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Simple Steps on How To Repair A Refrigerator (DIY)

Take charge of fixing the most prevalent refrigerator issues on your own and avoid the cost of a service call!

Discover easy solutions for the four most frequent refrigerator issues: ice-maker malfunctions, water leakage onto the floor, cooling failures, and excessive noise.

Tools Required

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Hair dryer
  • Level
  • Long brush
  • Nut driver
  • Vacuum

Fixing Common Refrigerator Problems

You’re likely capable of resolving refrigerator repairs on your own, saving money and bypassing the hassle of scheduling a service appointment. The following article will guide you through straightforward solutions to address the most typical fridge malfunctions.

STEP 1 – Refrigerator Repair Problem: Ice Maker on Strike

  • Rather than searching for “refrigerator service near me,” utilize this guide to repair your refrigerator independently.
  • If your ice maker ceases to function or produces small or discolored ice cubes, it’s typically due to a partially or completely blocked water supply.
  • To identify and resolve the blockage, examine the three common trouble spots outlined below. Further details will be provided in the subsequent steps.

STEP 2 – Easy Fixes for an Ice Maker

To start, inspect the water inlet tube for any ice buildup. Expert Tip: A low water pressure situation can cause the tube supplying water to your ice maker to become blocked with ice. This occurs when the water flowing slowly freezes along the tube, creating a blockage before it reaches the ice maker. To uninstall the ice maker, unscrew the fasteners securing it in position. Disconnect the wiring harness and remove the ice maker unit to reveal the water inlet tube.

STEP 3 – Melt the Ice

Use a hair dryer to thaw the ice inside the water inlet tube. Continue until water ceases to drip from the tube.

STEP 4 – Unblock the Saddle Valve

Many ice makers are linked to the home’s water supply through a “saddle” valve. One common issue with saddle valves is the potential for the needle hole in the pipe to become obstructed. Fortunately, clearing this blockage is a straightforward task once you locate the saddle valve. Expert Tip: If your basement is unfinished, you’re likely to discover a tube beneath the refrigerator that connects to the valve. Otherwise, check under your kitchen sink.

STEP 5 – Close-Up of a Saddle Valve

Rotate the saddle valve in a clockwise direction to remove any blockages. Ensure to firmly secure it to eliminate mineral deposits from the pinhole. Subsequently, reopen the valve.

STEP 6 – Replace the Inlet Valve

  • At the back of your fridge, there’s a small electric “inlet valve” that turns the water supply to the ice maker on and off.
    • Pro tip: Before you replace the valve, make sure water is flowing to it. Turn off the water at the saddle valve and disconnect the supply tube from the inlet valve.
  • Hold the tube over a bucket and have a helper turn on the saddle valve.
    • Pro tip: If water flows out of the tube, the water supply is fine and chances are the inlet valve is bad.
  • To replace the inlet valve, unscrew the cover panel and remove the screws that hold the valve in place.
  • Unplug the wiring and unscrew the nuts that connect the water lines.
  • Reverse these steps to install the new valve.
  • When the job is done, turn the water back on and check for leaks before you push the fridge back into place.

STEP 7 – Refrigerator Repair Problem: The Fridge Produces Puddles

The water supply lines connected to ice makers or water dispensers may develop leaks, leading to pools forming beneath the refrigerator. However, even fridges lacking these features can encounter water-related issues. Every refrigerator naturally generates water through condensation and the melting of ice. If the mechanisms responsible for managing this water fail, it can result in puddles forming both inside and outside the fridge.

STEP 8 – Leak-Prone Parts of a Compression Fitting

Begin by inspecting the water supply line. If your refrigerator is equipped with an ice maker or water dispenser, carefully move the fridge out and examine for any signs of leakage. Should you discover a leak originating from the inlet valve, ensure to tighten the compression nuts securely. In the case of a leak from the plastic or copper tubing, it’s recommended to replace the affected tubing. Expert Tip: Tubing is commonly attached to the saddle valve and inlet valve using screw-on compression fittings.

STEP 9 – Check the Fridge With A Level

Water typically drains into a pan beneath the refrigerator, where it evaporates naturally. However, if your fridge is significantly tilted, there’s a risk of water spilling out of the pan. This issue can be resolved by leveling the fridge.

To level the fridge, follow these steps:

  1. Adjust the fridge so that it is level from side to side and slightly tilted backward.
  2. Stack quarters near the back of the fridge and place a two-foot level on top of them.
  3. Once the bubble in the level indicates that the surface is level, the tilt is correct.

STEP 10 – Use the Adjustment Screws

Remove the front cover grille to adjust the level or tilt of the fridge. Use the adjustment screws to raise or lower the front corners of the fridge as needed.

STEP 11 – Lift the Back Cover Panel

When the drain tube in the freezer becomes blocked, water may leak into the compartment below or onto the floor. To clear the blockage:

  1. Start by removing the cover panel.
  2. Next, remove the screws securing the back cover panel.
  3. For some models, you may need to use a putty knife to pry out plastic screw covers to access the screws for freezer repair. Additionally, in certain models, you may also need to unscrew the floor panel.

STEP 12 – Clear the Drain Hole

  1. Utilize a hair dryer to melt any ice buildup.
  2. Absorb the melted water with a sponge, then tidy up around the drain hole.
  3. Insert a tube into the drain hole and remove any debris by blowing it out. Expert Tip: Any tube that fits snugly into the hole will suffice. Alternatively, you can employ a tire pump or air compressor (ensure to adjust the pressure down to 30 psi).
  4. Pour a cup of water into the tube to verify drainage before reattaching the cover panel.

STEP 13 – Refrigerator Repair Problem: Fridge or Freezer Won’t Cool

There are numerous malfunctions that can lead to your freezer failing to freeze items effectively. One common issue is a sudden loss of electricity, resulting in soft ice cream or warm beverages. If you notice that the fridge light doesn’t turn on when you open the door, ensure that the refrigerator is plugged in and inspect the breaker panel for any tripped breakers. If the fridge is running but fails to reach the desired temperature, implementing one of the following fixes may help restore the cooling function.

STEP 14 – Check The Temperature Control Dial

Begin by inspecting the thermostat and vents. Occasionally, the temperature control dial inside the fridge may be adjusted by curious children, so ensure it hasn’t been set too low. Additionally, verify that the vents in both the fridge and freezer compartments are not obstructed by food containers. These vents facilitate the circulation of cold air throughout the appliance.

STEP 15 – Clean the Coils

For your refrigerator to effectively generate cooling, air must circulate freely through the condenser coils. In older refrigerators, these coils are typically located on the backside. However, obstructing the airflow by placing cereal boxes on top of the fridge or stuffing grocery bags behind it can hinder the process. In contrast, most newer refrigerators feature coils located underneath, where they are susceptible to blockages from trash accumulation and dust buildup. To maintain efficient operation, it’s advisable to clean the coils annually, or every six months if you have pets that shed fur. Long brushes, available at appliance stores for approximately $8, can be used to pull dust and fur balls from beneath and between the coils, ensuring unimpeded airflow for optimal cooling performance.

STEP 16 – Vacuum The Fan

Refrigerators with coils located on the back generate their own airflow as they heat up, while models with coils underneath rely on a fan to push air through them. However, dust accumulation can impede the fan’s function, and obstructions such as wads of paper or trash can halt it entirely. To address these issues, pull out the fridge and unscrew the cover panel to access the fan. Use a vacuum to remove dust from the fan and its surroundings, then ensure the refrigerator is started to verify that the fan turns freely.

STEP 17 – Diagnose a Bum Refrigerator Circuit Board

If your refrigerator fails to maintain cold temperatures, the issue might stem from a burned circuit board or a malfunctioning circuit board relay. Before seeking repair services, attempt the following troubleshooting method. Firstly, unplug the fridge and carefully move it out from its position. Next, inspect the back of the appliance, removing any metal cover plates or cardboard access panels to access the circuit board. Check the board for any signs of burn marks, and if found, replace the affected components. When replacing components, transfer the press-on connectors to the new board one at a time, ensuring each connector is firmly seated onto the header pins. If the circuit board appears undamaged, locate the largest relay on the board, typically identified as the largest rectangular plastic box. After plugging in the fridge (avoid touching any wires), lightly tap on the compressor relay to potentially dislodge any electrical contacts. If the refrigerator starts functioning after this action, it indicates a need for a replacement circuit board.

STEP 18 – Replace A Bum Refrigerator Circuit Board

If burn marks are absent and tapping fails to resolve the issue, or if the compressor emits a humming or clicking sound before shutting off, the problem may be attributed to a faulty relay positioned on the compressor itself. For guidance on addressing this issue, refer to instructions for refrigerator compressor repair.

STEP 19 – Refrigerator Repair Problem: A Noisy Fridge

The source of refrigerator noise typically originates from the compressor located beneath the appliance, the condenser fan motor positioned under the fridge, or the evaporator fan motor housed within the freezer. To identify the source of the noise, open the freezer door while the fridge is operational. If the noise remains consistent regardless of the freezer door being open or closed, proceed to pull out the fridge for further inspection.

Most refrigerators are equipped with a condenser fan motor. To determine whether the noise emanates from the fan or the compressor, unscrew the back cover and listen closely.

If the noise is attributed to a loud compressor, the most effective solution is often to invest in a new refrigerator. Alternatively, to address issues related to the fan motor, remove its mounting screws, unplug it, and install a replacement motor.

STEP 20 – Remove The Fan

If the noise intensifies upon opening the freezer, the likely source of the noise is the evaporator fan motor. Fortunately, replacing this refrigerator motor is a straightforward task.

While your fan may vary slightly in appearance from the one depicted here, the fundamental steps for replacement remain consistent. Begin by unscrewing the fan from the rear wall of the freezer and disconnecting the wires.

For certain models, you may require a socket set or nut driver to remove the fan securely.

STEP 21 – Replace the Old Fan

Detach the refrigerator fan motor from its mounting bracket. Secure the new fan onto the mounting bracket, reattach the wires, and fasten the new fan securely into place using screws.

STEP 22 – Finding Fridge Parts

To ensure you acquire the correct part for your refrigerator, you’ll require the model number, typically imprinted on a tag inside the fridge. If you’re unable to locate it within or on the fridge, consult your owner’s manual for guidance.

To find a parts dealer in your vicinity, conduct an online search for “Appliances, Major, Parts near me.”

STEP 23 – Don’t Wreck The Floor When You Pull Out The Fridge

In most cases, pulling out a fridge won’t cause any damage to the floor. However, even a slight sideways skid or a small grain of sand trapped under a wheel can leave marks on the floor surface. As a precautionary measure, it’s advisable to lay down a cardboard runway before moving your fridge.

For enhanced floor protection, consider using 1/8-inch hardboard, readily available at home centers. Additionally, using a pair of shims to create a ramp can facilitate easier pulling while minimizing potential floor damage.

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