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Your refrigerator’s job is to make sure that your food stays cold and to keep it from spoiling. Unfortunately, several things can happen within your refrigerator that causes it not to cool properly. Refrigerators such as whirlpool refrigerators are top-of-the-line appliances, and purchasing a new one can be quite costly. Whenever possible, it’s better to have your existing one repaired.
This article will look at some of the main reasons why whirlpool refrigerators experience cooling problems. I’ll explain the top reasons and if you can fix them yourself or if you need the assistance of a professional. Refrigerators are high-tech and involved appliances, and you must know what you’re getting yourself into when things go wrong with them.
Mechanical Failures with a Whirlpool Refrigerator
There are two basic types of problems that can occur with your Whirlpool dishwasher, mechanical failures, and user errors.
Mechanical problems stem from parts that malfunction or from power failures. User errors occur when there’s something that you do incorrectly with your refrigerator. Let’s look at each of these types of problems, and we’ll start with mechanical and part problems.
Dirty Condenser Coils
The way a refrigerator works is similar to how an air conditioner works. There is a closed-loop system of coils and copper pipes inside your refrigerator that a refrigerant, similar to that of an air conditioner, flows through. One of the routes the refrigerant passes through is the condenser coils. As the refrigerant is flowing, it becomes super-heated, and the only thing that cools it down is the condenser coils.
If these coils get too dirty, they lose their ability to cool down the super-heated refrigerant, which means it remains warm instead of getting cold. The air that’s inside your refrigerator, in turn, doesn’t get cold, which results in warm air circulating through your refrigerator.
It’s important that the evaporator coils stay clean and that their ability to cool the air in your refrigerator isn’t inhibited. If you think that dirty coils are the culprit behind your warm Whirlpool refrigerator, then here’s how to fix it.
- The condenser coils are located either underneath or behind the refrigerator. You’ll need to pull the refrigerator away from the wall to gain access to the coils. Make sure to check the owner’s manual of your particular Whirlpool model to know where the condenser coils are for sure.
- After unplugging your refrigerator and pulling it away from the wall, use a vacuum to sweep the condenser coils. If they’re located on the bottom, you’ll need to remove an outer cover to gain access to them. This is most likely where your coils will be located.
- After you’ve vacuumed the coils under the refrigerator, do the same to the grille or cover that’s concealing the coils.
- With everything cleaned up and good to go, put the cover back on the refrigerator, move it back into its place, and plug it back into the wall to restore power.
- It would help if you did this once a year to keep your refrigerator running smoothly and efficiently.
Condenser Fan Motor Malfunction
The condenser fan motor works in conjunction with the condenser coils to draw air over them. As the condenser coils cool the refrigerant inside them and cool the air passing over them, the condenser fan helps to circulate the now cool air. The fan will fail to pull air through the refrigerator if the motor has not malfunctioned, effectively cooling it down.
The first thing you need to do to determine whether or not your fan is working is to make sure that there aren’t any obstructions impeding the fan blades. To do this, you need to perform a visual examination to check the blades. If you don’t see anything in the way of the fan blades, try spinning the fan blades with your hands and see if they spin freely.
If the fan blades spin freely and there are no obstructions, use a multimeter to check the voltage of the fan motor. If the refrigerator is plugged in, but there isn’t any power in the motor, it’s defective, and you need a new one. If the fan blades aren’t spinning freely, then you also need a new motor.
Evaporator Fan Motor Malfunction
The evaporator fan motor works similarly to how the condenser fan motor works. It’s located on the back of the refrigerator or on the freezer side of the unit and works in conjunction with the evaporator coils. The evaporator coils have refrigerant running through them and work to cool down the air flowing over them. The evaporator fan then circulates this cold air throughout your refrigerator.
Much like the condenser fan motor, the first thing you want to confirm is that there are no obstructions in the way of the fan blades. If there are no obstacles, try spinning the fan blades. If it feels like there’s resistance when you try to spin them, you most likely need a new motor. If everything else is checking out ok, take a multimeter and check the motor for continuity. An evaporator fan motor without continuity needs to be replaced.
Additionally, if you start to notice that your refrigerator sounds noisier than usual, it’s most likely because your evaporator fan motor is giving out. It will give off a buzzing or loud humming noise consistently when it’s on its last leg.
Trouble with the Start Relay Switch or Start Capacitor
Let’s start with the starter relay switch, which works in conjunction with the start capacitor, control board, thermostat, and compressor. To determine where the problem lies with each of these components, you’ll need a multimeter to test for continuity. The start relay switch is basically the switch that tells the compressor in your refrigerator when to turn it on. To determine if the problem lies here, use your multimeter and check for continuity.
The start capacitor on your refrigerator does the same thing that a capacitor on your air conditioner does. When your compressor is initially starting up, it requires a great deal of electrical power. That’s where the capacitor comes in. The capacitor provides the extra surge of electricity that your compressor needs to fire up and get the cooling process started. Once again, use your multimeter to test the capacitor for continuity, and if there is none, you’ll need to replace it.
Both the start relay switch and the start capacitor aren’t overly difficult to replace, but you should be comfortable with electricity if you’re going to attempt the jobs yourself. Anytime you’re disconnecting wires and reconnecting them to a different piece of equipment, there’s a chance of electrical shock. There’s also a chance that you won’t reconnect them properly, resulting in another malfunction.
Problems with Another Electrical Component
Temperature control board
The temperature control board is responsible for sending voltage to different internal components of your refrigerator.
Whether it’s the condenser fan motor, the evaporator fan motor, or the compressor, the temperature control board sends voltage to each one. Fortunately, this piece of equipment is fairly hardy and durable and doesn’t give out easily. Make sure to check each refrigerator component before jumping to conclusions and replacing the temperature control board.
The thermostat or temperature control thermostat works with the control board to send voltage to different parts of the refrigerator. If you think that this might be the culprit, turn the thermostat knob from the lowest setting to the highest setting or vice versa.
Just like the thermostat in your house, you should hear a subtle click as the thermostat turns on. If you hear a click, your thermostat isn’t the problem. If, however, there is no click, it’s time to grab that handy multimeter and check for voltage. If there is no click and no voltage, you likely have a defective thermostat and should replace it immediately.
The thermistor works with your thermostat to sense the air temperature of the refrigerator and tells your fridge when it’s time to turn on and off. If your thermistor is defective, your thermostat won’t be able to tell your control board that it’s time for the compressor to kick on and get the cooling process started. To test your thermistor, use your multimeter and check for continuity. If there is no continuity, change it out for a new one.
Main control board
Based on its name, you’ve probably gathered that the main control board is pretty important. That’s because it is. However, it’s rarely the cause of a refrigerator not cooling the way it’s supposed to. Make sure that you check every single thing before assuming that your mainboard is bad and replacing it.
Your compressor is one of the main components of your refrigerator. Its job is to turn on and start circulating the refrigerant that flows through your evaporator and condenser coils and cools down your refrigerator. If your compressor is defective, it will fail to turn on, and your refrigerator and freezer alike will no longer cool.
Much like with the main control board, however, a faulty compressor is rarely the problem. Make sure that you check everything else first before jumping straight to the compressor.
Unlike many other components on your refrigerator, your compressor should be inspected and replaced by a licensed professional. A licensed technician needs to handle the replacement because your compressor contains refrigerant, which can only be handled by someone licensed to do so. Releasing refrigerant into the air is harmful to the atmosphere and is punishable with a hefty fine.
User Error Problems That Can Cause Your Refrigerator Not to Cool
Now that we’ve looked at all the mechanical and part problems with Whirlpool refrigerators, let’s look at some of the things that homeowners can do wrong.
Your Refrigerator Is Too Full
One of the most common problems with a refrigerator that isn’t cooling is that it’s overstocked. A refrigerator is designed to cool under most circumstances, but if there are too many items inside it, it won’t keep everything cold. The longer it has to run at one time, the more overworked it will get, which will increase the risk of a mechanical problem, further complicating the matter.
Too many items in a refrigerator will also impede the airflow produced by your condenser and evaporator fans. If things are stacked closely and tightly together, many of those items won’t even get touched by cold air. There’s also a chance that you have items blocking the vents out of which the cool air is flowing.
Your Refrigerator Is in the Wrong Setting
If your refrigerator isn’t cooling down food to your liking, it’s possible that you can fix the problem simply by readjusting the temperature. There are times when people forget that they have the ability to adjust a fridge’s thermostat just like their house’s thermostat. Turn the knob or adjust the temperature setting to where you want it to be and see if your refrigerator complies with your request.
Problems with Your Door Seals or Gaskets
Over time and with frequent use, the seals and gaskets on your refrigerator doors tend to go bad. If you frequently open and close your refrigerator or slam the door, your door seals will likely go bad faster than they should. Your seals are responsible for keeping cold air inside your fridge and keeping warm air outside. Whirlpool refrigerators, in particular, commonly experience door seal or gasket problems.
Luckily, it’s fairly easy to determine if this is the issue. Close your refrigerator door and check for gaps, tears, or holes in the door seal from the outside looking in. If there are, there’s a good chance that this is the reason your refrigerator isn’t cooling to your liking. Too much cold air is getting out, and warm air is getting in. If this is the problem, you will need to remove the old door seals and install new ones.
Power Failure with Your Refrigerator
Your refrigerator requires a large amount of electrical power to operate, more than most of the other appliances in your kitchen. In newer homes, it will have a dedicated outlet and breaker that supplies power solely to the refrigerator.
However, in older homes, this wasn’t common practice, and your refrigerator may be tripping the breaker when you turn too many things on at once in your kitchen.
If this is the issue, then there will be a complete power failure with your fridge, and the light inside of it won’t even turn on. If you check the breaker and it isn’t flipped, then check each of the outlets in your kitchen to determine if a GFI outlet breaker has tripped. If it has, there should be a red or green light illuminated on the outlet at fault. Reset the GFI at fault, and your refrigerator should resume normal operations.
Whirlpool Refrigerator Not Cooling Troubleshooting: Final Thoughts
Whirlpool refrigerators are some of the finest kitchen appliances on the market. They are made to be functional, elegant, and long-lasting all at the same time. By properly caring for and maintaining your Whirlpool refrigerator, it can last for two decades or more.
Ensure that you regularly clean the inside and outside of your refrigerator, taking extra care to clean the condenser coils underneath. Also, make sure that you don’t overstock your refrigerator or block the air vents, which will result in overworking it and cause it to malfunction prematurely.
If you’re having trouble with your Whirlpool refrigerator not cooling properly, start by checking the easy things first. Make sure it’s not overstocked or the air vents aren’t blocked. Next, check the door seals for cracks or tears and turn the thermostat up and down to ensure it’s working properly.
After that, clean the condenser coils under the fridge, and check to make sure you can hear the fans working. If everything checks out, it’s time to call a professional or grab your multimeter and start testing components for continuity.
If you have any qualms about working with electricity or making repairs, it might be worth your time and money to contact Whirlpool and have one of their licensed technicians come to your home and diagnose the problem.