GE Side-by-Side Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is Working?

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

When your refrigerator is not functioning properly, it can not only be a hassle; it can also be unsafe. Food is only safe for a certain amount of time when the refrigerator stops working, typically only several hours. This can lead to wasted food, money, and even sickness if not addressed immediately.

If your GE side-by-side refrigerator is not working, but the freezer is, it could be due to various issues. However, the most common cause of this problem is a defective evaporator fan motor.

Do You Need Appliance Repair Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Troubleshooting Your Refrigerator

When your refrigerator isn’t working, it is imperative to solve the issue quickly. Trying to schedule a repairman can be time-consuming and may lead to your food spoiling.

Before completely replacing your refrigerator, try these solutions below to troubleshoot the issue.

Defective Evaporator Fan Motor

The evaporator fan motor distributes cold air over the evaporator coils and circulates it throughout the freezer. If the evaporator fan is defective, it won’t cool the refrigerator.

To determine if the evaporator fan motor is broken, first try turning the fan blade by hand. If the fan blade does not turn, you should replace the fan motor.

Another reason to replace the fan motor is if it is noisy. If the fan motor does not run at all, use a multimeter to test the motor windings for continuity. If the windings do not have continuity, you will need to replace the evaporator fan motor.

Refrigerator or Freezer Is Too Full

Holiday leftovers and Costco runs can leave your refrigerator and freezer almost too full to close. If you pile your GE refrigerator or freezer to the brim, this could be the reason that the fridge is warm. Too many items in the freezer can block the cold air that needs to flow to the refrigerator.

A refrigerator that is too full can block air vents that allow cold air to cool the interior. If the fridge or freezer seems overloaded, throw away any old or expired food. There’s a good chance you wouldn’t eat the leftovers, anyway.

If you don’t have much to dispose of, try to rearrange shelves and containers to achieve better airflow.

Dirty Condenser Coils

The condenser coils of the refrigerator help cool the refrigerant. This provides cool air to the refrigerator. If the coils become dirty, they can’t cool the refrigerant properly.

When this happens, you may find that the freezer is cool, but the refrigerator is not.

Follow these steps below to clean the condenser coils.

Step 1: Locate the Condenser Coils. The condenser coils are usually on the back of the refrigerator or behind a base grille. If you’re unsure where they are, check your GE owner’s manual.

Step 2: Unplug the Refrigerator. Unplug the refrigerator before you touch anything to prevent electrocution.

Step 3: Vacuum Dust and Debris. Using a narrow hose vacuum attachment, vacuum dust and debris in and around the coils. Use an appliance brush to remove any additional debris, then vacuum a second time around the coils and the floor.

Step 4: Plug the Refrigerator Back Into the Outlet. Once you’ve completed cleaning the coils, plug your fridge back in to see if this solves the issue.

Broken Thermistor

If your GE freezer is cold, but the refrigerator is warm, the thermistor could be the issue. A thermistor monitors the refrigerator’s internal temperature and communicates this to the control board. The control board then signals the compressor and evaporator to create more cold air as needed.

If the thermistor is broken, it won’t provide an accurate temperature reading to the control board, and it won’t produce cool air. Use a multimeter to test the thermistor for continuity. If there is no continuity, you should replace the thermistor.

Frosted Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant runs through evaporator coils, cooling. This can sometimes lead to the coils developing a coating of frost. The refrigerator’s defrost system should melt this frost.

If the defrost system isn’t working correctly, frost can accumulate, blocking airflow within the coils. This blockage prohibits the refrigerant from cooling, leaving the freezer cold but the refrigerator warm.

A professional should access the defrost thermostat, timer, and control board to determine the defrost system failure.

Stuck Damper Control Assembly

The purpose of the air damper is to allow the proper amount of cold air into the refrigerator. The air damper door should open and close. If it doesn’t open properly, the fridge will not get enough cold air.

Check the damper control to determine if the door is stuck shut or broken.

Faulty Temperature Control Board

The purpose of the temperature control board is to provide voltage to the compressor and fan motors. If it is faulty, it can stop sending voltage.

Before replacing this, test the other components of the refrigerator first. While faulty control boards are not a common issue, they are often misdiagnosed, which leads to a hefty repair bill. If all the other components are working, you may need to replace the temperature control board.

Defrost Control Board Failure

The defrost control board determines when to run the defrost cycle. If it fails, the refrigerator will not run the defrost cycle and can lead to frosted coils. Frosted coils can cause the fridge to work harder to remove the heat resulting in a warm refrigerator.

Check that the defrost thermostat and defrost heater are working properly. If they both are, you likely need to replace the defrost control board.

Broken Defrost Thermostat

The defrost thermostat monitors the evaporator coils’ temperature. If the coils drop below a set temperature, the thermostat signals to power on the defrost heater during the defrost cycle. During the defrost cycle, the defrost heater melts any frost that accumulated on the evaporator coils.

If the defrost thermostat isn’t working, the thermostat won’t provide power to the defrost heater. To determine if the defrost thermostat is working, use a multimeter to test for continuity. If there is no continuity when it reaches the low temperature, you should replace it.

Broken Defrost Timer

The purpose of the defrost timer is to turn on the defrost heater several times throughout the day. This melts any frost that may have accumulated on the evaporator coils. If the defrost timer is broken, it will not turn on the defrost heater to start the defrost cycle.

When frost accumulates on the coils, the refrigerator must work harder to remove the heat, making the refrigerator warm. To determine if the defrost timer is working, slowly move the dial into the defrost cycle. The compressor should turn off, and the heater should turn on.

If the timer isn’t working, it will not send power to the defrost components within 30 minutes. If the defrost timer does not work, replace it.

How to Organize Your Refrigerator Based on Temperature

Not only do refrigerators have different compartments, but they also have different temperature zones. Each of these compartments and zones serves a purpose. When you store food in the proper areas, you can save food and money.

Upper Shelves

The upper shelves of the fridge have the most consistent temperatures. You should store leftovers, drinks, and foods that are ready to eat here. Keep herbs fresh by storing them upright on the upper shelf in a jar of water, covered loosely.

Lower Shelves

The lower shelves have the coldest temperatures. You should use these shelves to store raw meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy.

To prevent bacteria in raw meat from spreading, create an area of your fridge specifically for it. You can purchase refrigerator-safe storage bins on Amazon for under $12.


The door of the refrigerator is the warmest part of the fridge. You should reserve this space for foods that are least likely to spoil. Condiments and juice can stand the temperature fluctuations that often take place here.

Eggs and dairy should never go in the door, as bacteria are more likely to form. This is especially the case when you open the door regularly.


The purpose of a crisper drawer is to maintain moist conditions. The drawer temperature helps to preserve fruits and vegetables. The most common mistake people make is putting all of their produce together.

Keep vegetables and fruits in separate drawers. Many fruits produce ethylene, which can ripen other vegetables causing them to go bad quickly.


A freezer stores frozen foods, of course. You can store frozen fruits, vegetables, meat, and leftover soups, stocks, and sauces. While a freezer is great for frozen things, you can also use it to keep food fresh.

You can store bread and tortillas in the freezer for up to three months. You can even store eggs in the freezer!

The key with freezers is to use air-tight, freezer-safe, plastic containers. Glass jars can break, so choose stackable plastic containers or freezer bags laid flat to maximize freezer space.

Do You Need Appliance Repair Services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

If the power goes out, when should you throw away the food in your refrigerator and freezer?

When you lose power to your fridge, it can result in a lot of wasted food and money. However, you have a window of time before your food starts to spoil.If the power goes out, keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed. If you keep the doors closed, food will remain safe in the refrigerator for four hours. Food in a full freezer will stay safe for 48 hours and only 24 hours in a half-full freezer.After four hours, if you have an ice chest and ice available, put any perishable foods in the ice chest. Add ice or frozen gel packs to keep food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Thawed food can be safely refrozen or cooked if it contains ice crystals or is 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

What are the ideal temperatures for the refrigerator and freezer?

To maintain food safety, keep the refrigerator and freezer at the proper temperature. You should keep the fridge at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. The freezer should be kept at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure that your refrigerator and freezer are at the proper temperature, check them periodically. Appliance thermometers are the best way of knowing these temperatures. You can purchase a three-pack of appliance thermometers on Amazon for less than $12.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall