Why Isn't My Refrigerator Light Coming On?

Woman opening a refrigerator door in the kitchen

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As every refrigerator owner knows, when you open the fridge the light comes on. The light is vital to most of us, especially those of us who enjoy a quick midnight snack. But what do you do when the light doesn't turn on when the door opens? Answer these questions to troubleshoot and fix the problem.

Is Your Fridge Getting the Electricity It Needs?

In some cases, the light is a symptom of a larger problem: an interruption to the electricity your fridge needs to operate. There are a few possible causes, and you can check them in the following order:

  1. First, is there electricity in your home? A power outage would, of course, interrupt electricity to both the refrigerator and the light. If there's a power outage, close the refrigerator and keep it shut to keep food cool for as long as possible.
  2. Second, is the refrigerator plugged in? There's always a possibility that you may have accidentally knocked the plug out of alignment. If that's the case, be sure the plug is completely pushed into the electrical socket.
  3. Third, is the fuse blown? If the electricity is on and your fridge is plugged in, it could be that your circuit breaker is overloaded and switched itself off. To find out, locate your home circuit board and check all the circuit breakers. If one is turned to the "off" position, switch it back to on. Do be sure to check that you have not added too many electrical devices to a single circuit, though, or the breaker will switch off again.
  4. Finally, is the electrical cord frayed? If you've gone through all the steps above and found no problem, take a close look at the refrigerator's electrical cord. In some cases, the cord becomes frayed or damaged. If that's the problem, you may need to hire an electrician to replace the cord safely.

    Is the Light Bulb Burned Out?

    If your refrigerator light is not coming on, it may be that the bulb has reached the end of its lifespan and burned out. Check the bulb to see if it has a dark area in the bulb or broken and loose filament. When you shake the bulb, you'll hear a rattling noise if filaments inside are damaged. You can purchase special bulbs for appliances, usually 25 watts, at your local hardware or merchandise store. Unplug your refrigerator, change the bulb and hopefully, this will solve this problem.

    When you remove the light bulb, do take a quick look at the empty socket. If the socket is broken or dirty, you may have found the problem. Often a quick cleaning with a warm, damp cloth can clean the contacts and allow the light to turn on.

    Is the Light Switch Stuck?

    If your bulb is fine, but the light just doesn't come on when the door is open, the possible cause could be a stuck light switch. The light is operated by a plunger-type button. When the door opens, it releases, and the light is activated. Over time, these buttons can become 'stuck' from a build-up of dust or dirt and require a simple cleaning with a cloth and warm sudsy water to loosen it.