6 Reasons Refrigerator Light Comes On But Nothing Else [Solved!]

When your refrigerator fails to turn on, the first things to check are the circuit breaker and power cord. However, if the refrigerator light illuminates but nothing else happens, there are other factors to consider.

One possible cause is that the freezer temperature is set too high, preventing the compressor from starting. Lowering the freezer temperature might solve the issue. Additionally, it is important to ensure that there is sufficient clearance around the refrigerator for proper air circulation. Inadequate airflow can affect its functionality. Another aspect to examine is the cleanliness of the condenser coils, as dirt accumulation could be impeding their performance.

Nevertheless, it is essential to further investigate the temperature controller, defrost button/timer, and the compressor. Any of these components could be faulty and require attention. These steps provide a quick overview when your refrigerator powers on but fails to function properly.

Keep in mind that there may be underlying issues causing the unusual behavior of your refrigerator. The key is to identify the exact problem, and that’s where this troubleshooting guide proves valuable.

Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Probable ReasonFix
1. Iced Evaporator Coils– Hair-dry the evaporator coils
– Replace faulty defrost components (timer, heater, or thermostat) if necessary
2. Faulty Damper Control– Unstick the damper control if it’s stuck
– Replace the damper control if it’s broken
3. Faulty Fan Motor– Test the evaporator fan motor by manually rotating its blades
– Replace the fan motor if it doesn’t turn
4. Fridge Overload– Reduce the food load in the fridge to promote optimal air circulation
5. Leaky Fridge Door– Ensure the fridge door is tightly closed
– Replace the door gasket if it’s faulty
6. Damaged Start Relay– Replace the compressor’s start relay if it fails the continuity test
7. Dirty Condenser Coils– Clean the condenser coils
8. Faulty Temperature Control– Replace the faulty temperature control board or thermistor based on the test result
9. Faulty Defrost System– Replace the defrost thermostat if it fails the continuity test
– Replace the defrost timer if it fails to activate the heater

Why Your Refrigerator Light Is On But Not Running

If your refrigerator’s light is on but it fails to run, there are several factors to consider. Before diving into the troubleshooting steps, ensure that the power cord is properly plugged in, and there are no issues with the circuit breaker or electric outlet.

Abnormally High Freezer Temperature 

A high freezer temperature can prevent the compressor from starting and render the unit unresponsive. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • Turn off the fridge and unplug it.
  • Locate the temperature control knob inside the fridge and lower the freezer temperature.
  • Plug in the unit and try turning it on to check if the compressor starts. If not, the compressor or temperature controller may be faulty.

Faulty Temperature Controller (Thermostat) 

A faulty temperature controller, also known as a thermostat, can prevent the fridge from running, despite the light being on. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • Use a multimeter to check the condition of the thermostat.
  • Turn the thermostat counterclockwise to the zero position.
  • Touch the Ohmmeter’s probes to the thermostat’s terminals and observe the meter reading.
  • If the meter shows a reading when it shouldn’t, the thermostat is faulty and needs replacement.

Overheated Compressor 

If the temperature controller is functioning correctly but the fridge fails to cool, the compressor may be overheated. Look for signs such as the compressor making clicking noises or the compressor fan not running. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • If the compressor is faulty, it is recommended to have a professional replace it, considering the complexity and potential risks involved.

Stuck Defrost Button or Timer 

In older fridges, a stuck defrost button or a malfunctioning defrost timer can interfere with the startup of the unit. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • For older models with a defrost button, try pulling it out before turning on the refrigerator.
  • For newer models with a defrost timer, it is advisable to seek professional assistance.

Dirt-Caked Condenser Coils 

Dirty condenser coils can impede the fridge’s cooling ability. Regular cleaning of these coils is essential. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • Check the condition of the condenser coils at the back of the fridge.
  • Use a soft brush, such as the Vanitek Dryer Vent Cleaner Brush, to clean the coils and remove any accumulated dirt and dust.

Insufficient Airflow 

Proper airflow is crucial for the refrigerator’s operation. Inadequate clearance around the fridge can lead to compressor overheating, even if the light is on. To troubleshoot this issue:

  • Ensure there is at least 3 inches of space behind the fridge and one inch of clearance at the top for proper airflow.

Is Your Kenmore Fridge Failing to Cool, While the Freezer Works Fine? Try This Solution!

If you have exhausted the possibilities mentioned above and your Kenmore fridge still refuses to cool, the main control board might be the culprit.

A defective main control board can cause other components to malfunction. Consider replacing the main control board if none of the nine previously mentioned causes apply to your fridge.

Keep in mind that replacing the main control board can be expensive and requires technical expertise. It is advisable to consult a refrigerator expert to accurately identify the source of the problem before proceeding with any repairs.

People Also Ask

Why Would My Freezer Work but Not the Fridge? 

If you are facing a situation where the freezer works properly, but the fridge fails to cool, several factors could be at fault. Possible causes include iced evaporator coils, dirty condenser coils, overstuffing the fridge, a faulty door seal, a defective defrost system, or a stuck damper control. Carefully investigate each of these factors to resolve the issue.

Why Is My Kenmore Fridge Not Cooling But the Bottom Freezer Working? 

When your Kenmore fridge fails to cool while the bottom freezer functions correctly, there could be several reasons. Dirty condenser coils, frosty evaporator coils, or a defective evaporator fan motor might be the cause. Additionally, a faulty defrost thermostat or control board could be to blame.

How Do You Fix a Kenmore Refrigerator That Is Not Cooling? 

If your Kenmore refrigerator is not cooling, it is important to identify the source of the problem. Potential culprits include dirty condenser coils, a malfunctioning fan motor, icy evaporator coils, overstuffing the fridge, or a defective defrost system. Carefully examine these components to diagnose and address the issue.

Summing It Up

Now that you are aware of the common issues when the refrigerator light is on but nothing else is happening, it’s crucial to examine the condition of the temperature controller, compressor, condenser coils, and defrost timer/button.

These components play a significant role in the fridge’s functionality and should be inspected for any faults.

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