March 31, 2015

Easy DIY refrigerator repairs

By Sears PartsDirect staff
Easy DIY refrigerator repairs.
Easy DIY refrigerator repairs.

If something goes wrong with your refrigerator—it stops cooling, or the ice maker goes dry, or you've not heard the compressor humming lately—you might be able to fix it yourself. Here are simple DIY refrigerator repairs that generally take less than 30 minutes to complete, saving you both time and money. These repairs require only a few tools and the right part.

For more troubleshooting tips and repair help, check out our DIY refrigerator repair guides and videos. And if your refrigerator's digital display is showing an error code, use our error code tables to figure out the problem.

Refrigerator not cooling well

It’s pretty easy to tell when you’re refrigerator isn’t cooling well–the butter gets soft or fresh milk sours quickly. Because “not cooling well” is a common symptom, it can have several possible causes. The following four repairs are among the easiest to do yourself.

Door gasket. The refrigerator door gasket forms an airtight seal between the refrigerator cabinet and the door. If the door gasket is cracked or worn, cold air will escape the refrigerator and the temperature can rise to a level unsafe for food storage. Replacing the gasket is easy following the instructions in our DIY repair guide How to replace a refrigerator door gasket.

Condenser coil. The condenser in your refrigerator is a heat exchanger that allows heat to be released from the refrigerant flowing inside the condenser coils. When dust accumulates on the coils, the condenser can’t transfer the heat from the refrigerant as easily as it should, and the refrigerator won’t cool effectively. If your refrigerator isn't cooling well, check the condenser coils to see if they need cleaning. Our DIY repair guide How to clean refrigerator condenser coils tells you how to do it.

Thermistor. A thermistor is a temperature sensor located in the refrigerator. It lets the main control board know what the temperature is. If the thermistor stops working, temperatures in the refrigerator won't be correct. Our DIY repair guide How to replace a refrigerator thermistor has easy-to-follow instructions for this repair. If the freezer in your refrigerator is located at the top, check out our DIY repair guide How to replace the defrost thermistor in a top-freezer refrigerator.

Temperature control thermostat. The temperature control thermostat senses the refrigerator temperature, and turns the compressor on and off to regulate the temperature. If it stops sensing the temperature or no longer regulates the compressor, you can replace it by following the instructions in our DIY repair guide How to replace a refrigerator temperature control thermostat.

Refrigerator compressor won’t start

A refrigerator compressor is part of the sealed-system that keeps the refrigerator cooling, “squeezing” low-pressure refrigerant gas into a high-pressure, super-heated gas. When the compressor starts, it usually makes a humming sound. If the compressor won’t start, it might not be a problem with the compressor itself. The repairs below fix two common reasons the compressor won’t start, and both are very easy to do.

Compressor start relay. The compressor start relay sends electrical current to the compressor motor start and run windings to start the compressor. If the start relay stops working, the compressor won't start. Replacing the compressor start relay is easy to do if you follow the instructions in our DIY repair guide How to replace the compressor start relay in a top-freezer refrigerator. While the repair guide is for a top-freezer refrigerator, the repair is similar for most types of refrigerators.

Compressor run capacitor. The run capacitor continuously sends electrical current to keep the compressor running. Replacing the compressor run capacitor is another easy repair—we show you how in our DIY repair guide How to replace the compressor run capacitor in a top-freezer refrigerator. This repair guide works with most types of refrigerators.

Refrigerator ice maker and dispenser not getting water

Having ice and water at your fingertips might be one of the reasons you chose your refrigerator. If that great convenience suddenly stops working, the repair guide below might fix the problem.

Water inlet valve. The water valve in your refrigerator controls the flow of water to the ice maker and water dispenser, opening and closing to allow water through as needed. If you're not getting water out of the dispenser, the water valve on your refrigerator might be the issue. Replacing the water valve is easy to do—see how in our DIY repair guide How to replace a refrigerator water valve.

You can find many more DIY repairs for common refrigerator problems in our refrigerator repair guides section.

Symptoms common to all refrigerators

Choose a symptom to see related refrigerator repairs.

Main causes: leaky door gasket, defrost system failure, evaporator fan not running, dirty condenser coils, condenser fan not running
Things to do: clean condenser coils, replace the water filter, clean the interior, adjust doors to prevent air leaks, clean the drain pan
Main causes: jammed ice cubes, broken ice maker assembly, dirty water filter, kinked water line, bad water valve, freezer not cold enough
Main causes: damaged door seal, faulty defrost sensor or bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer or control board
Main causes: control board or cold control failure, broken compressor start relay, compressor motor failure, defrost timer problems
Main causes: blocked air vents, compressor problems, condenser or evaporator fan not working, control system failure, sensor problems
Main causes: blocked vents, defrost system problems, evaporator fan failure, dirty condenser coils, bad sensors, condenser fan not working
Main causes: water valve leaking, frozen or broken defrost drain tube, overflowing drain pan, cracked water system tubing, leaking door seal

Repair guides common to all refrigerators

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your refrigerator.

July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to clean refrigerator condenser coils

Help your refrigerator run more efficiently by cleaning the condenser coils. It's easy and takes just a few minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator water valve

Replace the water valve that feeds water to the ice maker and water dispenser if it no longer controls the flow of water.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
How to replace a refrigerator temperature control board

If the temperature in your refrigerator doesn't match the temperature you set, the problem could be the temperature control board—a service technician can give you a definite diagnosis. If the board is at fault, follow these steps to replace it yourself.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all refrigerators

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your refrigerator.

April 19, 2022

How to change the water filter in an LG refrigerator

By Lyle Weischwill

Get tips and advice on replacing the water filter in your LG refrigerator.

December 30, 2021

How to fix your evaporator cooling fan

By Lyle Weischwill

Learn how to fix a broken evaporator fan

April 10, 2020

Cleaning your appliances after a drinking water advisory

By Julie Riebe

Find out how to clean and flush household appliances once a boil water advisory is lifted.