What Is the Function of the Thermistor in a Refrigerator?

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The thermistor helps regulate your refrigerator's temperature.
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Refrigerators and freezers have been a lifesaver for many households around the world because they preserve perishable items that could go bad quickly. Although the housing unit may seem responsible for protecting your food, skincare or any other items you put in your refrigerator or freezer, it's actually the refrigerator thermistor and evaporator thermistor that control the temperature of your entire appliance.

If your refrigerator or freezer isn't cooling properly, your thermistor has likely malfunctioned, and you need to repair it. It's an easy job, so once you know how to locate the thermistor, you'll be able to repair your appliance faster than you can say "Do you want Halo Top or So Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Cream?"

Tip

The refrigerator's thermistor senses any temperature changes in the refrigerator and sends a signal to the control board.

What's a Thermistor?

According to Sears Parts Direct, a refrigerator thermistor senses the temperature change in a refrigerator. The sensor's sole purpose is to send the control board a signal when the refrigerator's temperature changes. It's essential that your thermistor is always working because if it's not, items in your fridge can spoil from the appliance running too hot or too cold.

According to Appliance-Repair-It, the General Electric (GE) refrigerator thermistor location is the same as all GE refrigerators manufactured after 2002. That includes top freezers, bottom freezers and side-by-side refrigerator models. All thermistors have the same part number no matter where they're located.

It's important to note that they're not called thermistors on all of the models. Sometimes they're also called a temperature sensor or refrigerator evaporator sensor.

Evaporator Thermistor Location

According to Appliance-Repair-It, the evaporator thermistor is attached to the top of the refrigerator coils in the freezer. The sole purpose of the evaporator thermistor is to control the defrosting cycling. If your evaporator thermistor malfunctions, your refrigerator won't defrost, and the coils will be packed with frost and ice.

Thermistor Replacement Tips

According to Sears Parts Direct, when your thermistor malfunctions, you have to replace it with a manufacturer-approved replacement part. If you purchase a random thermistor part, it might not match up with the model of your refrigerator and then the refrigerator won't operate correctly.

The entire process should take about 30 minutes, so you should move highly perishable food to a cooler. You don't need to remove frozen foods, though. After you remove your highly perishable items, disconnect the electrical power to your refrigerator. You can either unplug the refrigerator or turn off the circuit breaker for your fridge.

Replacing a Refrigerator Thermistor

Locate the thermistor in the refrigerator section. According to Sears Parts Direct, it should be located under a small plastic cover. The plastic cover is attached to the surface of the back wall, sidewall or ceiling. Once you find it, release the thermistor cover and pull the thermistor out of the cover.

Afterward, pull the thermistor out of the mounting clip, unplug the wire harness and remove the thermistor. You can then attach the new thermistor to the mounting clip and the wire harness. Lastly, reattach the thermistor's cover and turn the power back on to the fridge.

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Allanah Dykes is a freelance writer and her work has been featured on Elite Daily, Levo League, Popsugar, Complex, Gurl, The Kitchn, HelloGiggles, Revelist, and Food 52.

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