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How Do You Know If Your Refrigerator Compressor Is Bad?


The compressor, categorically, is the core to the refrigeration process. Therefore, should it stop working, your refrigerator loses all functionality and the maintenance cost may prove to be more than it would to buy a new one! Now the trouble arises when there are no straight symptoms to judge the compressor’s performance.

To discover whether or not your refrigerator compressor is broken, we’ve put together a list of some of the tell tale signs to save you time and money.


Listen out for the suspecting noises:

Suppose you have just started hearing weird noises from your refrigerator, does this indicate a broken refrigerator compressor? Well, to be honest, not always and there’s a simple trick to fix this problem yourself. All you have to do is just to unplug the condenser fan and see if the noise persists.

Most of the time, this noise is from the condenser fan, which isn’t an issue. On the contrary, without the condenser connected, if you can still hear the noise, you may need to seek professional help. As this shows that there’s something wrong with the compressor and quick maintenance can save you from spending a fortune.

Humming noise:

Since we are discussing the compressor noises, the humming noise that we are used to listening to coming out of our refrigerators is completely natural. 

On the other hand, if for instance you don’t hear any humming noise, pull your refrigerator away from the wall, and listen closely, as an absence of humming means a broken refrigerator compressor.

How to check if the refrigerator compressor is broken?

Before seeking expert help, consider following our guide so you can make your own assessment find out whether your refrigerator compressor is broken.

Step 1:

Unplug the refrigerator. This step goes without saying, however as the compressor lies deep in the back panel of the refrigerator. Messing with such an internal part with the electric supply is not recommended.

Step 2:

Pull the refrigerator away from the wall. When refrigerators are at little distance to the wall or the floor itself, this can produce vibrations that we may mistakenly take for humming noises caused by your compressor. This can result in thinking that the the compressor is working fine when it’s not.

Step 3:

Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the side panel housing of the compressor. Locating the side panel isn’t that difficult, as it is secured to your fridge typically by four screws. You may start first with the screws to loosen them up and then remove the side panel plate.

This is an easy task for a beginner but in case if your refrigerator has a in-built side panel or you can’t find it, we’d suggest looking for professional help. A certified fridge technician can not only find the side panel but also proficiently diagnose the reason for an improperly-working compressor.

Step 4:

Locate the starter relay and unplug it from the compressor. Once you have opened the side panel, you’ll notice a starter relay switch at the bottom of the panel. More or less, this refrigeration device looks like a printer’s ink cartridge. Simply go ahead and unplug it from the compressor. This can be a sure fire way of identifying the current state of the compressor and to reassure yourself whether the compressor needs any further maintenance.

This brings us to the final step of the self-analysis.

Step 5:

Shake the relay and listen for a rattling noise. If you hear any sort of rattling noise from the switch, this depicts an issue with the starter relay. Furthermore, if the relay doesn’t produce any sound, this is a good sign that the switch is fine. However, this could mean that it is not the starter relay but the compressor that is disrupting the refrigeration process and you should therefore seek expert advice.

Final thoughts:

In essence, finding out if the refrigerator compressor is broken can be tricky but there are a few simple checks you can make to diagnose these problems yourself. However, if the problem persists, it’d be worth seeking further professional advice.

How Do You Know If Your Refrigerator Compressor Is Bad? 1

Daniel Laney

Daniel Laney spent fourteen years working on appliances, such as refrigerators, and created Refrigerator Planet to give you an applicable, working knowledge on how to purchase, repair, and maintain your refrigerator.

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