Refrigerator Light [How to/Questions/Problems & Solutions]

A refrigerator light is one of the parts that let you know when something is wrong with the refrigerator. If you have problems with your refrigerator light, this article has a fix for you.

Refrigerator Light

How to Test a Refrigerator Light Switch

To test the light switch of a refrigerator, do the following:

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power or turn off the circuit breaker. Find the light switch; its location will depend on the refrigerator model you own. Typically, though, you will find it near the top of the door when you open it. In some refrigerators, the light switch is in the control housing located on the ceiling on the inside of the refrigerator.

Detach the light switch when you find it so you can test it. It is usually fixed into a plastic liner inside the refrigerator. So, when you are detaching it, do so carefully to avoid damaging the plastic liner.

Next, take a multimeter and run a continuity test on the light switch. But first, set the multimeter to an R x 1 scale before placing its probes on the terminals of the switch. The reading on the meter should go from infinity to zero. While the probes are still on the terminals, press the switch and check the reading. If the reading on the meter returns to infinity, the switch is working. Otherwise, replace the light switch.

Refrigerator Light Does Not Come On – How to Fix

If you find that the light in your refrigerator does not come on, check the following:

1. Power Supply

More often than not, the problem of no light in the refrigerator stems from no or interrupted power supply. Therefore, check the power cord of the refrigerator. Ensure it is fully plugged into the wall receptacle. It may be that it was nudged out of position.

If the power cord is in the outlet, then make sure it is not damaged in any way. A damaged or frayed cord cannot deliver the required amount of voltage to the refrigerator. But that would also mean other parts of the unit won’t function. Replace the power cord; refrigerator power cords are usually affordable and easy to replace.

But if the power cord is in good working condition, check the wall outlet. It may be faulty, thereby being unable to deliver power. Use a circuit tester, the non-contact type, to test the outlet. If there is no response, replace the outlet. An electrician will be in the best position to replace the outlet unless you have the know-how.

Some outlets are the GFCI type, and such an outlet may trip. Find the reset button on the outlet and press it. If the button stays in while the refrigerator light comes on, you are good to go. Otherwise, consider replacing the outlet or hiring an electrician to do the job.

Other Possibilities

Sometimes, there may be a general power outage or a tripped circuit breaker. Whichever is the case, it will affect other appliances and lights in the house, not just the refrigerator. Therefore, check the lights and appliances.

A general power outage means you have to find a way to preserve the food in the refrigerator, especially the perishable ones. Limit the number of times you open the doors as much as you can and consider an alternative source of power if the outage lingers.

But if the problem is from a tripped circuit breaker, rest it. Then, make sure there aren’t too many appliances connected to one circuit. Otherwise, the circuit breaker will go off again. If you are sure the circuit does not have too many appliances, yet it trips again, there may be a short circuit or some other problem. Let an electrician check and fix the problem.

2. Light Bulb

Take a look at the bulb inside the refrigerator to see if there is a broken filament or a dark spot. These are signs that the bulb has burned out. If you are not sure, remove the bulb from its socket and shake it.  A broken filament will make a rattle inside it. If that is the case, replace the bulb.

While you are at it, check the light socket. You will be able to tell if it is broken. Replace the socket if it is. But if it is simply dirty, clean it with a damp cloth soaked in warm water. Dirt may be blocking the contacts and restricting the flow of power to the bulb through the socket.

3. Switch

Check the door switch, which is usually on top of the door. Some refrigerators have the light switch on the temperature control housing on the ceiling of the refrigerator’s interior. It may be faulty or simply stuck. 

Dirt can cause it to stick over time, and a buildup of moisture can cause it to freeze. If either is the case, the light in the refrigerator won’t work. Find the switch, press, and release it a few times. Use a warm cloth to wipe it a few times if there is ice, or clean it if you suspect dirt.

Otherwise, the door switch is broken, and the only repair is to replace it. But replace it when all other repairs fail to get it up and working again. You can use a flat-head screwdriver to remove the faulty switch, once you do this, you will see wire leads connected to the switch. Disconnect them and reconnect them to a new door switch. Insert it into the switch socket and try it to see if it works.

How to Fix a Refrigerator Light

To fix a refrigerator light, you must determine why it is faulty. The likeliest cause is a damaged light bulb, and it is pretty affordable to replace. But if the bulb is not the problem, check the light socket. Make sure it is not dirty; dirt can interfere with the power flow. The socket may also be damaged, so consider replacing it.

However, if none of the above applies, check the light switch. It is the same as the door switch, on the refrigerator door’s top. Ensure it is in good working condition by pressing it a few times. Check to see if ice or dirt is keeping it from working. Otherwise, consider replacing the switch if nothing else works. Replacement is the only fix for a faulty light switch.

Here is how to replace the light switch on the control panel inside the unit:

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power before you begin. You may also want to wear work gloves. Next, unmount the screws that hold the temperature control housing to the ceiling of the unit. Pull it down and disconnect the wire connector.

Now, press the locking tab on the side of the housing to release the light switch. Pull it out and disconnect the wires. Discard it and connect the wires to the new switch, then push it into the housing. Lock the side tabs and reconnect the housing’s wire connector. 

Next, push the housing into its place, making sure the drain spout lines up with the opening on the back wall. Snap the housing into place and mount the holding screw. Reconnect the refrigerator to electric power and check the switch.

This video is a visual demonstration of the steps above…

For the light switch on the top of the door or standing alone on the ceiling, here is how to remove and replace it…

A few times, the light control board may fail. Your refrigerator user manual will direct you on how to find the board. If you are not sure how to find it, hire a professional. However, that may not be necessary because these boards hardly fail.

Check out these other articles…

Refrigerator Compressor Shuts Off [How to Fix]

Refrigerator Handle [How to/Problems & Solutions]

Freezer Not Cooling [Proven Solutions]

Freezer Leaking [Problems & Proven Solutions]

Ice Maker Is Leaking [How to Fix]

Refrigerator Lock [Detailed Guide]

Refrigerator Ticking [How to Fix]

Changing a Refrigerator Light Bulb

To change the bulb in a refrigerator, you have to find the right replacement. Most refrigerators work with specific parts and using the wrong part may not get the refrigerator working. It helps to take the old light bulb to the store so you can buy the right type.

Next, pull the light cover off. How you do this will depend on the refrigerator type. Some models are more complicated than others; your user manual may come in handy here. When you successfully remove the cover, unscrew the defective bulb if you have not already done so.

Screw the new light bulb in its place, making sure it is correctly and tightly fixed. Then, replace the light cover; ensure it is tight and correctly fixed.

Refrigerator Light Is On But Not Cooling – How to Fix

If you find that your refrigerator light is on but the refrigerator is not cooling, check the following:

1. Thermostat

You may have inadvertently turned the thermostat too low. So, check the setting and adjust it if it is too low or even too high. That will fix the cooling problem.

2. Air Circulation

If the thermostat setting is not the problem, then check the arrangement of the refrigerator’s content. There may be too many things or they are poorly arranged. If the air vents are obstructed, the refrigerator will stop cooling even if the lights are on.

Therefore, check the contents and rearrange them to free the air vents. If that is not possible, reduce the contents of the refrigerator. The refrigerator works best when it is only halfway or three-quarter full. It will help the circulation of cold air, so the refrigerator can cool properly.

3. Door

There are a few things to check on the door. First, check whether or not it properly closes. One or more items inside the refrigerator may not be properly seated, thereby keeping the door open. You may have to rearrange or reduce the content to help the door close.

Second, check the door seal. It may be loose, dirty, or weak. If it is loose, you can quickly repair it. Using a flat-blade screwdriver, push it into place in the spots where it is loose. And if it is dirty, clean it with warm soapy water and a cloth. If you need to reach into the folds, use an old toothbrush to thoroughly scrub the areas.

However, if the seal is weak, you need to replace it. A weak seal will cause cold air to easily leak out and warm air to enter. This process compromises the cooling capacity of the refrigerator and may cause permanent damages in the long run.

Third, check the door hinges. If you recently had to replace or remove the doors, they may not be properly aligned at the hinges. The problem would be the same as having a weak door seal. You may have to remove the doors again to fix the hinges.

Fourth, check the leveling. An improperly leveled refrigerator causes many issues with a refrigerator, including cooling problems. The door will have a hard time closing properly or staying closed if the appliance is not slightly tilted to the back. Use a leveling gauge to check how the unit, and adjust the leveling screws if necessary.

In addition to all the above, reduce the frequency at which you and your family open the door. Frequent door opening will cause the refrigerator’s cold air to easily dissipate and warm air will replace it. The same applies if you hold the door open for too long while you decide what you need.

If none of the above easy fixes works, then check the following components:

4. Condenser Coils

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and pull it away from the wall. If you cannot reach the wall outlet, turn off the circuit breaker. Remove the access cover at the bottom back of the refrigerator and check the coils. If they are significantly dirty, clean them.

You can clean the coils using a vacuum cleaner or a condenser coil cleaning brush. If none of these is handy, use a leaf blower. Ensure the coils are thoroughly clean and while you are at it, clean the condenser fan and compressor. It also helps to clean the area around the coils to keep dirt from adhering to the coils so quickly after cleaning them.

Dirty condenser coils overheat the refrigerator and interfere with its capacity to cool. They cannot dissipate heat from the refrigerant when they are dirty, thereby causing the refrigerator to stop cooling.

5. Evaporator Coils

While the refrigerator is still unplugged, empty the freezer section of all items, including the shelves and racks. Unmount the screws holding the inside back panel in place with a screwdriver. Remove the panel and carefully disconnect the wire harnesses holding the fan to the panel.

Set it aside and inspect the coils. Typically, the coils should have a light and even coating of frost on them. If the coating of frost is significant, it will explain the lack of cooling in the refrigerator. Leave the freezer door open and allow the frost to melt. Remember to lay towels and empty the drain pan during the defrost cycle.

Afterward, clean the freezer section to remove moisture that may freeze and build frost. Then, close the panel, replace the shelves and racks, and reconnect the refrigerator to power. The next thing to do is troubleshoot the defrost system.

Begin with the defrost timer. It is the component that determines the defrost cycle by advancing other components in and out of a cycle. 

If it is the mechanical type of timer, turn it in the only direction it goes and wait for the refrigerator to go into a defrost cycle. Wait for it to advance out of the cycle after about thirty minutes. If it does not automatically advance out, replace the timer.

But if it is the electrical type of timer, get a multimeter and run a continuity test on it. If you find no continuity in the timer, replace it.

Next, check the defrost heater if the timer is in good working condition. The heater is what warms the evaporator coils during the defrost cycle so they don’t become cold to the point of freezing. Using a multimeter, check the heater for continuity, if the heater has no continuity, replace it.

Check the defrost thermostat if the timer and heater are working well. It should close its contacts and allow power to flow to the heater. But if it fails, the heater cannot turn on to warm the coils. Take a multimeter and check the thermostat for continuity. If it registers no continuity, replace the thermostat.

It is a malfunctioning defrost system that causes the evaporator coils to accumulate frost. But it is not the only cause; a leaky door seal encourages frost on the coils. Moisture-laden warm air enters and the moisture condenses on the coils and freezes. If the trend continues, the coils will become frozen, and the defrost system won’t be able to keep up, even if it is fully functional.

6. Condenser Fan

Check the blades of the fan to ensure there are no obstructions. Clean them to remove dust and other debris. Then, turn them to see how well they work. If they are stiff, don’t be in a rush to replace them or the motor. It may just need oiling. Use a little penetrating oil on the shaft.

Give the oil a little time to penetrate before trying the blades again. If they are still stiff, the motor’s bearing may be worn. So, run a continuity test on the motor using a multimeter. If the motor shows no continuity, replace it.

The condenser fan cools the compressor and condenser coils so that they don’t overheat. If it stops working, the coils and compressor will overheat and affect the cooling capacity of the refrigerator.

7. Evaporator Fan

It may help to check the evaporator fan while checking the evaporator coils. Clean the blades if there are signs of dirt or debris, though it is rare. After cleaning the blades, turn them to see how well they turn. That will tell you if the problem is from the motor.

You can also use a little penetrating oil on the shaft if the blades are stiff. Try them again and if they don’t turn well, run a continuity test on the motor windings using a multimeter. If the motor shows no continuity, replace it.

The evaporator fan is the component that spreads cold air inside the freezer. Through the air vents, the air enters the refrigerator. So if the entire unit stops cooling, the fan may be defective. So, check the fan, especially the motor.

8. Cold Control Thermostat

We have previously talked about adjusting the setting of the thermostat. But if the adjustment does not work, turn it to the highest point and wait for a click. The click indicates that the thermostat is in good working condition. But if there is no click, test it for continuity with a multimeter. If there is no continuity, replace the thermostat.

The cold control thermostat sends voltage to the cooling system when it detects the temperature in the refrigerator. If it fails, the cooling system may not run or may run more than necessary.

9. Thermistor

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and remove the thermistor. Put it in a glass of cold water if it is warm or allow it warm to room temperature before testing it. In cold water, when it is about 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you should read 6.2k ohms. At room temperature, when it is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit, you should read 16.3k ohms.

If you don’t get these readings on the multimeter at any of the temperatures, the thermistor is defective and should be replaced. The same applies to when the readings fluctuate between correct and incorrect even when the temperature remains the same.

10. Air Damper

The air damper does not exactly apply to both sections of the refrigerator. It applies when there is a cooling problem in the refrigerator but the freezer is freezing. Check the space between the freezer and fresh food sections; you will find the damper there.

Check to see if the damper is opening and closing as the refrigerator runs. If it remains in the closed position, even when the freezer is cooling, it may be stuck or broken. Try moving it with your hand to see if it moves freely. If it swings yet does not work automatically, it is not stuck but broken, replace the damper.

The damper opens for a few seconds to allow cold air from the freezer into the refrigerator. This is to regulate the amount of cold air that flows so that the refrigerating section does not freeze. However, if the damper stops working, the refrigerator may stop cooling or freeze up.

11. Compressor

Test the start relay to check its functionality before concluding on the compressor. A faulty start relay will cause the compressor to act as if it has failed. First, shake the relay and if it rattles, replace it. Otherwise, run a continuity test on it using a multimeter. Test between the start and run terminals. If the relay shows no continuity between the terminals, replace it.

But if the relay is not the problem, you need to test the compressor. You may need the services of a qualified technician to run this test. And if the compressor is bad, you may need to either replace it or replace the refrigerator.

A refrigerator cannot cool if the compressor does not run smoothly. This is because the compressor is the center of the refrigerator’s cooling system. A failed compressor may run only intermittently or not at all so you may find the refrigerator does not cool even with the lights on.

Refrigerator Light Doesn’t Turn Off – Quick Fix

Different parts of the light assembly can cause the light to stay on. So, check the light bulb; a broken light bulb may react in different ways, including staying in. Replace the bulb and if it goes off, you are set.

If the bulb is not the problem, check the light socket. Ensure the contacts are clean and nothing is damaged or discolored. You may have to replace the socket if it is not working.

Next, check the door switch. The switch is the likeliest reason for a refrigerator light that does not turn off. Check to see if the switch is stuck; that would explain the light problem. 

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and run a continuity test on it. If the door switch is up. You should find continuity. But if the light switch is down, you should not find continuity. Replace the switch if it does not pop up or down.

Important Note

It is crucial to keep an eye on the internal parts of the refrigerator if the light does not turn off. The light will heat up and melt the plastic internal parts. Plus, the food will thaw and there is a risk of frostbite. Therefore, find a fix as soon as possible.

Refrigerator Light Flickering – Solved

There may be a dimmer built into the refrigerator light assembly. But this is dependent on the refrigerator brand; GE refrigerators tend to have a dimmer for LED lights. The dimmer turns the lights low, but if it starts malfunctioning, the light will start flickering.

If you are not sure what is causing the problem, contact the manufacturing brand or hire a qualified refrigerator technician for troubleshooting and repairs.

Refrigerator Light Hot – Quick Fix

If you find that the refrigerator light is hot, too hot to touch, unscrew the bulb from the light socket. You need to do this especially if the food on the shelves is warm or some plastic parts are melting.

Next, check the main control board. It is the part that controls the light assembly and other parts of the refrigerator. If it malfunctions, it may affect the light in the refrigerator. Replace the board; otherwise, the top part of the refrigerator may melt over time and become a fire hazard.

Note that the light should feel a little warm if it is on for some time. However, it should be cold most of the time because it is hardly in use.

Why Is My Refrigerator Light Bulb Blue?

Your refrigerator light is blue because it is specially made to preserve food and keep it safe from invading bacteria. It is the manufacturer’s way of keeping the food safe, in other words.

Blue light is likely to cause bacteria to die. Blue LEDs tend to have a negative effect on bacteria that commonly stay on food such as Salmonella and E.coli. The light is even more effective on the microbes when the temperature is low – like inside a refrigerator.

Refrigerator Light On But Compressor Not Running – What to Do

Check the start relay. Detach it from the side of the compressor and give it a shake. If it rattles, the relay is bad and should be replaced. But if it does not rattle yet you suspect it is faulty, run a continuity test on it using a multimeter. Place the probes of the meter between the terminals and check the reading. If the relay has no continuity, replace it.

Dusty condenser coils can also affect the compressor to the point that it stops running. A constant overload of heat from the coils causes the compressor to shut down. So, check the coils and clean them once or twice every year.

However, the compressor itself may be bad. You may want to test the compressor and replace it if it has an open circuit.

Recap

Refrigerator light is a vital part of the unit, especially when you go for midnight snacks. It also lets you know when the refrigerator is off or there is a power outage. So, if the light stops working, find a quick solution.

Refrigerator Light – Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Do Fridge Lights Last?

Fridge lights tend to last about 1,750 hours. On the other hand, a regular bulb lasts about 1,000 hours. The lights in a fridge last longer than the regular lights because you don’t often use them; you use them only when you open the refrigerator door.

2. Why Does Refrigerator Light Keep Going Out?

A refrigerator keeps going out because the light socket is faulty. Remove the bulb and check the socket. Make sure the contacts are working and clean. Test the socket for continuity using a multimeter and replace it if you find no continuity.

3. How to Turn Off Refrigerator Light

You don’t need to turn the light off. The switch turns it off once you close the refrigerator door. When the door is closed, the light goes off. It only comes on when you open the refrigerator door.

4. Refrigerator Temperature Light Blinking

Check the temperature inside the refrigerator. Whenever the temperature display blinks, it indicates that the internal temperature is high and the refrigerator is trying to alert you. Lower the temperature while you find out what is causing the rise in temperature.

5. Refrigerator Light Bulb Won’t Unscrew – Solved

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and spray some lubricant to the bulb’s base. Wait several minutes for the lubricant to seep into every part of the base. Then, put on gloves or get a damp rag and turn the light bulb counterclockwise to unscrew it.

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