How to Tell If a Freezer Fan Is Not Working in a Refrigerator

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Things You'll Need

  • Water

  • 4 glasses

Different refrigerator styles have different fan locations.

Refrigerators rely on a cycle of heating and evaporation to stay cool. Liquid refrigerant is heated until it exceeds room temperature, then it is allowed to evaporate. Depending on the size of your refrigerator, it might have one or more fans that facilitate this process by cooling the compressor, where the refrigerant is pressurized and becomes hot, and circulating cooled air. If fans fail your compressor can overheat, the refrigerator will not cool evenly, food can spoil and frost might develop.


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Step 1

Find the location of the freezer fan for your model; freezer boxes that are located under or beside the refrigerator have fans in the upper half of the back wall, while upright refrigerators with the freezer on top might place the fan anywhere on the back wall.

Step 2

Open the freezer and depress the light switch on the door. Listen to your refrigerator; there is a fan located at the back of freezer which circulates air throughout the freezer. Make sure this fan is audible. Check the fan at five-minute intervals; it does not run during cooling cycles. If you hear clicking at regular intervals and your fan is not working as well as it used to, you may have a broken fan blade.


Step 3

Wet your palm. Place your hand in the freezer and feel for air movement from the fan.

Step 4

Touch the interior walls of the freezer for areas that are excessively frosty or warm.

Step 5

Look for the build-up of frost.

Step 6

Empty the freezer. Place a glass of water in each corner of the freezer. Wait one to two hours. Examine the development of frost and ice on these glasses to see if you have a corner that is warmer or cooler than the rest.