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Refrigerators are expensive and the last thing you want to do is damage your refrigerator. If you’re handy with tools, you can do some basic repairs yourself without the help of a professional. Read this first!

The first step is to check if your fridge is part of a recall. You can also find out if there are problems reported by other owners online.

Check the Thermostat

Thermostat problems can prevent a refrigerator from reaching or maintaining its set temperature, which can lead to wasted food and a higher energy bill. This is also one of the most common reasons for food spoilage and mold growth inside a refrigerator.

The thermostat on a refrigerator is usually located at the back of the appliance, under a service panel held by retaining screws, or on the bottom. It is a simple, inexpensive part to replace. To do so, disconnect the refrigerator from power and remove the panel.

Release the brackets that hold the temperature control thermostat and sensing tube in place and pull them from their brackets. Remove the insulation sleeve covering the sensor tube if it is present, and save it to reuse on the new thermostat if needed. Connect the wires to the new temperature control thermostat, referencing a digital image or marking them with numbered pieces of tape for easy reconnecting.

Check the Condenser Fan

There are a number of electrical components that make up a refrigerator’s cooling system. If any of these are malfunctioning, your refrigerator may not cool properly. One of the most common problems is a defective condenser fan motor circuit. The fan should run any time the compressor is running, but if it fails to do so, the refrigerator can overheat and lose its cooling abilities.

The first step in addressing this problem is to check for obstructions in the fan blade. Try spinning the blade by hand and ensure that it moves freely. If it does not, you’ll need to remove the fan motor from the refrigerator and replace it.

Check the Drain Hose

The drain hose is used during the defrosting cycle to allow water to flow out of the fridge and into the drip pan below. If it becomes clogged with food or other items, liquids cannot drain and the refrigerator may not cool as well. Examine the hose and use warm water to flush it out.

Also, check the ice maker to see if it is clogged. If the ice maker is new, try pushing a dollar bill into the seal to see if it fits snugly. If the bill comes out easily, the gasket is leaking and needs replacing.

Most refrigerator problems are easily fixed by the average do-it-yourselfer, using tools you probably already have in your home. However, there are some components like switches and thermostats that are best left to a professional repair technician. Consider your options carefully and weigh the cost of repairs against the price of a new refrigerator. If the repairs will exceed half the price of a new refrigerator, it might make more sense to buy a replacement.

Check the Drain Pan

A little bit of water under the refrigerator isn’t a big deal, but if you see puddles on or around the floor it’s time to call in the professionals. The fridge may be out of level, causing it to drain improperly and possibly leak into the kitchen. You can check this by putting a spirit level on the back of the unit and observing where the defrost drain line empties. The line should dump directly into the pan.

Also, keep an ear out for loud noises. Sounds like ice clattering into the bin and refrigerant hissing through lines can point to problems with the freezer or fridge walls, as well as the defrost timer or evaporator fan. Click here for more interesting articles.