Why is my Whirlpool refrigerator not cooling?
It can be frustrating when your refrigerator doesn’t cool. The longer your fridge isn’t working, the more time your food has to spoil. This can quickly become an expensive problem if your fridge is fully stocked. It also means the people in your home might not have the items they need.
When your Whirlpool refrigerator breaks down, you need to figure out what’s wrong fast so you can fix it. In this article, we’ll explore several reasons your fridge might not be cooling and what you can do about it.
How your Whirlpool refrigerator works to cool
Refrigerators use a closed loop to keep your food fresh and slow the growth of bacteria. They work by evaporating refrigerant fluid into a gas inside the fridge and then condensing it back into a liquid.
There are condenser coils in the back of your fridge where cool liquid refrigerant is under high pressure. The fluid flows through the condenser coils into a capillary tube where its pressure is reduced. Then, the refrigerant is shot into an evaporator inside your fridge.
The refrigerant is now under very low pressure in the evaporator. It boils at a low temperature and experiences a phase change into a gas. As the refrigerant evaporates, it cools the area inside your refrigerator.
The liquid then enters the compressor. The compressor is the motor of your fridge. It squeezes the cool air until it’s hot and pushes it back through the condenser. The condenser cools the hot gas by letting heat escape into the air behind the fridge. As the gas cools, it condenses back into a liquid and the process repeats.
Possible causes of Whirlpool refrigerator not cooling
There are several reasons your Whirlpool refrigerator might not be cooling properly. In the next few sections, we’ll go over some of the most common reasons and give you some tips for troubleshooting your Whirlpool fridge.
Broken evaporator fan
The evaporator fan motor is located inside the freezer compartment of your whirlpool refrigerator in the back. It pulls cool air from your evaporator coils and blows it around the area of your fridge. It should work whenever the compressor is on.
If your evaporator fan isn’t working, your freezer may still be cold, but your refrigerator compartment won’t be. A squealing or crunching sound coming from your motor could indicate that it needs to be replaced or has something stuck in it.
To see if there’s any buildup on your fan, unplug the refrigerator and remove the evaporator cover. You may have to take out the ice maker and a few shelves in your freezer to get to it. Take out the styrofoam insulator block and spin the fan blade with your hand to see if its movement is being restricted. Clean off any buildup with a hard brush.
If the fan isn’t running at all, unplug your refrigerator, then unplug the Molex connector for the fan motor. Use a multimeter to test the wires. You’ll find the power specifications for your fan motor on your refrigerator’s instruction sheet or owner’s manual. The instruction sheet might be inside the bottom grill of your fridge or taped to the back.
If the wiring is fine, you may need to replace the fan. If your fan motor isn’t receiving enough power, though, there might be issues with your main control board. In both cases, however, it’s a good idea to call in a professional. Cinch Home Services makes it easy to deal with unexpected breakdowns, like a broken evaporator fan, with the ability to request service 24/7 and a network of pre-screen service professionals in your area to remedy the problem. Get a free quote today.
How does your fridge know when to stop cooling? The thermistor takes temperature readings. It’s connected to the compressor in the fridge. When the refrigerator temperature has reached the desired level, it sends a message to the control panel to shut the compressor off. When the fridge is too hot, it tells the control panel to turn the compressor on.
Typically, the temperature control thermostat will be behind the evaporator cover in the freezer. See if the wiring is damaged and test the temperature resistance using a multimeter. Once again, you’ll be able to find your refrigerator’s temperature resistance chart on its instruction sheet.
Frosted evaporator coils
Your evaporator coils allow refrigerant to change into gas, which produces cold air. As the coils operate, frost builds up. Your refrigerator should automatically remove frost a few times a day. If the defrost system isn’t functioning properly, buildup can clog air vents and stop cold air from circulating.
Several components play a role in your fridge’s defrost system. The thermistor tells the control board when it’s time to activate the defrost system. The control panel tells the defrost heater to start. The defrost heater melts the frost from the evaporator coils. The bi-metal thermostat makes sure the fridge doesn’t overheat. For safety reasons, if the bi-metal thermostat isn’t working, the defrost heater won’t, either.
To see if you have frosted evaporator coils, unplug your refrigerator and remove the evaporator cover of your fridge. You should be able to see the frost on your evaporator coils. If there’s a large amount of buildup, some part of your refrigerator’s defrost system is likely malfunctioning.
Leak in the refrigerator door seal
Rubber gaskets on the doors seal cold air in your fridge and keep warm air out. If the door seals are leaky or broken, it won’t take long for your fridge to warm up. If you have damaged seals, you might notice extra humidity inside your fridge.
Another sign that your seals are broken is if your refrigerator is always on. Generally, your compressor will only run when the temperature in your fridge is too warm. When cool air escapes, the thermistor reads higher temperatures and tells the compressor to run continuously.
Examine the gaskets on your fridge closely to see if there’s any damage and run your hand around them to see if you feel any airflow escaping. If your seals are broken, you may need to hire a service provider to replace them.
Dirty condenser coils
Condenser coils take pressurized refrigerant gas from the compressor motor and cool it back into a liquid. The coils cool the gas by releasing heat into the area around the refrigerator. Because these coils are located behind the fridge on the outside, it’s easy for them to get dusty. If your coils are too dirty, it can be hard for heat to escape. Dirty condenser coils are the most common cause of refrigerator cooling problems.
To see your condenser coils, you’ll have to pull your fridge out from the wall. Use a vacuum cleaner to pick up all the dust you can. Use a brush to pick up any stubborn debris that’s left over. Try to clean your condenser coils at least once a year. You might need to clean them more often if you have pets, though.
Low refrigerant level
Refrigerant is the fuel that evaporates and condenses to cool the inside of your refrigerator. Most refrigerators are designed not to need more refrigerant during their life span. However, it’s possible for damaged or broken cables to leak refrigerant. If this is the case, you’ll likely have to enlist the help of a service provider to repair the problem and reset your levels.
The best way to tell if your fridge has enough refrigerant is to turn it off and unplug it. Put your ear to the refrigerator. You should hear the sound of your refrigerant fluid sloshing around. If you don’t hear anything, you could be low on refrigerant.
Issues with the compressor
The compressor heats up and pressurizes air from the evaporator before sending it back into the condenser. It’s the powerhouse of your refrigerator that keeps the air cooling process running smoothly.
Generally, a refrigerator compressor will give off a low hum when it’s running. When a compressor is about to fail, the noise will often get continually louder and louder before the motor shuts off.
If your compressor is getting annoyingly loud, call a technician right away. Compressors can be expensive to replace. Repairing or replacing compressors should generally be done by a professional.
To see your compressor, remove the compartment cover at the bottom of the back of your refrigerator. If the condenser fan motor is working, the compressor is likely getting power because the two components are generally on the same circuit from the control panel. If the compressor fan isn’t working, though, you might have an issue with your control panel or the wiring in your fridge.
Unplug your fridge, remove the retainer clip from the compartment cover and take out the start relay capacitor. Shake the relay. If it rattles, it’s almost definitely broken. If the relay doesn’t work, the compressor won’t turn on. The start relay quickly starts the compressor, shuts it off and protects it from overloading.
Protect your Whirlpool refrigerator with Cinch
Your refrigerator is one of the most important major appliances in your home. You depend on it to keep your food and drinks from spoiling. Unfortunately, a broken fridge can cost you in wasted groceries and even more in dining out expenses.
Fortunately, Cinch offers home protection plans to give you peace of mind when it comes to covered built-in systems and major appliances, like your Whirlpool refrigerator. With a Cinch home protection plan, you can request service at any time and from anywhere, and we’ll find a pre-screen service pro in your area to diagnose and remedy the problem. We also offer a 180-day workmanship guarantee on covered repairs, cover unknown pre-existing conditions and offer a discount on brand-name appliances when it’s time to upgrade.
Breathe easier knowing that our service providers are there to provide appliance repair and keep your Whirlpool refrigerator running. 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.