Refrigerator power occasionally goes off (lightbulbs are off, and apparently everything else though I haven't tested with a multimeter or anything) but comes back on when I cycle power switch off and back on. (Added due to comments: Yes it has a switch; along the top, where the compressor, condenser, etc. are, behind a panel.) It is a KitchenAid brand "built-in" style side-by-side fridge-freezer, about 12 years old.

  • I don't know if it has ever come back on by itself, but it has remained unpowered as long as a few hours.
  • By "occasionally" I mean I've found it unpowered 3 or 4 times in a few weeks.

How can I find the cause or determine what will fix it?

  • 1
    Your refrigerator has a power switch?
    – longneck
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 18:55
  • 1
    Is the refrigerator plugged into a GFCI protected circuit? When you say "appears as if switched off," do you mean literally everything is off, including the lights? As @longneck already asked, I am also curious about what you're using for a "power switch" on this fridge.
    – mjohns
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 19:33
  • @mjohns and longneck, thanks. Yes, all including lightbulbs go off. I've edited the question to add that, and about the power switch. I don't know if it is on a GFCI-protected circuit. I'll update if I can find out, but I can't really get behind it to look because it is part of a whole built-in-cabinet aesthetic. But based on some quick google-fu about when it is required and possible reasons not to for a fridgemator, I'd be surprised if the outlet is GFCI-protected (because of where it is, all inaccessible and away from countertops; but kitchen may have been completely remodeled so...) Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 3:14
  • If a GFCI tripping were the issue, you would likely already know because you would be having to reset the GFCI device to restore power, but I wanted to ask to be thorough. To me, it sounds like your power issue is within the fridge wiring/circuitry itself. Next time it dies, pull the fridge out from the cabinets and test the receptacle it's plugged into. If you have a voltage tester or multimeter, test the fridge's power cord. Keep going "downstream" until you find where the power is dead. Unless you're handy with appliance repair, you might want to call in a repairman.
    – mjohns
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 11:54
  • Is it possible that the "power switch" is actually some type of built in circuit breaker? If so, there could be something wrong with the compressor, causing it to over-load the internal breaker. Or the breaker could be bad - hope for that, it would be cheaper.
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Oct 9, 2015 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


It's probably just a twitchy power switch (spoiler: it was). Replace it or, if it can be cleaned, cleaning might fix it. For sake of completeness: Try to determine if the power switch is a simple switch or if it is connected to some kind of built-in circuit breaking device. If a circuit breaker somewhere in the refrigerator is being activated, and reset when the power switch is cycled, the breaker could be faulty else it is receiving out-of-specification power from somewhere "upstream" (e.g. house wiring or a faulty component in the appliance).

Otherwise, use a multimeter to check for electrical fault in the refrigerator: If there is not continuity across the power switch when the fridge has "gone off," repair or replace the switch. If there is continuity, test voltage and continuity "downstream" from the AC plug until you find a fault. An electrical diagram of the appliance may help.

Thanks to mjohns and jPhi1618 for comments that formed the bulk of this answer.

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