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Fridge Not Cooling but Light is On? Here's What You Need to Know

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What to do when your fridge is not cooling but the light is on

Having a fridge that's not cooling properly can be frustrating, especially if you're unsure how to fix it. One common issue that often perplexes homeowners is when their fridge's light is on, yet there's no cool air circulating. In this post, we'll take a closer look at why this might be happening and provide some tips on how to troubleshoot the problem.

Before diving into the specifics, it's important to note that there are various types of fridges on the market, including side-by-side, top-mount, bottom-mount, and more. While many of these appliances share the same basic components, the design and layout can impact how certain issues affect their performance. We'll cover some of the most common causes of a fridge not cooling but the light being on, along with tips on how to resolve them.

Whether you're a seasoned appliance repair professional or a homeowner trying to save some money, this guide will provide some useful information on what to do if your fridge isn't cooling as it should.

Common Causes of Fridge Not Cooling but Light is On

When your fridge isn't cooling properly but the light is on, several issues could be at play. Below are some of the most common reasons why a fridge might have this problem:

  • Dirty Condenser Coils: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the fridge's condenser coils, causing it to work harder to cool the interior. This can result in higher energy bills and less efficient cooling. Cleaning the coils periodically can often resolve this issue.
  • Damaged Door Seals: The fridge's door seals are designed to keep cool air in and warm air out. If they're damaged or worn, warm air can enter the fridge and cause it to be less efficient at cooling. Check the seals for any cracks or damage.
  • Defrost Timer: If the defrost timer isn't working correctly, frost can build upon the evaporator coils, making them less effective at cooling the fridge. A faulty defrost timer can be replaced by a technician.
  • Faulty Thermistor: The thermistor is a sensor that monitors the temperature inside the fridge and sends signals to the thermostat to adjust accordingly. If it's broken, the fridge might not be able to regulate the temperature properly, which can cause the cooling issue.
  • Faulty Evaporator Fan Motor: The evaporator fan serves the critical role of circulating cool air inside the fridge. If the fan motor fails, the fridge won't be able to cool properly. In some cases, the motor can be replaced to resolve the problem.

These are just a few of the most typical causes of a fridge not cooling correctly even though the light is on. Try troubleshooting these issues first before calling for professional help.

Troubleshooting Tips

If you're comfortable doing some basic troubleshooting on your own, here are a few tips to help you troubleshoot a fridge that's not cooling properly but has its light on:

  1. Clean the condenser coils: As mentioned earlier, the condenser coils can become dirty and affect the fridge's cooling ability. Unplug the refrigerator and locate the coils at the back or bottom of it. Then, use a brush or vacuum to remove the debris.
  2. Check the door seals: Inspect the rubber seal surrounding the fridge door for any signs of damage, including cracks or tears. If you find any issue, replace them accordingly.
  3. Test the fan motor: Locate the fan motor and spin the blades. If the blades spin freely, the motor is likely working correctly. However, if it's not moving or sounds noisy, the motor might need replacing.
  4. Check the defrost timer: Locate the defrost timer and check it for signs of wear, including rust or corrosion. You can also try manually advancing the timer to check whether it's working. If it's not, it's time to contact a repair professional.
  5. Inspect the thermistor: Look for any visible signs of damage to the thermistor. If there aren't any visible damages, use a multimeter to test the sensor's resistance. If the test results' value is entirely out of the range, the thermistor will likely need replacing.

If these troubleshooting tips don't solve the problem, then it's time to consult an appliance repair professional to diagnose and fix the issue.

When to Call an Appliance Repair Professional

While some fridge cooling issues can be resolved by following basic troubleshooting tips, others require professional intervention. Here are a few situations when it's best to call an appliance repair professional:

  • The fridge is making strange noises: If you hear unusual sounds coming from your fridge, such as rattling, grinding, or clicking noises, it's a clear indication something's wrong. An appliance repair professional can help diagnose the issue and fix it.
  • You smell burning or electrical burning: If you smell anything burning, immediately unplug the fridge and contact a professional for assistance. It could be a severe electrical problem that can cause fire or electrocution.
  • The fridge isn't cooling at all: If your fridge isn't working at all, it's a clear indication that something's wrong. A trained repair professional can diagnose and troubleshoot numerous defects that may cause this issue.
  • You've tried all troubleshooting tips: If you've already tried all the basic troubleshooting tips and the fridge still isn't cooling correctly, it's time to consult an expert who can fix it.
  • You're unsure of how to proceed: If you're not comfortable attempting any troubleshooting and repair tasks yourself, it's best to contact a qualified technician to fix the problem for you.

Attempting to fix a problem that's beyond your skill level can cause further damages, leading to expensive repairs or even more hazardous issues. Suppose you're not sure if the situation warrants calling an expert for assistance. In that case, consider consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced appliance repair professional to determine the best course of action.

Alternatives to Repairing the Fridge

At times, repairing a fridge might not be the best course of action. Depending on the fridge's age, condition, and the severity of the issue, you may want to consider alternatives to repair. Here are some alternatives:

  • Replace the fridge: Suppose the fridge is old or heavily damaged, and the repair cost is substantial. In that case, it might be better to replace it. A new fridge is more energy-efficient, cost-efficient, and reliable, and it will save you money in the long term.
  • Borrow or rent a fridge: Suppose you don't want to replace your refrigerator, but you can't afford the repairs and need a temporary solution. In that case, consider borrowing or renting a fridge until you can afford the repairs.
  • Sell the fridge: If the fridge is beyond repair, consider selling it for scrap or parts. While it won't fetch as much as a working appliance, it's still better than paying to dispose of it.

Before deciding on any of these alternatives, weigh the pros and cons of each and consult with an appliance repair professional to assess whether repair or replacement is the best course of action.

Related: Kitchenaid Ice Maker Not Filling with Water? Here's What You Need to Know!


What causes a fridge not to cool properly but the light is on?

Possible causes include dirty condenser coils, damaged door seals, faulty defrost timer, faulty thermistor, or faulty evaporator fan motor.

Can dirty condenser coils cause a fridge not to cool properly?

Yes, dirty condenser coils can reduce the cooling power of a fridge, leading to warm temperatures.

How can I check for dirty condenser coils?

Locate the coils at the back or bottom of the fridge and clean them using a vacuum or brush.

Can damaged door seals affect fridge cooling?

Yes, damaged door seals can let warm air enter the fridge, reducing its cooling efficiency.

How do I know if the door seals are damaged?

Check for cracks or tears in the seals, or feel for cold air escaping when the fridge is closed.

Can a faulty defrost timer cause fridge cooling issues?

Yes, a faulty defrost timer can prevent the fridge from defrosting properly, leading to ice buildup that affects cooling.

How can I check if the defrost timer is faulty?

Locate the timer and use a multimeter to test if it's sending power to the defrost heater during defrost mode.

Can a faulty thermistor affect fridge cooling?

Yes, the thermistor is responsible for sensing the fridge's temperature and regulating cooling. A faulty one can cause erratic cooling or failure.

What should I do if the evaporator fan motor is faulty?

Replace the faulty motor with a new one to restore proper cooling.

Should I repair or replace a fridge that's not cooling?

Consider the age and cost of the fridge when deciding between repair or replacement, as well as the severity of the issue.

Real experience

When Mark and his family moved into their new home, they were excited to settle down and create memories. As they unpacked their belongings, they noticed that their fridge wasn't cooling properly. But the strange thing was, the light was still on.

Mark thought it was just a minor issue at first, so he tried cleaning the condenser coils and defrosting the fridge, but to no avail. The fridge still wasn't cooling properly, and the food inside was starting to spoil.

For a few days, Mark and his family struggled to find a solution. They were worried that they would have to replace the fridge, which would be a significant expense. On top of that, they didn't want to waste the food they had just bought.

Mark scoured the internet for answers and came across an article that discussed the common causes of fridges not cooling properly but with the light still on. He checked for damaged door seals and a faulty defrost timer, but both seemed to be working fine.

Frustrated, Mark decided to call a professional appliance repairman. The repairman quickly detected the issue: the evaporator fan motor was faulty. Without the fan, the fridge wasn't able to circulate the cold air, which explained why it wasn't cooling.

The repairman replaced the fan motor, and within a few hours, the fridge was back to its normal cooling power. Mark and his family were relieved that they didn't have to replace the entire fridge and that the issue was resolved quickly.

From that day forward, Mark made sure to have regular maintenance done on his fridge, so they wouldn't have to go through this ordeal again.

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A fridge not cooling correctly but having its light on can be an annoying issue. Fortunately, many of the common causes of this problem can be resolved with basic troubleshooting tips. Remember to clean the condenser coils, check the door seals, test the fan motor, inspect the defrost timer and thermistor. If these troubleshooting efforts fail or you're unsure of how to proceed, it's time to contact an appliance repair professional.

Alternatives to repairing the fridge include replacing it with a new, energy-efficient model or temporarily borrowing or renting one. Whatever the situation, remember that a properly functioning fridge is critical to every kitchen's smooth operation, and it's worth taking steps to resolve any cooling issues as soon as they arise.

Be sure to consult with a trained appliance repair professional for any critical repair or parts replacement task. With the right expertise and appropriate tools, you can ensure your fridge works efficiently and safely for years to come!

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