Summertime blues: my garage refrigerator no longer works; no longer keeps things cold

A garage refrigerator can be a handy item providing extra refrigerated storage space and allowing close proximity to the outdoors grill. Most people use their old kitchen refrigerator for this purpose.

However, be aware that many household refrigerators were not designed to operate in extreme outdoor temperatures and that this can cause the refrigerator to either run constantly, stop freezing/cooling or to stop working altogether.

According to Whirlpool’s Website, your refrigerator should not be placed in areas where, “temperatures go below 40°F or hotter than 100°F.”  The hotter the temperature inside your garage, the more the compressor will need to run in order to keep temperatures low. A constantly running refrigerator requires more energy and can wear out parts of your refrigerator faster like the compressor. Once a refrigerator’s compressors is shot, it will need to be replaced by a certified professional as this is a sealed system and only an EPA certified technician can legally work on a sealed system.

If your garage refrigerator is not cooling or your garage freezer is not freezing, there are a few items you can check:

Make sure that there is power to the appliance from the outlet

Check to see if the light comes on when you open the door. If not, see if there is power to the refrigerator by plugging it into a different outlet. Test the old outlet with another electric device that you know works. If there’s no power, check your fuse or circuit breaker.

Check/Adjust the temperature controls
The ideal temperature inside your refrigerator should be 40ºF or below, and your freezer 0ºF or below. Try adjusting the temperature controls for your refrigerator and freezer to make sure the proper temperatures are reached. Sometimes, rearranging how you put your foods in the refrigerator can make a big difference.

Refrigerators have either a mechanical defrost timer, or an ADC (Adaptive Defrost Control). If your refrigerator has a mechanical timer, set the cold control to the coldest setting and then advance the defrost timer. You can manually advance the timer with a screwdriver. Insert the screwdriver into the advancement pinion and turn clockwise a 1/4 to 3/8’s of a turn. If the compressor starts, replace the defrost timer.

Check your refrigerator’s door seal for leaks, cracks

Try putting a dollar bill between the gasket and the frame of the freezer as you close the door. If the dollar comes out without resistance, then you need a new door gasket. A tight seal around your fridge’s door keeps cold air from escaping and keeps the hot air out.

While checking the gasket, make sure your refrigerator shuts properly. It’s easy to make hinge door adjustments if necessary.

See if the compressor is running

The compressor is in a case with no visible moving parts. It is usually located at the back of the refrigerator near the bottom. If it’s humming, or making a steady noise, and your refrigerator is still not cooling properly, there could be a problem with one or more various components.

If you don’t hear anything, you can take the cover off the side of the compressor and test for voltage at the two leads. If no voltage is present, it’s time to check the cold control. To test if the cold control is bad, you can temporarily jump the two wires at the cold control. If you get power to the compressor after doing so, the cold control needs to be replaced.

Sometimes you can hear a click-buzz-click sound coming from the compressor. This is the relay/overload at work. If you hear this, power is getting to the compressor. If you do, something is wrong with either the compressor or the compressor starting components. If you have a newer model with solid-state starting components, you may not hear anything at all.

Some tips in order to keep your Garage refrigerator running

Keep some frozen jugs of bottled water inside the garage refrigerator

In order to help keep the inside temperature low. Believe it or not, having no food or items inside your refrigerator causes the refrigerator to run more often to cool the empty space. When storing water jugs in the freezer, be sure not to fill the jugs up all the way to the top as the ice will expand.

Clean the condenser coils on your refrigerator.
The coils, located behind and under refrigerator, can accumulate dust, lint, and pet hair. Inside a dusty old garage, the problem can be worse. The accumulation of these deposits will make your refrigerator work harder to cool. Unplug the unit and use a coil condenser brush and/or a vacuum to clean the coils.

Give it Some Space
Condenser coils on the back of the refrigerator need some room to allow heat to radiate away from the fridge. Make sure your refrigerator is not too close to the wall or adjacent cabinets.

Don’t forget the drain pan
Clean the panel that covers the drain pan and other components. The panel helps to direct air-flow away from the fridge, allowing the fridge to work more efficiently.

For more refrigerator help

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2 thoughts on “Summertime blues: my garage refrigerator no longer works; no longer keeps things cold

  1. These are some great tips to remember for your garage refrigerator. I’ve noticed that checking the doors for leaks and cracks helps greatly. There is a lot of cold air that can seep out through cracks and waste energy. Additionally, pulling the refrigerator away from the wall a bit helps too. Great tips here, thanks for sharing.

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