Why Does Your Refrigerator Keep Tripping The Electricity?

Appliance Express
November 9, 2020
Refrigerator Repair

Have you found that every hour or so you have the power go out in your kitchen? All you need to do is flip the circuit breaker, but after it keeps happening, things can get frustrating. This is a serious issue for all your appliances, but it can also be seen as a symptom. If your refrigerator is sufficiently full and energy efficient, it should run every hour or so. If you keep having the circuit breaker trip every hour or so, it means that the refrigerator is kicking on and when that happens, the circuit breaker trips. If this is happening, your refrigerator isn’t able to run its cooling cycle, so your food will be pretty warm as well.

Unfortunately, this isn’t just a problem that can affect your refrigerator. Certainly cold food is a priority, but if the breaker keeps tripping every hour, then it will interrupt every appliance in the kitchen, and it is hard on all of them to have the electricity cut every hour.

If you have deduced that the refrigerator is the problem, what is causing the issue and how can you fix it?

Before You Begin

The issue with your refrigerator is that it keeps shutting the electricity off, but that doesn’t mean you should get lax with the proper precautions before repair. You will want to only attempt the troubleshooting and disassembly with the refrigerator disconnected from the electricity. However, being able to plug the refrigerator on is a viable method of troubleshooting this particular issue. As such, you can keep the electricity to the kitchen on for your other appliances and for some of this testing. However, when you are disassembling your refrigerator to test the individual culprits, be sure to keep it unplugged for your own safety.

It is also worth noting that all causes of this issue are cause by an overload of electricity. This means that the circuit breaker tripped because your refrigerator was becoming a fire hazard. Ignoring the issue or trying to find other ways around it is not advised as it can be a threat to your safety.

The Compressor Relay is Faulty

If your refrigerator trips often, then it is likely due to the compressor. Every time your compressor turns on to run the cooling cycle, it will trip the breaker. When this happens, it is typically due to a grounding issue with the compressor that is causing the part to essentially become overloaded with electricity. Essentially, it means it is faulty and needs to be replaced. You can disconnect the electrical connections on the compressor and try plugging in the appliance to check or testing the compressor with a multimeter. It is worth noting that when your refrigerator is manifesting this issue, the compressor is usually the most likely suspect as it is a part that uses quite a bit of power already.

The Defrost Heater is Malfunctioning

If your refrigerator has a freezer, chances are good that in this day and age, it is a no-frost freezer. This means that it comes with a defrost heater. For units with a defrost heater, the heater will turn on, melt away frost, and drain away the liquid. Similar to a compressor, the defrost heater can trip the circuit breaker when it turns on if there is an overload.

You will want to open up the freezer, make sure it is dry, and test the defrost heater connections. In most cases, this can be easily confused with a compressor problem as they can run on a similar schedule. You can be more sure it is the defrost heater rather than the compressor by waiting for the compressor to kick on. It should turn on every 30 to 60 minutes. If the compressor is at fault, then the breaker will trip every time, rather than just sometimes. The defrost runs every 20 to 45 minutes, so it can be confusing as to which is causing the issue. However, unlike the defrost, you can clearly hear the compressor turn on. Furthermore, you can force it to run by leaving the door open. You can also test by simply unplugging the compressor or defrost heater from the circuit board.

There is an Issue With a Fan

The fan in your refrigerator is used to circulate the cold air produced in your freezer down into the fresh food section. Like the other issues, if the fan is overloading, it can cause the circuit breaker to trip. Furthermore, because it often runs with the compressor, it can be easily confused with compressor issues as well.

Unlike the compressor, the fan is typically overloaded not so much by an electrical issue. You should still test those issues, but if your fan is dirty, it can use more electricity and overload itself. This usually causes fan noise, which can be a solid indicator as well. Before you bust out the multimeter for this issue, you may want to try visually inspecting the fan to see if it is dirty.

The Thermostat is Malfunctioning

With all the other issues on this list, you will likely notice signs before they start tripping the breaker. The part in question will be loud or otherwise malfunction. However, if your refrigerator started overloading the breaker and you didn’t really notice any other symptoms, then the cause could be the thermostat. Admittedly, this is a pretty rare cause as the thermostat doesn’t use a lot of power. However, if it is the cause, then it is a straight up malfunction of the part. You will simply need to test it, and if faulty, replace it.

Any repair that has to deal with electrical issues will be a complicated one. If you haven’t been able to track down the culprit or don’t feel comfortable disassembling your refrigerator to check the issues, we can help. Sometimes, the best case is to leave the repair to the professionals. Contact us today to see what Appliance Express can do to get all your appliances fixed up fast.


Leave a Reply