How to Fix a Refrigerator Light That Won’t Come On

A refrigerator light that won’t turn on can be frustrating. It makes it hard to see inside the fridge and freezer to find what you need. Fortunately, there are several DIY troubleshooting steps you can take to get the light working again before you need to call in a refrigerator repair person.

Check the Light Bulb

The first thing to check if your refrigerator light won’t come on is the light bulb itself. Over time, the bulb can burn out like any other light in your home.

Start by unplugging the refrigerator or turning off the circuit breaker for the fridge. Then open the refrigerator and locate the bulb cover. It may be at the top or along the sides. Simply twist or pop off the cover and remove the bulb.

Examine the light bulb for any signs of damage. Look to see if the filament inside is broken or burnt. If the bulb looks blackened or cloudy, it needs to be replaced. Have a new bulb that fits your refrigerator ready to swap in. Push in the replacement bulb, replace the cover, and turn the power back on.

In many cases, a burnt-out light bulb is the culprit behind a refrigerator light not working. But if installing a new bulb doesn’t do the trick, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.

Check the Power Supply

If a new light bulb doesn’t restore power to the refrigerator light, the next thing to check is if electricity is actually getting to the bulb itself.

Start by unplugging the fridge again and removing the bulb. Check the bulb socket using a voltmeter or by touching the metal contacts with the prongs of a plug. Have someone hold the plug while you do this and watch for any spark when you make contact. A lack of power here indicates there’s an issue with the electrical supply.

Potential causes include:

  • Faulty power cord or plug
  • Tripped breaker or blown fuse for the refrigerator circuit
  • Problem with the light socket

Check the power cord for any damage and make sure it’s firmly plugged into the wall outlet. Examine the wall receptacle too for issues.

Go to the circuit breaker or fuse box and look for a tripped breaker or blown fuse for the refrigerator circuit. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse if needed.

If the power supply all checks out, the problem is likely with the light socket itself. You may need to call in a refrigerator repair person to examine and replace the faulty light socket.

Inspect Door Switches

Refrigerators have small lever switches in the door jambs that control the interior lights. When you open the door, it pushes the switch and turns the light on. If this door switch fails or there’s an issue with the wiring connecting it to the light, the bulb won’t come on.

Start by checking for any obstructions around the door switches. Food packages or other items could be interfering with the switch’s operation. Clear away anything blocking the switches.

Then operate the lever switches by hand with the doors open. Have someone watch the light socket for power as you move the switches. If the light comes on, then the switches are fine. If the bulb remains off, the switch or wiring is faulty.

You can test the switches for continuity using a multimeter too. Replace any faulty switches and check the wiring harness connections that lead to the light. Repair any severed or loose wires.

Check Control Panel and Board

If the above steps haven’t resolved the problem, the issue may lie with the refrigerator’s main control board. This controls the light circuit along with other electrical operations in the fridge.

Problems with the control board can prevent the refrigerator light from turning on. Issues to look for include:

  • Faulty control panel LCD display
  • Lights flickering
    -Cooling system not running properly
  • Unusual noises
  • Fridge not powering on at all

First check all the connections to the control board and make sure they’re secure. Look for any signs of overheating or burnt wires.

Use a voltmeter to check for power to the control board. If there’s power but the lights and display aren’t working, the board is likely faulty and needs replacement.

A refrigerator repair technician can diagnose control board issues and replace the defective board if needed. The technician can also check all the light circuit wiring for problems.

FAQs About Fixing Refrigerator Lights

What should I do if changing the light bulb doesn’t fix the problem?

  • Check that the refrigerator is getting power and the outlet is working correctly.
  • Test the light socket for power with a voltmeter.
  • Inspect the door lever switches to make sure they work properly.
  • Examine the control board connections and operation.

Where is the light switch in a refrigerator?

  • Refrigerator lights operate automatically and don’t have a manual switch.
  • Small lever switches near the door jambs control the light circuit. When you open the door, it pushes the switch to turn on the interior light.

Why does my fridge light keep going out?

  • If bulbs burn out frequently, moisture may be getting into the socket or there may be electrical issues providing power.
  • Defective door switches that malfunction when operating can also lead to intermittent light operation.
  • An old fridge may have a failing control board that causes the lights to malfunction.

How do I reset my refrigerator control panel?

  • Start by unplugging the refrigerator for 30 seconds to reset the control board.
  • Check for any buttons or controls on the display panel to reset its settings.
  • Refer to the owner’s manual for model-specific reset instructions.
  • For continued problems, the control board may need professional service.

Why does my freezer light stay on?

  • Dirty or sticky door gaskets can keep the door switch engaged, keeping lights on.
  • A jammed or failed door switch that remains closed can cause the light to stay on.
  • Check the door alignment and switches to make sure doors operate properly.

How much does it cost to fix a refrigerator light?

  • Simply replacing a burnt-out bulb is very inexpensive, costing just a few dollars.
  • If the main control board is faulty, replacement could cost $200-$350 for parts and labor.
  • Expect to pay $100-$150 for a refrigerator repair technician to diagnose and fix light issues.


When your refrigerator light suddenly goes dark, start troubleshooting by checking for a burnt-out bulb and replacing it if needed. If a new bulb doesn’t work, inspect the power supply and door switches before examining the control board. With some simple DIY troubleshooting steps, you can often get the fridge light working again without calling a repair technician. But for complex electrical issues or a faulty control board, professional refrigerator repair is recommended. With the right diagnosis, you can restore full illumination to your fridge and see your food and drink selections clearly once again.