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Why Is My Refrigerator Compressor Failing?

Appliance Parts, Repair & Service

Domestic Refrigerator Compressor Mounted On The Rear Side

Our refrigerators are crucial to everyday home life. When it comes to the food we store and cook for our families, refrigerators are there to keep items fresh and safe to eat. That is why it is so important that an unforeseen issue is resolved soon after it arises by our Grand Rapids appliance repair professionals.

So, what does it mean if you hear a strange noise coming from your fridge? In most cases, the likely culprit is none other than the compressor. While this critical part lasts longer than most, it will eventually give out and fail. Knowing why can help inform you on whether or not you are in need of a repair or a completely new refrigerator.

Continue reading to learn more about what a refrigerator compressor does and a few reasons why it may be failing.

What Is a Compressor?

You can think of a refrigerator compressor as the heart of the machine. Its primary job is to move the refrigerant, a chemical that produces a cooling effect while expanding or vaporizing, through the entire system.

It consists of both a motor and a pump and is triggered to start when the temperature inside the refrigerator rises above its set point. Because cold air often leaks out and warmer air leaks into a fridge, the temperature will rise above its set point and cause the compressor to activate. You likely do not think of your refrigerator’s compressor much, but it plays a large part in keeping it cool and preserving the food inside.

Old Age

Like anything else, compressors have a lifespan and will begin to fail. Normal wear and tear over the course of many years is expected. If you start out with a higher quality compressor, you should have more time on your side before any problems show themselves.

When your fridge is old, so is your compressor. The cost of replacing a compressor is often high and in some cases, it is better to replace the appliance completely. Our appliance repair technicians can offer guidance on what the best move is for you and how you should proceed.

Generally, you should hear a gentle humming or buzzing noise coming from the compressor. If you hear any loud noises while it is running or even a knocking or clunking noise when it shuts off, your compressor may be on its way out.

Too Much or Too Little Load

A low load on the refrigerator’s evaporator and a heavier load in the refrigerating chamber can both lead to issues with the compressor. Running an empty fridge for a longer period of time and having a lot of ice in the freezer chamber are oftentimes to blame.

This can result in the incoming refrigerant in the compressor being both in a vapor and liquid form which is a mixture it is not designed to handle. Because of this, failure can occur. On the other hand, if there is too much packed into a fridge, especially hot liquids, it can cause the amount of refrigerant to increase and your compressor to work harder, thus overheating.

Dirty Condenser Coils

For most home models, compressor coils are located either on the back of or underneath your fridge. If there is a noticeable collection of dust and debris there, it could be why performance is less than desirable.

Dirty coils can make it much more difficult for the fridge itself to cool down. An accumulation of grime can also cause your compressor to work harder than usual which equates to overheating and premature wear. Our appliance repair technicians can help clean the area for you and see if it improves the compressor’s ability to perform.

Contaminated Refrigerant

Only two substances should be working through your fridge. Those are refrigerant and oil. If anything else enters into the compressor, it is considered a contaminant and its presence can create problems. One of our repair experts will need to try and flush the system if this happens.

High Voltage Surge

A common cause of a high voltage surge is a powerful lightning strike. Surges like this are damaging to home appliances and result in a sudden spike in electrical current flowing through the fridge and its components. An excessive amount of heat will then occur and essentially fry the inner parts of the appliance, like the compressor and its relay.

Call Our Appliance Experts Today

Are you having refrigerator issues and need help getting back to normal? Our refrigerator repair technicians in Grand Rapids, MI, will inspect your appliance and after diagnosing the issue, will recommend a repair or replacement. Call Apex Appliance today at (616) 363-9894 or contact us online.

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