Solving the Mystery of a Flickering Fridge Light

An open fridge in a kitchen

Are you trying to solve the mystery of a flickering fridge but aren’t sure where to start?

You’re not alone! Flickering lights are a common fridge issue that leaves thousands of appliance owners confused and frustrated daily.

I understand how it can be very annoying to see a flickering fridge light – especially when you’re concerned about the potential cost of repairs. But don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place for answers.

Below, you’ll find a list of 5 of the most common issues behind the situation and simple fixes to address each.

When you’re solving the mystery of a flickering fridge light, consider a loose bulb, a damaged bulb/housing, or a faulty door switch. The flickering light can also result from LED Control Board issues and LED assembly failure.

Keep reading to stop the flickering!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and Andy Fulenchek.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016.

Andy is one of our resident appliance repair experts with over a decade of experience. He currently runs his appliance repair company with a team of trusted technicians.

Why Your Fridge Light Flickers

Before delving into the actual reasons why your fridge light flickers, it’s important to understand that there are 2 main types of fridge lights: LED and incandescent. Each light has its own way of working and can present different issues.

My first recommendation is to ensure your fridge is getting the right voltage to keep the light from flickering (120 volts). You can either check the voltage with a voltmeter or plug a lamp or something similar that requires the same voltage into the outlet you normally plug the fridge into.

Provided the lamp or device you plug in doesn’t flicker, the voltage is likely not the source of the problem, and neither is the wall outlet.

Having said that, here are some things I typically consider first when I see a flickering fridge light.

Incandescent Light Bulb Issues

Let’s start off by looking at the specific issues that can arise if your fridge has an incandescent bulb light. Hopefully, by the end of this section, you’ll have addressed the situation, and everything will be back to normal.

#1 The Bulb Is Loose

A loose incandescent bulb is the simplest explanation for a flickering fridge light, so it makes sense to consider it first.

Not unlike other incandescent light bulbs in your home, if your fridge’s bulb isn’t screwed in properly into its base, it’ll make poor contact, resulting in constant flickering. Typically, fridge light bulbs don’t move around too much, but the constant movement of food can slowly but surely loosen them over time.

Removing a fridge's light bulb
Be careful when removing the light bulb, as you can hurt yourself if it breaks.

Solution: Ensure the bulb is screwed in properly. Tighten the bulb until the light comes on, then snug it tightly a little more (less than an eighth of a turn). Please be careful when tightening the bulb, as you don’t want to break it and hurt yourself.

#2 The Bulb/Housing Is Damaged

Next, let’s consider a damaged bulb/housing as another potential reason why you’re solving the mystery of a flickering fridge light.

Provided you’ve already ensured the bulb is sitting tightly in its housing and still notice flickering, there might be something else wrong with it, and you’ll need to take a closer look.

Some telltale signs of a damaged fridge bulb/housing are arcing, melting of the bulb’s soft metal base, and what appears to be a loose connection.

Solution: Examine the bulb’s housing and the metal tab at the bottom for any signs of damage or burning as a result of short-circuiting. Provided you notice anything out of the ordinary, my usual advice is to replace the bulb and/or housing.

#3 The Door Switch Is Faulty

The last possible reason why your fridge’s incandescent light bulb is flickering is a faulty door switch. If you’re unfamiliar with how fridges turn on their lights when you open them and turn them off when you close the door, the mechanism is quite simple.

There’s a little tab on the side of the fridge’s door that is pressed down when the door’s closed, prompting the light to shut off. In most cases, the switch works normally, and there’s nothing more to it, but I’ve found that if the switch is faulty, the fridge light can flicker regardless of the switch’s position.

Try pressing the switch down with your hand to see if the light goes off or flickers. Also, look for arcing inside the switch.

Solution: Replace the door switch. You can expect to pay anywhere from $10-$30 for a new fridge door light switch, and the replacement process is intermediate in difficulty.

With the proper instructions, you can definitely DIY.

LED Bulb Issues

Now that we’ve covered all the possible problems and solutions around incandescent fridge light bulbs, let’s now discuss what can go wrong with their LED counterparts.

LED fridge light bulbs will flicker for completely different reasons than incandescent light bulbs, so please keep reading to get to the bottom of the situation properly.

#4 The LED Control Board Is Faulty

LED fridge light bulbs are a little more complex than their incandescent counterparts. While an incandescent light bulb will either work or won’t, LED bulbs can fail partially and then start a chain reaction, leading to total failure.

From what I’ve seen, what commonly happens is that one small light in the LED bulb goes out, and suddenly, the rest of them follow along.

Solution: To solve the problem, bypass a bulb assembly to determine the faulty one. The bypassing process is intermediate to advanced in terms of diagnosis difficulty, so if you’re unsure how to proceed, please get in touch with a professional for help.

#5 LED Assembly Failure

Lastly, let’s talk about LED assembly failure as another potential reason why you’re solving the mystery of a flickering fridge light.

In my experience, the most common symptom of an LED assembly failure is that the lights inside the bulb won’t turn on. In such cases, you’ll need to look closer and determine whether the bulb needs replacing.

An LED bulb
Replacing a fridge LED bulb is expensive, so please ensure it’s completely necessary before buying a new one.

Solution: Provided you determine you need to replace the LED bulb, you can expect to pay anywhere from $30-$150 or even up to $250 for a replacement. I find that the cost of the new LED bulb will depend greatly on your fridge’s brand and model.

Safety Recommendations

Now that you know why you’re trying to solve the mystery of a flickering fridge light, let’s quickly recap and go over a couple of recommendations and good practices to help your DIY and diagnosis processes easier.

  • Remember to always unplug your fridge before doing any major repairs on it. A 120-volt current is no joke, and it can pose a serious hazard to your safety.
  • Reach out to a professional whenever you have doubts about a repair. DIYing things around your home is interesting, but you can still learn while watching the pros work!
  • Check your fridge often and clean it thoroughly at least 4 times per year to ensure proper functioning, high efficiency and prevent smaller issues from becoming expensive repairs.

Addressing a Flickering Fridge Light

That about covers it!

When you’re solving the mystery of a flickering fridge light, you can quickly think the worst and start worrying about the expensive repairs you’ll have to pay for.

Luckily, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, addressing the most common causes behind a flickering fridge light can be easy and quick. More often than not, something simple, like replacing a dead incandescent bulb or tightening it a little further on its housing, will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

Have a great day!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more