Refrigerator Thermostat Troubleshooting

Lead Image for Refrigerator Thermostat Troubleshooting
  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 35
What You'll Need
Meat thermometer
Continuity tester probe
Notepad and pen

Whether you find your lettuce frozen or your milk warm, the first thing you need to do is check your refrigerator thermostat. Rather than immediately assume that you need a new appliance, initially check whether the problem lies with the thermostat.

Visual Check

If the first indication of any refrigerator thermostat problems is food that is the incorrect temperature, initially take the opportunity to check the thermostat dial as it can often be inadvertently knocked in the process of using the refrigerator. Where this has been the case, turn the dial to 37°F before putting a meat thermometer in the fridge and checking the temperature after an hour. Be aware that the optimum temperature for keeping food cool is between 30 and 40°F. If you have retained the instruction manual, peruse this to determine the temperature they recommend. Do not use a glass thermometer as it can become damaged in cold temperatures. Check whether the freezer compartment has a separate temperate control and examine this in the same manner as that of the refrigerator. Look for any evidence that ice has melted and re-frozen, such as smooth semi-icicles and softened cardboard food packaging. Inspect the door seal to ensure that the door is able to close properly.

Inspect Thermostat

If the dial is set correctly but the temperature is not, you will need to unscrew the cover of the refrigerator thermostat to get a closer look. Unplug the appliance first and move any items out of the fridge that will be in the way. The thermostat is located behind the dial so you may need to use a flashlight to get a proper look. Do not force it, you may need to remove the dial before taking off the plastic cover and take care to do so carefully to not drag out any wires or cause damage. 2 wires will be exposed once the cover is removed and the continuity tester probe should be used in accordance with the instructions; this will indicate whether there is a closed circuit and that would mean that there is no problem with the electrical current serving the refrigerator and the problem lies elsewhere, such as with a dusty coil or a freezer that has become iced over.

Replace Thermostat

In the event that there isn’t a closed circuit, then the refrigerator thermostat must be replaced as it cannot be repaired. This job is best undertaken by a professional who specializes in the brand of your refrigerator. If you have retained the instruction manual, check this to determine whether any repairers are recommended; alternatively, take down full details in respect of the refrigerator and advise repairers of this when contacting them for quotes. As well as the model of refrigerator, make a note of the position of the wires that were exposed after removing the refrigerator thermostat cover.