Refrigerator Maintenance: Refrigerator Compressor Repair

Updated: Jul. 21, 2023

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.

Plus, these are the appliance repairs you don’t need to call a pro for.

Try a New Overload or Compressor:

how to test a refrigerator compressorFamily Handyman

A refrigerator that makes a buzzing or humming sound but doesn’t keep the food cold may have:

  • A blown compressor (big bucks);
  • Or just a bad overload or compressor relay (much cheaper).

We had this exact problem with a refrigerator and called Costas Stavrou, our appliance consultant. Here’s a bunch of other refrigerator repair tips.

Avoid an Expensive Service Call with These Tips:

To avoid an expensive service call, Costas suggested we 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 we plugged it back in, the problem returned. So he suggested we buy an overload and a compressor relay (or a universal relay kit) from the appliance parts store and install it (see photo above). If that did the trick, it was just a $30 fix.

Unfortunately, our compressor noise returned, meaning it was toast. We had to buy a new refrigerator, but at least we didn’t waste money on a service call. Instead we applied that money toward a new fridge.

Up next, learn all of the simple fixes for common appliance problems.