Seven common fridge freezer faults and how to deal with them

When your fridge freezer is playing up, you want it working again fast. But getting a fridge freezer fixed can be disruptive – and expensive. Before you reach for the phone, might it be something you could fix yourself?

Doing your own investigations will help you to rule out simple fixes you can do on your own. You’ll also be able to narrow down the possible problem, so if you’re forced to call an engineer you’ll be able to get a more accurate quote over the phone for the cost of fixing it.

Read on to find out how you can go about diagnosing some common fridge freezer faults, how to do simple fixes, and when it’s worth calling in a professional.

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1. Fridge is too warm

Assuming you’ve set it up properly (it’s level, not too close to heat sources, and has enough ventilation space all around) and the ambient room temperature is within the range of the appliance’s climate class, run through these checks to see if they help solve the problem.

2. Freezer not freezing food properly

In addition to the checks listed above, there are a couple more you can make to try and diagnose the cause of a freezer not freezing, before you call in an engineer.

Find the fan inside the freezer and make sure that nothing is impeding it. If it’s blocked up, move things around and give it space to work. Also check to see if a build-up of ice is preventing it from moving freely.

Take a look at the condenser coils at the back of the appliance, too. A build-up of dust on these can prevent them from cooling properly. A good clean will have them working efficiently, which may solve the lack of freezing.

If those simple checks don’t solve the problem, you’ll have some more complex investigations on your hands. Issues with the compressor, thermostat or refrigerant gas are just some of the areas that could be to blame. Unless you have the tools and the know-how, it’s probably time to call an engineer.

3. Water pooling in the base of the fridge

This is likely to be caused by a blocked drain hole. Water condenses at the back of the fridge, where it’s colder, and runs down into the drain hole, where it can be evaporated away by the compressor.

Seven common fridge freezer faults and how to deal with them

Dust, dirt and food waste often get stuck in the drain hole, preventing water from running down, but you can easily clean it with a thin straw, bit of wire or a cotton bud.

Another option if you’re still finding it’s blocked, is to irrigate the pipe with a syringe that has a tube attachment. A few flushes of water will hopefully shift whatever’s causing the blockage.

Our guide on how to deep-clean your fridge has plenty more tips on keeping your fridge free of grime.

4. Fridge freezer has stopped working after defrosting

If your freezer has chunks of ice on the back and side walls, it can be tempting to use a utensil to lever off the ice. However, this can crack a pipe or the rear of the inner casing, causing the refrigerant gas to leak out.

Gas leaks are dangerous and tricky to fix, and re-gassing can cost more than £100, so replacement is often more cost-effective.

To avoid any mishaps when defrosting, follow the tips in our guide on how to defrost a fridge freezer.

5. Fridge freezer is noisier than usual

You’ll probably hear plenty of noises coming from your fridge freezer throughout the day – from the hum of the compressor and whirr of the evaporator fan to the occasional crack of defrosting ice. But if you’re suddenly hearing unusual noises, you’ll want to investigate to see whether it’s indicative of a bigger problem.

An unusually noisy fridge could be caused by the compressor or the evaporator tray on top of it. A compressor pushes the refrigerant gas into the coils on the outside. It can fail (the noise can be a warning sign) or the evaporator tray can move so it starts making a noise.

If it’s an issue with the evaporator tray, it’s easily fixed. But if the compressor breaks it can cost more than £170 to buy a new one, and you’ll have to factor in the additional cost of getting an engineer in to fit it. So unless it’s an expensive American-style fridge freezer you’ll probably want to weigh up whether or not it’s worth fixing.

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6. Light in the fridge not working

This should be a simple fix If your light has a small screw-in bulb, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to bring in an engineer to sort this one for you. But there are some fridge freezers that have LED strip lighting inside, and in some cases it might be better to hand the job over to a professional, unless you know what you’re doing.

If you think you can fix it yourself, then first make sure you have the correct replacement bulb or light module. You can search for spare parts online using your appliance’s model code.

Some manufacturers, such as Beko and Hotpoint, have their own spare parts websites, but it can be worth shopping around to see if you can find parts cheaper elsewhere.

Remember to make sure the appliance is switched off at the wall and unplugged before you begin working.

7. Door seals torn or not working properly

If your food is spoiling sooner than it should, it could be an issue with the door seal. Check for any tears, warping in the corners or even areas where the seal has hardened.

If there’s no obvious damage or wear, you can try the £10 note test to see how well the seal is working. Close the door onto the note, and if it holds in place the seal is working properly. If the note slides out, you’ll need to replace the seal. Remember to test all the way around the door, not just next to the handle.

You can replace the seal yourself. Sometimes it’s as easy as pulling the old one out, but you might have to loosen some screws that keep it in place.

New seals are often available online, for between £30 and £100.

Not worth repairing? Read our guide to how to buy the best fridge freezer before you hunt for a replacement.