Most Common Reasons for Your Refrigerator to Malfunction

Updated on May 16, 2019
Refrigeratorepair profile image

John is an expert in refrigerator repair and has been working in the field for more than five years.


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 household with an operational kitchen simply cannot do without a refrigerator. Think about the enormous chunks of food that your refrigerator can hold for days without going stale.

The benefits of 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 how essential it is. I am not saying that you don’t find a refrigerator useful when it's working properly; all I'm 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.

1. 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.

2. Over-Stuffing

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

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Compressor Motor Issue

Compressor motors tend to break down mainly due to two reasons. Firstly, in the case that 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?

See results

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Robin P. Taylor 

      22 months ago

      Can mice damage a refrigerator compressor?

    • profile image


      5 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.

    • profile image


      6 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.

    • profile image


      6 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

    • profile image


      6 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


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)