How to Change a Kenmore Refrigerator Thermostat

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Without a working thermostat, your refrigerator isn't going to do you much good. All of the refrigerator temperature control comes from the thermostat, so a faulty one could cause all the food inside to get warm and eventually spoil. Thankfully, though, you don't have to go out and buy a new fridge just because the thermostat is out. A refrigerator thermostat replacement is often a job you can complete easily and affordably without the help of a repair person.

How to Change a Kenmore Refrigerator Thermostat
Image Credit: Kwangmoozaa/iStock/GettyImages

Check Out the Thermostat

Before you replace your Kenmore refrigerator thermostat, make sure that the issue can't be helped with a more simple fix. Open your freezer and make sure nothing is blocking the cooling vents. Then, check to see if your refrigerator is plugged in and that the power source is working. If it is, unplug the device and locate the temperature control thermostat. On most Kenmore models, the thermostat is on the back of the unit for side-by-side devices and at the bottom of the fridge for the over-under units.

Remove the panel covering the thermostat. You may need to use a screwdriver in order to do so. Then, check the coils of the thermostat. If they are covered in dust or lint, that debris could be causing the inadequate cooling. You can use a handheld vacuum to suck any dirt out of those coils. If they are clean and you are still experiencing trouble cooling your fridge, it may be time to change your thermostat.

Refrigerator Thermostat Replacement Part

Call or visit the retailer where you bought your refrigerator in order to buy your replacement thermostat. If you don't have access to that retailer, you can also check at your local hardware store or online to get the replacement part you need. This will be different depending on the appliance, so make sure you have the correct make and model information for your refrigerator before you buy the part.

Completing the Replacement Job

Make sure your refrigerator is unplugged before you begin the Kenmore thermostat replacement. The job shouldn't take more than a half hour, but if you have highly perishable food, you may want to move it to another cold place.

Remove the panel that covers the thermostat and set it aside. You may also need to use screws to lower the control housing about 6 inches so that you can access the thermostat. At this point, you may want to take a picture of the old part and the electrical wires so that you know exactly how to position the new part in its place. Then, use pliers to release the brackets and wires that hold the thermostat and sensing tube, and remove the parts from the control housing. If the old sensing tube had an insulation sleeve, transfer it to the new sensing tube.

Finally, consult your picture and slide the new part into place. Take care to reconnect the electrical wires and the screws in exactly the same way they were positioned before. If you have any doubts about reconnecting the electrical wires, it's best to abandon the DIY job and call in a professional.

Once you have the wires in place, put the control housing back in place by tightening the screws, and then put on the panel that covers the thermostat. Then, restore power to your refrigerator. You should hear the compressor start to work, and the fridge should start to cool properly. If it doesn't after a few hours, you may need to call in a repair person to assess the source of the problem.


Rachelle Dragani is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn with extensive experience covering the lifestyle space. Her work on topics including smart home technology, pest control, living green, budget home repair and helpful household tips have appeared in publications including Bob Vila, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Gizmodo and Yahoo.

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