Refrigerator: Freezer not cold enough

Defrost system problems, dirty condenser coils, fan failures, leaky door gaskets or control problems can lead to your freezer not getting cold enough.

If your freezer is too warm to keep the ice cream firmly frozen and you see lots of frost inside the entire freezer compartment, then warm, moist air may be leaking through the refrigerator or freezer door gaskets. Check all door gaskets for damage and replace any damaged door gaskets.

If the gaskets are in good shape but a door sags on its hinges and creates gaps between the door gasket and the cabinet around the door openings, adjust the refrigerator door hinges so the gaskets seal properly to the cabinet around the door openings.

If you see frost buildup only on the back freezer compartment wall, then the automatic defrost system may have failed. When working properly, the defrost system melts frost off the evaporator coils every 8 hours or so to keep the air paths through the evaporator clear so the freezer and refrigerator compartments cool properly. If the automatic defrost system breaks, frost builds up on the evaporator and back freezer compartment wall. The frost buildup blocks cooling air paths through the evaporator so the freezer doesn't cool well. Our video troubleshooting defrost system problems in refrigerators will help you diagnose and repair the defrost system in a common top-freezer refrigerator. You can also use the basic steps in the video to troubleshoot defrost system problems in side-by-sides and bottom-freezer refrigerators. If the defrost system in your refrigerator isn't working, you may need to replace the defrost sensor, defrost heater or other defrost components depending on the type of defrost system that your refrigerator uses.

If you notice that the evaporator fan isn't running when you check for cooling inside the freezer compartment, our video troubleshooting evaporator fan problems in refrigerators can help you figure out why the evaporator fan isn't working. Replace the evaporator fan if it's bad.

Dirty condenser coils can cause cooling problems in the freezer. Unplug the refrigerator and check the condenser coils for dust and dirt buildup. Clean the condenser coils if they're dirty. Continue to clean the coils when you perform routine refrigerator maintenance.

Check to see if the condenser fan works when the freezer isn't cooling well-the condenser won't cool refrigerant efficiently if the condenser fan doesn't run. Replace the condenser fan if it doesn't run when activated.

Faulty temperature sensors or controls can also prevent the freezer from cooling well. Our video troubleshooting thermistor problems in refrigerators provides advice on diagnosing and fixing temperature control problems in a common top-freezer refrigerator. Follow the guidelines in the video to check temperature sensors and controls in your refrigerator and replace any failed parts. If you have different type of refrigerator than the one shown in the video, follow the basic troubleshooting principles shown in the video to diagnose and repair the control system and temperature sensors in your refrigerator.

refrigerator

These repairs may help solve your refrigerator problem

Replace the refrigerator defrost sensor

Replace the refrigerator defrost sensor

The refrigerator defrost sensor-also known as the defrost bi-metal termination thermostat-trips when it detects that the temperature of the evaporator is getting hot enough that it might overheat. When the defrost sensor trips, it shut off power to the defrost heater. If the defrost sensor trips because it's not working correctly, frost builds up on the evaporator fins, eventually making the refrigerator and freezer not cool well. You can use volt/ohm meter to check the defrost sensor for continuity. Replace the defrost sensor if it shows no continuity at around 0 degrees F.

How to replace a defrost sensor in a side-by-side refrigerator

If your side-by-side refrigerator isn't as cool as it should be and frost is forming in the freezer, a failed defrost sensor could be to blame. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace the defrost sensor, also called a defrost thermostat bi-metal.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
Read more
Clean the refrigerator condenser coils

Clean the refrigerator condenser coils

Dust-covered refrigerator coils can prevent the refrigerator and freezer from running efficiently and cooling properly. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual for cleaning the condenser coils. Unplug the refrigerator before accessing and cleaning the coils. On most refrigerators, the coils are behind the bottom front grill. Clean the condenser coils with a coil brush.

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

Does the ice cream in your freezer seem too soft or the beverages in your refrigerator not cold enough? It could be the condenser coils need to be cleaned. This DIY repair guide shows how to clean the refrigerator condenser coils in 4 easy steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator condenser fan

Replace the refrigerator condenser fan

The condenser fan is in the machine compartment of the refrigerator next to the compressor. It moves air across the condenser coils to help cool the hot refrigerant coming out of the compressor. The refrigerant is cooled before it moves through the expansion device and into the evaporator. If the condenser fan is defective, replace it.

How to replace the condenser fan motor in a top-freezer refrigerator

Does your refrigerator seem warmer than it should? The problem could be the condenser fan motor. This DIY repair guide and video show how to easily replace a failed condenser fan motor in a top-freezer refrigerator in just 6 steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Repair the refrigerator defrost system

Repair the refrigerator defrost system

The refrigerator automatic defrost system periodically melts frost from the evaporator to improve heat exchange. During defrosting, the compressor stops, the defrost heating element turns on, and frost melts from the evaporator fins. The condensate drips to a evaporator drip tray below the evaporator and then flows through a defrost drain tube to a drain pan next to the compressor in the machine compartment. The condensate water evaporates from the drain pan before the next defrost cycled. If the defrost process fails, diagnose and repair the problem.

How to replace a defrost sensor in a side-by-side refrigerator

If your side-by-side refrigerator isn't as cool as it should be and frost is forming in the freezer, a failed defrost sensor could be to blame. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace the defrost sensor, also called a defrost thermostat bi-metal.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace a refrigerator defrost control assembly

If your Kenmore or LG refrigerator displays an Er dS error code or an Er dH error code and the freezer won't defrost, it could be the defrost control assembly failed. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace the defrost control in 8 easy-to-follow steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 120 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the defrost bi-metal thermostat in a top-freezer refrigerator

If your refrigerator isn't cooling well and frost builds up around the evaporator, the problem could be the defrost bi-metal thermostat. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace the defrost bi-metal thermostat in about 15 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the defrost thermistor in a top-freezer refrigerator

If your refrigerator isn't as cold as it should be, it could be a faulty defrost thermistor. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace a defrost thermistor in a top-freezer refrigerator in just 15 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace a refrigerator electronic control board

If the control panel lights or fans in your side-by-side or bottom-freezer refrigerator aren't coming on, it could mean the electronic control board has failed. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace a faulty refrigerator electronic control board in 7 quick steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the electronic control board in a top-freezer refrigerator

If your refrigerator won't cool at all, the electronic control board may be faulty. This DIY repair guide and video show how to easily replace the electronic control board, and it usually takes only 15 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the defrost heater in a top-freezer refrigerator

Is the freezer in your top-freezer refrigerator not as cold as it should be? The problem could be a faulty defrost heater. This DIY repair guide and video have easy-to-follow instructions on replacing the refrigerator defrost heater.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace a defrost heater in a side-by-side refrigerator

When a side-by-side refrigerator isn't cooling well and frost builds up in the freezer, the defrost heater may be at fault. This DIY repair guide with step-by-step instructions shows how to replace a failed defrost heater in a side-by-side refrigerator.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator evaporator fan

Replace the refrigerator evaporator fan

The evaporator fan is mounted on the evaporator assembly. It moves air across the evaporator fins and through the cabinet for cooling. If the evaporator fan is defective, replace it.

How to replace an evaporator fan motor in a side-by-side refrigerator

If neither side of your side-by-side refrigerator is cold, the evaporator fan motor might not be blowing cold air. This DIY repair guide shows you how to replace the evaporator fan motor.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 60 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the evaporator fan motor in a top-freezer refrigerator

Is your refrigerator not as cold as it should be? A failed evaporator fan motor, which blows cold air from the evaporator to the refrigerator, could be the problem. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace a faulty evaporator fan motor in a top-freezer refrigerator.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator temperature control board

Replace the refrigerator temperature control board

The temperature control board-also called the electronic control board-is in the machine compartment next to the compressor, behind a panel on the back of the refrigerator. The temperature control board controls the compressor and other major components in the refrigerator. You can test it using the diagnostic test procedures provided in the tech sheet for the refrigerator. Replace the temperature control board if it doesn't work at all or isn't controlling the components correctly.

How to replace a refrigerator temperature control board

If a refrigerator is colder or warmer than the temperature you set, the temperature control board might be the problem. This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions to replace the temperature control board in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator temperature control thermostat

Replace the refrigerator temperature control thermostat

The temperature control thermostat is also called the cold control or cold control thermostat, and is located in the control housing. The thermostat has a sensor tube attached to it that detects the temperature inside the refrigerator cabinet. The temperature control thermostat controls the temperature inside the cabinet by turning on and shutting off the compressor based on the temperature sensed by the sensor tube. Replace the temperature control thermostat if it fails to sense temperature properly or if it does not cycle the compressor properly.

How to replace a refrigerator temperature control thermostat

Is your refrigerator is too cold or too warm? The temperature control thermostat could be to blame. This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for replacing the temperature control thermostat in 30 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator thermistor

Replace the refrigerator thermistor

If the refrigerator is not cooling enough, the thermistor might be faulty. The thermistor sends temperature information to the thermostat, so a broken thermistor will give bad information.

July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator thermistor

If your refrigerator isn't keeping the temperature you set, the problem could be the thermistor, which senses the temperature. This DIY repair guide shows how to easily replace the thermistor in 15 minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the thermistor in a top-freezer refrigerator

Is your refrigerator too cold or not cold enough? The thermistor might not be reading the temperatures correctly. This DIY repair guide and video give easy-to-follow instructions on how to replace the thermistor in a top-freezer refrigerator in just 6 steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator defrost timer

Replace the refrigerator defrost timer

The defrost timer is an electro-mechanical device that controls the intervals between automatic defrost cycles in the refrigerator. The defrost timer motor runs and moves the control components in the device. When the control contacts in the defrost timer advance into the defrost cycle, the compressor stops and the defrost heater turns on for a specified period of time to melt frost off of the evaporator fins. This promotes more efficient exchange of heat across the evaporator. When the specified period of defrost ends, the defrost timer contacts switch back to allow normal cooling operation in the refrigerator.

You'll need to replace the defrost timer if it doesn't advance when activated.

Faulty contacts in the timer can also cause the defrost heater to either not energize at all or constantly energize. In that instance, replace the defrost timer.

Adjust the freezer or refrigerator door

Adjust the freezer or refrigerator door

The refrigerator or freezer doors swing on hinges that can be damaged or bent. Over time, the doors may begin to sag, allowing warm moist air into the refrigerator or freezer door that creates excessive frost that can eventually cause the drain tube to freeze. This refrigerator repair involves adjusting or repairing the hinges so that the doors work properly and stay aligned.

Replace the refrigerator door gasket

Replace the refrigerator door gasket

The door gasket attaches to the refrigerator or freezer door panel and prevents air from entering or escaping the cabinet when the door is shut. A damaged gasket lets warm, moist air into the refrigerator when the door is closed, causing excessive frost and cooling problems. Replace the door seal if it's damaged or torn.

July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator door gasket

A worn or damaged refrigerator door gasket lets warm air into the refrigerator, causing frost buildup and inefficient cooling. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace the door gasket in 5 easy steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
Replace the refrigerator electronic control board

Replace the refrigerator electronic control board

The electronic control board-also called the main control board or the power control board (PCB)-controls the compressor and the defrost cycle. When it senses that the compressor must run to keep the refrigerator cool, it sends voltage to the compressor and fans. The electronic control board also receives signals from temperature sensors to monitor the temperatures inside the refrigerator and freezer. With this information, the electronic control board controls the defrost cycle. You can usually do a diagnostic test on the electronic control board to see how well it's working. The test varies by model, but the most common is the Forced Defrost test. See the tech sheet for instructions on running the diagnostics. Replace the electronic control board if it's not working correctly.

How to replace a refrigerator electronic control board

If the control panel lights or fans in your side-by-side or bottom-freezer refrigerator aren't coming on, it could mean the electronic control board has failed. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace a faulty refrigerator electronic control board in 7 quick steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Read more
How to replace the electronic control board in a top-freezer refrigerator

If your refrigerator won't cool at all, the electronic control board may be faulty. This DIY repair guide and video show how to easily replace the electronic control board, and it usually takes only 15 minutes or less.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
Routine refrigerator maintenance

Routine refrigerator maintenance

Dust-covered refrigerator coils can prevent the refrigerator and freezer from running efficiently and cooling properly. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual for cleaning the condenser coils. Unplug the refrigerator before accessing and cleaning the coils. On most refrigerators, the coils are behind the bottom front grill. Clean the condenser coils with a coil brush. Additional routine maintenance includes replacing the water filter, cleaning the dust from the bottom front grille, adjusting the hinges if the doors don't seal tightly, and emptying water from the drain pan.

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

Does the ice cream in your freezer seem too soft or the beverages in your refrigerator not cold enough? It could be the condenser coils need to be cleaned. This DIY repair guide shows how to clean the refrigerator condenser coils in 4 easy steps.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
Read more
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: blocked air vents, compressor problems, condenser or evaporator fan not working, control system failure, sensor problems
Main causes: leaky door gasket, defrost system failure, evaporator fan not running, dirty condenser coils, condenser fan not running
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: blocked vents, defrost system problems, evaporator fan failure, dirty condenser coils, bad sensors, condenser fan not working
Main causes: control board or cold control failure, broken compressor start relay, compressor motor failure, defrost timer problems
Things to do: clean condenser coils, replace the water filter, clean the interior, adjust doors to prevent air leaks, clean the drain pan
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
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
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.

December 1, 2017
Wiring schematic symbols explained video
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn some of the most common symbols found in a wiring diagram and what they mean.

August 2, 2016
How to diagnose a faulty refrigerator water inlet valve
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how to tell if the water inlet valve in your refrigerator is bad.

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.