Why is my GE refrigerator not cooling?
Your General Electric (GE) refrigerator is probably one of the most important appliances in your home. You depend on it to keep your food from going bad and to provide your family with the sustenance they need to go about their day. However, while GE refrigerators are known for being high quality, they can be susceptible to issues with the cooling system over time, just like all fridges.
That’s why it’s good to know what you’re looking for when it comes to your GE refrigerator not cooling. The faster you can diagnose the problem, the faster you can fix the problem — or call in a professional to fix it for you.
This article will explain possible causes of your GE refrigerator not cooling and offer step-by-step solutions. We’ll also explain when a refrigerator repair is best left to a service professional.
Possible causes of your GE refrigerator not cooling
There are several common causes for why your GE refrigerator isn’t cooling. You might be able to handle some issues on your own, but you may want to leave other problems in the capable hands of a service professional.
Condenser coils covered in debris
Condenser coils are located across the bottom or at the very back of the refrigerator. They keep the refrigerator cool by chilling and condensing the refrigerant. Condenser coils can get clogged with debris or dust, preventing them from releasing hot air. Ultimately, this makes it difficult for your fridge to cool down and use energy efficiently, and it can decrease the life span of your fridge.
A tell-tale sign that your condenser coils need to be cleaned is if your freezer is cooling properly when your fridge is not. Thankfully, there’s an easy solution: Use a cleaning brush and vacuum the compressor coils. Once you’ve removed dust and debris from the compressor coils, your fridge should begin to cool properly again.
Refrigerators have three main components: the compressor, the condenser and the evaporator. However, the compressor is probably the most important part — it essentially compresses and circulates the refrigerant through the other parts. So, if one component of your GE refrigerator isn’t working correctly, the compressor will have to work harder. This can cause it to break down faster and cause your fridge to stop cooling.
If your GE fridge has stopped cooling or has started to overheat, there could be serious issues with your compressor. When the compressor overheats, acidic chemicals begin to eat away at the compressor, causing even more deterioration. A multimeter, which finds open circuits, can be used to test the power between the electrical pins in the compressor.
Sometimes, the start relay is the root of the problem. Since the compressor doesn’t run constantly, a start relay is in charge of starting up the cooling cycle. To diagnose a problem with the start relay, consider these indications that it’s not functioning properly:
- Clicking sounds: When a compressor works correctly, the start relay makes a click when it starts. Even if the compressor doesn’t start, the start relay will click. If you hear repeated clicking (every two to five minutes), it’s likely that the start relay needs to be replaced.
- Lack of intermittent humming: Hearing occasional humming from your refrigerator is normal and indicates a functional compressor. A lack of humming and temperature rise indicates that the start relay isn’t working correctly.
- Manual test: The start relay, which is located in a shared compartment with the compressor, can be removed and shaken. Simply unplug the start relay from the compressor, shake it, and listen. If you hear rattling from the start relay, it needs to be replaced. If it’s not rattling, it’s likely a problem with the compressor.
Low refrigerant level
Did you recently notice that the refrigerator isn’t cooling like it’s supposed to? Wondering how to check your refrigerant levels? Luckily, figuring out if your fridge has low refrigerant levels isn’t very difficult.
To check if your GE fridge needs more refrigerant, start by unplugging the fridge. Turn off the temperature control and listen closely to the side of the fridge. If you notice gurgling or hissing sounds, your fridge has refrigerant present. Refrigerant is essential in keeping your fridge cool. If you hear nothing, your fridge needs more refrigerant, which a service professional will need to test and refill.
Frost on the evaporator coils
Evaporator coils on a GE fridge play an important role in keeping the inside of the fridge cool. These essential coils work by taking in liquid refrigerant to absorb heat. The liquid refrigerant then turns into a gas as it heats up and moves to the compressor. Some fridges even have little fans that blow air directly into the evaporator coils, helping the warm air to be even more quickly absorbed.
If there’s frost on the evaporator coils — reducing cool airflow in the fridge — this might indicate a problem with the fridge’s defrost system. If there’s no defrost cycle, this can allow frost to build up on the evaporator coils. While you can do a manual defrosting to thaw the ice buildup, it’s best to call in a service professional to get to the root of the problem.
Refrigerator door seal leak
The refrigerator door ensures that all the cool air in your fridge stays inside. If seals are leaking, this can cause other components of your system to work harder, wasting energy and increasing your energy bill.
The door seals are made from rubber-like strips, otherwise called gaskets. These strips prevent hot air from getting in and cold air from seeping out. However, they can become dirty or damaged. If the gaskets are dirty, you can just wipe them down with a wet cloth. However, if you see bigger issues, like tears, the gasket will need to be replaced by a service professional.
Broken evaporator fan
Another reason your GE refrigerator isn’t cooling could be issues with the evaporator fan. The evaporator fan is what pushes air over the evaporator coils and throughout the freezer and refrigerator compartment.
If you notice that your freezer is still cold but the fridge isn’t, there might be something wrong with the evaporator fan. To see if the evaporator fan is working properly, turn the fan blades by hand. If they are difficult to turn, you may need a new motor. You may also need to replace the motor if the old one is making too much noise. For a fan motor that’s not working at all, you’ll need to use a multimeter to test for winding continuity.
A refrigerator’s thermistor controls the temperature of the fridge. The thermistor can sense changes in the refrigerator temperature. From there, it sends a signal to the main control board so the contents of the fridge stay at a constant temperature. This prevents fresh food in your fridge from freezing and prevents spoiling from overheating.
When a thermistor is defective, it can’t send correct signals to the control board. As a result, the control board can’t regulate the temperature of the fridge. Although visual cues can indicate an issue with the thermistor, like discoloration or cracking, most issues with the thermistor are internal and caused by chemical degradation. So, you may need to use a multimeter to test the thermistor.
Here are three ways to test a thermistor:
- Passive test of the main control board: This non-destructive method is quick and requires minimal effort. However, it’s not always an option because you can’t test a thermistor positioned on the evaporator suction tube.
- Testing from each location: This is a destructive method of testing the thermistor. To test, the thermistor must be cut off, tested, and then re-installed. This is a time-consuming process that requires cutting wires. However, it can test the evaporator thermistor.
- Active testing from the main control board: Like the passive test, this is a quick, non-destructive and efficient process. However, it can’t test a thermistor on the evaporator suction tube.
How to fix a GE refrigerator that’s not cooling
If your fridge isn’t cooling, you’ll want to diagnose the problem immediately. Follow these steps if your GE refrigerator isn’t working properly:
Determine the issue
First, it’s important to identify where the issue is coming from. To determine what might be the cause of the cooling issue, follow these steps:
- Make sure the fridge is getting power. To do so, open the fridge door and see if the light comes on.
- Look at the thermostat and ensure that it wasn’t turned down by accident.
- Check vents and the compressor and evaporator coils to ensure they aren’t blocked.
- Vacuum coils behind or underneath the fridge.
- Unplug the fridge and listen for gurgling or hissing sounds from the refrigerant.
- Open the doors and look for obvious signs of wear and tear on the gaskets.
Source GE refrigerator replacement parts
GE offers replacement parts and accessories for its refrigerators. Whether you need a new thermostat, condenser fan or ice maker, they offer a variety of replacement parts to keep your refrigerator up and running.
Know when to seek professional help
Although some issues with your GE fridge can be managed at home, not every problem has a simple solution. Compressor coils are easy enough to vacuum and clean on your own, but replacing refrigerator door seals and broken evaporator coils is best left to the professionals — you don’t want to do more damage than good!
Avoid the risks associated with DIY appliance repair and troubleshooting by getting in touch with knowledgeable and certified service professionals.
Get stronger protection for your GE refrigerator with Cinch
While your GE refrigerator can last a long time, it’s good to be prepared in case problems, such as issues with cooling, happen. A home protection plan from Cinch Home Services can give you the peace of mind you need when unexpected breakdowns occur.
With multiple plans to choose from, including an Appliances Plan, and the ability to choose a deductible, you can get the coverage you need on terms that work for you. And when a covered item breaks down, you can request service online or by phone at any time, and we’ll find a qualified service professional to diagnose and remedy the problem.
At Cinch, we know there’s no good time for major appliances and built-in systems to break down, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan. Request a free quote today.
Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to provide potential solutions but aren’t guaranteed to fix the problem. To avoid further issues, though, please seek an expert opinion similar to one offered by a Cinch service provider.