January 22, 2015

5 ways to keep a refrigerator working well

By Sears PartsDirect staff
See how to keep a refrigerator working well.
See how to keep a refrigerator working well.

Your refrigerator puts off heat while chilling your food, which is why your refrigerator has to work harder if the air around it is hot. An overworked fridge wastes energy (and your money) and shortens the life span of the refrigerator. Fortunately, keeping your refrigerator cool can be simple with these 5 refrigerator maintenance tips.

Don't crowd the refrigerator

Leave space around the refrigerator so the hot air it releases can move up and away:

  • Dynamic condenser refrigerators—the ones with a fan in the back—need 3/8 inch at the top and sides.

  • Static condenser models—the ones with a black coil on the back—require 3 inches at the top and 1 inch at the back between the condenser and wall.

Place your refrigerator away from hot spots

If you have options about where to put your refrigerator, avoid installing your refrigerator in direct sunlight or next to a range, cooktop or wall oven.

If you have a refrigerator in a room that heats up during the summer, such as a storage room or garage, take steps to keep the room temperature under 110°F. Otherwise, the refrigerator always runs, forcing the compressor to cycle on the overload protector. That translates to warmer temps inside the refrigerator and freezer.

Use the right electrical outlet

If you have a refrigerator in a storage area or garage, it must be plugged into its own dedicated 115 volt, 60 Hz, AC-only electric outlet. Otherwise, it struggles to do its job without sufficient electricity, which decreases its performance and damages electrical components.

Dust the refrigerator

If your model has exposed condenser coils on the back, pull it away from the wall a few times each year and vacuum dust from the coils and the surrounding area.

If the condenser is under the refrigerator, vacuum dust from the front grille and under the refrigerator, because the condenser fan pulls in air through the front grille on the left side, passes the air through the condenser and over the defrost water pan and returns into the room on the front right side.

Close the refrigerator door

As you load food, remove food or ponder what to eat, keep the door open as briefly as you can. When you close the door, make sure nothing blocks the door from closing all the way. If the power goes out, keep the door closed as much as you can.

Symptoms common to all refrigerators

Choose a symptom to see related refrigerator repairs.

Main causes: water valve leaking, frozen or broken defrost drain tube, overflowing drain pan, cracked water system tubing, leaking door seal
Main causes: damaged door seal, faulty defrost sensor or bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer or control board
Main causes: blocked vents, defrost system problems, evaporator fan failure, dirty condenser coils, bad sensors, condenser fan not working
Main causes: jammed ice cubes, broken ice maker assembly, dirty water filter, kinked water line, bad water valve, freezer not cold enough
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: 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

Repair guides common to all refrigerators

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

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
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
 30 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator door gasket

The door gasket seals the gap around the door to keep the cold air in and the warm air out. It’s easy to replace a worn or torn gasket.

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.

August 2, 2016

Troubleshooting a refrigerator not cooling video

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn what to check if the inside of your fridge is wayyyy too warm.

January 8, 2015

New refrigerator noises

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find out about the new refrigerator sounds you might not be aware of.

January 6, 2015

How a refrigerator works

By Sears PartsDirect staff

See how the different components in your refrigerator work together to cool your food.