If you open your refrigerator and nothing is working, not even the interior light, your appliance may have blown a fuse. Whether it's a mini fridge fuse or a full-size model's fuse, the problem may be outside the refrigerator at the breaker box or inside the refrigerator in its control board. If the culprit is at the breaker box, you may be looking at a quick and easy fix. But if the problem is in the internal workings of your fridge, you may have to recruit a skilled refrigerator technician to get your appliance humming again.
At the Breaker Box
Generally speaking, older model refrigerators are not energy-efficient appliances like the refrigerators we have today. But many of the older models are still in use, which can cause an electrical mishap from time to time. These older fridges can pull an inordinate amount of power, particularly during the hot summer months when a home's air conditioner is also running. If blown fuses or a tripped circuit breaker is the norm rather than the exception, hiring a certified electrician may be the best remedy.
You can always keep resetting a tripped breaker or replacing a blown fuse, but an electrician can diagnose the recurring problem by identifying an overloaded circuit, finding the location of a short circuit or addressing a ground fault problem. Even if you've recently installed a newer model refrigerator, it may still be tripping the circuit breaker. Be mindful that if your refrigerator is without power for too long, the food inside can spoil by the time you realize there's an electrical problem.
At the Electrical Outlet
Look at the fridge's power cord and the electrical outlet where you've plugged in your refrigerator. If you see a frayed or damaged power cord or black soot marks coming from the holes in the receptacle, you'll need to replace the cord or outlet. If you attempt this project, be sure to turn off the circuit at the breaker box that supplies electricity to your fridge. If you're not comfortable with replacing the outlet or you're not skilled in installing a new power cord, these are simple tasks for a certified electrician.
At the Interior Control Board
A refrigerator's electronic control board has an overload fuse as one of its components. Sears calls this control board the "brains" of the refrigerator, since it's responsible for controlling parts such as the fans, lights and compressor. If the overload fuse fails, this can prevent the entire control board from working.
This fuse typically is soldered to the control board, which makes its replacement a rather challenging task. Usually, the whole control board must be replaced. A certified refrigerator technician can test the control board to find out if the problem lies with the fuse. And if you need to replace the board, be sure to use one that's approved by your manufacturer so that you do not void your warranty.
When the Appliance Is Faulty
Whether you have a full-size refrigerator that's not properly working, a mini fridge not cold enough or a mini fridge freezer not working, it's possible that the appliance is faulty. If your appliance is still under warranty, you may want to consider calling a certified refrigerator technician to diagnose the problem before calling an electrician.
Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist and a professional writer who has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, horticultural articles, and magazine and newspaper columns. Her writing expertise covers diverse industries, including horticulture, home maintenance and DIY projects, banking, finance, law and tax. Blackstone has written more than 2,000 published works for newspapers, magazines, online publications and individual clients.