GE Refrigerator Compressor [Problems and Solutions]

A compressor problem is not one anybody wants to have. But it doesn’t have to be so. This article discusses GE refrigerator compressor problems and solutions.

GE Refrigerator Compressor

GE Refrigerator Compressor Cycling On and Off – How to Fix

If you find that your GE refrigerator is cycling on and off, do the following:

1. Clean the Condenser Coils

Check the coils at the bottom base of the refrigerator. If they are noticeably dirty, clean them thoroughly. And make sure to clean them every 6 months.

The condenser coils are responsible for circulating the refrigerant in its compressed form. Due to the process of compression, the gas carries heat. But the coils remove the heat before the gas transfers to the unit’s expansion chamber.

Because they are exposed at the bottom back of the unit, they get dirty easily. And in their dirty state, they can’t remove the heat. As a result, there is an overload on the compressor.

Once this happens, the compressor stops running. And when it cools down enough, it will try to start again. But the dirty coils will keep overloading it with heat, causing it to keep shutting down and trying to restart. Hence, cycling on and off becomes the norm.

2. Replace the Start Relay

A faulty or defective start relay will cause the compressor to cycle on and off as it tries to start and run.

So, remove it from the side of the compressor and shake it. If there is an audible rattle, the relay is faulty and should be replaced. And if it smells as if it is burnt, replace it because it is damaged.

However, if none of these applies, check the continuity of the relay using a multimeter. Place the probes between the run and start terminals of the component. If you don’t find any continuity, replace the relay. But if you do, it is not faulty.

Here is how to replace the overload on the compressor…

3. Check the Voltage Supply

This is not a common one but a few times, low or irregular voltage supply impedes the smooth running of the compressor.

Therefore, check the circuit breaker or fuse that supplies power to the refrigerator. You can also check the wall outlet into which the refrigerator’s cord is plugged.

Plug another appliance such as a lamp into the outlet and see if it powers. This will tell you if there is a correct voltage supply.

The power cord of the refrigerator could also be burnt or damaged. This is especially true if there was an outage or surge of electric power. So inspect it and replace it if there is any damage.

4. Change the Compressor

While this problem is not very common, it is still possible that the compressor has worn out. However, you cannot be sure of this until you check the component.

Having an active warranty helps because fixing this problem is quite expensive. But if you don’t have a warranty, the best fix here is to replace the refrigerator.

Nevertheless, if the refrigerator is quite expensive and still relatively good, you can simply change the compressor.

GE Refrigerator Compressor Hot – Solutions

A possible cause for a GE refrigerator compressor being hot to the touch is a heat overload. If the condenser coils are dirty, it can cause this to happen. And if the start relay is faulty, the compressor will try to run but fail, causing it to become hot.

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Another cause is that the compressor is locked. A locked refrigerator compressor will be so hot, you may barely be able to touch it.

If you find that the compressor is locked, the only fix is to replace it. It cannot be unlocked or repaired.

GE Refrigerator Compressor and Fan Not Running – Quick Fix

If the fan and compressor of a GE refrigerator are not running, it means that the temperature controls no longer work.

When they stop working, they fail to activate the refrigerator’s cooling system. As a result, the refrigerator won’t cool.

Check the main control board for any damages. Replace it with the right part if you notice any damage such as burn marks.

You can also check the thermistor as the controls work with it. If the thermistor fails, it wouldn’t be able to send the needed signal to the controls to power the cooling system. Consequently, the fan and compressor won’t run.

How to Reset a GE Refrigerator Compressor

To reset the compressor on a GE refrigerator, take the following steps:

Step 1

Unplug the power cord of the refrigerator from the wall outlet. If you cannot reach it, power down the circuit breaker by flipping the switch.

Even if you hear a whooshing or knocking sound, do not worry because it is normal. Just leave it without power for some minutes.

Step 2

Now, turn off the temperature controls of the freezer and refrigerator or move the knob to 0. Then, restore power to the refrigerator by plugging the power cord back into the wall outlet or flipping the switch of the circuit breaker.

Doing this resets the compressor.

Step 3

Turn the knob of the temperature controls in both compartments to the setting you like. For the best result, consider setting them midpoint.

After setting them, give the refrigerator at least 24 hours to adjust to the setting. This will tell you if the unit is cooling properly.

Check out these other articles…

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GE Freezer Is Frosting Up [Solved]

GE Refrigerator Fan [Issues & Solutions]

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How to Check a GE Refrigerator Compressor

To check a GE Refrigerator compressor, be sure you know how to handle a compressor. This is because it is quite tricky and complicated.

However, do the following if you are sure you know your way around:

1. Check the Windings of the Compressor

Disconnect the unit from electric power before testing the windings. Get a multimeter and set it to Ohms.

Now, detach the start relay and run the continuity test. There are 3 terminals you will find: start, run, and common. Test between any two of them.

If there is no continuity, it may be time to replace the compressor.

2. Check the Motor Windings

Take a multimeter and place the probes between the run and common terminals and the start and common terminals.

Each terminal’s reading must be within 0.5Ohm. If this is not the case, find the terminal with the lower number. It is an indication that the compressor is bad.

Additionally, take a reading between each terminal and the compressor housing. If the reading does not show O.L, it may time for another compressor.

3. Check the Thermostatic Control Switch

Take the switch, set it and check continuity between the relay plug and wires. If you see O.L on the multimeter instead of 0.000, get a new switch because the old one is broken.

If none of the above checks shows a fault with the parts, the compressor itself may be damaged. So you may have to replace it.

This video shows how to run this test on a GE refrigerator compressor…

How to Replace a GE Refrigerator Compressor

Take the following steps if you want to replace the compressor on your GE refrigerator:

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Step 1

Disconnect the refrigerator from the wall socket or turn off the circuit breaker that powers it. Then, empty the unit of all items.

If there is any food, put it in another refrigerator or cooler with packs of ice.

Step 2

Pull the refrigerator away from the wall or surface behind it. This is to give you room to get to the compressor and work on it. But this is only applicable if the unit is not built-in.

If you cannot pull it away alone, be sure to find another person to work with.

Step 3

Most times, there is a guard or panel that protects the compressor. Unscrew any screw holding it in place and remove it. However, if there is no screw holding it, simply pull it out.

It is a given that the metal parts at the back of the refrigerator will be hot, including the compressor. Therefore, give it some time to cool, about 30 minutes.

Step 4

At this point, use a phone or camera to take pictures of the connections made to the compressor. This is to guide you when you have to reconnect them after disconnecting and avoid confusion.

Be sure to take a picture of every connection before you remove or detach anything from the compressor.

Step 5

Now, disconnect the wires one by one as you take pictures. And once you have disconnected all the wires, remove the faulty old compressor. Ensure you place it far from where you have the new one.

Next, start attaching the wires to the new compressor. This is when the pictures come in handy. Connect them using the pictures so you make no mistakes.

Adding refrigerant is important as there will be none in the new compressor. However, there are instructions to follow on the refrigerant manual you buy.

Step 6

When you are sure all the connections are right and tight, replace the panel or guard over the compressor.

Next, plug the power cord of the refrigerator back into the wall socket or turn on the circuit breaker.

Now, listen to the sound of the compressor for some minutes. Its sound will tell you if it is working properly.

A quiet and steady hum means it is working properly. Therefore, allow the refrigerator time to cool considerably. Then, put the food back into it.

If the compressor does not sound or work as it should, you may have to start the process again or contact a licensed technician for help.

GE Refrigerator Compressor Running But Not Cooling – Quick Fix

Here are possible reasons why a GE refrigerator compressor is running but the unit is not cooling:

1. Condenser Coils Need Cleaning

Cleaning the coils of the refrigerator is important for the smooth and efficient running of the unit. Therefore, clean them every 6 to 12 months to remove dust and debris.

No matter how hard the compressor works, it won’t be able to help the refrigerator maintain a cold temperature as long as the coils are dirty.

The reason for this is that they will keep letting heat get into the refrigerator from the refrigerant. And if this is consistent, the refrigerator would stop cooling completely.

2. Temperature Setting Is Wrong

Setting the temperature too high will reduce the cooling capacity of the refrigerator. This happens even when the compressor runs efficiently and smoothly.

Therefore, check the setting and adjust it to the correct point if it is too high. Then, allow the refrigerator to work for about a day before determining if there is any change in the internal temperature.

3. Evaporator Fan Is Faulty

A faulty fan cannot circulate the cold air in the refrigerator. As a result, the unit will stop cooling even if the compressor keeps running.

Remove the inside back panel of the freezer and look at the fan. If there is ice around it, thaw it with a steamer or hair dryer. Better still, defrost the freezer manually.

But if there is none, turn the blades to determine if there is any stiffness. This will tell you if the motor is bad. Replace the motor if the blades are stiff.

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Otherwise, run a continuity test on the motor with a multimeter. If you don’t find continuity, replace the motor of the fan.

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4. Vents Are Obstructed

Leave the air vents unobstructed so that cold air can flow freely into the refrigerator. If they are blocked, there would be no cool air in the unit. What you will find is the compressor running yet the refrigerator is not cooling.

Make sure you arrange the items in both compartments so that there is room for airflow. You will be better able to check how well the unit cools.

5. Door Seal Is Worn

If the seal is loose, push it in or tighten it with a screwdriver. There is no need to replace it if it is not worn.

However, if it is worn, get a new one and replace it. Otherwise, humid air from outside will continue seeping into the refrigerator and compromising its cold temperature. This puts too much pressure on the compressor.

In addition to this, clean the seal if it is dirty. The door won’t seal tightly if there is dirt so use warm soapy water to clean it thoroughly.

Ensure there is no frequent door opening. It compromises the temperature. The same is true for holding the door open for too long.

6. Condenser Fan Is Damaged

A damaged condenser fan won’t work to keep the compressor or condenser coils cool. So check its blades and clean them.

Additionally, check for continuity in the motor of the fan using a multimeter. If there is no continuity, replace the fan motor.

7. Evaporator Coils Are Frozen

Frost or ice on the evaporator coils means there is no cold air for the refrigerator. Therefore, take a look at the coils behind the rear panel of the freezer section.

Defrost the freezer manually if there is an accumulation of ice. Empty it of food and other items and unplug it.

Leave it unplugged for a day or more so that all the ice will melt. Clean up the excess water and allow the refrigerator to air-dry. Thereafter, plug it back into the outlet.

You can opt for the hair dryer method. But it is not a recommended method because it is not as safe as defrosting manually.

GE Refrigerator Compressor Clicking – Quick Fix

In the event of finding that your GE refrigerator compressor is clicking, do the following:

1. Check the Start Relay

To test the relay, disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and detach it from the compressor. Shake it a little to see if there is a rattle.

If you hear a rattle, replace the relay because it is bad. But if there is no rattle yet you suspect the relay to be bad, check for continuity using a multimeter. If there is no continuity between the start and run terminals, replace the component.

The relay enables the compressor to turn on and begin compressing the refrigerant for the refrigerator. If the relay fails, the compressor may not start and you will hear the clicking sound as it tries to run.

2. Check the Condenser Coils

Take a small leaf blower or a hose attachment to a vacuum cleaner and clean the coils. Be sure to remove as much dirt from them as you can.

If the blower or hose does not clean it all, use a rag to wipe the rest of the dirt off. Then, sweep it up from the floor, away from the coils.

The clicking you hear from the compressor is likely an overload because of dirty coils. They cannot remove heat from the refrigerant if they are dirty, thereby causing the compressor to work extra to cool the refrigerator.

Therefore, keep the coils free of dirt by cleaning them twice every year. This way, they won’t cause the compressor to overwork itself.

3. Check the Condenser Fan

Take a look at the blades of the fan and remove any lint, dust, or debris restricting their movement. Next, spin them with your hand to see if they spin well. If they don’t, it is likely the bearings are worn and the motor should be changed.

If the blades are clean and turn well, then check the motor. Check it for continuity using a multimeter. And if there is no continuity, replace the motor or the entire fan if applicable.

The fan keeps the refrigerant inside the condenser coils cool. So if the fan does not work while the compressor operates, the compressor is likely to overheat and cause the clicking sound you hear.


It is important to find the origin of any problem with a GE refrigerator compressor and fix it. But if this is not possible or too difficult, contact GE cares, report the issue, and request service.

Otherwise, chat with any of our appliance technicians for assistance. You don’t need an appointment or have an expensive in-house call.


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