According to Murphy's law, "anything that can go wrong, will go wrong" -- so having your refrigerator begin showing signs of trouble as you're nearing a big holiday gathering or other event where a malfunctioning refrigerator is not an option can leave you nervous. Fortunately, refrigerators are relatively simple machines that can often be repaired (or at least rigged awaiting a more permanent fix) fairly easily using items you have around the house or can purchase at a nearby hardware store. Read on for several quick fixes for common refrigerator issues that won't require you to pay high next-day shipping fees, as well as your options if you do find yourself in a refrigerator emergency.
What fixes can you perform yourself?
Many refrigerator issues stem from a leaking seal or other component that affects the temperature gauge or allows cold air to seep out of the refrigerator into the surrounding room.
- If your refrigerator is constantly running:
A refrigerator that won't cycle off is either dealing with a leak from the inside or a blocked condenser coil. First, check the door seal to make sure you can't feel cold air escaping. If your refrigerator seems secure, move it away from the wall and sweep any debris or hair away from the condenser unit. If this unit is warm or hot to the touch, it's likely that lack of air flow caused by debris is causing it to overwork itself.
- If your refrigerator is much warmer than usual or doesn't kick on like normal:
There may be an issue with the overload relay attached to your refrigerator's compressor. This relay is designed to shut off your refrigerator when faced with an overload of electrical power (like during a storm) or if the compressor is becoming too warm. Shut off the power to your refrigerator and take a look at the compressor. It's possible the overload relay has simply become jarred or unplugged and needs only to be put back into position. If your overload relay appears to be damaged, you may be able to replace only this relay (rather than your entire compressor) by visiting a local hardware store.
- If your refrigerator is leaking water:
The only water in your refrigerator is the water used to make ice -- so a leaking fridge most often has a problem with the icemaker or the water supply line leading to the icemaker. If your refrigerator is near the sink, the water supply to the icemaker is likely located there. If you can't find it, check the crawlspace or basement directly underneath your refrigerator for a small lever you'll use to shut off the water until you can have your refrigerator professionally serviced. Although you won't be able to generate more ice from your icemaker during this time, you'll avoid damage to your floor (and your water bill) in the meantime.
What are your options if your temporary fix stops working?
In some cases, your best option may be to call an emergency repair service, such as Anderson's Appliance Repair Service. Because these repair companies are designed to fulfill customers' immediate needs, they're available nights, weekends, and holidays, often ensuring that you'll be able to enjoy a working refrigerator before your food even has a chance to warm up. While these services are more expensive than going the DIY route, helping preserve a refrigerator full of expensive or long-anticipated food may be well worth the cost.
As an alternative, you may wish to purchase an inexpensive dorm or student refrigerator to help keep certain items cold while waiting for your refrigerator to be repaired. This last-ditch approach can be enough to save the day without breaking the bank.