixture of warm water and mild soap. Pay particular attention to areas such as shelves, drawers, and seals where spills or leaks might occur.

If the smell persists after cleaning, it may be due to mold or mildew growth inside your refrigerator. Inspect the corners and crevices of your fridge for any signs of mold or mildew buildup.

In some cases, if there is no apparent source of the odor after performing these steps, it could indicate a more serious issue with your refrigerator’s cooling system or drainage system. In such instances, it is advisable to seek professional assistance from a qualified fridge repair technician who can diagnose and resolve any underlying problems causing the unpleasant odor.

Pro Tip: By practicing good hygiene habits such as promptly cleaning up spills, regularly checking food expiration dates, and periodically inspecting and cleaning all areas of your refrigerator, you can minimize the chances of encountering an unpleasant smell.

11. Fridge Leaking Water on the Floor

When facing this issue, there are a few common reasons to consider. Firstly, check if there is any visible water leakage from the fridge itself.

This could be caused by a faulty water supply line, a cracked drain pan, or a clogged defrost drain. DIY fridge repair in this case involves inspecting and replacing any damaged components or clearing out any blockages in the drainage system.

Periodically cleaning the drain pan and defrost drain can help prevent future water leaks. Another potential cause for water on the floor outside of the refrigerator is condensation buildup due to improper insulation or ventilation.

Troubleshooting refrigerator issues related to condensation often calls for checking if there are any gaps or cracks in the door seals or if vents are obstructed by food items. Ensuring proper fridge maintenance and regularly cleaning the door gaskets will help maintain optimal insulation and prevent excess moisture accumulation.

If these quick fixes fail to resolve the problem, it may be time to call in a professional fridge technician who has expertise in diagnosing complex issues like refrigerant leaks or malfunctioning internal components that could lead to excessive condensation and subsequent water leakage.

12. Water Leaking Inside the Fridge

One possible cause of water inside the refrigerator is a clogged defrost drain. The defrost drain allows melted ice and condensation to flow out of the fridge, preventing it from accumulating inside. However, if the drain becomes blocked with debris or frozen over, the water will start pooling instead.

Clear any visible debris using a pipe cleaner or a small brush. If you suspect ice buildup in the drain, carefully pour hot water over it until it melts away.

Be cautious not to use excessive force, as it could damage delicate components. 

Another possible cause of water inside your refrigerator is a faulty water inlet valve or supply line. This issue often manifests as leaks from an internal dispenser or ice maker unit within the fridge compartment. To identify whether this is the problem, inspect both the inlet valve and supply line for cracks or signs of damage.

If found, replace them immediately with manufacturer-approved replacements. Dealing with water inside your refrigerator requires patience and attention to detail.

Pro Tip: Whether it’s addressing a clogged defrost drain or replacing faulty components like an inlet valve or supply line, troubleshooting these issues ensures that your fridge functions efficiently once again and keeps your food fresh without any unwanted moisture concerns.

When to Call a Fridge Repair in Toronto

calling a professional fridge repair company in Toronto

When it comes to troubleshooting refrigerator issues, there are instances where it is best to seek the expertise of a professional fridge technician. While some common fridge problems can be resolved with quick fixes and DIY repairs, certain issues require specialized knowledge and equipment.

A professional technician can accurately diagnose the problem, unclog or replace any defective parts, and restore your refrigerator’s functionality effectively. Additionally, if you find your refrigerator starting and stopping frequently or exhibiting continuous operation issues, it may be indicative of an underlying malfunction in its thermostat or compressor.

Don’t hesitate to seek professional help for issues such as water leakage, frequent starting and stopping, inadequate cooling, or any other complex malfunctions that require specialized expertise. Trusting an experienced technician ensures that your refrigerator is restored to optimal performance and extends its lifespan, allowing you to enjoy its benefits without unnecessary worry or inconvenience.

When you find yourself facing troublesome refrigerator issues that are beyond your expertise, rest assured, Get A Pro Canada is here to provide you with expert assistance. Our team consists of highly skilled technicians who are fully prepared to deliver fast and reliable refrigerator repair services.

Whether you’re located in the city of Scarborough, the neighborhoods of Etobicoke and York, or the area of North York, we are your trusted source for fridge repair service in Ontario.

Feel free to reach out to us at 1-800-498-4490 or complete our appliance contact form to arrange a same-day appointment. Our unwavering commitment to excellence, professionalism, and customer satisfaction ensures that your refrigerator concerns will be addressed with precision and care.


Troubleshooting refrigerator issues can be a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and some basic DIY fridge repairs, many common fridge problems can be resolved without the need for a professional fridge technician.Remember to prioritize your safety by following proper fridge safety precautions throughout the troubleshooting process.

It is important to unplug the refrigerator before attempting any repairs to avoid any potential hazards. Additionally, regular refrigerator maintenance tips such as cleaning coils and checking door seals can go a long way in preventing future issues.

By identifying common symptoms like a refrigerator not starting or stopping frequently, water on the floor or inside the refrigerator, or a freezer that is too cold or not defrosting automatically, you can narrow down potential causes and find appropriate solutions.

Armed with the knowledge shared in this article and your newfound confidence in troubleshooting common refrigerator problems, you are now better equipped to take control of your appliance’s well-being. Don’t let these issues dampen your spirits; instead, see them as opportunities for growth and learning.

With determination and resourcefulness, you’ll be able to overcome any challenges that arise in maintaining your trusty refrigerator. Let’s go fridge troubleshooting!


What are the common reasons for a refrigerator not cooling adequately?

Common reasons include a faulty thermostat, malfunctioning compressor, dirty condenser coils, or issues with the evaporator fan. Additionally, improper temperature settings, a blocked vent, or a malfunctioning defrost system can affect cooling efficiency.

Can I troubleshoot water leakage issues in my refrigerator on my own?

Yes, you can troubleshoot water leakage issues by checking the drain pan, examining the defrost drain, and ensuring the refrigerator is level. Clear any clogs or ice blockages in the drain system, and inspect the water supply line and water filter for leaks.

Are there DIY solutions for ice buildup in the freezer section?

Yes, you can address ice buildup by regularly defrosting the freezer, checking the door seals for leaks, and ensuring proper ventilation. Additionally, inspect the defrost system, including the defrost timer, heater, and thermostat, for any malfunctions.

How can I address refrigerator door seal problems?

Address door seal problems by cleaning the gasket with mild soapy water, checking for any visible damage, and ensuring proper alignment. Replace damaged or worn-out door seals, and make sure the doors close tightly to maintain a proper seal and prevent air leaks.

When should I consider professional help for complex refrigerator problems?

Consider professional help for complex refrigerator problems involving the compressor, refrigerant system, or electrical components. If DIY troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the issue, or if you are uncomfortable handling intricate parts, seeking professional assistance ensures accurate diagnosis and effective resolution

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