Diagnosing and Resolving Refrigerator Problems

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diagnosing refrigerator

Refrigeration is an important, often overlooked technological marvel. Through refrigeration, humanity has been able to not only keep food cold, but diseases have been able to be kept at bay, medications have been able to be developed and microscopic organisms have been able to be studied. Of course, for most people, the refrigerator is just a kitchen appliance used to preserve food and keep beverages chilled.

In fact, you probably don’t even think about your refrigerator as it hums along quietly in the kitchen – until a problem occurs. Diagnosing refrigerator problems can be tricky since these machines are somewhat complex. In many cases, refrigerator compressors and their associated three-phase induction motors are the main culprit. Unfortunately, while you can purchase induction motors from an induction motor manufacturer, swapping out these components isn’t so easy.

Compressor Motor Problems

The issue of a compressor motor going bad is even more of a dilemma if your refrigerator manufacturer uses custom induction motors as opposed to standard components that can be purchased off-the-shelf. If a custom design has been engineered, you’re likely going to need to work with the refrigerator manufacturer to either purchase replacement motor components or to have an approved technician handle the repair or replacement. While AC induction motors are common in refrigerator units, OEM parts may be difficult to match if a custom setup has been used.

Before You Get Into The Technical Stuff

Of course, before even delving into things like electrical components and compressor motors, you’re encouraged to first check the basics. For example, if your fridge isn’t cooling like it used to, it could be that your unit’s temperature setting got inadvertently bumped and is now higher than it should be. Check this setting before taking things apart.

Also, refrigerators need proper air flow through their vents. If a fridge is too close to a wall or not enough air is available to the unit, this can cause performance issues. Check your operator’s manual or contact the manufacturer to learn about the specific open-space dimension requirements needed for your particular model.

Door seals are another vital piece of the puzzle in diagnosing and resolving refrigerator problems. If a door isn’t closing or sealing completely, warm air is being let into the interior of the fridge and could be causing temperature problems. Keep in mind that this can make the compressor motor work harder and reduce its life expectancy, so check your door seals often. One of the most common causes for improper door sealing, aside from wear, is dirt and food matter stuck to the interior of the fridge. As such, clean the door liner and interior walls of your refrigerator often to ensure a proper seal.

Check And Clean The Condenser Coils And Fan

If you haven’t been able to find any issues after checking for common problems, you’re encouraged to next check the condenser coils and the associated cooling fan. These are the components of your refrigerator that condense the refrigerant to keep things cold while expelling heat through the back vent. Over time, these components can become dirty and clogged, leading to reduced performance and additional wear on your unit.

To clean the condenser coils and fan, you can use a vacuum and a small, flexible brush. Make sure to unplug the refrigerator prior to working on any internal components. There are some cleaning products available specifically for these refrigerator condenser coils, but before using chemical cleaners, you should check with your refrigerator manufacturer to ensure your safety and protect your refrigerator. Using chemical cleaning products that have not been recommended by your manufacturer could lead to damage, and they may also void your warranty.