Our garage refrigerator (Kenmore with the freezer on the bottom) started not cooling in late July. The lights kept working & the freezer kept working, but the top part (the refrigerator section) stopped cooling and the temp adjustment buttons stopped working for the refrigerator section too. We unplugged it for 24 hours & when we plugged it back in, it started working just fine again... until about 2 weeks later when it happened again. This time while it was unplugged, we cleaned & vacuumed under it and behind it really well and when we plugged it back in we made sure it was pulled out a ways from the wall. Again, it fixed the issue and worked fine for maybe another week or so, but then it happened again! So repeated the process and it did the same thing again yesterday! 😩 We have had this (bought it used) refrigerator for about 1.5 years and it has always worked perfectly up until the end of July. Any idea what could be causing this problem???

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. A wild guess is that the duct from the freezer (where the main cooling coil is) to the 'fridge is freezing up. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to participate here. Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 2:10
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    When you say "the temp adjustment buttons stopped working for the refrigerator section", do you mean to say that some electronic display visibly malfunctioned, or just that the unit failed to respond to an adjustment? Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


My guess is it is not defrosting properly or a fan has failed. I go with not defrosting because of the 2 week cycle a failed fan it would probably not cool well at all. If not defrosting it takes time for the frost to build to the point of limiting the air flow. The display not properly functioning may point to some type of control board failure. It may be repairable and if you search online with the model number you will probably find the correct board for your model. Some of the sites that sponsor repair parts can be quite useful I have fixed stoves and dryers many times with parts from these sites.

  • I would second the "not defrosting properly" diagnosis. I had a fridge that did the same thing several times. There was a heating element in the back of the freezer that was supposed to defrost the passage between the fridge and freezer. It failed, which meant every 2 weeks or so, built-up ice would block the air flow and the fridge would get warm and act as if it wasn't responding to the temp controls.
    – dwizum
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 18:48
  • So even though we have never seen any water or anything when it could be “defrosting”? The last few times we have gone through this process, it only works for a week or less before it quits cooling. It also seem more quiet when it isn’t cooling. Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 13:10
  • The defrost cycle melts the frost it drops to the bottom and drains into a tray on top of the compressor this is done behind the back wall of the fridge you don’t see the moisture as it is evaporated from the heat of the compressor. This is about the only thing I know of that could cause a long cycle like this that is fixed with unplugging. quiet when not cooling blocked air flow would be my guess. Any long cycle of close to a week or more it is not defrosting, a low charge can also also cause icing but that would not explain the controls issue.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 13:28
  • I am having this exact problem! If I unplug for half an hour, lets say, it wouldn't help. If I unplug for longer time, lets say 12 hours, it would kick back and work for a week. My guess was, this memory effect could happen for only one reason- heat. I guessed that some appliance was overheating, causing shutdown. But the defrost theory appears to be more likely. I was afraid to use the fridge before it gets repaired thinking that the possible overheating could cause a fire. But now I feel more reassured to use it, until it is repaired later.
    – Prem
    Commented Apr 25, 2021 at 16:47

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