Available in early 2009
Monthly Archives: October 2008
A nonworking refrigerator is almost never an inexpensive or easy situation to endure. Most likely in addition to the stress of needing the essential appliance repaired quickly so life can return to normal, there is the matter of food spoiling. Sometimes the value of the food that may ruin exceeds the cost of paying a refrigeration tech to repair the unit. Unfortunately, there are many rural communities where there isn’t a qualified repair person. Even if there is a repair service, it is a lucky homeowner whose fridge cooperates by malfunctioning during business hours when the repair person isn’t already booked for the day (and the next).
Take a deep breath. Before you pick up the phone and call for assistance, look for the minor problems (that the repairman will still charge for). Open the fresh food compartment long enough to determine if the interior light comes on, proving that the kids or cat haven’t unplugged the unit. If there is no light, no noises, and no cool in the box, but the unit is connected by an undamaged cord to a receptacle, check the electrical panel to ensure that the circuit breakers or fuses for the circuit are not tripped or blown. If the breaker is tripped, unplug the refrigerator and see if the breaker will reset. If it trips, the problem is somewhere else in the circuit. In that case devise a way to try the refrigerator on a different circuit. If it starts normally, you need an electrician rather than an appliance repair person.
If the breaker resets with the refrigerator unplugged, there is likely a problem in the appliance. UNLESS the fridge is on an overloaded circuit. The average starting amperage on a compressor is 14 amps. If that load is connected to a 20 amp circuit that has other small appliances running when the refrigerator compressor tries to start, the circuit-breaker will trip (as it should).
Codes now require that a separate circuit be provided for the refrigerator, but that has not always been the case. Other odd external things that can cause a complete power loss to the refrigerator are defective circuits (loose and broken wires and connections) and a worn receptacle. Perhaps the prongs on the refrigerator cord have burned away from arcing in an old receptacle. Inspect them. Remove the bulb from the fresh food compartment and try it in a lamp to ensure that it isn’t defective. The combination of a bad bulb and a defective compressor starting-circuit or defrost timer may look like a complete power loss, but there is voltage present when the unit is connected to a live branch circuit.
In most cases, when a refrigerator stops cooling, the interior light works (and the fuses or circuit breaker and cord are good). Many will and should call for a professional repair person at that point, although I have done a few service calls where a toddler or small child had turned the cold control to the off position so check to ensure that the control is set to a number or letter.
Many refrigerators that have suddenly or gradually stopped cooling will be making noise ( as in fans and/or compressor running). Refrigerators with good running compressors and a full charge of freon will not cool properly if the condenser is dirty, the automatic defrost system is defective, or if the condenser or evaporator fans are not working. The unit will not cool at all if the compressor or the compressor-start circuit is bad.
If everything I wrote in the last paragraph is a complete mystery, it may be time to call an appliance repair service.