Refrigerator Repairs

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By utilizing this section, you agree that you have read the Warnings and Disclaimer on this site.

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Repair Articles


Suggested Tools to Have on hand if performing work by yourself:

tool set

Handheld Multi Meter, Screwdrivers, Nut Driver, for most repairs outside of the Refrigerant Loop. If working on the Refrigerant Loop, I highly suggest being trained as high pressures, toxic gas and other variables are present. A Reclamation System as well as pressure gauges and the proper refilling equipment will be need and I do NOT suggest trying repairs of this sort without the knowledge and tools needed.

Refrigerator Repair Section

The most common issues and repairs will be addressed in this section. Most of the time the most simple repairs can be done in under an hour and for under $100.00, which is much less expensive than a new unit, and most of the time you will still have years of good life left on your refrigerator.

The most common issues will be addressed, and I will post a generic repair that will cover almost all models and makes. Many of these units will have the same or very similar parts and operation, and the symptoms will eventually present themselves no matter what brand or model you buy.

1. Refrigerator not cooling well or at all

Here is a typical circulation function of a refrigerator/freezer system.

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The most common problem is either an ice build up between the freezer and refrigerator area normally in a tube or other shaped plenum that blows the ice air down into the refrigerator, or what is called the Evaporator Fan.

There can be several reasons ice build up can occur. And if the ice build up is great enough it can affect the Evap Fan and freeze it shut. The fan sits over the condenser coils, and when they freeze up it can cause an ice dam in the plenum or channel and keep air from going into the refrigerator, hence no real cooling can reach the refrigerator. if the evap fan motor doesn’t run, the fresh food section will be starved for air. The upper sections of the freezer will also be warmer than the lower sections.

This can also cause stress on the fan and can burn it out if it is pushing itself while in a half frozen state.


First, the easiest and most common repair would be to shut off the whole unit by unplugging it. You can wait for all the ice to melt on it’s own, or you can use a hair dryer and move it along faster.

The coils sit in the freezer where the fan is mounted, usually on the back of the freezer wall behind the plastic. Keeping the freezer and refrigerator doors open will melt it eventually, but most of the time you would have to move the food to a cooler and ice it up, so a hair dryer is much faster.

Once it is all melted, you can normally remove the plastic by pulling the ice maker out if you have one, the racks, and with a few screws. On a Whirlpool for instance, you would see a fan cover on the back mounted with plastic clips that just pop out and toward you. This usually pops out of a hole that sits between the freezer and refrigerator sections.

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Check for ice build up inside this plastic plenum and in the hole between the freezer and refrigerator. If you see it in the plenum, knock it out and rinse with hot water and let it dry out. Get whatever ice you can from the hole and keep the hair dryer on the coil section. Once this is all melted, and dried out you can plug the refrigerator in and set the freezer and refrigerator temperature control to full cold on both.

This should turn the evaporator fan motor on within a minute, so you can see if it is running, and running quietly. If it does, replace the plenum and snap it back in after screwing the back panel on.

If it does not turn on, the fan will most likely be shot and need replacing. In fact, before I do mine I usually preorder a fan or pick one up locally just in case I need to replace it. If I don’t I have it on hand because in my experience…in time it WILL fail. Depending on the age of the unit, it’s probably a small, white body Panasonic fan motor. This fan motor has not proven itself to be worth the plastic it’s made of. It is probably not a connection problem, rather a bad fan motor. At this point, you have one of two options: 1) go to a local appliance service depot and ask for Genuine Parts part number; a technician or shop will charge $90.00 for this motor, so you should expect about that much. 2) go to an appliance repair depot that has a local Johnstone supply account and ask for part number: They normally charge $36.00 for this motor. This is the motor I use regularly. If you use the Johnstone motor, you have to reverse the rotor so the shaft rotates the same way as the original, which is a very simple operation. The Johnstone motor won’t have the exact connections as the original, but I always try to connect the new motor leads in such a way as to not cut off any factory harness connectors, whenever possible. If you use wire nuts or bell terminals, it is best to fill the connector with silicone after you crimp it to keep moisture out of your connection. So it is up to you if the 50 dollar savings is worth the trouble or not.

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At this point, all the stuff is still removed if the fan does not turn on, so it makes a fast replacement. Unplugging the unit, because you certainly do not want to work on any live circuit, you can unscrew the fan and plug the new one in and plug it back in 10 minutes.

Then you replace all the plastic backing and plenum, and ice machine if you have one.

It can take several hours or a full day to get the refrigerator back to normal temperature again, so be patient and wait a full day before checking the temp again. If you still have issues, keep reading….

2. Replaced the evaporator fan and thawed the refrigerator and it still is not cold.

This can be that the system has a freon leak or a faulty compressor. This will be covered in the next section as I update the Repair Section.