What to Do If Fridge is Warm and Freezer is Cold


One day, you decide to go shopping for everything you need at the grocery store. Most of what you buy is cold and needs to be held in a refrigerator. You don’t think twice about picking up dairy, meats, and frozen foods because you have a refrigerator and a freezer to put everything in at home.

You can’t go a week in your life without using a refrigerator, and having a broken one can waste food and cost you a lot of money. If you believe your refrigerator isn’t working correctly, you need to fix this as quickly as possible so you can resume using it. While you can call a professional, if one is unavailable to you, then you can try to figure it out yourself. Of course, before you do some intense problem solving and fixing, then you should see if you can do some of the easier fixes first.

What to Do if Fridge is Warm and Freezer is Cold

Easy Fixes

  • Check if the refrigerator is plugged in. If your refrigerator has recently been moved, then there’s a big probability that you positioned it without plugging it into the wall. Although this sounds a bit funny, you’ll want to check just in case.

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  • Make sure the outlet on that wall works. If the outlet that your refrigerator is plugged into doesn’t work, then your refrigerator isn’t going to be able to turn on, so that might be why it isn’t getting cold.
  • Make sure the vents aren’t blocked. If your refrigerator is super full and food is blocking the vents, then cold air will be prevented from getting into your fridge. You’ll need to organize your fridge so the food doesn’t block the vents or clear out some of the foods that could be blocking the vents. Check in later to ensure that unblocking the vents worked.
  • Make sure that the door closes all the way. If your door is left open, then the cold air is let out of the refrigerator and nothing will get cold. Make sure that you see that the strips on the doors are properly attached because the strips are designed to seal the doors so that it doesn’t leak any air out of your fridge. Check for tears in the strips and replace them if you notice anything broken.
  • Make sure the thermostat is at the proper temperature. If you have an over/ under unit then your thermostat is probably located underneath the fridge, but if you have a side by side unit, then check in the back of the refrigerator.

If you ran through everything on this list and nothing seems wrong, then your issue is more complicated than just plugging in your refrigerator or fixing the thermostat. Here are some more serious issues that you might be dealing with.

Repairing Refrigerator Issues

Fix the Refrigerator Compressor

The first thing you want to look at is the refrigerator compressor. This is the part of the fridge that compresses and pushes out vapor into the coils outside of the fridge. This pushing and all of the pressure causes hot gas to form that cools and absorbs heat from your freezer in your fridge. Therefore if your freezer is fine and your fridge isn’t then the compressor could be broken.

Pull your fridge away from the wall and unplug it. Locate the compressor behind your fridge at the bottom of it. It should look like a black tank. Find the compressor start relay which is the part that connects the cord into the compressor. Once you find it, you’ll need to fix it.

What you need to do is replace the start relay of the compressor. All you have to do is buy a new relay and test to see if it fixes the compressor and causes your refrigerator to get cold again.

Replacing the entire compressor itself is a lot more complicated.

  1. You’ll need to disconnect it from the suction line and the compressor discharge line before you do anything.
  2. You also need to remove the electrical package, cut the high lines, and cut the low lines.
  3. After you’ve done this, you can loosen the bolts that connect the compressor to the unit and take it off.
  4. Once you get a new compressor, you’ll need to connect it to the sanction line, discharge line, and the process line. You need to make sure that all of these lines have secure welds that are holding them in place.
  5. They also need to keep the rubber grommets from your old compression and use it on the new one.

Now you’re all set and your refrigerator would be working properly. Plug it back into the outlet and wait a while to see if your refrigerator gets cold. Make sure the temperature on the thermostat is correct and you’ll be fine.

Fix the Evaporator Fan

Another thing that you want to check is the evaporator fan, which is the part of the fridge that blows the cool air. The evaporator fan, which you should feel when you open the door, pulls air from the evaporator coil and cools it. Then, it pushes the air throughout the freezer and refrigerator to make it cold. If this fan isn’t working or doesn’t turn on when the compressor does, then your refrigerator unit won’t make any cool air.

Before you can fix this, you have to find it. The evaporator fan is found behind your freezer wall. To see it you’ll have to remove everything in your freezer including the shelving.

If it isn’t working then you’ll need to replace the motor.

  1. Remove the evaporator panel and the back of the freezer and find the fan.
  2. Remove the mounting clip once you find the fan.
  3. You also have to remove the blade and the wire harness.
  4. You can install the motor once you move all of those things by placing it into a wire harness.
  5. Then you can insert the fan blades and reapply the mounting clip.
  6. After that, all you need to do is reattach the panel and put back in the shelving.
  7. You can then place everything back into your freezer .

Wait a while and check back to see if you feel the cool air when you open your refrigerator door.

Fix the Temperature Sensor or Thermistor

If you have a newer refrigerator, then it probably uses a thermistor or temperature sensor to monitor food and freezer temperatures. The sensor looks like a small capsule encased in a plastic shield and it should collect information that the control board uses to determine whether it needs to turn on the compressor and fan circuit. If it becomes damaged, it can incorrectly tell the control board to turn off the compressor and the fans. This means that your refrigerator will be warmer than normal. You might want to look into your manufacturer book so then you can see what information they provide on the sensors. Also, depending on the model of your refrigerator, the book might also give you a fault code that’s on the electronic control board.

These are the steps you need to complete to test your thermistor or temperature sensor:

  1. Unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Remove the back panel of your refrigerator. Here you’ll see the main control board.
  3. Remove the thermistor and place it in ice water for 5 minutes, which should bring the temperature down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The thermistor should produce different readings at different temperatures.
  4. Make sure the probes are on the terminals and your multimeter (View on Amazon) is set to RX1. If all this is correct, the reading should be 16,600 ohms. The range will also be acceptable if it’s within plus or minus 5% of that reading.

If the reading that you see is outside of this range, you’ll need to replace the temperature sensor or the thermistor which means you need to find the correct one for your refrigerator model and install it.

Fix the Electronic Control Board

If you have a new refrigerator unit, it probably has an electronic control board. The electronic control board has thermistors or temperature sensors that are used to monitor temperatures in the fresh food and freezer parts of the fridge.

The control board uses the information it collects to control how the compressor, fan motors, and defrost system operates. For example, if the temperature that collects are too warm then the electronic control would work to fix that by turning on the compressor and the fan motors. If the temperature in your fridge is too warm and it isn’t being fixed then the electronic control board could be broken.

These electronic control boards are super complex and expensive so you’ll want to make sure that all the other components involved in this system are working properly before replacing this control board. You might want to look in your manufacturer handbook because usually they give you specific information that will help you find out if your electronic control board is broken.

If you want to inspect your electronic control board, you need to do the following things:

  1. Unplug your fridge because you’re dealing with an electrical component.
  2. Find the electronic control board in your unit. It’s usually inside of the refrigerator and inside the control box. The control box should be attached to the top or side of the refrigerator.
  3. Remove the electronic control board from your appliance.
  4. Look for signs of damage that says damage foils where or burnt connections.

If you see any of those things, you’ll need to find a replacement electronic control board and hire a professional to connect it back for you.

Fix the Defrost Timer

If you’re unsure of what a defrost timer is, it’s the timer that controls the compressor circuit and defrost heater circuit. These timers control the defrost cycle, which should activate every 8 to 10 hours while the compressor is running. This means the process should occur once everyday or sometimes once every 2 days. The defrost timer usually ends the cycle after 20 to 30 minutes and the compressor fan starts to spread the cool air.

Here’s what you have to do to test your refrigerator defrost timer with a multimeter:

  1. Unplug your unit from the wall.
  2. Find the defrost timer. You should see it behind the refrigerator’s lower kick plate, in the control panel, or behind the refrigerator.
  3. Remove the defrost timer so that you can test it.
  4. Make sure the multimeter is set to the RX1 setting. You should connect one probe to the common terminal, and another to the other three remaining terminals. Do this one at a time.
  5. You should receive a reading of 0 or near zero on the first two pairs and a reading of infinity on the third pair.

If you don’t get these readings, you’ll need to buy a replacement defrost timer and reattach it to where the original was.

Fixing Your Warm Fridge and Cold Freezer!

If you’re always having problems with your fridge or freezer, you need to know what’s causing the issue and if you’ll need to get the freezer/fridge repaired or replaced. Having a working freeze/freezer is crucial for any home, and fixing it is just one form of home improvement, but there are many more.

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When Should you Replace your Unit

Sometimes it costs you more money to replace part of the unit than it would if you just got a new one. If you’re wondering when you should replace your refrigerator (View on Amazon), consider the age of it. Usually the lifespan of the unit is dependent on the type of unit.

if your unit has a bottom freezer then the lifespan is usually about 7 years. If your unit has a side-by-side fridge and freezer, then the lifespan is usually around five years. If your unit has a top freezer then the lifespan is usually around 7 years. If your unit is on the older side of these ranges then it’s expected that you should have some repairs to do every once in a while.

Do what’s best for your household and your pocket. If you can just replace a part of your unit, then do so. Otherwise, get a new unit before you spend too much money repairing it.