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Question DetailsAsked on 12/12/2012

Sub-zero side by side refrigerator temperature fluctuates between 28 degrees to 41 degrees. What's wrong?

Sub-zero side by side refrigerator/freezer: The freezer is fine but the refrigerator temperature fluctuates between 28 degrees to 41+ degrees.The temperature dial is set at around 3.5 but needs to be jostled up or down by very little to counteract the extreme fluctuations with only temporary results. Can anyone explain what might be going wrong and what the repair costs might be?

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Based on your description, it sounds like it could be low on refrigerant or the thermostat is getting stuck. There could be a problem with the seals or in the housing between the freezer and refrigerator.. The problem can only be diagnosed by a qualified repairman. You can find one on Angie's List.

If your refrigerator is over ten years old, I would recommend a new one. If it is less than that, you may still have some warranty so check with the manufacturer.

Answered 6 years ago by Vern

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With the fluctuations, I would be looking first for something blocking the door from closing, holding the seal a bit open at times - or possibly a split or cracked seal. Sometimes a drawer open a bit or with something blocking it from closing can stop the door short of full closing, as can some food container sticking out beyond the face of the shelves.


Secondly, if you have not cleaned the fan and coils behind/under the reefer in a year or two (more often in high lint or high pet heair environment), failure of the coils to provide enough cooling can cause this - though usually that would affect the freezer temp too, and the reefer compressor would be running a lot more frequently than usual.


Another possibility, in addition of course to thermostat failure (which is fairly rare), is blockage of the air vents from the freezer to the reefer (that is where the reefer side's cold air usually comes from) either by food or plastic bag, or with frost buildup in the freezer. Frosting up of the fan in the back of the freezer compartment can also do this in some models, if there is a fan that blows freezer air through the reefer side from the freezer, which is common. Make sure fan in freezer side comes on when reefer is "running".


Since the freezer side is cold enough, the compressor is obviously working OK - so I would guess the repair cost is going to be on the lower ($100-200 range) rather than catastrophic side. Repairman category in Search the List is Appliance Repair - Large.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD




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