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How To Fix 3 Common Refrigerator Problems

By on Jul 28, 2014
How To Fix 3 Common Refrigerator Problems

Refrigeration repair can be one of the most frustrating issues to deal with as a homeowner. After all, when the fridge is on the fritz, it can disrupt dinner, your nightly schedule and your wallet.

As always, there are simple (and usually cheap) DIY tactics the everyday homeowner can accomplish when it comes to refrigerator repair. Below, I will discuss three of the most common refrigerator issues and how you as a homeowner can fix them.

Why DIY?

To save money of course. According to our appliance repair cost estimator, most homeowners spend between $250 and $300 on fridge repair. On top of the billable time your contractor charges, you have to also consider new parts. Depending on the issue, new refrigerator parts could greatly increase the total cost.

But, having a pro come out to fix the issue ensures the problem is gone and tomorrow’s dinner is ready for all.

How To Fix A Fridge


The most common problem fridges face is leakage. A range of issues could cause a refrigerator to leak, but the most common culprit is a loose gasket. A refrigerator gasket is the flexible elastic strip attached to the outer edge of a refrigerator or freezer. In other words, it keeps the cold air inside the fridge and prevents the door from slamming into the physical refrigerator.

When the gasket is loose, your refrigerator has to work that much harder. It’s just like leaving the windows open when you blast the air conditioner. You want to make it as easy as possible to maintain the desirable temperature.

A fridge that runs excessively will build up extra condensation on the coils, which can cause a leak. Check the rubber door seals on your fridge and freezer to make sure you're getting a proper seal. If you find a problem, wash the seals with warm water and soap and apply a thin film of lubricant (petroleum jelly works best). If this doesn't solve your problem, you may need to replace the gaskets.

Bad Compressor

Bad Compressor

The compressor is what keeps your fridge cool. No refrigerator is completely airtight; cold air leaks out and warm air leaks in, causing the temperature to rise above its set point. At the set point, the compressor turns on. It acts as a motor and a pump and removes the hot air from the fridge and keeps the cold air inside. Therefore, if your fridge won’t cool properly and your gaskets are tight, most likely, your compressor is not working.

If you think your compressor is not working, see if the compressor motor is running. It’s usually in a case in the back of the fridge and is completely safe to open and touch. If it’s humming or making a steady noise, and your refrigerator is still not cooling properly, there could be a problem with a few various components. 

Sometimes, you will hear a clicking sound coming from the compressor. If you hear this, power is getting to the compressor. That means that something is wrong with either the compressor or the compressor starter. If there is power to the starter, you may be able to test each part within the starter and replace any bad parts (may have to check the manual for this one). If you determine all these parts are working and your compressor still won’t start, you have a bad compressor and need to replace it.

Puddle Inside Fridge

The refrigerator uses a lot of tubes and hoses to work efficiently. As you can imagine, just like your garbage disposal or toilet, sometimes, those tubes can get blocked. The same goes for the refrigerator.

If you see a puddle in your fridge and nothing has spilled, chances are, the drain tube is blocked. Don’t worry, as this is an easy fix.

First, unplug the fridge. Like a garbage disposal, you wouldn’t want it running as you stick your hands down. Find the drain plug near the back or bottom of the fridge. Gather a small bucket of warm water and mix in some bleach. There should be a 50/50 split of each. Take a turkey baster or any other narrow rod and force the solution down the tube. Repeat a few times.

Make sure you clean around the fridge after you’re done. Wait a few days and check for puddles. If the problem is still occurring, it may be time to call a pro.


Don’t let a small refrigerator issue ruin dinner or your wallet. Fridges are expensive, but more often than not, you can fix the most common refrigerator issues.

Looking to save on other kitchen appliances? See our 25 Ways to Save Money with Your Appliances.

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