Refrigerator Stopped Running with No Sound (But Light is ON!)

Updated: | Author: Brad Javernick | Affiliate links may be present.

Have you noticed that the food in your refrigerator is not cold?

Before you call out the fridge technician, here are a few things you can check to see if you can solve the problem.

The easiest fixes (and common causes) are listed first, so that you can rule out any trivial errors.

Does the Interior Light Turn on When You Open the Door?

If it does, then the power is connected and working. If not, make sure that the electricity is on, and the plug is inserted into the socket.

Can You Hear any Sound Coming from the Refrigerator?

If there is no sound, check to see if the refrigerator is stuck in defrost mode. To do this, locate the temperature dial inside the refrigerator to see what setting it is on.

If it is in defrost mode or turned up too high, turn it to another setting (so that the cooling is more powerful). If it’s a newer model with a digital display or exact temperature controls, set the temperature lower than what’s currently selected.

Finally, wait for a little while and then listen if the motor starts running.

If there is still no sound, completely remove the plug from the electrical socket and wait for about 5 minutes.

Plug it in again and listen for the motor.

If there is still no sound, you can try the following:

  • Check that the cold air can flow freely inside the refrigerator compartment. Ensure that there is nothing blocking the vents or restricting the flow of air around the interior.
  • If your refrigerator is full or not packed properly, this can hinder the movement of air and result in poor operation or unequal temperature distribution in the fridge compartment.
  • Look to see if the condenser coils at the back of the refrigerator are covered in a thick layer of dust. If they are then give the rack of coils a thorough vacuuming to remove any dust and fluff. Ideally, these coils should be carefully dusted regularly as a build-up of debris will result in your refrigerator working less efficiently.

The Motor is Running, But the Food is Not Cool

If your refrigerator is making a noise but still not cooling stuff properly, then the evaporator fan could be jammed or not working. You can access this fan behind a removable plate in the freezer compartment of the fridge.

Unplug the refrigerator before locating the fan. Detach the panel by removing the screws that hold it in place. Check to see if the fan blades rotate freely or if there is something lodged between them, causing them to jam. If there is, then remove it.

While you have the panel detached, check that the evaporator coils situated in the same place are free of frost buildup. Too much frost on the coils will reduce the efficient operation of the refrigerator leading to high electrical consumption and possible damage to the coils.

To remove the frost, leave the refrigerator unplugged and empty it. Open the door to defrost the evaporator coils. Wipe them dry when all the frost has melted, replace the panel and reinsert the plug into the wall socket.

The Compressor Runs But Not the Fan

Another possible reason for the refrigerator not cooling is a faulty condenser fan unit. This unit is responsible for keeping the compressor and the condenser coils cool and should run when the compressor is working.

When it is not functioning properly, there will be a rise in the interior temperature of the refrigerator, and the compressor can overheat.

My advice in this situation would be to get in touch with your refrigerator brand’s service department and ask for either a service visit or directly ask for a replacement of the compressor fan.

Perhaps the Compressor is Not Working

If you can hear a clicking sound as if the motor is trying to switch on, but nothing actually happens, then the most common cause is a faulty compressor.

Before a compressor breaks down, it may start making an unusual or loud noise. You may also notice that it seems to switch on and off more often than normal.

The compressor is the core of a refrigeration unit. Its function is to circulate the coolant, thus regulating the inner temperature. A refrigerator cannot work if the compressor is not functioning, and you will need a qualified refrigeration technician to repair it.

Refrigerator compressors that are manufactured today are economical to run. They are hard-wearing and should last for about eight years and more if well cared for.

Refrigerant Leak

If you notice that your refrigerator motor or compressor is constantly running, but the food inside is not cold enough, it is possible that there is a refrigerant or coolant leak.

To compensate for the lack of coolant, the motor is required to run continuously, which can lead to further problems in the future.

A strange odor near your refrigerator can also be a clue that a leak is the problem. Don’t ignore any unusual chemical smell that you may detect, as this is an indication of a possible leak.

Recently manufactured refrigerators use Tetrafluoroethane as a coolant gas. This has replaced chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs which have an adverse effect on the earth’s ozone layer. This gas has a sweetish smell like ether rather than the acetone smell of a CFC like Freon.

Regular maintenance and cleaning will lengthen the life of your refrigerator. It is a good idea to clean the gasket that seals the fridge door at least every six months to make certain that it seals well.

Check for any cuts and tears in the gasket when you are cleaning it. A leaky gasket makes the compressor work extra hard and will shorten its lifespan.

Avatar photo

About Brad Javernick

Brad is a licensed home inspector and the editor of Home Oomph. He's a massive DIYer, and loves to take on new home renovation projects!

Leave a Comment