Refrigerator Maintenance: Refrigerator Compressor Repair

Simple fixes can save big bucks, especially with a compressor repair

Do these tests for 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. Read on to learn how to test a refrigerator compressor.

Try a new overload or compressor:

how to test a refrigerator compressorFamily Handyman

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 (refrigerator compressor cost is about $20).

I had this exact problem with a refrigerator and called Costas Stavrou, our appliance consultant.

To avoid an expensive service call, Costas suggested I first try pulling the fridge away from the wall, unplugging it and removing the service panel for about 20 minutes to allow enough time for the compressor to cool and any onboard 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 above). Then plug it back in to see if the problem is gone.

If the problem went away, it would be a $20 refrigerator compressor cost 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.

Required Tools for this Compressor Repair Project:

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

  • 4-in-1 screwdriver
  • Slip joint pliers
  • Socket/ratchet set
Required Materials for this Compressor Repair Project:

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

  • Compressor relay
  • Overload relay

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