5 Common Refrigerator Breakdown Problems and Fixes

Refrigerators can break down for numerous reasons including – no longer making ice, dispenser not working, refrigerator leaking water and not cooling. We will discuss these common problems and what you should do when they happen below.


My refrigerator will no longer make ice

While they occasionally fail, ice makers are also not the most complex machines and, for the most part, all operate the same way. These tips should have a high degree of transferability for your device and you may be able to diagnose and repair a faulty ice maker yourself before parting with any hard-earned money. Here is how to fix some common ice maker problems.

When ice is not ejecting

If you discover ice within the ice mould, this likely means the ice maker is getting water and the problem likely is not with the water supply. Instead, it is more likely a mechanical or electrical problem. Usually, the cause is due to moving things around in the freezer. It is not uncommon to accidentally nudge the control arm into the off position, which halts production of ice. This is a simple fix. Find the control switch and change it to the down or on position.

If the control switch/arm is in the on (down) position and the mould is filled with ice, then the problem likely lies with the motor, gearbox, or electrical connection. This is a trickier fix. Begin by ensuring all electrical connections are properly earthed. Slide the fridge out, turn off the water supply valve and absolutely ensure power is off. Find the quick release plug on the back wall inside the freezer. Unplug the connection and reconnect it to ensure it is 100% connected.

Manually remove any remaining ice from the mould by adding some lukewarm water for a few minutes. The ice will begin to melt and should be easier to remove.

Plug the fridge back into the power supply again. Lift the control switch to the off position. Lower the control switchback down and wait for approximately ten seconds for the solenoid to engage and fill the mould with water. Wait three to four hours for the ice to freeze. Now the magic should happen, new ice should now be yours. If not, it is likely that you will need to replace the motor or gearbox.

When your fridge is not making ice at all

If your ice maker is not up for producing ice at all or is producing irregular shapes or cubes that are smaller than usual, this usually indicates a clog somewhere. A common cause for a clog is frozen water. To repair a frozen supply line, slide the fridge out and unplug it. Find the shut-off valve, which is usually underneath the sink or behind the refrigerator. Turn the valve to the closed or off position. Fill a jug with warm water and pour the water over the waterline. As an alternative, it is also possible to defrost the waterline by letting the refrigerator sit unplugged for more than two hours. After these options, plug and listen for the water supply to fill the ice mould. If the clog is anything but translucent, consult with a professional for help removing the clog.

There is also a possibility that the water filter for the ice maker is clogged. Find and replace the water filter. Filters for ice makers are often located inside the refrigerator (to keep them from freezing).

Fridge repair

My refrigerator dispenser has stopped working

There are many reasons why this could be the case and in some cases, a specialist technician perhaps from your fridge insurance provider may be required.

Ice and Water Filter

First things first: temperature. the freezer temperature should be maintained at 0 – 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 – -8 degrees Celsius) If the freezer is too cold, the waterline will freeze.

If your fridge is the sort that dispenses filtered water for drinking or for ice, it could be that your dispenser is not putting out water like it used to because the filter’s become too clogged with dirt, debris or ice. A dirty filter reduces the amount of water that gets into the machine. It is recommended to replace the filter bi-annually or more frequently if your area has hard water. Check the device’s manual in the Maintenance section to find the location of the filter in your particular fridge; it’s usually easily accessible, in the open area of the fridge that stores food.

Water Inlet Valve

The water for the dispenser comes from the main supply line for your house, and a block in the valve that lets the water into the fridge may be the source of the trouble in the lack of dispensing water. To check on the water inlet valve, unplug the refrigerator and shut off the water supply to the fridge. Remove the back panel and trace the water tube from the water dispenser to the valve to discover the solenoid inlet valve that has the job of switching on the water flow. Test the terminals of that solenoid with a multi-meter to see if it is used. If you happen not to have one of these, look at whether the tube bringing water in has a little debris screen on it, because this may be clogged. If so, clean the screen to allow water back into the water dispenser.

Look at the inlet tubing for blockage – ensure the manual water shut-off valve is clean on the inside. It could be the case that greater household water pressure is needed to keep water flowing at the inlet to the valve. It could also be the case that there’s dirt or a defect inside the water inlet valve.

If all these parts appear fine, ensure power is reaching the water valve properly. This is a job for a service technician since the live voltage is involved.

Water Dispenser Actuator

When you press your water glass up to the water dispenser, the plastic piece is depressed is known as the water dispenser actuator. It commences the dispenser micro switch with a click. To test this component, disconnect power all power, and remove the control panel. If the actuator does not push the switch it is pressed, the problem could lie here. Look at the bracket that houses the actuator, the bracket that houses the switch, and the pivot of the actuator. If any of these pieces are not behaving as it should, it will need replacement. But if the actuator is connecting with the switch, as it should, the problem likely is somewhere else, for example inside the switch or in the control board.

Micro Switch

Behind the little lever that is pressed by the water glass to begin water dispensation is the dispenser microswitch. When all the components connect, the circuit allows the water inlet valve to dispense via a solenoid. Disconnect power supply from the fridge, take the cover off the control panel and find the switch behind the lever to check its functionality, using a multimeter if you have one.

Dispenser Control Board

It could be that yours is a fridge that powers the water inlet valve by way of electronic control. Once you have eliminated the microswitch and the actuator as being responsible, if the water inlet valve is still unpowered it may be because of an electronic control malfunction. Check your owner’s manual or manufacturer’s website to see if offer any advice on how to make a diagnosis with Control Board malfunction.

 My refrigerator is leaking water

Water leaking from your fridge is always a bad omen, but it also happens to be common too. Water leakage typically comes from one of two problems which are not too difficult to rectify.

A blocked defrosting drain is one of the most common causes. This is because food particles or other debris clog up the drain hose, which can result in a pile-up of ice leading to, you guessed it, water leakage from the freezer and refrigerator

Try flushing the drain from inside the freezer with warm water, pouring using the aid of a small funnel. We advise against forcibly removing the debris using a plunger or a stick as you may damage your fridge or freezer. If warm water does not solve the issue, you may need to manually remove the debris with your hands (use gloves) at the end of the drain hose.

If none of these work, disconnect your fridge and head to the back of your fridge. Using your manual, and a good sense of the parts on your appliance, find the defrost drain hose in the bottom back service panel. This hose should have a rubber check valve, which helps regulate humidity and is known for trapping debris. Clean the valve out with hot water and soap, then reinstall the valve.

The second cause of leakage is, on occasion, a clogged or frozen water supply line. This will also stall your fridge’s ability to produce from the ice maker and slow or stop water flow from the dispenser.

To go about fixing, unplug the power from your fridge. Find your shut-off valve, which is usually underneath every sink or behind the fridge. Do not remove anything if you are uncertain about what you are doing. Make sure this valve is closed. Check for any leaks or clogs in the plastic supply line.

If there is a break or tear in the line, replacement of the water supply line is needed. Usually, this line is a nylon tube with compression fittings at both ends. You can find DIY water line kits at any hardware store. They are easy to install, though a wrench may be necessary. You should avoid overtightening their fittings, so it does not favour the strong.

If the water line is okay, but you see any translucent blockage, then ice is your issue. Simply leave the refrigerator unplugged for a couple of hours to remove the clog. If the clog is anything but clear, talk with a trained technician before trying to remove it yourself. Once the line has defrosted, plug the refrigerator back in and see how it operates.

My refrigerator is not cooling

A failing fridge that has lost its chill can leave you feeling cold. Here is a brief troubleshooting guide on what to expect when identifying why your fridge is not cooling anymore.

Before you attempt more complex repairs, try these simple fixes if your refrigerator is not cooling and if your freezer is not working:

Be sure the fridge is fully plugged in and receiving power. The light should come on when you open the door. If not, there could be a power issue involving damage to the main wire.

Check the thermostat to make sure it has not inadvertently been turned down by someone in the house. If your fridge/freezer thermostat does not appear to be appear working, there are many easy-install thermostats.

Be sure the vents on the back of the freezer compartment are clear of all objects. This must be so for cool air to circulate.

Gently vacuum the coils under or behind the fridge. Clogged coils can also result in poor cooling.

Check to make sure nothing is stuck in the condenser fan and that it spins freely. If you have a fridge with coils on the rear it will not have a fan, so this is not the issue. To check the condenser fun, unplug the fridge and pull it out. Clean the fan blades and spin the fan with one finger to see if it moves freely. Plug in the fridge again and ensure the fan spins quickly when the compressor is running. If the fan does not run, a trained technician is the best person to replace it.

Only replace the condenser fan if it makes too much noise or does not spin anymore. Depending on your fridge repair, the fan bracket may have to be removed first, and then the fan unscrewed from the bracket.

To replace, pull the fridge away, unplug it and take out the thin panel on the rear of the fridge near the bottom to gain access to the compressor and condenser fan. Next, plug the fridge in and wait for the compressor to come on. The fan should also come on. If the compressor runs but the fan does not or if it is noisy, a new fan is almost certainly required. When neither runs and the compressor is hot, unplug and wait for the compressor to cool and try again. Also, if the compressor appears to run but the fan does not, the fan is defective. Unplug the fridge and replace the fan. If neither runs, then you may need a new relay or compressor. Speak to a repair technician first, and remember you could always take out appliance insurance to look after these faults.