Over recent years GE Refrigerators have become increasingly popular thanks to GE’s reputation for making high-quality and reliable appliances. All their models come with a 1-year warranty and receive glowing user reviews.
These are certainly tough little fridges with an average lifespan of up to 20 years.
Despite this reputation for reliability, quite a few users have reported that their fridges will suddenly stop cooling for no apparent reason. Needless to say, this is a bit of a problem when you have food you need to keep cool so it won’t spoil.
So in this article, we’re going to explain why your fridge may stop cooling and how to fix it so you can get your fridge back to working order as soon as possible.
Why is my GE Refrigerator not cooling?
One of the significant challenges in fixing a fridge that’s not cooling is that there is a wide array of potential causes, from simple user errors, such as the temperature not being set, all the way to component-level failures that require a technician to fix.
Fortunately, most solutions are simple and considered a part of general maintenance.
Let’s first go through all the potential causes of this problem so you can better understand what’s going on with your fridge.
1. The temperature is not set correctly
Of course, this might sound like an obvious thing to check. Still, you’d be surprised how often it’s overlooked, especially as the newer models like to hide the temperature setting inside the touch panel’s menu system instead of having it as an easily readable knob inside the fridge.
The other issue with digitally controlled temperatures is that they can often be reset to factory defaults if a power cut occurs.
The USDA recommends that food be stored below 40 degrees F to prevent bacterial growth. So double-checking that your fridge’s temperature is set below this threshold is an excellent place to start.
2. The condenser coils have gotten dirty
The purpose of the condenser coils is to pass the warm water through them; then the coils will dissipate the heat into the spaces between the coils, which is what allows the fridge to lower its temperature.
Over time these coils like to gather up dust, dirt, and hair. As they are commonly located close to the ground, they are particularly susceptible to clogging up.
Once the coils are caked in dust, it can restrict the airflow between the coils, thus reducing the fridge’s ability to cool itself. Cleaning out these coils will allow the warm air to be dissipated from the fridge properly, allowing it to cool itself once again.
3. The condenser fan is faulty
While not technically responsible for allowing the fridge to cool, the condenser fan, as the name might suggest, helps to cool the components that do keep the fridge cool.
It mainly cools the compressor and condenser coils. When these elements get hot, it will cause the overall temperature in the fridge to rise, essentially negating the cooling effect.
Not only that, if the condenser fan can’t keep the compressor cool, it will have to work harder and harder as the temperature in the fridge rises and may potentially overheat.
Inspecting and fixing or replacing the condenser fan as needed should restore your fridge’s ability to cool.
4. A power supply issue
Another fairly common reason why the fridge might not work is that no electricity is provided to it.
An easy way to test for this is to open the door and see if the fridge’s internal light automatically turns on.
If it doesn’t, it may indicate a problem with the power cable or perhaps even the power outlet.
You can perform a few tests here, such as trying to plug the fridge into a different outlet, checking your circuit breaker, and checking the plug fuse to see if it’s blown.
5. The defrost timer hasn’t been set correctly
Most fridge owners don’t know what a defrost timer is, let alone how to set it up correctly.
The defrost timer is a small switch designed to turn the fridge compressor off at particular timing intervals to manage the amount of frost that builds up in and around the fridge.
When excessive frost builds up, it can be a real problem, so keeping it under control is an essential part of keeping the fridge cool.
However, if the defrost timer isn’t set correctly,, it will either leave the compressor off for too long, or sometimes it never turns it back on,, meaning your fridge will effectively be off.
6. The door seal has failed
The rubber gasket/seal surrounding the fridge door is a crucial component. It creates an air-tight seal so no warm air can make its way through the door and into the fridge.
Why is this so important?
Because the compressor has to work hard to maintain the fridge’s internal temperature, and when new air is introduced inside the fridge, it has to work even harder to cool it constantly.
This can hugely affect the fridge’s efficiency,, and if it puts the compressor under enough strain,, the compressor might fail altogether.
7. The temperature sensor has failed
Otherwise called the thermostat. The thermostat monitors the fridge’s internal temperature and tells the fridge when to cool and when to keep the compressor off to maintain the correct internal temperature.
When this component fails, the fridge cannot receive instructions on when to turn it on or off, which results in it not cooling.
We need to test if the thermostat is working, and if it’s not, it should be replaced.
8. The fridge is overfilled
This is an easy issue to overlook as we don’t often think it’s possible to overfill a fridge.
But when a fridge is full, the compressor might have to work extra hard to keep all those items cool. Sometimes items may also block the internal vents meaning the cool air cannot be adequately circulated.
Keeping the volume of items in the fridge under control can often fix this problem.
9. The start relay has failed
The start relay is essentially the on/off switch for the compressor. So sometimes, even if the compressor is working, if the start relay fails, the compressor can’t turn on and keep the fridge cool.
Here the start relay should be tested, and if it’s not working properly,, it will need to be replaced.
How to fix a GE Refridgerator Not Cooling
Hopefully, you’ve gotten a better idea of what’s causing your fridge to not cool. Now let’s look at how to fix these issues so you can get your fridge working again as soon as possible.
1. Set the correct temperature
If you are using a more modern fridge with a digital control panel, check your settings to ensure the temperature hasn’t been factory reset and is set to below 40 degrees F.
If your fridge has an internal dial, it’s a good idea to measure the internal temperature with a separate thermometer to get a reading of where it’s at.
If it’s too high, adjust it to be a bit cooler and wait 24 hours before taking another reading, as it will need some time to adjust.
Repeat this process a few times until the fridge has reached the desired temperature.
2. Clean out the dirty condenser coils
Keeping your condenser coils nice and clean is just a good general maintenance process to keep on top of; ideally, you should clean them out twice a year.
To clean them, you needs a thin bristled brush and a vacuum cleaner.
- Start by turning the power to the fridge off; you don’t want to be working inside the fridge while it’s powered.
- Check your fridge over or consult the manual to find where the coils are located, as they may differ from model to model.
- Unfasten the grill to expose the coils.
- While the vacuum is running,, brush all the dirt and debris from the coils.
If the coils are particularly dusty, it’s a good idea to wear a mouth mask here too.
Once it’s all cleaned out, re-attach the grill, plug it back in, and you’re good to go!
3. Fix or replace the condenser fan
The condenser fan is integral in keeping the coils and compressor cool.
Sometimes it may have become clogged up with dirt, lint, pet hair, etc., in which case giving it a good clean may allow it to spin more freely.
However, if it all looks clean but is still not functioning, you may need to replace it with a new, working one by a trained GE professional.
4. Check the power supply to the fridge
If there is no power supply to the fridge, the first thing to do is transfer it to a new outlet and see if it works.
If that doesn’t fix the issue, it may be an issue with the plug or fuse; try replacing the fuse with a new one. If this doesn’t work, then the plug might need to be replaced.
5. Set the defrost timer correctly
If the defrost timer settings have gone awry, the easiest solution is to reset it to the factory defaults.
To do this, locate the defrost timer settings; on newer machines, this will be accessible through the front control panel; on older machines, it may be found on the back of the fridge near the lower kickplate, next to the compressor.
You will need to turn the power off for older machines and manually reset the defrost timer. Then turn the power back on.
6. Fix the faulty door seal
A solid and air-tight door seal is vital for the fridge to be able to cool itself.
The door seal should be removed and washed thoroughly with a simple soap and water solution and then reinstalled. This will remove any dirt, grime, or debris that may have prevented the seal from forming.
If there is physical damage to the seal, which makes it unable to be air-tight, then you can also purchase a new seal and install that.
7. Replace the temperature sensor
Without a functioning temperature sensor, the fridge cannot send commands to the compressor.
Test the thermostat with a multimeter to ascertain whether it’s working or not. If it’s not working, it needs to be replaced with a new one.
Often the easiest way to do this is by contacting GE and having their support help you through the process.
8. Don’t overfill the fridge
With the knowledge that an overfilled fridge can affect its ability to cool, you should remove any unnecessary items, and it should be no more than 75% full at any one time.
Also, be mindful when it’s obscuring vents and preventing the cool air from flowing into the fridge.
9. Replace the start relay
Much like the thermostat, if you suspect the start relay has gone bad, you should check it for continuity using a multimeter; if it’s not working, then it will need to be replaced with a new one.