How to troubleshoot a refrigerator with a compressor that is not running

Written by ian kelly
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How to troubleshoot a refrigerator with a compressor that is not running
If your refrigerator stops working, the compressor may be faulty. (teen with milk image by Joyce Wilkes from Fotolia.com)

If the inside of your refrigerator is warm and water starts dripping from the freezer, the compressor may have stopped working. Place a hand on the side panel to feel for vibration while listening carefully. If there is no sound coming from the back of the refrigerator, the compressor motor may be faulty or without power. The first thing you should do is verify that you have power. If the refrigerator light is off, you should carry out a number of diagnostic steps.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Electric lamp
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Scrub brush
  • Household detergent

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Plug a lamp into the refrigerator outlet and switch it on. If there is no power, check your circuit board for a tripped breaker switch. If you still don't have power, have an electrician check the circuit and carry out any necessary repairs.

    How to troubleshoot a refrigerator with a compressor that is not running
    If your refrigerator stops working, the compressor may be faulty. (teen with milk image by Joyce Wilkes from Fotolia.com)
  2. 2

    Check the temperature setting. If the refrigerator has power, someone may have turned the dial and set the temperature too low. Turn the knob clockwise in five-degree increments. If the compressor kicks on at any point, you have isolated the problem. If not, proceed to the next step.

  3. 3

    Unplug the refrigerator and move it away from the wall. Clean the condenser coils mounted on the back of the refrigerator with a vacuum cleaner fitted with a brush attachment. If there is a greasy film on the tubes, clean them with a scrub brush, household detergent and warm water. Take care not to splash water onto any wires or refrigerator components. Plug the unit back in to see if it works. If it does not, go to Step 4.

  4. 4

    Switch the power off and wait two hours. The compressor motor may have overheated, causing an internal bimetal switch to cut power to prevent motor damage. If the refrigerator does not work after waiting the required period, the compressor may be fitted with an external overload protector or the compressor itself is faulty. Do not attempt to disconnect the motor; it may be fitted with a start-up capacitor that stores a lethal charge of electricity. Call a licensed refrigerator technician to check out both components.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not attempt to test, adjust or carry out any electrical repairs if you have no experience with electrical safety requirements and/or have no electrical repair skills.
  • Wear eye protection and rubber gloves when working on refrigerator components.

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