The answer to your question ‘How much does it cost to replace a refrigerator compressor?’ isn’t set in stone. But it typically varies between $100 and $550.
Your refrigerator compressor is very important in the cooling cycle of your refrigerator. Without the compressor, your refrigerator is just a storage box. So, when the compressor goes bad, oftentimes, you will need to change it immediately.
Changing your compressor would definitely cost you some money. Some people prefer to purchase a new refrigerator instead. But, if you have the money, you should definitely try changing the compressor. You can either do this yourself or call a technician to fix it.
Before we break down how much you would spend on replacing your compressor, let’s take a look at how your refrigerator compressor works and how to detect a damaged refrigerator compressor.
What is a Compressor?
A compressor is both a pump and a motor that plays a great role in the refrigeration cycle. It is the compressor that moves the refrigerant through this cycle. When the internal temperature of the refrigerator rises above a particular point, temperature sensors start working. These sensors in the refrigerator signal the compressor to start its job.
You might be wondering how the temperature rises above its set point. Firstly, no refrigerator is completely sealed. This implies that cold air leaks out (even though in very minute quantities), and warm air seeps in. Moreover, many people open their refrigerators several times a day to get things out. All these activities cause the internal temperature of your refrigerator to rise.
The refrigerant used by refrigerators is a gas that becomes liquid at very cold temperatures. When the refrigerant leaves the evaporator as a liquid, the compressor draws the cold air in. In the compressor, this liquid is compressed under pressure. Then, it is released as hot compressed gas through the coils at the back of the refrigerator.
The coils let out heat to the surrounding. As the gas cools, it turns to liquid. Then, the refrigerant liquid flows to the expansion valve. This valve forces the liquid out and it turns into a cold mist that evaporates and moves through coils in the freezer. These coils are known as the evaporator coils and provide the air that cools your refrigerator and freezer.
As the liquid moves through the evaporator coils, it draws heat from the freezer and refrigerator. Afterward, the liquid moves back to the compressor. Then, the compressor applies pressure to turn it into a hot gas. This cycle repeats itself all the time to keep your refrigerator cold.
All that being said, a damaged compressor means your refrigerator would stop functioning.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor — How to Tell If Your Compressor is Bad
The compressor is the first thing people think of when their refrigerator suddenly stops. However, the compressor isn’t always the issue when a refrigerator stops functioning.
There is a simple task you can carry out to determine if your compressor is faulty or not. This will save you a lot of time, stress, and money. This process is described in the steps below:
- Move your fridge away from the wall.
Turn off your refrigerator, unplug it from the power source, and move it away from the wall, so that there’s enough space for you to carry out your findings. You certainly don’t want to hit your elbow against the wall several times while carrying out this task.
- Locate the side panel.
There’s usually a side panel on the side of the compressor. It is often held in place by a few screws. Using a screwdriver, remove the screws by turning them in a counterclockwise direction. Then, take out the side panel. Under the panel, you would find a device known as the starter relay switch. Unplug it from the refrigerator compressor.
- Listen for a rattle.
When you have the starter relay switch in your hand, shake it. If you hear a rattle, it means the relay is bad and you will need to replace it. But, if there’s no rattling sound when you shake the relay, then you may have a more serious problem at hand. More often than not, it means your compressor is bad and you will need to replace it for the refrigerator to work again.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor — How to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor
Here are the steps to follow to replace a refrigerator compressor:
- Turn off the refrigerator.
Before you replace the compressor, unplug the refrigerator from the AC socket. Not doing so can lead to electrocution during the process. Once the fridge is off, empty the content and transfer them into a cooler filled with ice.
- Locate and remove the old compressor.
The compressor, which looks like a pot, is usually located at the bottom of the fridge. It is often hidden by a metal guard that can be removed by a screwdriver. Remove the metal guard and take out the old compressor.
Afterward, check around the compressor for a capacitor. The capacitor provides starting power to the compressor. Carefully detach the wiring connecting the capacitor to the old compressor. Next, remove every other hardware connected to the compressor.
- Get a new compressor.
To ensure that the new compressor fits your refrigerator, purchase a compressor of the same model as the old one. Because compressors are not so cheap, you may discover that the price is higher than that of a new refrigerator. In such a case, you may just want to get a new refrigerator.
- Connect the capacitor.
Reconnect the capacitor to the new compressor. Ensure that the wiring is done correctly so that the refrigerator would work as it should.
- Add some refrigerant.
As said earlier, the compressor doesn’t work without enough refrigerant. For newer units, you’ll need the R404c refrigerant. But for older units, you should purchase the R22 refrigerant. When adding the refrigerant, ensure that your fridge isn’t punctured and leaking refrigerant.
- Connect the valves and test the refrigerator.
There are valves on the refrigerator you should connect to the compressor. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to connect the valves to the new compressor.
Afterward, put the metal casing back. Then, plug in your refrigerator and see if it works.
Meanwhile, here’s a detailed video with a step-by-step guide on how to replace your refrigerator compressor:
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How Much Does it Cost to Replace the Compressor?
The cost of replacing a refrigerator compressor varies from about $100 to $550.
Here are some factors that affect how much it can cost you to replace your refrigerator compressor:
- The type of compressor.
The compressor you decide to purchase may either be new or reconditioned. New compressors definitely cost more and getting a new one is advisable. But, if you are working with a small budget, then you may want to consider buying a reconditioned compressor. They also last longer if they are used properly.
- Size of the compressor.
The size of the compressor suited for your refrigerator is not the same for all refrigerators. So, your refrigerator will be relatively cheaper to get if it is a small one.
- Labor costs.
This is the factor that takes a large percentage of your money. Because working with refrigerant is dangerous, it is advisable that you hire a certified technician to replace your refrigerator compressor for you. For appliance repairs, technicians charge about $100 to $200 per hour. And replacing a refrigerator compressor may take several hours. So, it may cost you about $500 or even more in hand to have an expert replace the compressor.
Replacing your refrigerator compressor may cost you more than you expect.
The cost of changing this important part of your refrigerator varies. If you’re changing it on your own to save costs, then it is important to follow the guidelines above. But, if you decide to hire a technician, you will need to pay for services rendered.
Meanwhile, if you do your calculations and it costs less to get a new refrigerator than it costs to replace the compressor, then buy a new refrigerator. A new refrigerator would work better and last longer than an old refrigerator with a new compressor.
Related FAQs — How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor?
What are the Signs of a Bad Refrigerator Compressor?
The signs of a bad refrigerator compressor include the circuit breaker tripping periodically when the refrigerator starts working, the continuous running of the compressor without stopping, and a noisy operation that could be combined with an increase in current use or a failure to cool properly.
What’s more? If your circuit breaker doesn’t stop tripping, it is usually because your compressor is too old.
On the flip side, if you notice that the compressor hasn’t stopped working in a while, it may be that the compressor valves are failing or you no longer have refrigerant in the system.
What Causes Refrigerator Compressor Failure?
Your refrigerator compressor might fail if it is contaminated, dry, or overheating.
Although compressors generally get weaker as they age, your refrigerator compressor might get damaged when it is not properly taken care of.
Compressors generate heat when they operate. But, sometimes, there can be spikes in temperature that lead to failure. These spikes can be due to a lack of ventilation or malfunction of other refrigerator components. Your refrigerator compressor could also be contaminated with dust, dirt, or debris that will prevent it from functioning properly.
Why is My Refrigerator Compressor Hot?
Your refrigerator compressor could be overheating for several reasons such as thermostat being set too low, or low refrigerant levels in the refrigerator.
To stop your refrigerator compressor from overheating, check the thermostat to ensure that it is well set. When your refrigerator thermostat is too low, it will become harder for the compressor to cool the refrigerator.
If you find out that the refrigerator thermostat seems to be working fine but your compressor still keeps getting hot, then turn off your refrigerator, remove perishable foods, and call a professional to examine your refrigerator.
You will need to call a professional to help you check the refrigerant levels and top it up if necessary, because of the safety risks involved.
Is it Worth Replacing My Refrigerator Compressor?
Most times, replacing your refrigerator compressor is not worth it. It is unusual for compressors to fail only a few years after buying the refrigerator, and the most common reason people experience refrigerator compressor problems is when the refrigerant level is too low. More often than not, these situations don’t require you to change the compressor.
You will only need to change your compressor when it has failed completely and will not run anymore, or when it is running very hot and the condenser fan is running well.
Sometimes, when you find out how much it will cost you to replace a refrigerator compressor, it may be wiser to buy a new refrigerator.
It is only worth it to replace your refrigerator compressor if the cost of repair or replacement has a manufacturer’s warranty on it.
Will My Refrigerator Compressor Run Without Freon?
Your refrigerator will run without Freon only if the manufacturer used a different refrigerant. More so, refrigerators need refrigerants to function. So, your refrigerator will run properly when you use the appropriate refrigerant specified by the manufacturer.
You may decide to run your refrigerator on an alternative refrigerant, but it is important to note that refrigerator performances vary depending on the type of refrigerant used.
But if you’re trying to run a refrigerator without any type of refrigerant, it will not work. A refrigerator needs a refrigerant to execute the thermodynamic cycle in order to preserve your food.
How Long Does it Take to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor?
The time it takes to replace your refrigerator compressor varies depending on the type of refrigerator you’re using. If you’re using a domestic refrigerator, it will take a long time to replace it because you may not find an easy replacement.
The replacement compressors of commercial-style refrigerators or beverage fridges are easier to find. So, it takes between 2 to 4 hours to replace them.
For industrial refrigerators with large compressors, it might take days to replace the compressors depending on the size and complexity.