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My Refrigerator Will Not Run
The Light is On Why Won't the Rest Work?
Follow the safety precautions for working on a refrigerator.
There are several things that can keep your refrigerator from working, if it is newer and has electronic controls, it could be the control board. Otherwise, there are several systems that can turn a refrigerator off permanently. The defrost timer is stuck. The cold control is broken. And finally, the compressor cannot start (overload).
Click here to check out how the refrigerator works.
Check the Cold Control
Start by examining the cold control. Turn it all the way off then turn it all the way to the highest setting. Repeat this a couple of times and listen for a click or sound that indicates an off/on action. If it is very hard to turn, or makes no noises, it is very likely a problem and needs to be replaced. This would not be a common problem, so make note of the difficulty and continue checking.
With the cold control set for the coldest setting, locate the defrost timer. The timer will be located in one of several places depending on the age, manufacturer, and model of the refrigerator.
generally locate the defrost timer in the same general area as the rest
of the controls. Look for two screws with a hole in between them. The
hole gives access to the timer and it can be advanced by turning the
knob in a clockwise direction. However, there are exceptions and some
turn the other way. Generally you can tell the direction of the timer
by inspecting the knob. It may be slotted in such a way that turning in
one direction or the other is quite difficult. Also, if you
experience a lot of resistance, try turning in the other direction.
Turning the timer will create some clicking sounds. The timer should
turn smoothly and give positive clicks. With the power on and the cold control on, turn the defrost timer slowly and see if the refrigerator turns on. If the refrigerator turns on and operates normally for at least an hour, then the defrost timer is bad and needs to be replaced.
If the defrost timer is working and the cold control is working, the compressor may try to operate but can only achieve a clicking sound. This means that the compressor is not able to start. The compressor has a start winding and the start capacitor is not able to start the compressor. Most manufacturers warranty the compressor and sealed system for 5 years. If your refrigerator is newer than 5 years, contact the manufacturer for service. If your refrigerator is older than 5 years, you can do a couple of things. Start by making a decision about the refrigerator, if it is in the 15 years range or older, it may not warrant major repairs.
If the compressor is clicking when trying to start, there is a 50-50 chance that it is the start capacitor, but there is also a good chance that it is a bad compressor. A start capacitor or hard start unit will cost about ten or 15 dollars. A new compressor will cost several hundred dollars. If the refrigerator is a good one and you want to find out if it can be saved, you can have a service professional determine the needed repair.