Refrigerator Won’t Stop Running? Here’s What to Do

Appliance Express
June 7, 2021
Refrigerator Repair

If your refrigerator won’t stop running, it could be one or more faulty components within your fridge that are causing it. To help you find the cause and fix it, we have put together this guide for you. Simply check each component listed below, and you should be able to find the culprit and fix it.

Check the Freezer Temperature

The first thing to check is the temperature of your freezer. If the freezer is above 10 degrees Fahrenheit (-12 degrees Celsius), your refrigerator won’t be able to cool down enough and will keep running.

Here’s how to make sure the freezer temperature is not the problem:

  1. Make sure that the freezer temperature is set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 to -15 degrees Celsius).
  2. If the freezer is set to the correct temperature but the thermostat says it’s above those set temperatures, then check the condenser coils (see below).

Condenser Coils are Dirty

The next component to check is the condenser coils. The condenser coils help to dissipate the heat from the refrigerator when it is running. If the coils become dirty or covered in ice, the refrigerator won’t be able to cool down as quickly, and the refrigerator will run for longer than it should.

To check the condenser coils:

  1. Turn the refrigerator off and pull it out from the wall.
  2. Locate the condenser coils underneath the refrigerator.
  3. Check if they are dirty or covered in ice. If dirty, give them a good clean and vacuum up the dust around them. If covered in ice, you’ll need to defrost them.
  4. Once cleaned or defrosted, you can turn your refrigerator back on and see if the problem is solved.

Condenser Fan Motor

After checking the condenser coils and cleaning them, the next component to check is the condenser fan motor. The condenser fan motor helps to push air over the coils to help them cool down. When it becomes faulty, frost and ice on the coils will not melt.

Checking the condenser fan motor is simple:

  1. Make sure the refrigerator is still turned off.
  2. Locate the condenser fan under the refrigerator (it will most likely be near the back).
  3. Remove the access panel around it, and check to see if the fan is obstructed from turning around. If so, remove whatever is obstructing it, and put the access panel back on.
  4. Check if the problem has been solved. If your refrigerator still won’t stop running, check the next component in this guide.

Defrost Heater

The purpose of the defrost heater is to turn it on several times a day to help melt away any frost or ice that has accumulated on the evaporator coils. When it becomes faulty, frost and ice will build up in your refrigerator and cause the refrigerator to run constantly to try to defrost it.

Here’s how to check the heater:

  1. Turn the refrigerator off and then locate the defrost heater.
  2. Use a multimeter to test it for continuity.
  3. If the test shows continuity, it is working fine, and you can move on to checking the next component. However, if it doesn’t have continuity, you’ll need to replace it.

Defrost Thermostat

The defrost thermostat tells the defrost heater to turn on when it needs to so that it can help melt any frost or ice in the refrigerator unit. When it becomes faulty, the defrost heater won’t know when to turn on, and this will cause your refrigerator to keep running.

Here’s how to check the defrost thermostat:

  1. Make sure that the refrigerator power is still switched off.
  2. Locate the defrost thermostat and use the multimeter to check it for continuity.
  3. The test should show that it has continuity when the thermostat reaches the lowest level of its operating range.
  4. If the test shows no continuity, it will need to be replaced; if it passes the test, you can move on to checking the next component.

Defrost Control Board

If you’ve checked both the defrost heater and the defrost thermostat and replaced them if required (or they were working correctly) but the coils are still getting covered in ice and frost, then it might be a faulty defrost control board. The control board is difficult to test, so it’s easier to just replace it and then see if that solves the problem.

Door Gasket

If you still haven’t found the cause of the problem, the next component to check is the door gasket. The door gasket makes sure that the refrigerator door closes firmly and stops any air from escaping. When it becomes faulty, cold air will escape, and your refrigerator will have to run constantly to keep it cool.

To check the door gasket:

  1. Locate the gasket (on the door).
  2. Check for any signs of wear and tear. You should also check if the door is closed tightly by placing a piece of paper between the door and the seal. If the door is tightly closed, you won’t be able to pull the piece of paper out. However, if the door isn’t closed correctly, the piece of paper will be able to be pulled out.
  3. If the gasket is faulty, you’ll need to replace it.

Evaporator Fan Motor

The next component to check is the evaporator fan motor. Depending on the specific model of your refrigerator it will have one or more fan motors. The purpose of the fan that it powers is to circulate cold air from the coils to the freezer compartment. When it becomes faulty, the refrigerator will stay on to try to get the temperature in the refrigerator lower.

To check the evaporator fan motor:

  1. Locate the evaporator fan in your freezer.
  2. Remove the housing so you can access the fan and the fan motor.
  3. Make sure that the fan can turn around the whole way. Next, use a multimeter to check the motor coil for continuity (you may have to unscrew the fan motor and remove it from the refrigerator to do this).
  4. If the fan motor doesn’t have continuity or if the fan cannot move around freely, you’ll need to replace it. If it does have continuity and can move around freely, then it is working correctly.

Defrost Timer

Another possible cause of your refrigerator running non-stop is a faulty defrost timer. The defrost timer tells the defrost heater when to turn on; when it becomes faulty, the heater won’t turn on, and frost and ice will build up. This causes your refrigerator to keep running.

To check the defrost timer you need to:

  1. Locate the defrost timer.
  2. Check if it is advancing around its cycle correctly. It should eventually advance to “defrost,” and this activates the heater.
  3. If it doesn’t advance, this means it’s defective and needs to be replaced.

Main Control Board

The final component that may be faulty is the main control board. If it is faulty, it will prevent the system from going into a defrost cycle. The main control board doesn’t become faulty very often, so make sure you’ve checked all of the other components in this guide first. It’s also a very difficult component to test, so if you’ve tried everything else and still haven’t solved the problem, you should consider replacing the main control board.


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