Refrigerator is Running but Not Cooling

Today I woke up to find that my fridge decided to stop cooling. My first thought was, I needed a new fridge. Fortunately that was not the case.

Step 1: Do not panic, there are many things that can go wrong with your refrigerator that you can fix yourself.

Step 2: Check to make sure all the obvious issues are not the problem.

  • Make sure the breaker did not trip.
  • Make sure the door was not slightly open.
  • Check for evidence that there was not power failure.
  • Check the coils under the refrigerator and clean them if needed

Step 3:  If none of those presented an issue, then you will have some work to do. Troubleshoot the problem by the following steps below.

The refrigerator does nothing, no fans, no lights, not cooling… This is a power issue.

  1. Double check the breakers. If the breaker has tripped then there is an issue with to power on that circuit.  If this happens more than once or twice before you call an electrician find out what is on that breaker. Switch the break to OFF and check to see what is not working. Sometime it may be lights, microwaves, electric car… etc. If you find something that is a power hog move it to another circuit and that should take care of the problem.
  2. Make sure it’s plugged in and that the outlet is working. You can test the outlet with a lamp. If the lamp work in the same outlet then you can assume the outlet is good.
  3. Check the power cord for any damage. If the power cord is damaged you will need to have it replaced. Most box stores will have power cord in stocks. It’s fairly simple and most come with very good directions

The refrigerator is running but it does not cool and the compressor is hot.

  1. Double check to make sure that the coils are not blocked with lint, etc. You should never let dust or lint build up on the coils as this reduces the life of your refrigerator.
  2. Check to make sure all the fans are working. Most refrigerators have several fans 2 -3 fans outside the box and 1-2 fans inside the box. If you find one that has failed you can easily replace it. Most of them are as easy as unplugging the old one and snapping in the new.
  3. If everything appears to be working, check the compressor located under the box in the back for heat. If you can not hold you hand on it for more than a few seconds (warning they can get very hot and burn you, so be very careful). This just happens to be what happened to my refrigerator. This problem lies within three components.
  • The Compressor – big job call in the pros
  • The Start Device – simple you can do it.
  • Overload Relay – simple you can do it.

Start off with the easy things and hope that fixes it. DO NOT FORGET TO UNPLUG the refrigerator.  This is very important since there are many places you can get electrocuted.

The start device and overload relay.

Attached to the compressor  is the start device and the relay. They plug into the side of the compressor by three pins. Many times the start device and relay are plugged in as one unit. Then can be taken apart after you unplug them. They should pull straight out from the compressor. Once you get them off, give them a little shake. If you hear a rattle then there is a chance this will be an easy fix. Take the parts and the serial number from your fridge to a local appliance shop and they can find the part for you. If you happen to notice that you have  an Embraco EGY 100 or EGY 70 today is your lucky day. Embraco has sent out a free upgrade kit, since they were having a problems with the factory installed parts. If you have an Embraco compressor make sure to ask them if they have the upgrade kit. Unfortunately, I did not have one so I was out $40. Once I had the part in hand it was simple as plugging it in and powering it up. One thing to remember it may take a few hours before the fridge is cool. If this part was the problem you will notice a temperature change in about 10 mins. But wait 3-4 hours before you start to fill it up.

If you do not see a temperature change within an hour, unplug it and call a tech or start shopping for a Refrigerator. Also don’t forget to check the warranty, I know this is an easy thing to overlook especially when the fridge is several years old.

Hopes this helps

124 thoughts on “Refrigerator is Running but Not Cooling

  1. Please help I have a whirlpool refrigerator that does not want to cool I had it sitting at my uncles house for about a year turned off and brought it to my house plunged it in every works but still no cold air after readinf your comments I replaced the start relay and overload and nothing the compressor is hot and the all fans are working is it possible for the Freon to leak out because it was sitting so long please help in need if help thanks

    1. Hey Frankie, chances are there is not a leak. Unless the cooling system has been damaged. There is really no way to “recharge” a fridge since they are made as a closed system. They are sealed at the factory and the only option is to replace it. The only way to recharge or add Freon is to install a pierce valve. Most fridges use very little Freon so it’s not really worth the efforts and the success rate is pretty low and typically problematic. To test for Freon, let the fridge run for 5 – 10 minutes then shut the fridge off. Then listen for a hiss or gurgling sound (you’ll need to put your ear to the side of the fridge to hear it) If this happens then there is Freon in the system. That noise is the high side and low side equalizing. Also you may have a clog in the system preventing the Freon from compressing. The dryer and capillary tube sometime can get clogged. You can try tapping on them for a quick fix but if that works it’s likely to clog at some point in the near future.

      While your are letting the fridge run, expose the condenser/coils and see if it is cold or at least cool the system is working and something is causing poor performance. Also you want to make sure all the air flow points are clear and the fans are working.

  2. Please, I just got a scanfrost refrigerator five days ago. Just noticed that the refrigerator will stop working while the light inside is still on. Also noticed a sound of click that comes from the back of the refrigerator.
    Please, I want to know if its the current that is affecting it because I don’t use stabilizer and didn’t use stabilizer with my former refrigerator. I would also like to know the cause of that click sound if is the capacitor or the compressor that is bad or if it need a stabilizer to work perfectly.

    I will be so grateful if my questions will be answered.
    Thanking you in anticipation.

  3. HELP!!! I have a SAMSUNG RF266/ABPN —Stopped cooling about one week ago, I have replaced the evaporator fan motor. It doesn’t COOL. Any suggestions??

    1. There should be vents located near the bottom shelves on the wall between the freezer and fridge. Make sure those vents are opened and not iced over or blocked.

  4. hi, i use one of those white Defy fridges with the freezer on the bottom. the fridge seems to be on as the light inside is on and it makes this sound now and then but it just ou of the blue stopped cooling. I tried switching it on and off, cleaned the coils too and took out the thermostats and reinsurted it, does it mean I need to replace it ??

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