Refrigerator Fresh Food Not Cooling

If your Refrigerators Fresh Food Section is Not Cooling Check the Following

Defrost Problem

Defrost problems can cause both sections not to work. You need to find out why it’s not defrosting. There are three things that cause a defrost problem: defrost heater, defrost thermostat and defrost control.

If you have an older refrigerator, it probably has a mechanical defrost control. Find it and turn it clockwise until the refrigerator cuts off. (Note that the defrost control is normally located either in the refrigerator near the cold control or at bottom behind the kick plate).To view a video of testing a manual defrost timer. If your refrigerator is newer it will have an electronic defrost control and you won’t be able to turn to defrost. Most refrigerators with electronic controls have some method of maunaly going into a defrost. You will need to refer to the tech sheet or service manual for this procedure on your model. Now that it’s in defrost, wait a few minutes. If the defrost heater gets hot, replace defrost control. If it doesn’t get hot, then the problem is either the heater or the thermostat.

At this point, you need to melt the ice. The best way to melt the ice is to use either a hair dryer or heat gun. Be careful with the heat gun you can melt your fridge pretty quick.

Once the ice is gone, you can check the heater by unplugging wires and using an ohmmeter to check for continuity. If you have continuity, the heater is good and you should replace thermostat. If you don’t replace the heater, at this point you won't be able to check the thermostat but if the heater is good replace it.

If you have a GE refrigerator made after the year 2000, do not replace the defrost thermostat. Trust me the thermostat is not your problem. 99.9% of the time it will be the heater. Sometimes it is the main board or the thermistor.

Fan Motors

Fans not running can cause both sections not to work. Walk up to the refrigerator and listen to see if the fans are running. (Note that there are two fans on most refrigerators, one on the outside and one in the freezer and both must be running). If one is not running you need to replace it (note that if the fan inside the freezer is bad, there may be ice build up at the top of the coils, if so, melt it. Also, check for something blocking the fan blades. If both fans are not running, check to see if the compressor is running. If fans are running, you must now remove the cover to the evaporator (back of freezer in most refrigerators or some in the bottom of freezer). Now that it’s off, you should see if there is ice-blocking airflow. If the ice is covering all the coils, then its likely a defrost problem. When checking the evaporator fan, remove wire connector and check for power (make sure door switch is closed and refrigerator compressor is running, turn fersh food control to coldest setting). You should have voltage here refer to your service manual or tech sheet for proper voltage. If no voltage replace the control board. Check our tutorials on both top freezers and side by sides for replacing evaporator and condensor fans.

The cold control can be the cause for your refrigerator not cooling problem. This is the least likely of all the problems but happens sometimes. Turn the control up all the way and tap on it. If the refrigerator comes on then replace cold control. If it still doesn’t come on, it may still be bad. You can check it by first unplugging the refrigerator and taking the control out and test it with an. ohmmeter Unplug the wires and see if you have continuity between the terminals, if not replace control.

Thermistors don’t go bad very often but if they do, some have four or more thermistors depending on the model. If any of the thermistors are bad the performance of the refrigerator will be greatly reduced or it may not run at all. Although they don’t go bad often the first models had thermistors that were consistently out of range. If you don’t have the faulty thermistors but you are still unsure if the thermistors are good or not this is the best way to check them. Remove the thermistor and place it in a cup with ice and a small amount of water for at least five minutes. This should bring the thermistor to 32 degrees. Using your ohmmeter, check resistance across the thermistor with it still in the ice water. Refer to the tech sheet or service maual for the proper reading. Most GE's should read around 16.6 K ohms or 16,600 ohms +/-5%. Replace the thermistors if out of range.

Start Relay
This may be the problem only if the compressor is not running.The start relay will also cause this problem, and like the main board, you will often hear a clicking noise when the start relay is bad but there will be a long pause between clicks. If the clicking is not coming from the main board, the start relay is most likely the problem. First, unplug the refrigerator then remove the bottom cover off the back of the refrigerator. On the side of the compressor there will be a cover, remove it. Behind the cover there will be a start relay and an overload. Remove the start relay and shake it. If it rattles, it is bad and needs replacing.

Damper Control

Some Refrigerator have electronic damper controls. These can fail but usually they do not open if the Adaptive Defrost Board or defrost control board has failed. If the damper does not open check the motor for continuity if it has none replace the damper if it has power replace check the defrost problems listed above.