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Common Refrigerator Problems

by Lucille Watson

woman laying head on fridge

A reliable fridge can last for up to 20 years, but at some point, you’ll start to experience various problems. When replacing your refrigerator rather than fixing it, consider the reputation of the brand and its energy efficiency. Your fridge is the highest energy-guzzler in your kitchen, and investing in one that will save you a few bucks each month will add up. Take a look at the most common refrigerator problems below to see if you should fix or replace your fridge.

At A Glance

10 Common Fridge Problems

9 Signs to Replace Your Fridge

Our Top 3 Favorite Fridges


Why Trust Us?

10 Common Refrigerator Problems

Let’s see which issues you may be experiencing with your refrigerator.

common fridge problems

1. Temperature Problems

The most common refrigerator problem is a refrigerator not cooling. Obviously, having your fridge keep food cool is a necessity, so this issue needs to be addressed quickly.

Keep Away from Walls

Make sure your fridge is placed correctly and not too close to a wall. The air vents need to have space to allow for proper airflow.

Worn Down Gasket

Make sure your fridge door can properly open and close. If you find that it has a hard time shutting or you have to pry it open, the fridge door seal may need to be replaced.

Temperature Control Gauge

Double-check that your fridge’s internal temperature is correct by placing a thermometer inside the appliance. The gauge could be broken and not reading and cooling your fridge’s temp correctly.

2. Blocked Vents

Your refrigerator's air circulation relies on vents to maintain a cool and uniform temperature throughout. When we overcrowd the refrigerator with groceries, leftovers, and other perishables, the interior ventilation might become partially or completely blocked.

3. Condenser Coils That Are Filthy

You have an issue with the condenser coils if everything else appears to be operating except the fridge not cooling. The performance of your refrigerator will be harmed if your refrigeration system's condenser coils are unclean, as they will have to work more than usual to expel heat from inside the device.

4. Condenser Fan Motor

If your refrigerator still won't cool down, the issue might be with the condenser fan motor. The fan motor pulls air to cool the condenser coils, and a broken fan increases the likelihood of your kitchen appliance overheating and failing to cool.

5. Evaporator Fan

Depending on your refrigerator type, one or more evaporator fans may be installed. The cold air from the evaporator coils is distributed throughout the freezer compartment by these fans.

6. Control Panels

Most current refrigerator models use at least two circuit boards to manage the refrigerator's key functions: the main and temperature control boards. One or both circuit boards have to be damaged in order for your refrigerator to not cool, resulting in rotting food.

7. Electricity Availability

It's sometimes as easy as verifying if your refrigerator is plugged in before dismantling it to uncover the problem. If the electrical plug is not fully inserted into the socket, it is likely to come free, resulting in the loss of power to your refrigerator.

8. Location

This may come as a surprise, but the location of your refrigerator has an impact on its function. Your fridge's cooling ability will suffer if your kitchen or garage is excessively chilly or hot. Having hot appliances like ranges, dishwashers, and ovens next to your model can also affect its cooling abilities.

9. Uneven Ground Leveling

Did you realize that your refrigerator's cooling capacity might be harmed by leveling? If your refrigerator's side-to-side level is even slightly wrong, it will throw everything off and prevent the cooling system from operating.

10. Clearances

Air circulation is blocked off if your built-in or counter-depth refrigerators are too densely packed with food in certain areas, preventing your model from chilling down.

Shop Refrigerator Hot Buys

9 Signs That Your Fridge Needs to be Replaced

Keep an eye out for these signs to know when to replace your refrigerator.

woman sitting in front of broken fridge

1. Back Panel of Fridge is Hot

The rear of a refrigerator is usually warmer than the sides or the front due to the position of the engine. The motor, on the other hand, may be operating too hot if the rear outside surface generates a lot of heat. Any refrigerator that is less than six or eight years old should be repaired by a professional (particularly if it is still under warranty).

However, if the appliance is more than ten years old, it's usually advisable to replace it. After all, replacing a broken motor may cost hundreds of dollars, and you're probably going to need a new fridge anyhow.

2. Food Spoilage Before Expiration Date

At lunch, no one likes to deal with sour milk and stale cheese. Food can spoil before its expiry date if it is kept in an old refrigerator with insufficient power. Perishable foods should be maintained at a temperature of 40 degrees or below according to food safety guidelines, so check the temperature adjustment knob to make sure it's set appropriately.

If the knob looks to be in good working order, your refrigerator is definitely on its final legs, and you should replace it with a newer one.

3. Excess Condensation

Excessive condensation shows that your refrigerator's cooling capacity is insufficient. Check the door seal if the wetness is only on the outside; you can simply repair a defective seal on your own. If the seal seems to be in good condition, or if condensation occurs on the interior of the fridge, the internal temperature of the appliance isn't low enough to protect food from rotting, and it's time to replace it.

4. Extremely Loud

Most refrigerators have a moderate hum, but if yours has recently begun to buzz loudly, the motor may be failing to function correctly. Try disconnecting the refrigerator and then plugging it back in. If the buzzing continues, your refrigerator is likely to die.

5.  A Bit Too Quiet

A malfunctioning compressor is indicated by a perfectly quiet fridge and food that doesn’t chill. Unplug the refrigerator and re-plug it, then check your home's electrical panel to see whether a breaker has tripped. If the problem persists, begin shopping for a replacement model.

6. Multiple Refrigerator Repairs Needed

At the end of your fridge life cycle, maintenance issues begin to multiply. Consider purchasing a new appliance instead of paying excessive money for fridge repairs. With a more dependable model, you'll save money in the long run—and you'll also give your handyman a rest.

7. Noticeable Frost

Freezers frequently accumulate frost, which may be removed by turning the freezer off and letting the ice melt. On the other hand, if you have to chisel through heaps of frost every time you reach for a frozen meal, your appliance is undoubtedly old and inefficient. Upgrade to a frost-free model if you don't already have one. It will save you money on electricity and eliminate the need for manual defrosting.

8. High Utility Bills

If you start to notice your utility bills are climbing month after month, the cause could be your fridge. Refrigerators are one of the most energy-sucking appliances in the kitchen, but when a fridge reaches the end of it’s life, you’ll start paying double.

Homeowners can use an energy usage monitor to detect how much watts the fridge is consuming and estimate monthly utility expenses. This will give you an idea whether your fridge needs to be scrapped.

9. 10 Years or Older

While some refrigerators can last for more than a decade, older models tend to use a lot of energy, resulting in a higher electric bill. When searching for a new refrigerator, look for the ENERGY STAR accreditation because these models use roughly 9% less energy than the federal minimum.

Our 3 Favorite Fridges

If you’ve found your fridge has one or more of these common refrigerator problems, take a look at some of our most reliable appliances below.

1. Cafe French Door Refrigerator (CVE28DM5NS5)

Cafe refrigerators are known for their modern designs. If you are looking to create a statement kitchen, this undeniably stylish option is excellent. Keep all your leafy greens fresh with Cafes Humidity Control System. Use the full-width tray to store date night flatbreads or pizzas without taking up valuable space. And lastly, our best refrigerator choice gives you WiFi capabilities that send you immediate alerts when anything needs to be fixed or adjusted.

open Café fridge

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Why We Love It:

  • 27.6 Cubic Feet of Max Capacity
  • Sophisticated Style
  • Auto Fill Water Dispenser
  • WiFi Technology

2. KitchenAid Count-Depth Refrigerator (KRSC703HPS)

If you’re looking for a curated look for your kitchen, search no further. This KitchenAid refrigerator features a smudge-resistant finish accompanied by sleek designs. The Preserva Food Care System keeps food fresh for longer, while the FreshFlow Air Filter eliminates unwanted odors. Also, for chilled water and immediate ice, this fridge provides you with the In-Door-Ice System for those busy summer days coming up.

Recommended Read: KitchenAid Refrigerator Reviews

KitchenAid fridge

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Why We Love It:

  • 22.6 Cubic Feet of Capacity
  • Preserva Food Care System
  • FreshFlow Air Filters
  • Measured Water Filler

3. Bosch French Door Refrigerator (B36CT80SNS)

Bosch refrigerators pride themselves on showcasing form and function with high-tech possibilities. This Bosch bottom freezer fridge features an XXL frozen foods BigBox compartment for any number of pizzas or boxes of popsicles. Also, to save on energy simply activate the Eco-Mode function. This automatically adjusts temperatures to bring about economical chilling climates. Lastly, this Bosch refrigerator uses FreshProtect and AirFresh Filters to eliminate obnoxious and harmful odors that may stem from ripe fruits or veggies.

Recommended Read: Bosch Refrigerator Reviews

open Bosch Fridge

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Why We Love It:

  • 21.0 Cubic Feet of Capacity
  • XXL BigBox Frozen Drawer
  • Eco-Mode
  • MultiAirFlow, FreshProtect, and AirFresh Filters

All in all, investing in a new refrigerator rather than spending excessive amounts of money trying to fix an old fridge may be the best option. If your fridge’s water stopped working or your refrigerator freezer won’t freeze, a repairman can only do so much. Check out Spencer’s extensive refrigerator catalog and see which one will fit your home the best.


Let’s review a few more common refrigerator problems and questions.

What is the average life expectancy of a refrigerator?

The US Department of Energy states that most refrigerators will last for roughly 12 years. After 12 years, it may prove necessary to replace the refrigerator.

Why is my fridge leaking?

The most likely cause of your fridge leaking water is a plugged defrost drain. The defrost drain keeps the fridge from getting too cold. The refrigerator defrosts automatically and drips water into a pan. Food particles or other material might jam the defrost drain on occasion.

Which brand of refrigerator has the least problems?

We’ve found that Samsung, GE, and LG fridges have the least number of problems over longer stints of time.

Why Trust Spencer’s TV & Appliance?

Since 1973, Spencer’s TV & Appliance has grown to 10 locations throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The secret to our longevity is simple: personal service. Customer satisfaction has always been the focus of our business, and throughout the years, we have been able to work hard with our suppliers to bring you the best prices. After all, getting customers the best price and personal attention is how we compete with big-box stores, day in and day out.

Not only do we offer top-rated appliances, name-brand electronics, and the best mattresses on the market but we also provide water treatment solutions and perform kitchen design services. Stop by your nearest Spencer’s and see what you’re missing!

Shop Refrigerators at Spencer’s

At Spencer’s TV & Appliance, we provide high-quality, name-brand products at great prices — check out our catalog to shop fridges online today. Your friends in the business are always happy to help you find the common refrigerator problems you may be experiencing. Call us, or better yet, stop by at one of our locations in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale regions. Visit us today!