Why is my fridge light not working?

Woman looking into a fridge holding a tablet.
(Image credit: Getty)

If your fridge light isn’t working then it can be annoying to try and see your favorite drinks or snacks at the back of your fridge. A faulty light can be caused by a number of different things, most of which are reasonably easy to identify and fix. It is important to check your refrigerator's warranty in case a more serious repair is needed, such as replacing a faulty circuit board or sensor. 

The best mini fridges and the best french door refrigerators are great for keeping your food fresh and crisp, but it is important to keep all components working properly to get the most out of your unit. If you are doing a full maintenance on your fridge, then knowing how to clean a fridge is essential to keep it functioning efficiently. 

What causes a fridge light not to work? 

What the expert says...

Ron Shimek, President at Mr Appliance says "You should not check for a power interruption without the help of a professional. The liners in refrigerators are very delicate and can break when trying to remove a switch. Wiring is internal and you have to know how to read a wiring diagram, operate a multi-meter and troubleshoot a control board."

There are a few common causes for a fridge light not working properly, most of which are a quick and easy fix. The most common problems are as follows:

1. A burnt-out bulb

If your fridge's bulb has burnt out then there will be no light. To fix this, you can simply remove the bulb and take it to a hardware store and ask for a replacement - most hardware stores will be able to find a replacement that is compatible with your fridge. 

2. A faulty sensor

For a fridge light to work, there is a sensor that activates the light when the fridge is opened. If your sensor is faulty then it won’t be able to activate the light. If your sensor is blocked by food or bottles it may have a hard time sensing when the fridge is opened - some sensors can also get jammed or blocked by dirt. 

3. A faulty light socket

A faulty light socket can be caused by an electrical problem or damage from dirt. If your light socket is faulty then electricity won’t be able to flow through it. This can be a difficult fix, and may require a professional to solve. 

4. Circuit board failure

If your fridge's circuit board shorts or fails then it can stop the bulb from illuminating when you open the fridge. This would need to be looked at urgently as the problem persisting could cause your fridge to stop working altogether. 

Which of these problems can you fix yourself?

Some of these problems should be easy to fix for most people, with a couple of them requiring cleaning or a change of light bulb. A burnt-out bulb can be easily replaced by most people by disconnecting the fridge from the power and inserting a new bulb into the socket. 

A faulty light sensor could also potentially be an easy fix - simply give the sensor a thorough clean and test the fridge again to see if the light starts working. For some sensors, you will want to use a q tip to scrape any dirt from inside the sensor itself.

Some faulty light sockets may be more complicated to fix. If the faulty socket is caused by a short circuit, or if your fridge has a full circuit board failure then you may want to get a professional to come and check your fridge for you. It can be dangerous to try and fix electronics yourself, so if in doubt always contact a certified electrician or appliance expert.

Monib Zahdeh
TTR Staff Writer

Monib is a former staff writer for Top Ten Reviews. He has a degree in journalism and over four years of experience in the home and garden industry as a Digital Content Specialist for the made-to-measure marketplace Britannia Rose. When he is not reading or writing, Monib enjoys cooking, going on walks, and visiting different historical sites.  

With contributions from
  • President at Mr. Appliance a Neighborly® company