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7 Reasons Your Freezer Is Working But Your Fridge Isn't & Guide to Fixing

Virginia Shelley
6 minute read

It can be incredibly frustrating when your freezer seems to be working fine, but your fridge just isn’t cooling properly. The milk is warm, the produce is wilting, and yet the ice maker keeps churning out ice like nothing’s wrong. What gives?

There are a handful of common culprits for why a freezer can still get cold when the fridge stops cooling. The good news is that the issue may not require expensive repairs or full appliance replacement. Many cooling problems can be addressed with basic troubleshooting and maintenance.

Reason 1: Power Supply Issue

The first thing to check – is whether your fridge getting power? Fridges run on electricity, so if something interrupts the power supply, the fridge won’t be able to operate and regulate temperatures.

Check the wall outlet, fuse box, and any GFCI outlets that the appliance could be connected to. Make sure there hasn’t been a fuse blown, tripped breaker, or power outage in the area. Test outlets with a multimeter if needed to confirm electricity is running to the unit.

If you find no electricity getting to the fridge, you’ll need an electrician to diagnose and address why power has been interrupted. Once the fridge has a proper power supply again, normal cooling should resume.

How To Check Fridge Power Supply

Reason 2: Faulty Control Board

The control board (main controller) acts as the “brains” of a fridge, telling other components when to turn on and off to regulate interior temps. If the control board malfunctions, it can’t properly direct the compressor, fans, and other parts needed for cooling.

Symptoms of a bad control board include:

First inspect all connections to the control board, checking for any loose plugs or wires. If no obvious issues, use a multimeter to test component voltages and continuity. If testing confirms a faulty board, a replacement will be needed.

How To Replace Fridge Control Board

Reason 3: Blocked Airflow & Circulation

Freezer Is Cold But Refrigerator Is Not

Fridges rely on proper ventilation and airflow to maintain the right environment for cooling. Just like for your vehicle’s radiator, obstructed airflow means inefficient heat transfer and poor temperature regulation inside the appliance.

Some common causes of blocked fridge airflow include:

Carefully remove any food or containers potentially restricting internal airflow. Use a condenser coil brush or vacuum with crevice tool to clear dirt from vents. Make sure cold air outlets along the rear wall or evaporator fan under vegetable drawers are unobstructed.

Tips For Improving Fridge Airflow

Reason 4: Damaged Door Seals & Gaskets

Cool air leaks are another common source of cooling loss in a poorly functioning refrigerator. Just as insulation contains climate-controlled air indoors, your fridge depends on intact door seals and gaskets to contain its cold air.

Common clues of leaky door seals allowing the escape of chilled air include:

Carefully inspect door gasket seals around each fridge/freezer door. Check for any gaps, as even small leaks add up over time. Any splits, cracks, or sections with poor compression should be addressed.

How To Fix Leaky Refrigerator Seals

Reason 5: Dirty Condenser Coils

Your refrigerator’s condenser coils allow hot refrigerant gas to dissipate heat into the air, condensing the gas back into a liquid state so the cooling cycle can repeat. Accumulated dirt and debris make it harder for condenser coils to release heat efficiently.

Signs that accumulated grime on coils may be impacting fridge cooling ability include:

Carefully clean dust and pet hair clinging to coils using a brush or vacuum hose with a soft brush nozzle. Avoid damaging delicate coil fins bent during cleaning. Straighten any flattened fins with a fin comb to restore full operation.

How To Clean Fridge Condenser Coils

Reason 6: Failing Thermostat

A refrigerator or freezer thermostat gauges interior air temperature via a thermal probe. This thermostat instructs the compressor and fans when to cycle on or off to achieve the desired coldness. If the thermostat malfunctions, regulating and maintaining proper temperatures fails too.

A faulty refrigerator thermostat exhibits symptoms like:

Use a thermistor tester or multimeter to check thermostat continuity and temperature accuracy. If faulty, replacing the thermostat should resolve inaccurate temperature issues.

How To Replace Faulty Fridge Thermostat

Reason 7: Extreme Ambient Temperatures

A freezer may still reach below-freezing temperatures even as the fridge section fails to cool properly, especially during spells of particularly hot or cold surrounding air.

Most household fridges perform optimally with indoor ambient temperatures of around 60-90° F. When indoor temps veer outside this range from seasonal swings or a malfunctioning AC unit, fridge cooling capacity can be impacted.

Possible solutions for extreme ambient temperatures include:

If indoor ambient temps cannot be kept in the ideal 60-90° F range, refrigerant pressures and airflow through the condenser coils start to suffer. This contributes to the freezer outperforming the fridge’s ability to properly cool food.

Preventing Future Cooling Issues

To help prevent a freezer from working while the fridge stops cooling from happening again, be diligent about appliance maintenance and quick to notice signs of trouble.

Some basic troubleshooting steps include:

Well-maintained fridges can typically operate reliably for over 10 years. However, neglecting basic cleaning and upkeep leads to inefficiency and eventual failure sooner.

Fridge Maintenance Tips

When your freezer is still working fine yet the fridge fails to get cold enough, there are a handful of common culprits at play. From electrical connection issues to broken temperature components to leaky door seals, many problems are fixable with basic DIY troubleshooting.

Regular maintenance like cleaning condenser coils, defrosting freezers, inspecting door seals, and clearing dust buildup can significantly extend a refrigerator lifespan. Catching small problems before they cascade into appliance failure lets you enjoy chilled summer drinks and frozen treats no matter how hot it gets!