Solving A Red Warning Light On A Refrigerator: 6 Steps

Solving a red warning light on a refrigerator

Is your fridge showing a red warning light?

Unfortunately, this is a known issue. I know how concerning it can be to have this happen, especially when you don’t know what it means.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for answers.

If your refrigerator is showing a red warning light, chances are the door is not closed, the temperature is too high, or you have frost buildup. An overfilled fridge or an old water filter could also explain the issue.

Keep reading to learn more about these issues!

6 Ways to Get Rid of the Red Warning Light on Your Refrigerator

The red warning light can mean different things depending on your fridge’s brand and model number.

But, whatever the case might be, you might find comfort in knowing that you can easily solve the red warning light on your own.

Below, I’ve prepared a list of 6 simple fixes that will help you forget all about the issue.

#1 Check the Door

One of the most common reasons why refrigerators show a red warning light is because the door is not closed correctly.

Try closing the door, but if you can’t, chances are it has too many items. This is why I recommend moving any heavy objects that are on the doors to the shelves.

Unload your fridge door to close it
If your fridge won’t stay closed, make sure there are no heavy objects on the door.

If that didn’t do the trick, you’ll need to check the door seal (or gasket). If it’s dirty, you won’t be able to close the door.

Here’s how to clean the gasket:

  1. In a large bowl, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with 1 cup of water.
  2. Soak a soft sponge, brush, rag, or cotton swab in the cleaning solution. Then, wipe down any dirt or grime.
  3. Use paper towels to dry the gasket. This way, you’ll prevent mold from growing in the seal.

Once you’ve finished cleaning the gasket, try closing the door again. If you’re still unable to do it, there’s a good chance, the seal is damaged, and you need to replace it.

To do it, you’ll need to check your manual and see what type of door seal you have (push-in, snap-in, or screw-in seal), since the installation process may vary.

For example, if you have a screw-in gasket, you can easily replace it by following this guide:

  1. Lay the new gasket on a flat surface for 24 hours or until it regains its shape.
  2. Loose the screws around the door liner, and pull the old gasket out.
  3. Position the upper half of the new gasket and secure it by tightening the screws. Then, repeat the process with the bottom half.

Bear in mind that gasket replacements cost anywhere between $50-$75 USD.

If the fridge is opened frequently, you may see a red warning light. Try opening the door only when necessary.

#2 Check the Temperature

If your door wasn’t the issue, then it’s time for us to make sure your fridge is set to the correct temperature.

You see, your refrigerator may show a red warning light if the temperature is too high or too low. Your fridge should sit between 3 °C (37.4 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F).

You can easily check your fridge’s temperature by placing a glass of water on the middle shelf and leaving it for 8 hours. Then, place a thermostat in the glass of water and wait for the reading.

You’ll need to adjust the temperature if you notice that the temperature is too low or too high.

If your fridge has a digital display, tap on the “Temperature” button and use the Up and Down buttons to set the correct temperature.

But, if you have a sliding gauge thermostat, you’ll need to push the slider to the right or left to change the temperature.

As you’ve probably noticed, the process of setting the temperature may vary depending on your fridge’s brand and model number. This is why you should always check your manual for detailed instructions.

Moreover, do not store warm food in your refrigerator. Otherwise, you won’t be able to solve the red warning light.

Check the refrigerator vents to make sure they’re not obstructed. If they’re, the temperature will vary.

#3 Defrost Your Appliance

If you’ve tried the fixes above, but your refrigerator is still showing a red warning light, there’s a good chance you need to defrost your appliance.

Most modern fridges can automatically detect when there is frost buildup and turn on the auto defrost mode.

However, some refrigerators will show a red warning light to indicate that you have to press the “Defrost” button.

How to manually defrost a refrigerator
Defrost your refrigerator to get rid of the red warning light.

If the auto defrost function is not working, you’ll need to manually defrost your appliance. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Transfer all the high-perishable foods to a cooler and remove any other items. Then, unplug your refrigerator from the wall outlet or turn it off.
  2. Take out all the removable compartments, such as shelves and drawers.
  3. Place old towels on the floor. This way, they’ll absorb the water and the cleaning process will be easier.
  4. Place a bowl of boiling water inside your appliance. This way, the steam will help melt the frost. You can also use a hair dryer.
  5. Wait until the ice has completely melted.
  6. Clean your appliance. I recommend mixing equal parts of warm water and vinegar and using a soft sponge. Don’t forget to clean the shelves and drawers.
  7. Dry your refrigerator with paper towels.
  8. Plug your appliance back in and set it to the coldest temperature mark. Then, wait for 30 minutes and adjust the temperature (remember, your fridge should sit between 3 °C (37.4 °F) and 5 °C (41 °F)).
  9. Transfer food back into the refrigerator.

Bear in mind that if your fridge’s auto defrost feature is not working, you’ll need to check the defrost control board, timer, or sensor. You can also call a professional.

#4 Make Sure Your Fridge Is Not Overfilled

Moving on, I’d like us to check your refrigerator.

You see, if it’s overfilled, air won’t be able to circulate in your appliance and the red warning light may start blinking.

To prevent this issue from happening again, try rearranging the items in your fridge and discard any spoiled food. This way, you’ll also avoid bad smells.

I recommend following these tips to store the food in your fridge:

  • Top shelf: Store on this shelf all the ready-to-eat foods, such as drinks, and leftovers.
  • Middle shelves: these shelves are ideal to store items that are prone to spoiling (dairy products, cooked meats, eggs, etc.)
  • Lowest shelf: Since this is the coldest shelf, I recommend storing raw meat and fish. Make sure they’re not touching other items.
  • Drawer: Store vegetables and fruits. Make sure they’re wrapped in paper or plastic bags with holes. This way, they’ll last longer.
  • Door: Since this is the warmest area in your fridge, try storing condiments and spreads, such as mustard, ketchup, pickles, etc. Don’t store milk or other dairy products.

#5 Replace the Water Filter

If you’ve tried all the fixes above, but your refrigerator is still showing a red warning light, you might want to keep reading.

Some fridges will show this light if you haven’t replaced your water filter in 6 months.

Try replacing your water filter to solve the red warning light on your refrigerator.

Bear in mind that there are different types of water filters, so you’ll need to check your manual to know the water filter that’s specific to your appliance.

Here’s how to replace the water filter in a Samsung fridge:

  1. Check your manual to see if you need an internal or external filter. Don’t forget to check the location of the water filter.
  2. Check the model number displayed on the water filter and buy a new filter that has the same model number.
  3. Shut off the water supply and remove the old water filter.
  4. Connect the water supply line to the inlet side of the filter. Then, connect the dispenser line to the outlet side of the filter.
  5. Put the new water filter into place.
  6. Press and hold the “Filter Reset” button for three seconds.
  7. Dispense water to purge any air from the system. Please reuse that water.

Finding Your Manual

As you probably noticed, the process of solving the red warning light may vary depending on your refrigerator’s brand and model number.

This is why you should always double-check the instructions above with your manual.

If you can’t find your manual, please search for your fridge’s model number (the label is usually located on the sides or back of the appliance). Then, search for that model on Google.

For example, if you have a Whirlpool refrigerator, you’ll need to type “Whirlpool [model number] Refrigerator Manual PDF” on the search bar.

Remember, if you don’t feel comfortable fixing the issue on your own, I recommend calling a professional.


That about covers it! Hopefully, with the help of the fixes above, you’ll be able to solve the red warning light on your refrigerator.

Remember, you’ll need to check the door, temperature, and water filter. Moreover, don’t forget to defrost your appliance and make sure your fridge is not overfilled.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article. If you found it helpful, please check out our related content below.

Good luck!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more