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Refrigerator Maintenance: Refrigerator Compressor Repair

Refrigerator problem? It could be the compressor (expensive!) but before you call the repair service, try these simple repairs. The problem may just be a bad overload or compressor relay.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

Refrigerator Maintenance: Refrigerator Compressor Repair

Refrigerator problem? It could be the compressor (expensive!) but before you call the repair service, try these simple repairs. The problem may just be a bad overload or compressor relay.

Do these tests

A refrigerator that makes a buzzing or humming sound and doesn’t keep the food cold may have a blown compressor (big bucks) or just a bad overload or compressor relay (about $20).

I had this exact problem with a refrigerator and called Costas Stavrou, our appliance consultant. To avoid n expensive service call, Costas suggested I first try unplugging the refrigerator for about 20 minutes to allow enough time for the compressor to cool and any on-board computers to reset. When I plugged it back in, the problem returned. So he suggested I buy both an overload and a compressor relay (or a universal relay kit) from the appliance parts store and install it (see photo). If the problem went away, it would be a $20 fix. Unfortunately, my compressor noise returned (meaning it was toast). I had to buy a new refrigerator, but at least I didn’t have to waste money on a service call. Instead I applied that money toward a new fridge.

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Required Tools for this Project

Have the necessary tools for this DIY project lined up before you start—you’ll save time and frustration.

    • Socket/ratchet set
    • 4-in-1 screwdriver
    • Slip joint pliers

Required Materials for this Project

Avoid last-minute shopping trips by having all your materials ready ahead of time. Here's a list.

    • Overload
    • Compressor relay

Comments from DIY Community Members

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1 - 5 of 5 comments
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May 09, 9:43 PM [GMT -5]

i think if you are going to show the basics of refrigerator compress trouble-shooting , you should include resistance checks on the three elements of the compressor windings

July 06, 11:50 AM [GMT -5]

Refrigerators are an important part of our lives. It keeps our food fresh. So when it breaks, what do you do. To make it the as least expensive as possible, why not repair it? It is cheaper and much more convenient. All you need to know is which part needs to be replaced. at http://www.topapplianceparts.com/ one can find the parts for repair. So the next time you are looking for Top Quality Parts at the Best Price, visit our website at http://www.topapplianceparts.com/.

June 19, 8:43 AM [GMT -5]

Very Helpful Hints and important Tips! thaks familyhandyman, we are also a repair provider from india and we provide the solution of fridge to our customers in india at their doorstep. We are very thankful to you about your contents.

Great job!
Sahara Service - http://www.saharaservice.com

January 22, 7:54 AM [GMT -5]

I have the same problem. Ordered a new relay and will see if that fixes it. I used http://www.partselect.com/. Once you enter the model number the parts diagram and schematics comes up. Selecting a part shows you a variety of problems that may match your issue. I thought it was handy.

November 11, 7:35 PM [GMT -5]

What if you open the freezer and examine the coils and the fan system there and find frost? Is that the tell tale sign of dead condenser?

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