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How to test a door switch

Common refrigerator door switch Directions for testing a door switch.

Before you begin to test your door switch, make sure you disconnect the appliance's power supply. The easiest way to do this is to unplug the unit from the wall. Alternatively, you could trip the appropriate switch in the circuit breaker panel, or you could remove the appropriate fuse from your home's fuse box.

Keep in mind that door switches in refrigerators and freezers are also referred to as light switches and light actuator switches.

Consult with an appliance repair technician if you do not feel you have the skill or the ability to successfully complete this test.

  1. Locate your switch. It is activated when the door closes on it, so it will be visible with the door open. It will be located somewhere along the internal frame of the refrigerator. Once you have located the door switch, remove it. There may be a single screw retaining the door switch inside its housing. If you don't find a screw holding the door switch in place, use a putty knife, or some other thin flat object to pry out the mechanism. It may be a good idea to place a strip of tape along the edge of the putty knife to guard against scraping up the interior of your fridge. Pull the switch out enough to expose an inch or two of the attaced wires.
  2. Some refrigerator door switches control not only the light, but also the fan. If your door switch controls only the interior light, it will have two wires attaced to it. If if also controls the fan, it will have four wires attached to it. You are going to remove each of the wires you find, but before you do, label them so that you will know which one goes where when you reattach them. Gently remove the wires from the switch. Do not pull on the wires themselves, you don't want to risk damaging the wires. Instead, pull on the connectors. It might even be a good idea to use needle nosed pliers to help you.
  3. Set the multitester to the X1 setting, and test the switch for continuity. If your switch has two terminals, place one of the multitester's leads on each of the switch's two terminals. The multitester's reading should change from infinity to a reading of zero. Keep the leads touching the terminals and press in on the switch. The reading should change back to infinity. If the results you receive are not consistent with these results, you should replace your door switch.
  4. If your switch has four terminals, keep the multitester set at X1. Touch one lead to a terminal, and touch each of the other three terminals one at a time with the other lead. Touching one of the other three terminals with the second lead should cause the multitester's reading to change from infinity to zero. When this happens, then those two terminals are a pair. Keep the leads touching the pair of terminals, and press in on the switch. The reading on the multitester should change back to infinity. Test the other pair of terminals in exactly the same way. If the test of either pair of terminals varies from the results presented here, you should replace your door switch.