John is an expert in refrigerator repair and has been working in the field for more than five years.
What Can Damage a Refrigerator?
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.
6 Most Common Causes of Refrigerator Failure
- Free Running
- Old Models
- Frayed Cabling
- Refrigerant Leakage
- Compressor Motor Issue
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.
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 overstuffing as discussed earlier) and stop functioning.
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.
Robin P. Taylor on September 20, 2018:
Can mice damage a refrigerator compressor?
asdf on January 27, 2015:
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.
fixitman on June 14, 2014:
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.
Ricky on June 13, 2014:
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
Kerimil on September 15, 2013:
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