Refrigerator Compressor Hot? How to Fix It

Appliance Express
June 7, 2021
Refrigerator Repair

If you’re looking for the reason why your refrigerator’s compressor is hot, you’re in the right place.

There are five common reasons why a fridge compressor overheats. In this article, we will explain each one and then show you how you can fix them.

Let’s get started.

Evaluate the Location of the Fridge

The first thing to check is the easiest and also most obvious. Sometimes the compressor can overheat simply because your fridge is in the wrong location. What do we mean by the wrong location? That it is in direct sunlight, which causes the compressor to get too hot.

If the sun is shining in through a window and directly onto your compressor or even if it shines onto the fridge (which causes the compressor to have to work harder to keep the fridge cool), then this will make the compressor overheat.

To solve this problem, all you need to do is move your fridge to a different location or block the window so the sun cannot come through it.

Inspect the Compressor Unit

If the location of your fridge is not the cause of the problem, the next step is to give the compressor unit an inspection to check if any of its parts are faulty and causing it to overheat.

The compressor works by compressing the refrigerant and then helping it to circulate. When it gets worn out, it will need to work much harder to do its job, and this causes it to overheat.

Checking the compressor unit should only be done by a qualified technician, as many of the parts in the compressor can be dangerous to work with.

Here’s how to check the compressor:

  1. Make sure the power is turned off to your refrigerator, and pull it out from the wall.
  2. Remove the lower back panel and locate the compressor.
  3. Check the coils to see if they are frozen or dirty. If so, give them a good clean.
  4. Use a multimeter to test the continuity between the electrical pins on the side of the compressor. If your test shows an open circuit, the compressor is likely defective and will need to be replaced by an experienced technician. If they have continuity, then this shows that the compressor is working ok.
  5. If you do replace the compressor or find that the coils are dirty or frozen, you need to test if the problem has been solved by plugging the fridge back in and then monitoring the compressor to see if it still overheats or not. If it doesn’t overheat, the problem has been solved; however, if the problem persists, you need to move on to checking the next component.

Check the Temperature Control Thermostat

The next possible cause of the compressor getting too hot is a faulty temperature control thermostat. The thermostat directs voltage to the evaporator fan motor, the compressor, and the condenser fan motor. When it becomes faulty, your compressor might overheat.

To check the temperature control thermostat, you need to:

  1. Find the thermostat inside the fridge (consult your manual if necessary).
  2. Try to manually turn the thermostat from the lowest setting to the highest setting. When turning the thermostat, you should be able to hear a “click” sound.
  3. If you can hear the click sound, this is a good sign the thermostat is working correctly, and you can move on to checking the next component.
  4. If you don’t hear the click sound, then you need to remove the thermostat and test it with your multimeter.
  5. If the thermostat has continuity, it is working fine, and if not, it needs to be replaced.
  6. Once you’ve replaced the thermostat, you need to turn your fridge back on and check if the problem has been solved. If not, move on to checking the evaporator fan.

Check the Evaporator Fan

The next component to check is the evaporator fan. Depending on the exact model of your refrigerator, there will either be one or multiple evaporator fans. When they become faulty, your compressor will overheat.

To check the evaporator fan, you need to:

  1. While the fridge is turned on and operating, check to see if you can hear a loud noise coming from the compressor fan (it’s in the freezer compartment). If it is not noisy, you will need to investigate the evaporator fan further. If it is noisy, this is a good sign it is defective, and you need to replace it.
  2. Turn the power off to your refrigerator at the wall, or flip the circuit breaker.
  3. Locate the evaporator fan, remove the fan cover, and attempt to manually turn the fan blade around.
  4. If the fan won’t turn the whole way around, this means it is likely to be faulty and will have to be replaced.
  5. If the fan can move around freely, the next step is to check the fan motor with a multimeter (you will need to remove the motor to do this).
  6. If the test shows continuity, it is fine, so you can reconnect it to your fridge. However, if the test shows it doesn’t have continuity, it will need to be replaced.
  7. Once you have replaced the fan motor, you can turn your fridge back on and see if the problem has been solved. If not, move on to the last component.

Refrigerant Leaks

The compressor takes the refrigerant and pressurizes it so it can circulate it through the fridge’s closed-loop cooling system. For the system to work correctly, it needs to have the correct amount of refrigerant in it. If there is any leak (no matter how small) in the system, then the whole system will fail to work, and your compressor will overheat.

If you think that refrigerant might be leaking, then you will need to get a qualified technician to check your cooling system. If they find leaks, they can usually solder them up if they are small, or you might have to completely replace your cooling system. However, depending on the age of your fridge, it might be a better option to just purchase a new one.


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