5 Signs Your Refrigerator Is About To Die (What Can You Do)

It is important to be able to recognize the signs that your refrigerator is about to die. There are many different things to consider, so I have compiled a detailed list of the most common indicators.

The most common signs your refrigerator is dying are food spoiling and excessive condensation. Another common sign is inconsistent noise levels and air leaks. Finally, cracks in the walls or excessive motor heat strongly indicate a dying refrigerator. You should contact a certified technician to repair or replace any major components of your fridge.

The rest of this guide will provide more details on these signs as well as several less common indicators of a dying refrigerator.

Refrigerator Is Dying Possible Signs

Food Is Going Bad Too Quickly

I find that the number one sign that a refrigerator is dying is food spoiling too quickly. When your refrigerator is unable to maintain the proper internal temperatures, this will cause your food to spoil too quickly. This can be frustrating and lead to unsafe eating conditions.

Older refrigerators will be more prone to cooling problems, while newer models could have issues caused by the motor, compressor,  or door gaskets. If you notice your food spoiling faster than normal or an internal temperature that is not cold, your refrigerator is likely dying.

Another common sign of a refrigerator dying is condensation. The significance of condensation will be detailed more in the section below.

Condensation Appears On The Outside Of The Fridge

If you notice excessive condensation on the outside of your refrigerator, this is a common sign that your refrigerator is having trouble keeping the cool air inside. This is most likely due to a door seal problem that allows air both in and out of the refrigerator when closed.

This can lead to higher energy costs, spoiled food, and higher amounts of condensation pooling at the foot of the fridge. Luckily, door seals and gaskets are the easiest part of a refrigerator to maintain and replace.

You can purchase a gasket kit to remove and replace the door gaskets yourself or consider hiring a professional for the repairs. Along with condensation, another type of buildup that could indicate a dying refrigerator is frost. This will be covered in more detail below.

Excess Frost

Excess frost buildup is another common indicator of a dying refrigerator. Your refrigerator is meant to be cold but not cold enough for frost to build up inside or outside the fridge. This could indicate an issue with the compressor, door gaskets, or other internal components that help regulate temperature.

There are also signs of a dying refrigerator that can be found inside the fridge. One of these will be detailed more in the next section.

Foul Smell

A bad smell radiating from your refrigerator is something else you should look out for. If you notice a bad smell coming from the inside when you open the fridge, it’s likely due to spoiled food caused by temperature issues.

A bad smell coming from outside of the refrigerator could be due to burnt or damaged internal components. This is a serious issue and should be addressed as soon as possible. I recommend unplugging your refrigerator if you notice a burning smell coming from behind or underneath it.

Along with the smell, how your refrigerator sounds is another important indicator that could help you identify a dying refrigerator. This will be covered in more detail below.

Your Refrigerator Is Noisy

If your refrigerator is louder than normal, this could mean that the motor is being overworked due to faulty components. When this happens, you will notice significantly louder operational noise coming from your fridge.

A certain level of operation noise can be expected but it should not be loud enough to be disruptive to other parts of the house. On the other hand, no operation noise at all is another common indicator of something wrong inside your refrigerator. This will be covered more in the section below.

Your Refrigerator Never Makes Any Noise

I mentioned before that some level of noise coming from your refrigerator is normal. This is because the motor inside is constantly running to maintain the proper temperatures inside. If you notice that there is no noise coming from the motor of your refrigerator, this likely indicates an issue.

If the motor is not running properly, you will not hear the normal operational noises and will have issues with temperature control inside the fridge. A broken refrigerator motor will need to be repaired or replaced.

Another thing to look out for is if the freezer part of the refrigerator is working but not the fridge. This will be covered in the section below.  

Freezer Is Working But Not The Fridge

This may seem obvious but if your freezer is working but your refrigerator is not getting cold, this likely indicates an issue that you will need to address. While the freezer part of your refrigerator and the fridge section are intertwined, they do not share all of the same internal components.

If an element of the fridge section has malfunctioned, this will not necessarily cause your freezer to stop working as well. This leads to another common issue that can cause problems with your refrigerator, the door gaskets. This component will be covered in more detail in the section below.

Doors Won’t Stay Closed

If the doors won’t stay closed on your refrigerator, this is a sign that it could be time to get a new one. It is vital that the refrigerator doors create an airtight seal to lock the cold air inside. Once you begin having trouble keeping the doors closed, you will need to consider repairing or replacing the fridge.

Moving onto the next indicator of a dying refrigerator, you should be aware of the heat being radiated from your appliance. This will be covered more in the next section.

The Coils Feel Too Hot

It is normal for your refrigerator to emit some heat due to the amount of power necessary to power it. There are some instances where the coils on the back of the fridge could overheat and give off excessive heat.

Overheating coils are a common indicator that your refrigerator is not operating efficiently internally. You will need to investigate your coils to determine the root of your issue so that you can resolve it. As well as excess heat from the coils, the motor is also prone to overheating. This will be covered in more detail below.

Excessive Heat From The Motor

Like the coils, the motor inside of your refrigerator could emit large amounts of heat when not operating correctly. The harder your refrigerator’s motor has to work to maintain operations, the more heat will radiate.

When the motor is having to work too hard, it is likely caused by other faulty components inside the motor or refrigerator’s internals. You should consider consulting a professional to have them come take a look at your motor if you are having problems.

The next common indicator of a dying refrigerator can be easily identified, cracks in the shell of the fridge. This will be covered in more detail in the section below.

Cracks In The Shell

If the interior or exterior walls of the fridge are cracked, this is a key indicator that it is time to get a replacement. Compromises to the walls of your refrigerator can lead to air leaking out and causing your food to spoil.

Generally, it is more practical to replace the refrigerator if it has gotten to the point of walls cracking. Because refrigerator walls are difficult to repair, a replacement is most times the better option. You can consult a professional for more insight on whether to repair or replace the walls of your refrigerator.  

Another easy indicator to identify involves the lighting system inside the fridge. This will be covered in more detail below.

The Light Is Constantly On

If the light is constantly on, even when the fridge door is closed, this is a sign of a dying refrigerator. This is typically a sign of an electrical or wiring issue that will cause your refrigerator to use up more power than normal.

Another visual indicator of a problem with your fridge is pools of water around the fridge. The significance of this will be detailed below.

Pools Of Water Around The Fridge

Pools of water around the bottom of the fridge indicate that there is a serious leak somewhere inside. This can cause messes and further damage the internals of the fridge. It is important that you attempt to find the source of any significant leaks as soon as possible to avoid this.

If there are no visible signs, you could consider the amount of time you have had your refrigerator. This will be discussed below.

The Refrigerator Is Over Ten Years Old

 If your refrigerator is over ten years old, you can expect to begin experiencing issues more frequently. Any appliance will begin to show wear after this much time but especially a refrigerator. Because of this, around the ten-year mark, you should consider replacing your refrigerator with a new one.

That being said, it is not unheard of for a refrigerator to last for up to 25 years if maintained extremely well. Either way, around ten years old you can expect your refrigerator to begin to need more routine maintenance to work properly.

The last sign of a dying refrigerator will be covered in the next section.

Electricity Bill Has Increased

If you are noticing significantly higher electricity bills, this is likely caused by a refrigerator that is not using its power supply efficiently. A refrigerator that is struggling to run will use more power and increase your electricity bill.

This can be a costly issue to have, so it is important that you address the problem as soon as you notice it. Now that you are more aware of the different signs of a refrigerator about to die, you can start thinking about ways to address the problem.

Don’t Wait, It Will Cost You More In The Future

Although it may be tempting to try and put off any repairs or replacements needed for your refrigerator, it is best to handle issues as soon as possible. You should also only attempt to repair the internal parts of your refrigerator yourself if you have the proper tools and training.

Because refrigerators have several electrical components, it can be dangerous to try and fix them yourself without proper training. I recommend consulting a technician before attempting to address any issues yourself.

If you have tampered with the inside of your refrigerator yourself before consulting a technician, it is likely that they will choose not to repair your fridge. This is because of the assumed liability they could be taking on by servicing a fridge you have already tampered with.

Consider contacting the manufacturer of your refrigerator and explaining your issue. They will then send someone out to take a look at your fridge and offer a more in-depth diagnosis of the problem.

How To Tell If Your Fridge Is Defrosting

You can tell your refrigerator is defrosting by listening to the sound of water dripping inside the fridge. The ice that is defrosted will run through the drainage system located throughout the refrigerator.

During this process, audible dripping will be present to indicate defrosting. Another way you can tell is by placing a thermometer inside the refrigerator and keeping track of the internal temperature. If the thermometer rises above the thermostat settings, this indicates that the fridge is in defrost mode.

Finally, a visual inspection of the freezer portion of your refrigerator can help indicate defrost mode. If you notice the ice inside is wet and slushy, this indicates the refrigerator is currently in defrost mode.

Is Your Fridge Supposed To Be Silent

Your refrigerator is not supposed to be totally silent. If you notice that your refrigerator is silent, this means that the motor is experiencing issues and needs to be serviced. Because your refrigerator uses a lot of power to run, the motor will constantly emit a low hum when working properly.

Why Is Your Fridge Making A Humming Noise

Your refrigerator is making a humming noise because of the internal motor that is constantly running. The motor will emit a low humming noise due to the moving components involved in powering the fridge.

This is a normal part of your refrigerator is no cause for alarm. As long as the humming noise is low enough not to disturb other parts of the house, this will not be an issue. That being said, if your refrigerator is humming louder than normal, this could indicate a problem with the motor.

How To Know The Fridge Compressor Is Bad

There are a few tell-tale signs that your compressor is bad that you should be aware of. Some of these signs have been listed below:

  • The compressor is making noises and operating louder than normal.
  • The compressor clicks on and off too often.
  • The compressor turns off and won’t turn back on.
  • Your refrigerator is not cooling properly.
  • Your compressor is overheated.
  • Your electricity bills have increased significantly.

The compressor is one of the most important components of your refrigerator. If it is not working properly, you can expect issues keeping the internal temperature stable. You should replace or repair a broken refrigerator compressor as soon as possible.

Warranty Information

You should keep up with the warranty information regarding your refrigerator in case you need a repair or replacement in the future. This can often help cover the cost associated with repairs and replacements and get your fridge operating as intended.

Hiring A Professional

As I mentioned previously, it is advised that you consult with a professional before attempting any repairs on your own. Because of how complex the internals of your refrigerator is, it is likely that you do not have the necessary tools and training to repair it properly.  

Always consider reaching out to a certified repair technician before disassembling the components of your refrigerator on your own.


There are many signs of a dying refrigerator that you can identify. These include the contents inside spoiling, excessive heat or noise, or constant leaking. If you are experiencing these types of issues, it is important that you resolve them as soon as possible.

A certified repair technician is the most qualified to offer advice on repairs and replacement parts for your refrigerator. Consider contacting one if you are having any of the issues described in this guide.