Some appliance breakdowns are baffling, like when one side of your refrigerator is cold, but the other isn’t. Strangely enough, this is a common problem, and there are several potential reasons your refrigerator won’t get cold but freezer works.

No one has more experience servicing refrigerator malfunctions than GFY Appliance Repair Athens, so let us guide you through what parts commonly fail, resulting in a “refrigerator warm freezer cold” issue.

Why Your Refrigerator Won’t Get Cold but Freezer Works

Modern refrigerators are technologically advanced and are available in many different styles, but they all operate using the same basic system. There are only a handful of part failures that can explain why your refrigerator won’t get cold but freezer works:

  • Damper control assembly
  • Evaporator fan motor
  • Defrost control board
  • Defrost timer
  • Thermistor

#1 – Faulty Damper Control Assembly

The fresh food side of your refrigerator gets cold by having air let in from the freezer section using a damper. If the damper assembly gets damaged, blocked, or just stops working over time, not enough cold air will be let into the refrigerator section.

You’ll need to physically inspect the damper to see if it’s still opening and closing correctly. If it no longer functions properly, you’ll need to replace it.

Refrigerator warm freezer cold

#2 – Defective Evaporator Fan Motor

Both sides of your refrigerator cool thanks to cold air being drawn over the evaporator coils by a fan which then circulates the air throughout both sides. A defective evaporator fan motor will slowly cause the refrigerator side to stop cooling due to lack of circulation.

Test the motor by turning the fan blade by hand. If you feel any resistance, you’ll need to install a new one. A noisy fan is also a sign that it needs to be replaced.

#3 – Defrost Control Board Error

Refrigerators use a timed defrost system to maintain a stable temperature and prevent the evaporator coils from getting completely frosted over. This system works thanks to a defrost control board that engages the system at certain intervals.

If the defrost control board stops working, your refrigerator won’t be able to remove heat efficiently, resulting in warm temperatures. You’ll know it needs to be changed if your defrost heater still works but the defrost system isn’t kicking in.

my refrigerator isn't cold but the freezer is

Image from RepairClinic

#4 – Defrost Timer Malfunction

While the control board is the brain of the defrost system, it’s the timer that actually makes the heater turn on throughout the day. If the defrost heater isn’t turning on, this may be the culprit.

If your refrigerator won’t get cold but freezer works, try advancing the timer dial to defrost cycle. If the heater doesn’t come on within 30 minutes, the defrost timer should be replaced.

#5 – Broken Thermistor

Thermistors are what monitor your refrigerator’s temperature and relay the information to the main control board. If the temperature gets too high or low, the control board turns the compressor on or off respectively.

A broken thermistor will cause the compressor to run too often or not enough leading to improper temperatures. Test your thermistor for continuity with a multimeter and install a new one if needed.

Not all of these issues are easy to fix on your own. If you’re saying, “Help, my refrigerator isn’t cold but the freezer is!” then call GFY Appliance Repair today and leave it to the experts.