Sometimes refrigerators and freezers break down without warning, but they usually display symptoms before they stop cooling entirely. Since the average refrigerator is opened 38 times per day, there’s no shortage of opportunities to check its pulse. Here are 8 warning signs to watch for:
- 1. Ice or Frost BuildupFrost buildup on the back wall of your freezer compartment usually indicates that your refrigerator’s self-defrost system has stopped working properly. This frost buildup will restrict airflow and cause the refrigerator to stop cooling within a few days. A frozen puddle of ice in the bottom of your freezer is also caused by a malfunction of your refrigerator's defrost system, but usually takes a week or more to affect the temperature of your refrigerator.
- 2. Running Quieter Than Usual If you’ve noticed that your refrigerator has suddenly become quieter than usual, it’s often because a fan motor or compressor has stopped working. If this is the case, you probably have only a few hours before food begins to spoil.
- 3. The Exterior is Getting Hot A portion of your refrigerator’s condenser is usually run around the door openings to prevent condensation. It’s normal for this area to be a little warmer than room temperature, but if these areas are hot to the touch, your refrigerator is struggling to release the heat that it’s absorbing from your food. It would be wise to have your refrigerator serviced soon.
- 4. It’s Always Running Most refrigerators are designed to run about 40-50% of the time. If it seems like your refrigerator is almost always running, it could be an early warning sign of a refrigerant leak or inadequate airflow. You will probably notice increased temperatures soon.
- 5. Temperature Fluctuations If your refrigerator struggles to maintain a consistent temperature, especially on a hot day or after loading it with groceries, it may be the first sign of a bigger problem. An intermittent change in temperature is often the first sign of complete cooling loss.
- 6. Clicking Noise A persistent “click” coming from the back of your refrigerator that occurs about once per minute is a tell-tale sign that your refrigerator’s compressor is no longer running. This is often caused by a failed PTC (positive temperature coefficient) relay. If you notice this symptom, you’ll want to have your refrigerator serviced immediately or get your food on ice!
- 7. No Ice Cubes Your icemaker requires a freezer temperature below 10 degrees Fahrenheit to reliably produce ice cubes. While your food may still be frozen above this temperature, a lack of ice cubes is often the first sign of a dying freezer.
- 8. You Can’t Remember the Last Time Your Condenser was Cleaned Most refrigerator manufacturers recommend that your refrigerator’s condenser be cleaned at least annually, and even more often if you have shedding pets. While it’s unlikely you’ll have any problems if you skip a cleaning here or there, a condenser that hasn’t been cleaned in years is a recipe for spoiled food.
It’s always better to detect these issues early than to open the refrigerator to an unpleasant surprise one day! Fortunately, most refrigerator repairs are fast and affordable. If you’re experiencing refrigerator trouble, contact a reputable appliance service company such as Michigan Appliance Repair.