GE Refrigerator Troubleshooting Guide (everything you need to know)
A refrigerator is such a common kitchen appliance nowadays, we all own at least one refrigerator and as they’re generally so reliable, we all take them for granted. Which is why it becomes such a major problem if the refrigerator develops a fault. Go back 100 years and there was no such thing as a refrigerator.
In fact the very first appliance that we’d recognise as a refrigerator didn’t make an appearance until 1927. Made in the USA by the General Electric company, and named the “Monitor-Top” because of its similarity to the gun turrets of the USS Monitor warship. By the mid 1940s around 85% of American households owned a refrigerator and GE has been a major contributor to the design and development of refrigerators since their 1920s inception.
With such a proven track record, it’s no wonder so many of us own GE refrigerators today. So it’s an even bigger drama when for whatever reason your GE refrigerator develops a fault. In this article we’ll look at all of the possible common (and not so common) faults and the best way to fix them.
GE Refrigerator Not Working At All
The very first thing to check if your GE refrigerator isn’t working at all, is the power supply. Is it plugged in? You’d be surprised just how many times engineers report the issue was as simple as the fridge not being connected to the main power supply. Is the power supply to your home working? A power outage during daylight hours can often be overlooked.
Is the appliance plugged into a fully functional socket? To check this, try plugging something else into that socket to see if it works. Once you’ve established the problem’s not due to the actual power supply, you need to check for one of the following;
- Frayed or damaged cable
- Blown fuse/circuit breaker
- Refrigerator motor overheating
- Faulty compressor
If the power cable is visibly damaged, it can be potentially very dangerous and the appliance shouldn’t be used at all.
Blown Fuse/Circuit Breaker
Fuses don’t blow for no reason, we suggest you get your appliance checked by a fully qualified electrical engineer.
If the motor or any other part of your fridge is overheating it will probably be accompanied by a loud beeping and possibly smoke too. You need to disconnect the power supply and contact a professional immediately.
This is one of the most common causes of refrigerator break-downs. But sometimes, there’s nothing wrong with the compressor, it’s just not making any noise because the fridge is at its set temperature and the compressor has shut down. The quickest way to check this is to open the fridge door for 10 minutes or so.
As the heat rises within the refrigerator, the compressor will start up to lower the fridge’s temperature. If the compressor doesn’t cut in with the door open for a spell, it could be defective. We advise calling in an electrical engineer (or contacting GE if your fridge is still under warranty).
Check The Refrigerators Settings
Check the display on your fridge, is it running a defrost cycle? Or has it reached its set temperature? The average GE fridge is typically silent for around 30 minutes every hour.
Temperature Problems With GE Refrigerators – Fridge Not Cooling
If your GE refrigerator isn’t cooling you should consider the following actions;
Inspect The Condenser
Look at the condenser, is it dirty? If it is, you should clean it, and inspect the fan, it should spin freely with only a slight amount of pressure. If there is resistance, it could be a problem with the condenser fan motor. To check this use a multimeter and check for continuity, if there’s no continuity you need to replace the condenser motor.
Check the condenser coils, if these are dirty they won’t work correctly. The coils are responsible for making sure the fridge doesn’t overheat, they remove heat from the cooling system which can only happen if they are clean and free from obstruction.
Inspect The Evaporator
The evaporator fan could be obstructed with ice or just the blades won’t spin freely. Once you’ve determined the fan is moving correctly, check the fan motor. To do this use a multimeter and check for continuity. If the evaporator fan motor isn’t working, the freezer will stay frosted but the fridge won’t cool anymore.
Inspect The Start Relay
The start relay makes the compressor start, if the start relay is not operating the compressor won’t run either. Using a multimeter check the start relay for continuity and if you can smell a faint smell of burning, or the relay rattles on shaking it, it will need replacing.
Freezer Working Fine, But The Fridge Is Warm
If the freezer and its contents are frozen but the refrigerator is warm there are a few checks you can make to determine the cause of the problem.
The evaporator is responsible for the circulation of cold air through the system. If it’s faulty, the freezer will still be frozen but as no cold air is reaching the fridge, it warms up. Check that the blades spin freely as this usually indicates the motor is working correctly.
The evaporator coils should be ice free, if there is a buildup of ice on the evaporator coils, unplug the appliance until all of the ice is thawed out. Ice buildup on the evaporator coils could indicate a more serious fault within the defrost system.
The function of the thermistor is to monitor the temperature inside the fridge and relay this information to the control board. The control board uses this information to send power to the correct part to regulate the fridge’s temperature. If the thermistor is faulty, the control board will receive incorrect information which will result in the fridge malfunctioning.
Check the thermistor using a multimeter for continuity which should change as the temperature changes. If it doesn’t change, or there’s no continuity, replace the thermistor.
The damper sits between the freezer and the fridge and allows cold air into the refrigerator to lower the temperature to the set level. It is basically a flap that opens and closes to regulate the temperature inside the fridge. If it gets stuck in the closed position, no cold air can enter the fridge which will warm up.
GE Refrigerator Freezing Food
If you’re finding your refrigerator is freezing certain items of food one of the following could be the cause;
Just as the thermistor can cause the fridge to run too hot, it can also cause it to run too cold. Check using a multimeter, the continuity should change with the temperature, if it doesn’t replace the thermistor.
The thermostat controls the power to the fan motors and compressor. If it’s faulty, it could be sending too much power and making the fridge too cold. Check the thermostat by turning it to the highest setting, if it’s working correctly, it will click. You can also check it using a multimeter checking for continuity. If there is no continuity, replace the thermostat.
If the damper is stuck in the open position, it will allow too much cold air into the fridge which will eventually turn into a freezer. When functioning correctly, it opens and closes in order to regulate the internal temperature of the fridge.
GE Refrigerator Not Defrosting
If your GE refrigerator isn’t defrosting the probable cause will be one of the following;
Faulty Defrost Timer
The defrost timer turns the defrost heater on at various times throughout the day. The heater then melts any ice that’s built up on the evaporator coils allowing the fridge to operate correctly.
The dial of the defrost timer should be slowly moved to initiate the defrost cycle.Which starts the defrost heater and stops the compressor.
If the defrost timer isn’t working properly or at all, the defrost cycle cannot run which is why the fridge is not defrosting.
Faulty Defrost Heater
If it’s not the timer, it could be the defrost heater isn’t working, to check it, use a multimeter to check for continuity. If there is no continuity, replace the defrost heater.
Faulty Defrost thermostat
Once the temperature reaches a set point, the defrost thermostat contacts close, this allows power to the defrost heater which starts melting any ice buildup. If the defrost thermostat is faulty, it will need replacing. To check use a multimeter and check for continuity.
Faulty Defrost Sensor
The defrost sensor works in a similar way to the thermostat, except it powers down the defrost heater once the correct level has been reached. If it doesn’t shut the heater down, the sensor will blow its fuse which then prevents the defrost from happening. You will need to check the fuse and the sensor using the multimeter if either one has no continuity, replace as necessary.
Faulty Defrost Control Board
The defrost control board determines if and when the defrost cycle operates. If it develops a fault, the defrost system will fail. It’s rare for the control board to fail though, check the other parts of the defrost system (as mentioned above) first as it’s more likely one of those has failed than the control board.
GE Refrigerator Water Dispenser Not Working
If the water dispenser on your GE refrigerator isn’t working it could down to one of the following;
Water Inlet Valve
The problem here might not actually be the inlet valve, it could be your home water pressure. If your water pressure is lower than 20 PSi (pounds per square inch) the inlet valve won’t open. However, if your water pressure is good it could be the inlet valve is faulty. Check for continuity using a multimeter and replace if necessary.
How To Check The water Pressure
To check the PSi of your water inlet valve, dispense ¾ of a drinking glass full of water and time how long it takes. If it takes up to or less than 10 seconds your water pressure should be sufficient. If not, call a plumber who will advise you on how to increase your water pressure sufficiently.
Blocked Water Tube
The water dispenser tube is located in the door of the fridge, if this is frozen or blocked with ice, water can’t flow through it. Disconnect the tube from the bottom of the door and blow air through it to determine if it’s blocked. If it is, it’s more than likely to be ice that’s causing the problem. This can be melted by either using a hair dryer or pouring hot water through the tube.
Water Filter Needs Replacing
If the water filter needs replacing it could become clogged which will result in no water flowing through the system. If your fridge has a display check to see if the filter light is flashing, if your model doesn’t, be aware the water filter needs replacing every 5 to 6 months or more in hard water areas.
If you have recently changed your water filter check to see it’s the correct part for your refrigerator and that it has been installed correctly.
You should also check the following parts on the water dispenser system;
- Door Switch
- Dispenser Switch
- Dispenser Control Board
GE Refrigerator Ice Dispenser Not Working
If the ice dispenser isn’t working it is most likely due to one of the following;
Faulty Auger Motor
The auger motor rotates the blade that pushes the ice down the dispenser’s chute. If this is faulty, the blades won’t spin and the ice won’t dispense. To check the auger motor, remove the ice bucket, and turn the auger by hand. If it’s not stiff, test the motor using a multimeter and test for continuity and replace if necessary.
Blocked Ice Crusher Blades
If there is any ice blocking the crusher blades, you can thaw it using hot water. This should allow the dispenser to function normally. If the blades are bent or broken, they will need replacing.
Faulty Dispenser Solenoid
The solenoid allows the flap in the dispenser to open which allows ice to travel through it. Once the dispenser has finished dispensing ice, the flap closes again. If the solenoid has developed a fault or has failed, the flap won’t operate which will prevent ice from being dispensed. Check for continuity using a multimeter and replace if needed.
Check the actuator pin on the dispenser at the same time, this should move without any resistance, if not, it will need replacing too.
Faulty Control Board
If the control board develops a fault, the system will malfunction. It is rare for this to happen however, so it’s best to run the other checks first.
GE Refrigerator Ice Maker Not Making Ice
If the ice maker on your GE refrigerator isn’t making ice it could need replacing. However, there are a few checks to consider first, these include;
The Water Inlet Valve
The water inlet valve is the only way water can enter the ice maker, if it is faulty, the ice maker cannot make any ice. The first thing to check is the water pressure is sufficient. The ice maker needs 20 PSi to function correctly (check as per the water dispenser section above).
If the water pressure is good, the fault will either be with the power level reaching the inlet valve or the valve itself is faulty.This is ideally a job for a qualified technician.
Check the temperature of your freezer, if it is not set correctly, the ice maker cannot make ice. The freezer temperature should be 0F (-18C) and should never exceed 10F (-12C).
Water Filter Issues
If the water filter is overdue for replacement, it could prevent water from reaching the ice maker. If you have recently changed the water filter, check it’s the correct filter for your refrigerator and that it’s installed correctly.
Ice Maker Switch
Check the ice maker switch is in the “on” position. If it is, test the switch using a multimeter for continuity and replace if necessary.
Ice Maker Won’t Dispense Ice
After checking for the obvious which include;
- Ice Maker Switched Off
- Water Inlet Valve Closed
- Water Supply Shut Off
- Ice Maker Not In “Pause” Function
- Ice Bucket Over Full
Freezer Temperature Set Too High
If the temperature in the freezer is too high, the ice maker won’t produce ice so it can’t dispense it.
Ice Trapped In The Dispenser
This is a common cause of the dispenser not dispensing ice, a piece (or pieces) of ice gets lodged in the dispenser and causes a blockage. On freeing the blockage, the ice should dispense freely again.
If all else fails…
Reset The Ice Maker
To reset the ice maker, turn the shut off switch to the “off” position and wait for at least 30 seconds before turning it back on again. Then push the feeler arm up 3 times fast. The ice maker should now be reset.
Alternatively, disconnect the refrigerator from the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes and then reconnect the power. This is called a hard reset and can be used to reset your GE refrigerator in much the same way as rebooting a computer.
GE Refrigerator Runs Constantly
If the refrigerator is constantly running and doesn’t stop at all it could be one of the following;
Temperature Too High
If the temperature setting is too high the refrigerator will have to work harder to cool the contents which means the compressor will keep working in an effort to cool the fridge down. Reset the temperature level and check it periodically to be sure it remains at the correct level.
Dirty Condenser Coils
If there is a buildup of dirt around the condenser coils they will not dissipate heat as efficiently which will in turn, cause the fridge to work too hard and run continuously.
If the defrost heater isn’t working properly, ice will build up around the evaporator coils which will cause the unit to overheat. The fridge will then need to work harder to try to dissipate that heat. Which will keep it running.
When the fridge door is slightly open, warm air enters the fridge causing the internal temperature to rise. The fridge detects this increase in temperature and has to keep running to try to compensate for the rise in temperature.
Likewise if the door seals are defective or even dirty, the fridge detects the warm air and works harder to eliminate it.
Faulty Fan Motor
If the condenser motor or evaporator motor is faulty it could cause the compressor to overwork to try to lower the temperature levels within the fridge.
Faulty Defrost Timer
If the evaporator coils are frozen, the fridge won’t cool, the defrost timer cuts in to activate the defrost heater every so often. If the timer is defective, the heater can’t cut in and the ice won’t thaw. Which will make the fridge warmer, and also make the compressor run continuously.
Faulty Defrost Thermostat
The defrost thermostat allows the defrost heater to activate to clear ice buildup around the evaporator coils. If the defrost thermostat is defective, the ice will not melt and the compressor will work continuously in the vain attempt to cool the fridge down.
Faulty Defrost Control Board
The defrost control board is responsible for the whole defrost system. If it develops a fault, it will cause a buildup of ice which will cause the fridge temperature to increase causing the compressor to work continuously.
If you find your refrigerator is constantly running, try performing a hard reset. Just remove the power supply for 15 minutes and then reconnect the supply. The fridge will start up as usual but it could have been rebooted in which case the compressor will cut out after around 20 to 30 minutes.
If ice is the problem, performing a manual defrost should remedy this issue. Turn the power supply off after removing the contents of the fridge and storing them somewhere cool. Leave the refrigerator door open for 24 hours. All of the ice should now be gone and the fridge should work correctly once the power is reconnected.
GE Refrigerator Louder Than Usual
There are a few reasons your GE refrigerator could be louder than usual, these include;
Both the condenser fan and the evaporator fan can make louder than normal noises particularly if they are partially blocked by any foreign object. This could be dust, dirt or more likely, ice. Also check the blades spin freely without making too much noise which could indicate the bearings are worn and need replacing.
Refrigerator compressors make a humming noise when they are in operation, if that noise is louder than normal it’s probably because the compressor has developed a fault. This is a job for a qualified technician.
Water Inlet Valve
If the noise increases when the water is going to the ice maker or water dispenser, it’s likely to be the inlet valve. Over time they become partially blocked which causes them to make more noise when in operation. If so, the inlet valve will need replacing.
GE Refrigerator Error Codes
If your GE refrigerator has a display panel it will diagnose some faults and display an error code to signify what the fault is. Different models have different codes. To check the error code displaying on your GE fridge consult the following chart.
|Error Code||Code Indicates|
|R-1-a||Ice Maker Sensor Fault|
|R-1-b||Refrigerator Sensor Fault|
|R-1-c||Refrigerator Defrost Sensor Fault|
|R-1-d||Refrigerator Fan Fault|
|R-1-e||Ice Maker Fault|
|R-1-g||Refrigerator Defrost Fault|
|F-1-a||External Sensor Fault|
|F-1-b||Freezer Sensor Fault|
|F-1-c||Freezer Defrost Sensor Fault|
|F-1-d||Freezer Fan Fault|
|F-1-e||Condenser Fan Fault|
|F-1-f||Ice Room Sensor Fault|
|F-1-g||Freezer Defrost Fault|
|F-10-b||Ice Room Fan Fault|
|R-10-a||Damper Heater Fault|
|R-10-b||Pantry Sensor Fault|
|F-10-g||Panel Communication Fault|
|R-10-g||Water Tank Heater Fault|
Some of the above faults have relatively easy fixes and can be performed by almost anyone. However, if your refrigerator is still on warranty or you don’t feel confident or competent enough to tackle any repair, we recommend contacting GE directly or a fully qualified electrical engineer.
Frequently Asked Questions
GE fridges don’t have a dedicated reset button but that doesn’t mean you can’t reset a GE fridge. Just perform a hard reset by removing the power supply for 10 to 15 minutes. On reconnecting the power, the fridge should be reset.
The main reason for a refrigerator to cool but not feel cold is the condenser coils being dirty.
As long as you leave the power off for a long enough period of time, unplugging a fridge will reset it. It needs all of the power to have dissipated to reset a fridge and this will take anywhere between 15 to 30 minutes.