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When To Repair vs. Replace Your Refrigerator

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Your refrigerator is a major appliance and expensive to replace. You might consider replacing it with a new model if you notice it isn't working as it should. But did you know you can fix many common refrigerator problems with the right attitude and the proper tools and parts? It's also very satisfying to conquer these repairs on your own. This guide can help you decide when to repair vs. replace your refrigerator.

What Your Fridge Is Saying to You

A newer refrigerator is often worth repairing, as most models will last at least 10 years. One of the most challenging parts of repairing your refrigerator is moving it; they're heavy and usually wedged into a tight space in your kitchen. Many issues with newer refrigerator models are those you can repair on your own. Still, you may want to hire a professional for more complicated repairs. In either case, when you notice your refrigerator is having trouble, it's best to address it immediately.

The following are some common problems people have with their refrigerators and the parts necessary to fix them:

  • Broken shelves and drawers: The cold temperature in a refrigerator can weaken the plastic shelves and drawers. You'll want to replace them when you notice cracks, chips, or breaks.
  • No light: A light should come on in your refrigerator when you open the door. You'll probably need to replace the light bulb if it doesn't.
  • Broken or damaged door seal: The door seal on your refrigerator helps keep the unit cold and prevents bacteria from forming inside the fridge. Broken, bent, or otherwise damaged door seals will allow cold air to leak out and warm air to get in, so replace door seals to prevent food spoilage.
  • The fridge is too warm, or it's freezing food: A fridge can get too warm or freeze food for a few reasons, and one is because the thermistor is bad. The thermistor monitors the temperature in the fridge and signals the central control board when it's time to cool the unit; if it fails, the fridge won't maintain the correct temperature.
  • Ice builds up on condenser coils: When the refrigerator's freezer won't keep food frozen or the food in the unit is warm, check the condenser coils on the back of the fridge for ice. A buildup of ice on the coils could mean the defrost heater needs to be replaced.


Essential Tools and Safety Precautions for Fridge Repairs

DIY refrigerator repairs range from simple, as with replacing shelves or light bulbs, to difficult. Before you begin any repair project with your appliance, make sure you turn off the power and water to the unit. You also need to wear safety goggles and gloves to keep yourself safe. Here's a list of refrigerator repair tools to have on hand:

  • Multimeter.
  • Ratchet wrench.
  • Flashlight.
  • Thermometer.
  • Pliers.
  • Adjustable wrench.
  • CHANNELLOCK pliers.
  • Hand truck or appliance dolly.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Bucket and towels.


Troubleshooting and FAQs for Fridge Repairs

Consider using this guide and answers to some FAQs to help you repair your refrigerator and prolong its life.

Why Isn't the Fridge Keeping Food Cold?

If you open your refrigerator and it feels warm, you could have a condenser coil issue. Check the temperature setting; if it's set to the right temperature, you'll need to pull the unit out to inspect the coils. Make sure to unplug the power before you work on the coils. The condenser coils can get dirty, especially in homes with pets. They can also get iced over. Clean the coils with a small vacuum by first removing the grille at the bottom of the unit. It would be best if you did this regularly. Be careful, as replacing the coils is expensive.

Getting rid of ice is as easy as unplugging the unit until the ice melts or using a hair dryer to thaw it. If the ice reforms within a few hours or days, you may have a bigger problem that needs the attention of a professional.

Why Isn't the Fridge Dispensing Water?

Many people experience this problem; a loose water line or fitting may cause the water dispenser to leak, while a fridge with a temperature set too low can cause the water line to freeze, preventing water from being dispensed. Turn off the water to the fridge, and inspect the water line for leaks and damage. Replace it if there are any signs of wear.

Why Isn't the Fridge Dispensing Ice?

It can be annoying when you can't get ice from your fridge. This can happen if the control arm gets stuck or the water filter needs to be switched. You can adjust the control arm by removing whatever is causing it to get stuck. Changing the filter helps water flow to the ice maker. It may not dispense ice if the water line freezes or the temperature is set too high or too low. You can change the temperature but may have to switch out the water line if it's damaged.

Why Is the Fridge Making Noise?h2>

A loud refrigerator could simply need leveling. The refrigerator's parts require a level surface to function, so they will make more noise when not completely level. You may need to replace the evaporator fan grommets, as they can wear out over time and cause the fan to rattle as it tries to distribute cool air throughout the unit. This is a relatively simple repair, but you'll have to access the back of the refrigerator and remove the evaporator fan. The power should be off to the fridge before you attempt this repair, and you'll want to wear gloves and eye protection.

Our Team Has You Covered for All Your Fridge Repair Parts

Our team at Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation here in the Chicago, Illinois, area has you covered when it comes to replacement parts for your refrigerator. No matter which brand you own, we can help you find the parts you need to make repairs. Contact us today with any questions you have about refrigerator replacement parts, or use your model number to look up parts with our simple online tool.