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My refrigerator will not turn off

Updated February 21, 2017

A continually running refrigerator is a noisy and costly appliance malfunction. Check for mechanical failures or misconfiguration on a refrigerator whose compressor will not disengage or will not stop cooling once a specific temperature has been met. This may be as simple as the temperature setting, or a more complicated problem with the compressor. Check these issues before calling a service technician for possible lower repair costs and faster recovery time for the refrigerator.

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Temperature Settings

Check whether the freezer and the main cooling compartment are both over-cooling. If there's only one compartment within the appliance that is not shutting down, verify that the thermostat for that portion is set to the correct temperature. Many refrigerators have independent temperature controls. This allows for independent temperatures within the appliance; however, many consumers are not used to this feature and leave one portion of the unit on a setting that requires constant cooling to maintain.

Thermostat

If both thermostats are set correctly and the appliance will still not stop cooling, there could be a thermostat failure within the appliance. This failure prevents the cooling system from shutting off, leading to a constantly running refrigerator. These thermostats are internal devices that are best left to a professional technician to repair. This type of failure is commonly covered under a manufacturer's warranty or point of purchase warranty.

Compressor Won't Disengage

When the compressor of a cooling system will not disengage, it's indicative of a problem within either the compressor or the cooling system itself. Though refrigerators are designed to keep food cold or frozen, they are actually very weak cooling systems. This is because unlike an air conditioner that cools a house there is no object within the appliance actively generating heat. This means the cooling system is quite weak in terms of heat moved from the appliance. The compressor may remain engaged to attempt to maintain the temperature when the door seal on the unit is broken or the compressor itself is damaged.

Low Refrigerant

As with all cooling systems there's a refrigerant medium used to convey heat to the outside of the refrigerator. If there's a leak in the cooling system, this medium will leak out slowly causing the compressor to constantly run and leading to substandard temperatures within the appliance. This problem is easily fixed by a heating and cooling technician. Do-it-yourself repair in this instance is discouraged as these cooling systems use high pressure gases and high voltage electrical circuitry.

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About the Author

Gabriel Dockery began writing in 2009, with his work published on various websites. He is working toward a Bachelor of Science in neuroscience in a transfer program between Ivy Tech College and Indiana State University.

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