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Table of Contents

Getting Started

Must-Have Tools

Addressing Common Fridge Problems

How to Fix a Refrigerator that’s Not Cooling

How to Fix Your Fridge When it Displays an Error Code

How to Fix a Refrigerator that Won’t Power Up

Fixing a Refrigerator Ice Maker

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Handyman's Guide to DIY Fridge Repair

11 min readUpdated Mar. 18, 2024Kimberly HillegassRefrigerator
DIY Refrigerator Repair Tips

Tackling refrigerator issues promptly is key to avoiding bigger problems down the line. While serious repairs might require professional help, many common fridge problems can be addressed with some DIY know-how. Sears Refrigerator Repair Experts offer valuable advice on fixing various refrigerator issues yourself, from cooling problems to error codes and malfunctioning ice makers. We'll help you keep your fridge running smoothly.


  • When faced with cooling problems in your refrigerator, troubleshooting steps include checking for blocked vents, adjusting temperature settings, and inspecting components like the evaporator fan and condenser coils for malfunctions.
  • If your refrigerator is completely dead, basic troubleshooting involves checking the power cord, resetting the house circuit breaker, and testing the electrical outlet before considering more complex issues like a failed electronic control board or control panel.
  • Troubleshooting steps for ice maker issues include checking for jammed cubes, ensuring proper water flow through the water filter and inlet valve, and verifying adequate cooling in the freezer, with potential DIY fixes ranging from resetting the ice maker to replacing faulty components.

Taking immediate action to when you see symptoms of failures in your fridge can often save you having to schedule a professional refrigerator repair. Sears Refrigerator Repair Experts are always glad to help you when you’re facing a serious repair that you can’t complete on your own, but we’re also here to advise you on fixing fridge problems that you can easily do yourself.

We want to help you manage your home in the best and easiest way possible. Sometimes, that involves fixing small appliance problems on your own, before they become big and expensive appliance failures.

Getting Started

When you’re facing a refrigerator problem, consider the cost-effective alternative of a DIY refrigerator repair. With a dash of knowledge and the right tools, you can save lots of money by handling common refrigerator problems on your own.

Before diving into any DIY repair, it's vital to prioritize safety. Refrigerators involve electrical components and potentially hazardous materials, so ensuring your safety and that of others in your household is crucial.

First things first, always unplug your refrigerator before attempting any repairs. This prevents any accidental electric shocks. Also, wear protective gloves and goggles to shield your hands and eyes from sharp edges or harmful chemicals. Finally, be careful around any moving parts or heavy components while working on your fridge.

Must-Have Tools

Having the right tools in your arsenal is critical for DIY refrigerator repairs. Here's a rundown of the essential tools you'll need and how they come in handy during your repair process.

  1. Screwdriver set: A versatile set of screwdrivers of varying sizes and types is a must-have for any refrigerator repair. You’ll typically need flat-tip, Phillips head and torx screwdrivers for fridge repair. Whether you need to unscrew the back panel or loosen the door handle screws, having the right screwdriver makes your job a whole lot easier.

2.__ Multimeter:__ A multimeter is a handy tool that allows you to measure voltage, current, and resistance. It's essential for diagnosing electrical problems in your refrigerator. By using a multimeter, you can test if a component is functioning correctly or if there's a faulty connection.
3. Nut driver set: A nut driver set is necessary for removing and tightening nuts and bolts in your refrigerator. Whether you're replacing a motor or tightening loose screws, a nut driver set gives you the right grip and leverage.
4. Pliers: Pliers are useful for various tasks during refrigerator repairs. They can be used to bend or cut wires, remove stubborn parts, or tighten clamps. Both needle-nose pliers and slip-joint pliers should be in your toolbox.
5. Allen wrench set: Many refrigerator handles and other components us Allen-head fasteners that require this special tool.
6. Vacuum cleaner: A vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment is helpful for cleaning the condenser coils and removing dust and debris from inside the refrigerator. Regular cleaning of these parts can boost the efficiency and lifespan of your appliance.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can confidently handle common refrigerator issues on your own.

Addressing Common Fridge Problems

When your fridge starts acting up, it can be quite a pain. But before you call a professional, there are a few typical problems that you can identify and troubleshoot yourself. Here's a guide to help you tackle common refrigerator issues.

Step-by-Step DIY Fridge Repair

Having a step-by-step strategy can be a game-changer when it comes to DIY refrigerator repairs. Whether you're dealing with cooling issues, strange noises, or a stubborn ice maker, tackling these repairs yourself can save you time and money. Here, we provide clear instructions for each repair task, along with helpful tips and tricks for successful repairs.

  1. Diagnose the problem: Before you start any repair, it's important to pinpoint the root of the problem. Diagnosis often require intuitive intuition based on limited information. When you know that your fridge isn’t cooling, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing the problem using powers of deduction and analysis. Use a multimeter and diagnostic instructions to figure out what’s causing the symptom.
  2. Gather your tools: Once you know what needs fixing, gather the tools you'll need. This often includes the basic hand tools listed above and replacement parts.
  3. Follow safety precautions: Before starting any repair, ensure your safety by disconnecting the power supply and wearing protective gloves.
  4. Follow the repair guide: Now that you're prepared, follow the detailed technical instructions or DIY video for replacing the faulty part
  5. Test the operation after the repair: After each repair, don't forget to test your fridge to make sure everything is working as it should. If any issues persist, continue to troubleshoot problems or schedule a professional repair.

Remember, DIY refrigerator repairs can be rewarding, but it's important to know your limits. If you're unsure or uncomfortable with any step, it's always best to seek professional help.

How to Fix a Refrigerator that’s Not Cooling

You may find that your refrigerator isn’t cooling well, or that it’s not cooling at all. DIY troubleshooting for these problems differ so we’ll offer separate advice for these symptoms.

Fridge Isn’t Cooling Well

When your refrigerator isn't cold enough, first check whether containers are blocking airflow at the vents; the owner's manual usually shows where the vents are. Your refrigerator also might seem warmer than usual for a day if you’ve just added a lot of food—wait 24 hours after adding lots of food to see if the refrigerator cools properly.

High fridge temperatures are also a sign of a control system problem, a failure in the air control damper, low refrigerant charge and other malfunctions. Watch the troubleshooting videos below for more DIY tips on resolving refrigerator cooling problems.

The detailed and extensive expert tips in these videos may help you fix a refrigerator not cooling well. If not, schedule refrigerator repair service and we’ll send a Sears Technician to your home to fix the fridge.

Refrigerator Not Cooling at All

When your refrigerator has power but isn’t cooling at all, a control failure, bad compressor or sealed system problem could be apparent. Several other problems could prevent the fridge from cooling at all.

Checking the condition of fans and the compressor can often lead you to effective DIY troubleshooting steps that may restore cooling in your fridge.

Listen for the compressor, evaporator fan and condenser fan to see if they’re running.

If the evaporator fan and condenser fan is running but not the compressor, a bad compressor start relay could be preventing the compressor motor from running.

View this DIY YouTube video to see how to check the start relay and troubleshoot additional compressor issues in a refrigerator:

If you determine that a failed compressor is preventing the fridge from cooling, you’ll need to have a service technician repair the refrigerator because replacing the compressor involves the handling of refrigerant.

You’ll also need to have a service technician diagnose and repair your fridge when the compressor runs but the refrigerator doesn’t cool at all. Lack of refrigerant or a failed compressor is likely causing the cooling failure in this situation.

If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, you may consider replacing the fridge instead of repairing it. The cost of a compressor or sealed system repair is often so high that replacing the refrigerator makes more sense. Sears is here to help with refrigerator replacement as well. Visit our Upgrade page to easily select a replacement fridge and get help with financing. We’ve consolidated all help, special financing offers and savings into one location on our Upgrade page to make it convenient for you to replace your appliance now. No hassles and no waiting. You can easily order your new home refrigerator right away.

How to Fix Your Fridge When it Displays an Error Code

Sometimes your refrigerator tells you exactly what's wrong—as long as you can crack the code. Many refrigerators have an electronic control board that detects failures for you and displays an error code on the control panel.

When you see a code displayed on the control panel of your refrigerator, use our Refrigerator Error Code Charts to determine the cause of the code and get DIY troubleshooting tips to fix your fridge.

Image of woman viewing refrigerator error code

How to Fix a Refrigerator that Won’t Power Up

When you find the fridge completely dead, check the control to make sure the fridge is turned on. If that doesn’t fix the problem, check the house circuit breaker for your fridge. Reset the circuit breaker in case it has tripped.

If the fridge won’t power up after resetting the house circuit breaker, check the electrical outlet. Make sure the refrigerator outlet cord is securely plugged in.

If the outlet cord is plugged in, test the electrical outlet by plugging in a lamp or other small appliance to verify that the outlet is working.

If the outlet has no power, have an electrician fix the outlet.

If the outlet works, check the refrigerator power cord for damage. Replace the power cord if you find damage.

If the outlet cord is good, then a failed electronic control board or bad control panel could be causing the problem. These parts are expensive. You’ll likely need to have a service technician diagnose and repair the fridge if basic troubleshooting doesn’t help you find the cause of the failure.

Fixing a Refrigerator Ice Maker

Several problems can interfere with making ice. The ice maker could be jammed or broken, a dirty water filter or kinked water line could be blocking water flow or the water inlet valve could be clogged or faulty.

The ice maker on many refrigerators is controlled by electronic circuit boards. You can sometimes fix the problem by shutting off the ice maker then turning it back on. If that doesn’t fix the ice maker, disconnect power to the entire fridge for several minutes to reset all circuit boards in the refrigerator. Power the refrigerator back up and see if the ice maker works. If it does, then you’ve likely fixed the problem.

If these initial tips didn’t fix the ice maker, try these additional troubleshooting steps:

  • Check the ice maker for jammed cubes and clear any ice buildup that you find.
  • See if the refrigerator water dispenser works. If not, replace the water filter. If that doesn’t help restore water flow, then you’ll likely need to replace the water valve if it's clogged or won't fill the ice maker when activated.
  • No ice in the ice maker also could mean that your refrigerator isn't cooling-the ice maker won't cycle if the freezer is warmer than 5 degrees F. Check freezer temperature and fix the cooling problem if the freezer isn’t cooling properly.

If these troubleshooting steps don’t help you fix the ice maker, you’ll likely need to have a service technician diagnose and repair the failure.

Fixing refrigerator problems on your can save you time and money. Although you may not be able to fix every failure, these tips may help you complete some repairs on your own. For those problems that you can’t fix, trust Sears to help you repair or replace your fridge quickly and easily.

Schedule your refrigerator repair now!

Backed by years of experience, our technicians possess the skills necessary to fix your refrigerator. And because our techs our local, they can fix it for you fast.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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