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What to Do When Your Refrigerator is Warm but the Freezer is Cold


One of the most frustrating refrigerator problems people typically encounter is when the refrigerator is warm but the freezer is cold. At first, you just think the temperature is too high, so you turn the thermostat dial to compensate, but over time, you may notice that your freezer is colder than ever and your fridge still isn’t cold enough.

Troubleshooting Why Your Refrigerator Is Warm but the Freezer Is Cold

To help you solve this little mystery, we’ve compiled the top causes for when your refrigerator is warm but the freezer is cold.

Heavy Frost on Evaporator Coils

The number one cause for this particular problem is frozen evaporator coils. This can happen if there is a problem with the defrost heater assembly. To check for frost buildup, simply remove any frozen goods from your freezer to access the evaporator coil in the rear of the unit. You may need to remove a panel to access it. Severe frosting should be self-evident.

You can thaw ice build-up using warm water (either in a turkey baster or spray bottle) and towels to dry up any excess water, however, if the evaporator coils are not defrosting, this will only work for a short period of time. You should have the defrost system examined by a professional technician.

Defective Evaporator Fan

broken evaporator fan

Behind the evaporator coils, you’ll see the evaporator fan. This fan circulates cold air from the evaporator coil through the rest of the freezer. Examine the fan for frosting or any other debris. Unplug the unit, clean any frost or debris from the fan then try turning it manually to see if there are any problems. If the fan is not engaging when the unit is plugged in and the freezer door is open, it will need to be replaced.

Defrost Thermostat

broken defrost thermostat

If ice is building on the evaporator coils or fan, the problem may be the defrost thermostat. This device monitors the temperature on the evaporator coils to identify when the frost has built up on the coil which triggers the defrost heater. If the thermostat is not functioning, the heater can either overheat or fail to operate at all.

Damper Control Assembly

Air temperature is regulated between the freezer and refrigerator by use of the damper door. This is a vent that opens between the freezer and fridge when either needs to be regulated. If malfunctioning, this door may be locked in a single position releasing either too much or too little cold air.

Thermistor, Temperature Control Board, and Main Control Board

The thermistor is a sensor on the temperature control board that monitors air temperature. If the thermistor is defective, it will no longer monitor the temperature. This may also be caused by a defect in the associated control boards including the temperature control board and the main control board. However, control board failures are uncommon, so you should first look for the causes listed above.

If you need professional help with your refrigerator or freezer, call DeserTech Appliance Service at (760) 564-5024.

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