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We have a relatively new fridge (~2 years). Its got the double door over/under freezer, but the door has a weird way that it closes in that it can get stuck open very easily. The fridge was left open most of the day by out of town house guests. Its been closed most of the evening, but it still doesn't seem to be cooling off. Going to give it overnight and see how it goes.

The freezer is still cold, though. So my question is, at least as an initial troubleshooting step, does it make sense for the fridge portion to not be cooling, but the freezer still freeze?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes.

If the device has separate compressors for the fridge and freezer then it's perfectly possible for one to fail and the other keep working.

Generally the cheaper the fridge/freezer the more likely it is to only have a single compressor.

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definitely possible ... been there ... paid for the new fridge. – user45 Nov 24 '10 at 16:39

An alternative is that the freezer ran for so long that the air vent from the freezer to the fridge has frozen over with ice, so no cold air can get from the freezer to the fridge.

Ironically, you need to warm up the freezer for the ice to melt.

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it's probably worth looking to see if the manufacturer has a trouble shooting guide on their website, to see if this might be the case (or if it's like ChrisF mentioned w/ separate compressors) – Joe Nov 26 '10 at 2:55
    
+1 for mentioning a block in the air vent. Our old refrigerator had a faulty defroster so ice would build up in the air passage between the freezer and fridge. – Mike B Dec 9 '10 at 16:34

For anyone else who may have a similar problem and stumble upon this discussion. The problem that happened here also happened to me. The door on the refrigerator cabinet worked itself out of alignment over the years to the point that it had a tendency to open slightly over time. Pretty soon, the refrigerator compartment wasn't cooling off sufficiently even though the freezer compartment was plenty cold. After wrestling with the refrigerator compartment door to finally get it into proper alignment, the refrigerator compartment still wasn't getting cold. Turns out that the problem with the door not staying shut properly allowed a lot of condensation to build up in the refrigerator. The condensate (water) eventually froze up in the return air duct between the refrigerator compartment and the freezer compartment. The amount of ice built up in the duct stopped all air movement between the freezer compartment and the refrigerator compartment. With the exception of built-in refrigerator-freezers (e.g. Subzero), almost all refrigerator-freezer units use one compressor. The cooling of air in these units is performed in the freezer compartment, and refrigerated air is allowed into the refrigerator compartment in order to cool, but not freeze, the products in the refrigerator compartment. In order to allow refrigerated air from the freezer compartment into the refrigerator compartment, there must be a supply air duct and a return air duct. The temperature of the refrigerator compartment is controlled by a damper on the supply air duct from the freezer compartment to the refrigerator compartment. In my case, the damper for the supply air duct would open, but no airflow could flow between the compartments because the return air duct was blocked. After turning off the unit and allowing everything to thaw for 8 hours, the return air duct opened and drained, and the unit returned to normal operation.

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I had the freezer cold but the fridge not cold with a brand new fridge and it turns out it was the fan that's in the freezer part that was out. I guess there is only one condenser and a fan blows the cold air over to the fridge area.

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I wonder if it's just a thermal mass issue; the fridge isn't really optimized for cooling a whole load of items at once (a high thermal mass to cool). It's normal use is that most of the mass in it is already cooled and some more stuff is put into it, or that the door is opened and the air just needs to be brought back down to temp...

I know that if we put a few dozen cans of soda in the fridge, they are still not that cool compared to the ones that are in it after an hour. So I'm thinking that Tim may just have been a bit too quick to call it broken.

But, the answer about there being one failed compressor was accepted, so I guess that must have been it. ;-/

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My fridge, an Amana, has a freezer on the bottom and the fridge on the top. The defroster coil failed in the freezer a few years ago and despite the freezer being cold and filled with ice the fridge was warm. The unit is designed to cool the freezer and a channel on the back of the fridge moves cold air up into the fridge section. I wonder if your fridge is perhaps designed the same way?

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I actually never checked, but I know other ones I have been working on do have this air vent blowing channel as you did mention. – Theodore E Aug 22 '15 at 17:28

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