How to Repair Your Own Refrigerator and Save a Service Call

Last weekend, I received a text from my husband telling me that our fridge was no longer working. He said the ice was melting in the ice drawer and the temperature was climbing in the refrigerator. I'm kind of old school in thinking that you should do your best to work with what you have. And that even means, repairing before replacing if at all possible. Thankfully, my husband is pretty handy and was willing to try a few things before we made a service call. I've got a few simple fixes for some common refrigerator problems so you can save yourself the money of a repair call. 

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How to Repair Your Own Refrigerator and Save a Service Call

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Sometimes it's a simple solution that can fix a problem, so before you call the service repairman, let's try a thing or two to see if you can repair your own refrigerator first.

Problem: Your Refrigerator Won't Stay Cold

I first noticed a problem with our fridge when I reached to get ice and found that the ice cubes were melted together. There could be a few problems, the first would point to lack of electricity.

Solutions for Cooling Problems in your Refrigerator

If you open the door and the light in your fridge doesn't come on, you may have blown a fuse or your refrigerator came unplugged. 

If your light does come on, check the temperature control dial. It may have gotten bumped or pushed on accident {darn kids!}. Check your vents and make sure there aren't containers blocking the air flow. 

Newer refrigerators {those bought in the last 15 years}, usually don't require you to clean the condenser coils. However, it's always worth a shot to make sure you wipe them down. Old refrigerators have the coils in the back, and you will need to pull out your refrigerator from the wall to clean them. Newer refrigerators have them in the bottom, and you will need to take off the front grill to clean your coils.

This may seem like a silly solution, but, unplug your fridge, wait a few minutes and then plug it in again. Seriously. It's amazing how many things start to work again after they get restarted. It's worth a shot!

If your refrigerator still isn't keeping food cold, you may need to check the refrigerator circuit board. That's what our problem was. 

How to Replace Your Refrigerator Circuit Board

This is not the cheapest fix, but it will cost about the same as a service call, and even the least handy person can replace the circuit board on their refrigerator, though you may just be a little intimidated.

Start by unplugging your refrigerator.

Pro Tip: use tape to attach your refrigerator plug to the top of your fridge. That way, when you pull the fridge out it stays on the top and not dangling in your face as you try to work. Also, when you go to push your fridge back in, it's right where you need it and not hanging down back impossible to reach.

Before you pull your refrigerator out from the wall, make sure you take out any uncovered drinks or things that could slosh around and make a real mess for you when you re-open your refrigerator doors. Ask me how I know this.

Also, clear off anything that is on top of your refrigerator. You don't want it falling on your head as you pull the fridge out from the wall.

Remove your metal cover plate.

Side note: My youngest son is handy like his dad and he wants to always be learning how to fix things, so if you have a handy kid, invite them in to help. This is an easy fix that takes about 20 minutes.

In case you were wondering, yes, Amazon really does have everything. Even refrigerator circuit boards. This is the one we bought.  Make sure you do a quick search and find out what circuit board will work for your fridge and your model.

Pro Tip: Use your phone to take a picture of your old circuit board so you know what wires connect where. This will come in helpful as you are installing your new circuit board.

Remove your old circuit board. The wires are housed in a connector and the connector can be easily snapped off with a flat head screw driver. 

Once all your wires are disconnected, pull off the old circuit board. There are pegs in place that the new circuit board will slip on to and those will hold the board in place as you reconnect your wires.

This is one case where you might have extra parts hanging. It's likely the appliance brand uses the same circuit board for multiple models, though your model may not require all of the attachments. This is when your phone picture comes in handy. Make sure you match up all your wires and connectors to the proper places and you should be in business.

Put the metal cover plate back on, push your fridge back and plug it in. You should be back in business! 

Allow about 24 hours for your refrigerator to get back to normal temperature. If it is, then it works and you fixed it! Good for you!

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If it doesn't, you at least tried what you could before making an expensive service call.

This whole repair versus replace debate had me thinking....

When should you replace your refrigerator?

As the old saying goes, they don't make 'em like they used to. Most experts tend to agree that if your refrigerator is less than 8 years old, then it's worth trying to repair it. We spoke to a salesman at an appliance shop that told us that the average life cycle of a refrigerator is only 10-15 years. 

Consumer Reports recommends replacing a product if repair is going to cost more than half of what the cost would be to buy a new one. 

Our refrigerator is getting up there in age, {it's 12 years old}, but we decided {after shopping for refrigerators and getting sticker shock!}, that it was worth trying to do what we could to repair the refrigerator on our own. You may decide that too. It seems to be working now so I think we bought ourselves some time. Hopefully, this post will save you a repair call and will help you take the next steps to decide if you want to repair or replace your refrigerator.

It's really not as hard as you might think. Just ask my 12 year old!

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