Refrigerator Compressor Only Runs for a Few Minutes: Fixed

If your refrigerator compressor only runs for a few minutes before it shuts off, this detailed guide will explore how to identify the issue, understand its common causes, conduct preliminary checks, and when to seek professional help.

Refrigerator Compressor Only Runs for a Few Minutes
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Identifying the Issue

The first step in troubleshooting your refrigerator compressor issue is to recognize the symptoms. Knowing what to look for will guide you in identifying the root cause. Here are some common signs:

Fluctuating Internal Temperatures: If you notice that your food is spoiling faster than usual or your freezer isn’t keeping things frozen, it may indicate that the compressor isn’t running as it should.

Unusual Noises: Buzzing or clicking noises coming from the back of the refrigerator where the compressor is located can signal a problem.

Frequent Cycling On and Off: If the refrigerator seems to be turning off and on more frequently, it may be struggling to maintain the internal temperature.

Frost Buildup: Excessive frost in the freezer can result from temperature fluctuations caused by compressor issues.

Common Reasons Why a Refrigerator Compressor Only Runs for a Few Minutes

There are various reasons why a refrigerator compressor might run briefly and then stop. Understanding these underlying causes will help you take appropriate action. Here are detailed explanations:

Dirty Condenser Coils: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the condenser coils, affecting the refrigerator’s efficiency. When the coils are dirty, the compressor has to work extra hard, leading to overheating and shutting off.

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Overloaded Circuit: If your refrigerator is on the same circuit as other large electrical devices, the circuit may get overloaded, causing the compressor to shut down.

Faulty Thermostat: A malfunctioning thermostat can incorrectly read the internal temperatures, instructing the compressor to turn off prematurely.

Fan Issues: If the fan responsible for cooling the compressor isn’t working correctly, the compressor could overheat and shut off. This fan is generally located near the coils and compressor.

Preliminary Checks

Before you decide to consult a professional, there are some initial steps you can take to potentially resolve the problem yourself. These checks are easy to perform:

Inspect the Condenser Coils: Unplug the refrigerator, locate the condenser coils, usually on the back or bottom, and use a soft brush or vacuum to remove any dirt or debris.

You can use this 31 Inch Cleaning Brush For Dryer Lint Or Refrigerator Coil Cleaning from Walmart to clean the condenser coils.

Check Electrical Circuits: Make sure the refrigerator is the only major appliance on its electrical circuit to avoid overloading. You can refer to your home’s electrical panel to confirm this.

Listen for Noises: If you hear unusual noises like buzzing or clicking, jot them down. This information can be useful for diagnostics, either by you or a professional.

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Professional Diagnosis and Repair

When preliminary checks don’t solve the problem, or if you’re unsure of what to do next, it’s advisable to consult a certified technician. Professionals have the right tools and knowledge to accurately diagnose and resolve issues with your compressor.

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They may perform tests to check the functionality of components like the thermostat, fans, and electrical connections, and replace any faulty parts as needed.