Most Common Reasons for Your Refrigerator to Malfunction

Updated on November 9, 2016

A refrigerator is undoubtedly one of the most used pieces of equipment in your house. In modern times living without a refrigerator is unthinkable. Any normal house hold with an operational kitchen cannot simply do without a refrigerator. Think about the enormous chunks of food and eatables that your refrigerator can hold for days without going stale. The benefits driven from a refrigerator often go unnoticed as most of us take this piece of machinery for granted. It is only when a refrigerator fails to function when you come to realize its essentiality. I am not saying that you don’t find a refrigerator useful when its working properly, all I and trying to convey is that you only get to realize how useful a product it is when its services are no longer there to be utilized.

Like any other equipment refrigerators also may fail to function at times, here are a few common reasons that might cause your refrigerator to break down.

Free running

You may have noticed that refrigerator manuals often have instructions regarding the free running of your unit for the first few hours (or the time specified in the manual) after you plug in a new unit. What does that mean? You see, the new unit although it must have been tested for all functionalities in the manufacturing facility is still raw for handling a full load of stuff. So running idle for a few hours makes the refrigerator ready for taking on a capacity load. So if you are thinking of getting a new refrigerator do keep this in mind and avoid the risk of refrigerator repair early on.

Over stuffing

Refrigerators are built to bear specified quantity of food to be stored in them (refer to user manual). The problem arises when you over stuff them. It puts extra load on the compressor motor and as a result your refrigerator compressor may break down causing you a lot of botheration and of course some costly refrigerator repair especially if the unit is past the warranty period.

Old models

If you own an old refrigerator it is more prone to breaking down. Just like any other piece of machinery refrigerators too tend to slack on performance over longer periods of time.

Frayed cabling

Another common reason that may cause your refrigerator to stop functioning is frayed cabling. This is probably the easiest of refrigerator related problems once the location of the faulty cabling is identified.

Refrigerant leakage

Sometimes the refrigerant or the cooling agent used in refrigerators leaks and your refrigerator just stops cooling. The only solution to this problem is to get a professional refrigerator repair service to plug the leak and refill the refrigerant according to your unit’s standard.

Compressor motor issue

Compressor motors tend to break down mainly due to two reasons firstly in case your refrigerator is too old and the motor has probably ended its useful life, secondly the compressor motor may become over heated in case of heavy usage (due to over stuffing as discussed earlier) and stop functioning.

Have you ever repair your Refrigerator by yourself?

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Questions & Answers


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        asdf 3 years ago

        No mention of the condenser coil 'hot side' getting stopped up with dust and burning up the compressor? I would say that is the number one cause of fridge failures.

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        fixitman 3 years ago

        If it sounds like it's stalling, just makes a very lead humming noise, look for the plastic piece on the compressor where the wires connect. It should be roughly 25mm dia. There is a ceramic disc inside that is the equivalent of a timer. If it breaks, the compressor won't start.

        They can fail from getting hot.

        I you take it off and it sounds like more than one piece rattling inside when you shake it, replace that part.

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        Ricky 3 years ago

        good day. I have a refrigerator that was damaged in flood (sea water) however the mother board top n bottom were changed. once connected directly the compressor comes on however when connected n attempts to turn on under normal circumstances the compressor seem not to switch on can u help

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        Kerimil 4 years ago

        I made a few videos on some aspects of repairing fridges:

        Here's how to test the windings

        and here hot to test a PTC relay (starting relay)

        Hope you find them useful. If you have any questions feel free to ask