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How To Tell if My Refrigerator Compressor Is Bad

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A functioning refrigerator compressor circulates refrigerant that keeps your food fresh. Compressor failure jeopardizes food safety, necessitating costly repairs. When diagnosing refrigerator issues, identifying the signs of a faulty compressor early will ensure that your food doesn't spoil, safeguarding time and money. In this short guide, we explain how to tell if your refrigerator compressor is bad.

Signs of a Failing Refrigerator Compressor

A poorly performing compressor can quickly disrupt your refrigerator's efficiency. Look out for these telltale indications of refrigerator compressor problems so that you can address these issues before a significant breakdown occurs.

Visual changes

Take a look at the compressor area. Telltale signs of failure include cracks, burn marks, and visible leaks. Loose wires are also a concerning sign.

Unusual Noises

Unsettling sounds such as buzzing, grinding, and knocking signal trouble. Worn bearings and increased friction inside the motor and pump of an aging compressor can cause these sounds.

Frequent Cycling

Usually, the refrigerator compressor will run for a few minutes before deactivating. But a struggling unit cycles on and off rapidly, working harder to maintain the set temperature. This continual cycling accelerates failure.

Insufficient Cooling

The compressor circulates refrigerant that absorbs interior heat. Malfunctions disrupt this process, resulting in uneven or inadequate cooling throughout the appliance. Foods spoil quicker when cooling falters.


Excessive heat radiating from the compressor housing indicates an issue. Consider causes such as low refrigerant, obstructed coils, or internal breakdowns, which can overheat and potentially damage the unit. A burning odor may accompany overheating.

Higher Energy Usage

An underperforming compressor overworks, consuming more electricity to regulate interior temperatures. An inexplicable spike in your utility bill is a warning sign that the compressor is failing. Early detection allows you to swiftly diagnose and remedy compressor problems before a replacement becomes necessary.

Checking Your Refrigerator Compressor

There are several ways you can diagnose refrigerator compressor problems.

Multimeter Testing

Unplug your refrigerator and pull off any back panel present to expose the compressor. It is usually a large black cylinder towards the base of the refrigerator. On the side of the compressor is a small component called a PTC relay. The resistance across the terminals of this relay can be tested using multimeter probes. Switch the multimeter to the ohms setting and check the measured values against manufacturer-recommended values. Usually, a reading greater than 1 ohm indicates that the compressor needs to be replaced.

Checking for noise and vibrations

Excessive noise could be coming from the refrigerator condenser or the compressor. To detect the source of any unusual noise, switch off the refrigerator and disconnect the condenser motor. Switch the appliance back on. If the noise continues the compressor is the source.

Inspecting the compressor for overheating

Carefully feel the compressor by hand to see if it is running hot. Other indicators of overheating include high utility bills food spoilage, and the inside of the refrigerator feeling less cold than expected.

Determining When To Seek Professional Help

If testing confirms a faulty compressor, a replacement is unavoidable. If you notice a refrigerant leak or your compressor is overheating, seek immediate help. You'll need a professional technician to replace the compressor, which is a tricky job involving safe evacuation of the refrigerant, swapping compressors, and recharging the system.

Don't Attempt a DIY Compressor Replacement

It's tempting to save money by handling repairs independently, but there are many potential hazards. Compressor replacement requires proper training and specialized tools. Without these, you risk exacerbating existing problems or inadvertently creating new ones. Mishandling refrigerants can lead to hazardous leaks that can damage your health and the environment. Attempting repairs yourself also increases the risk of electric shocks or short-circuiting of your appliance.

Benefits of Professional Compressor Replacement

Trained refrigeration technicians have the specialized tools and expertise for diagnosing refrigerator issues and rectifying problems affecting your compressor. This ensures repairs are correctly carried out the first time, minimizing recurring difficulties. Professionals can help you source high-quality refrigerator parts, which ensure a more durable repair and preserve appliance efficiency, reducing energy consumption and associated costs.

High-Quality Parts for a Successful Compressor Repair

Your refrigerator's compressor is a critical component. Quality original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts from Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation are vital for long-lasting performance.

Why Genuine Parts Matter

Manufacturers design genuine parts to match your refrigerator flawlessly, reducing the likelihood of future issues. Generic alternatives may seem cheaper upfront but often lead to repeated breakdowns, costing more money in the long run.

High-Quality Refrigerator Parts Bring Reliability

Engineered for durability under constant use, high-quality OEM refrigeration components can withstand the daily grind, avoiding frequent repairs and costly downtime. An investment in genuine parts provides peace of mind.

Our Online Parts Catalog

Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation makes finding the correct compressor straightforward. Look up your model or part number in our extensive online catalog. Proper identification is essential for a perfect fit and ensures a successful repair. Don't compromise for such an essential appliance. Our team's expertise and quality OEM components will ensure your refrigerator runs smoothly for years.

Our Expertise: The Key to Flawless Refrigerator Repairs

Refrigerator compressor issues demand expertise. Our team based in the Chicago area provides unparalleled knowledge of every refrigeration component. We can assist you with finding a reliable solution that's tailored to your needs.

Unmatched Industry Experience

Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation assists you with professionals with knowledge of every facet of refrigerator repair. We have an excellent reputation for supplying the trade sector with hard-to-find OEM components on an individual or wholesale basis.

Personalized Consultations

One size seldom fits all when troubleshooting appliances. We offer personalized consultations, carefully evaluating your unique situation to recommend the best parts for the job.

Comprehensive Repair Guidance

Should your compressor require replacement, search for the part you need in our detailed online database and find the information in our impressive appliance manuals library.

Keep Your Refrigerator Running Smoothly With Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation

Don't let a failing compressor derail your refrigerator's performance. Follow our tips when troubleshooting a refrigerator compressor, but don't forget to trust the professionals for complex repairs. When repairs are required, insist on our OEM components. Our online catalog provides access to manufacturer-approved parts, ensuring the lasting performance of your appliance no matter how rare it is. Visit Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation at one of our locations in the Chicago area for expert guidance and high-quality refrigerator parts. We can help you keep your refrigerator running smoothly.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash