Refrigerator Compressor Running Problems [Solved]

Encountering refrigerator compressor running problems can be challenging to handle, especially if you are unsure what to do.

Refrigerator Compressor Running Problems
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Refrigerator Compressor and Fan Not Running – Solution

If you find that the compressor and fan on your refrigerator are not running, replace the start relay and the fan motor.

The relay enables the compressor to run by providing a power boost when the motor is starting. If the relay fails, the compressor will not start. Even if it starts, it may run on and off in short intervals.

First, remove the relay and shake it. When you shake it, there should be no rattle. But if the relay rattles, it is defective. And if it smells as if it is burnt, replace the relay. However, if it does not rattle or smell burnt, check for continuity between the terminals using a multimeter. If you find no continuity, replace the relay.

The condenser fan is responsible for cooling the compressor and condenser coils. The failure of the fan may cause the compressor to overheat and stop running. Clean the fan blades and check for any obstruction. It may be that the blades are restricted from spinning, thereby keeping the fan from running.

When you verify that the blades are clean and unobstructed, turn them to check their functionality. If they spin well, the fan may not be faulty. But if they are stiff, the motor bearings may have worn out.

To determine it for sure, take a multimeter and check the motor for continuity. If there is no continuity, replace the motor.

When the fan begins to work, and you replace the relay, plug the refrigerator back into the wall receptacle and give it time to power up. The compressor should start running, along with the fan. However, if the compressor fails to start, there are a few other things to check.

1. Cold Control Thermostat

Check the fresh food compartment, and you will find the temperature control housing. The thermostat is usually inside it. Turn the knob of the thermostat to the highest point and wait for a click. If the click does not come, check the thermostat for continuity.

Unplug the refrigerator and, using a multimeter, check the thermostat for continuity. Turn the thermostat towards the lowest temperature point, and as you do so, its contacts should close. Then, you will find continuity between its terminals. If the component does not register any continuity between its terminals, replace it.

The cold control is responsible for supplying power to the fan circuit and compressor when the refrigerator needs cooling. So if the compressor and fan fail to run, the problem may originate from the cold control. Replacing it may fix the problem permanently.

2. Electronic Control Board

If you have a newer refrigerator model of any brand, it may have an electronic board. The board governs the functions of the defrost system, compressor, temperature, and fans. But the board is usually an expensive and complex part to troubleshoot. So, it helps to verify that it is receiving power, the compressor has no power coming to it, and the controls on the refrigerator are in good working condition before replacing it.

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power before checking the control board. And once you get to the board, check for burnt wiring, arcing, or damaged foil. If you find any, the board is likely damaged and needs a replacement.

Finally, consider the compressor if replacing the cold control thermostat and control board does not get the compressor up and running again. There may be internal damages, and only a compressor replacement will solve the problem.

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If you have the DIY skills to replace the refrigerator compressor, it will save you some money. Otherwise, hire a licensed technician to fix it, which is our recommended step to take.

Refrigerator Compressor Always Running – How to Fix

The internal temperature of the refrigerator is rising. And because the compressor senses this temperature rise, it constantly runs to cool the unit. So, the following are refrigerator components to check if the compressor runs all the time:

1. Condenser Coils

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and move it for easy access to the coils. Some refrigerators have coils behind the bottom front grille. Inspect them, and if they are dirty, clean them thoroughly using a condenser coil cleaning brush or a vacuum cleaner.

Clean the floor to remove the debris from the coils. Ensure the coils are clean before turning the refrigerator back on. Repeat the cleaning routine every six to twelve months.

Significantly dirty condenser coils keep the refrigerator from cooling. They cannot release heat from the refrigerant, and over time, the refrigerator’s temperature begins to rise. The compressor constantly runs to lower the temperature.

2. Evaporator Fan

Unplug the refrigerator and remove the rear wall inside the freezer compartment. The fan is attached to the wall or panel, so move it gently. Check for ice around the fan, and f there is, thaw the fan with a dryer or steamer. Ensure you move the dryer around, so the heat does not melt plastic refrigerator parts.

If the fan has bent or broken blades, it is easy to replace the blades. But if the motor does not seem to be running, check its windings for continuity using a multimeter. If the motor windings show no continuity, replace the motor.

The fan spreads cold air in the refrigerator after drawing the air over the evaporator coils. If the fan is defective, the refrigerator won’t cool. As a result, the compressor begins to run in order to maintain a cool temperature constantly.

3. Condenser Fan

Keep the refrigerator unplugged and find the condenser fan next to the compressor. Clean every part of the fan and check for damages on the blades and motor. If the blades are bent, don’t try to straighten them; simply replace them.

But if there is no visible damage, take a multimeter and check the motor for continuity. If the motor does not have continuity, replace the motor.

The fan cools the condenser coils and compressor, so they don’t overheat and affect the cooling capacity of the refrigerator. If the fan fails, the compressor will run longer than necessary as it tries to cool the refrigerator.

4. Door Seal

Sudden frost buildup in different parts of the freezer and refrigerator compartments is a clear sign that the doors are not closing fully. So, check the items in the freezer and refrigerator for frost or ice. If you find any, it points to the fact that warm air is entering the unit.

Start with the seal. Make sure it is clean and sealing tightly. Also, ensure it is not loose. Close the door on a dollar bill. The bill cannot come out if the seal is working correctly. If you are able to pull the bill out, replace the seal.

But if the seal seems to be working, clean it with soap and water. Dirt keeps it from tightly sealing, thereby letting warm air into the refrigerator. The same applies if the seal is loose. So you will find the refrigerator not cooling and the compressor running non-stop to cool it.

5. Defrost Timer

While the refrigerator is still unplugged, find the defrost timer. The location will depend on the refrigerator brand you own but it may be behind the front bottom kickplate, behind the refrigerator, or on the control housing inside the unit. Your user manual will inform you of the location.

When you find it, run a continuity test on it if the timer is the electrical type. Use a multimeter for the test. If there is no continuity, replace the timer. But if it is the mechanical type, turn the timer using a flat-head screwdriver until there is a click. The heater should turn on at this point. If the heater does not turn on, replace the timer.

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The compressor turns off a few times daily as the timer advances the system into a defrost cycle. If the timer stops working, the compressor continues running without stopping.

6. Defrost Thermostat

Find the defrost thermostat on top of the evaporator coils. Using a multimeter, run a continuity test on it. If you find no continuity, replace the thermostat.

If the thermostat becomes defective, it may not close contacts for the heater to turn on. Consequently, the cooling coils freeze, there is no cold air, and the refrigerator stops cooling. Then, the compressor continues running to cool the unit. The same applies if the heater does not turn off.

7. Defrost Heater

Find the defrost heater under the evaporator coils. Remove it and test it for continuity using a multimeter. If the heater doesn’t have continuity, replace it. A faulty heater leaves the cooling coils frozen, which leads to the refrigerator’s inability to cool. And if it stops cooling, the compressor starts running non-stop.

8. Compressor

A faulty compressor will run constantly or not at all. If the compressor always runs and is noisy, it may be an indication that it has internal damages. Hire a licensed technician to check the compressor and recommend the best solution.

A refrigerator compressor should not run all the time. At most, it should run 80% of the time, and this is for newer refrigerator models.

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Refrigerator Compressor Fan Not Running – Quick Fix

If the condenser fan beside the compressor is not running, check the blades, motor windings, and continuity.

To check the motor, disconnect the refrigerator from electric power. Turn the blades with your hand to check how well they turn. If they are stiff, it may be that the shaft is not lubricated or the bearings are stuffed with dirt.

Apply some penetrating oil and try the blades again. If they still don’t turn well, it may mean the motor is bad and needs a replacement. Before replacing it, take a multimeter and test the motor for continuity.

Set the switch of the meter to Ohms or R X 1, depending on the type of multimeter you are using. Put the probes of the meter into the motor leads connector, between the white and black wires. If the meter shows O.L, replace the motor because it is faulty. A functional motor will show somewhere between 10 and 30 Ohms.

But if the motor’s reading is correct, then test the continuity between the green wire and the other wires. This time, the meter should show O.L if the motor is in good working condition. If you get any readings other than O.L, replace the motor.

However, if the motor checks out fine, there may be a loose connection. With the multimeter, check for continuity between the wires’ ends as they are connected to the fan motor. To find the points for testing, use the tech sheet taped to the refrigerator’s back or fixed inside the compartment for the compressor.

Refrigerator Compressor Only Runs for a Few Seconds – Solved

Check the power cord, condenser coils, thermostat, and start relay of the refrigerator if the compressor only runs briefly before shutting off.

1. Power Cord

Disconnect the refrigerator from power and check the cord. If it is frayed, worn, or broken, the refrigerator won’t run smoothly. You will find the compressor starting and shutting off within seconds. The same applies if there is loose wiring not visible to your eyes.

If you are not sure of the state of the power cord, it helps to replace it; it is usually not expensive. And if the replacement fixes the compressor issue, you know the origin of the problem.

2. Condenser Coils

The coils, when they are dirty, become unable to dissipate heat. As a result, the compressor becomes overloaded and shuts down frequently to protect itself. Check the coils and clean them if they are dirty. Ensure you repeat the cleaning routine every six months to keep the coils in top shape.

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Also, clean the compressor and fan while cleaning the coils. It helps to check the drip pan. If it is too full and overflowing, empty and clean it before restoring power to the refrigerator. All these contribute to the smooth running of the compressor.

3. Thermostat

Incorrectly adjusting the thermostat leads to the compressor starting and shutting off quickly. The thermostat signals the compressor to run depending on the internal temperature it senses from the refrigerator. So, check the setting of the thermostat to ensure it is low. If it is not, set it low and wait for the compressor to start.

4. Start Relay

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and remove the start relay from the compressor. If the relay sounds as if it has a loose internal part, replace it. But if it looks to be in good condition, take a multimeter and check it for continuity. Replace the relay if it shows no continuity.

The start relay powers the compressor anytime it starts. If the relay stops working, you will hear the compressor starting and shutting off repeatedly, sometimes making a clicking noise.

Refrigerator Compressor Running But Not Cooling – How to Fix

Try resetting the compressor if the refrigerator compressor is running but not cooling. To reset it, disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and leave it without power for some minutes. Then, turn the temperature control to 0 or Off.

Reconnect the refrigerator to electric power and set the temperature control to the desired setting. A mid-point setting is usually recommended. Finally, allow 24 hours to pass so the refrigerator can adjust to the new setting.

If the reset does not fix the problem, check the following:

1. Temperature Setting

Ensure the temperature is set to the correct point. If you have digital controls, set the temperature in the refrigerator to 37 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Incorrect settings can keep the refrigerator from cooling and the compressor constantly running and becoming hot in the process.

2. Evaporator Coils

Unplug the refrigerator from the wall outlet and check the coils behind the rear panel inside the freezer. If there is an accumulation of frost on them, they won’t be able to release cold air for the refrigerator. Thaw the coils by defrosting the unit manually or use a dryer to melt the ice. Then, troubleshoot the defrost system if the refrigerator should defrost automatically. Make sure all the frost melts before plugging the refrigerator back into the wall outlet.

3. Evaporator Fan

After checking the coils, check the fan; they are in the same location. Make sure the blades are not bent or broken; replace them if they are. Also, ensure there is no ice around the fan and if there is, allow the refrigerator to defrost manually by unplugging the refrigerator and leaving the doors open.

But if the blades are working well, turn them to check the motor. If they don’t spin well, the motor may be faulty. A loud noise from the motor is also an indication that it is faulty. However, if none of these applies, run a continuity test on the motor using a multimeter. If there is no continuity, replace the fan motor.

The evaporator fan spreads cold air inside the refrigerator. So if you find the compressor running hot and the unit not cooling, the fan may be out. Replacing the fan may fix the problem.

4. Condenser Fan

Clean the blades and check the functionality of the motor by turning the blades. If they are stiff, the motor bearings may be worn. Run a continuity test on the motor using a multimeter, and if the motor shows no continuity, replace it.

5. Refrigerant

The refrigerant may be low, causing the refrigerator to not cool and the compressor to run hot. However, you may not be able to check the refrigerant level or determine the location of the leak. Therefore, hire a professional to check the unit, find the leak, and fix it permanently.

6. Compressor

The compressor itself may be damaged. If it runs continuously and is hot yet the refrigerator does not cool, consider replacing the motor. But before deciding, let a qualified technician check the compressor to find the origin of the problem.


If you are having refrigerator compressor running problems, this article is a guide to fix the problems. It highlights the common running problems for easy referral and solutions.

However, if your refrigerator compressor running problems don’t appear in this article, contact the manufacturing brand of the unit and report the issue. As an alternative, we can connect you to an appliance technician for immediate assistance.

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