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How to bypass the thermostat for a refrigerator that is not cooling

If your refrigerator stops working, the temperature control thermostat in your food compartment has probably shorted out, shutting off the power supply to the compressor. Although replacing the thermostat is a fairly simple process, if the weather is hot and you are pressed for time, you can bypass the bad thermostat and keep your refrigerator working on a temporary basis until you find time to pick up a replacement.

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  1. Unplug the appliance power cord from the wall outlet and open the refrigerator door.

  2. Use a Philips head screwdriver to remove the screws securing the thermostat control housing to the inside of the fresh food compartment.

  3. Remove the housing and disconnect the two wires connected to the thermostat by pulling the terminals off the spade connectors with a pair of needle nose pliers.

  4. Set your Multimeter to the lowest ohms of resistance setting. If you are using an analogue meter, touch the two probes together and zero the reading by adjusting the knurled wheel on the side of the meter.

  5. Touch the probes to both terminals on the thermostat and monitor the readout. If the needle or digital display fails to respond, the thermostat is faulty.

  6. Strip the insulation off the ends of a 50 mm length of wire. Prepare a bridge by using a pair of crimping pliers to attach male spade connectors to both ends of the wire.

  7. Bypass the thermostat by connecting the ends of the bridging wire to the female spade connectors on both wires previously connected to the faulty thermostat. Insulate both connections with a strip of insulating tape.

  8. Reattach the thermostat control housing. Close the door and turn the refrigerator on by plugging the power cord back into the wall socket. The refrigerator should now start running at its coldest setting, keeping your food fresh until you have time to pick up a new thermostat.

  9. Tip

    The control thermostat test procedure is similar to the defrost thermostat test procedure depicted in the second reference video below this article.

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Things You'll Need

  • Philips head screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Multimeter
  • Short piece of insulated wire
  • Crimping pliers
  • Two male spade coupling connectors
  • Insulating tape

About the Author

After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and qualifying as an aircraft engineer, Ian Kelly joined a Kitchen remodeling company and qualified as a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD). Kelly then established an organization specializing in home improvement, including repair and maintenance of household appliances, garden equipment and lawn mowers.

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