A refrigerator light is often one of those accessories we take for granted right up until the day it fails. Without proper lighting, a refrigerator compartment can get very dark indeed, making it difficult to select the right food item or check for spoilage. Changing out a refrigerator lightbulb is not usually a difficult process, but troubleshooting potential causes for the failure can be tricky. Here’s a quick guide to solving most refrigerator light problems.
The most obvious cause of a lighting failure is a burned-out bulb. Refrigerator bulbs last longer than standard room lighting simply because they aren’t used for extended periods of time. Eventually the filament will burn out and the light will not work anymore. If you suspect the light has simply burned out from use, prepare to change it out.
You’ll need a replacement bulb suited for refrigerator usage on hand. Most refrigerator bulbs are rated 40 watts or less and are clear instead of frosted. They may be marketed as refrigerator lightbulbs or small appliance bulbs. Once you have a good replacement, you’ll need to get at the lighting unit in the refrigerator itself. It might help to turn off the power leading to the refrigerator to prevent shocks.
Another light source might be needed to see the lighting unit, so use the overhead kitchen lights or a portable light source for assistance. Once you’ve located the light bulb, carefully unscrew it from the base. Take the replacement bulb and screw it into the base firmly. Examine the old lightbulb for any unusual damage or burn marks. Restore the power to the refrigerator and open the door. The light should come on instantly. If
it doesn’t, you may have to go to step 2.
If the light is not burned out, then you may have a problem with the door switch. Depending on the model, there should be a button or sensor in the door which can turn the light on and off. If this button or switch is not working properly, the light may stay on or off permanently. Once you’ve located the mechanism, try to manipulate it to the full on and full off positions. If the light still does not respond, then you’ll need to have a qualified serviceman investigate the switch and the internal wiring.
If the light does not come on immediately, check the overall power situation. The entire refrigerator may not be functioning, or the power leading to that circuit has been compromised. Check your circuit breakers or fuse box for any signs of a tripped circuit.
Plug another working device into the refrigerator’s socket to see if power is flowing properly. The cooling system may or may not be working, but the light should always respond if the power is on and the bulb is not burned out. Adjust the thermostat and listen for definite signs of electrical life.
Make sure you do not exceed the recommended wattage of a refrigerator lightbulb. Using standard room lighting bulbs rated over 40 watts is wasteful and potentially dangerous.
Bulbs designed especially for refrigerators are made to withstand changes in temperature and moisture condensation. Other bulbs may be too thin or have hot spots which may cause shattering when wet.