Refrigerator Light Bulb Not Working: Quick Fixes


There are three main areas that might be causing your refrigerator light bulb to not turn on. They are issues dealing with; the light bulb, light socket and the refrigerator door switch. 

When you open the fridge, and there is no light, the first thing you do is panic and think that your refrigerator is not working. After that brief panic, the next thing that you do is get annoyed that the fridge is dark. Thankfully, finding out why your refrigerator light is not working is pretty straightforward and I will show you that in this post.

Step 1: Start with the Light Bulb

The first thing to do is to check the light bulb to see if it needs to be replaced. These light bulbs are designed for long-term use, but they will eventually stop working. To see if it is the bulb that is the problem you will need to:

Check the Exterior of the Bulb: 

  • Remove the bulb and check for cracks, chips, cracks, debris build-up, or other issues that may be on the outside of the bulb. If your bulb is damaged, dispose of it properly and replace the bulb.
  • The reason why chips or cracks in the glass will cause a lightbulb to stop working is because the bulb is there to create a vacuum so that no air can get inside the bulb. If air is able to get inside the bulb then the filament would oxidize and essentially burn up. 

Physically Check the Filament: 

The filament as you are probably aware is the wire that is located within the bulb, when a current passes through the wire (which is normally made of tungsten) the wire glows producing light. If the filament is damaged the current can not complete the current causing no light to be produced.

  • If the bulb is not damaged, you will need to check the filament to see if it is still good. The easiest way to do this is to shake the bulb gently. If you hear any type of rattling, the filament is bad. Dispose of the bulb properly and replace it with a new one.
  • You can also shine light (using your phone flash light) through the bulb in a dark room to see if you can see physical separation of the filament. 
  • If you are unsure if the bulb is no good, replace it with the same type of bulb that you currently have in the fridge. Appliance bulbs can be found in any lighting section of the hardware store, supermarket, or mass merchandise center.
light bulb filament

Check the Bulb using a Multimeter: 

  • A multimeter also known as a multitester or a VOM is an electronic measuring tool used to measure electrical voltage, resistance, and other values. 
  • You will need to first set the multimeter selector to ohms (which is a measure of resistance). You will place one probe on the outside of the metal casing and the other one on the button of the bulb which is the very bottom of the metal casing.  
  • If the light bulb is working then the needle should move all the way to the other side of the dial, or if it is a digital multimeter numbers should appear on the screen. If it does not move then the light bulb is burnt out.  

If you have replaced the bulb and your light is still not working, you will need to go to the next step.

Step 2: Inspect Light Socket

The next place to look for problems with your refrigerator light not working is the light socket itself. It is very important that you unplug your refrigerator before beginning this process. Although the fridge light bulb is not working at this time, power is still flowing into the circuits, and you can get injured if you do not unplug the fridge.

  • Conduct visual inspection. Look for discoloration, loose wires, unplugged wires, or cracks in the socket itself. All of these are signs that the socket needs to be replaced..
  • If the socket is bad, wait to remove the socket until you have the replacement part. You do not want to leave an open circuit in your fridge while you are waiting for the part to arrive.
  • Once your part arrives, replacing the socket can be accomplished quickly. Make sure to put a brand-new light bulb in it when you have installed the new socket. 

The light socket in your refrigerator can crack over time due to the heat of the light bulb. This is actually a common problem, and it is easy to fix. However, if you have inspected your light socket and it is working, but the light is still not, you need to go to the next step.

Step 3: Check Refrigerator Door Switch

There is a switch on the fridge door that activates when you open the door to “tell” the light to come on. This is a closed-circuit switch, so when the switch “opens,” power flows through the switch to the light bulb.

To see if this switch is the problem for your fridge light bulb not working, you should do the following:

  • Start with a visual inspection. Make sure that the switch is clean and that it moves up and down with ease. Over time debris can build up and keep the switch from working properly. If this is the case, wipe down the switch with warm soapy water, and dry thoroughly. 
  • If the switch does not work after cleaning it, or if the visual inspection shows damage you will have to replace the switch.
  • If everything appears to be working correctly and after you have cleaned the switch and it still does not work, there may be electrical problems with the switch. This will require the switch being replaced.
  • If you need to replace the switch, the first thing that you should do is order the part for your model of refrigerator. This way, you can remove and replace the switch at one time.
  • Make sure that your refrigerator is unplugged before attempting any type of work on it. If you are unsure how to replace an electrical switch, or feel uncomfortable doing this, call a repair service to handle the job.

If Your Refrigerator Light Still Won’t Work

If you have followed all of these steps and your refrigerator light is still not working, it is a sign of a more serious problem with your appliance. It is vital that you either call a repair service to have the electrical checked in your fridge or consider replacing the unit. You want to stop any more problems before you come home to a fridge that is warm and filled with spoiling food.

Side Note On The Light For Your Ice/Water Dispenser

The light that comes on when you dispense water or ice from your refrigerator is designed for very little use. The light is only supposed to come on briefly and for just a few seconds.

Since many people continually use their ice maker or water dispenser throughout the day, these disposable lights blow out very quickly.

You can use the same steps to replace the bulb, as stated above, for your indoor fridge light. However, if you have to remove a panel to get to the light bulb, it will be in your best interest to do so with the fridge unplugged.

In the event that this light bulb does not work when you have replaced it, you can follow the same steps for checking the socket and replacing the switch. Instead of being in the door, the switch for this light is located behind the lever you push to dispense the ice or water. However, it is very rare for this to be anything more than a bad bulb.

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