How to Troubleshoot a Noisy or Hot Refrigerator Compressor

All refrigerators make some noise when they’re running properly. That’s because there are working and moving parts involved. We are all familiar with the hum of the refrigerator compressor or noise a refrigerator makes when the motor kicks in to cool the inside down a bit. In certain ways, this is reassuring, as you know that your refrigerator is doing what it’s supposed to do and that your food is cool and fresh. When something does go wrong, more troubling noises appear, and that could relate to the compressor. Most people don’t know how to quiet a noisy refrigerator compressor, but we’ll share some ideas that can help.

What is a Refrigerator Compressor?

First, it may be helpful to know what a compressor is and does before delving into the details of refrigerator compressor noise and heat. compressor, in its most basic sense, is part of the nerve center that keeps your food cold. Here are a few critical components to their function:

  • The condenser coils
  • The evaporator coils
  • The expansion device
  • Fluid refrigerant

Here are steps to keep the temperature at the setting you want inside of your unit:

The compressor begins the cooling process. The compressor motor then increases the temperature of both the refrigerant gas and the pressure. From there, the gas is sent to the condenser.

  1. The condenser takes this refrigerant gas and liquifies it. This cools the refrigerant in the process, and it’s sent to the expansion valve.
  2. The expansion valve lowers the liquid’s temperature and pressure, and roughly half of it evaporates when this happens. What’s left is sent to the evaporator.
  3. The evaporator turns the refrigerant liquid back into a gas, which is sent back to the compressor, where the progression starts over.

This entire process is what leads to cool or cold temperatures, as evaporation creates this cooling. Therefore, if you’re dealing with refrigerator compressor noise, you have a problem, since the cooling process cannot take place if any of these components fail.

Common Refrigerator Compressor Problems

Your refrigerator compressor may make one of several common noises when there’s a problem. It may also become hot, but the bottom line is that you know something is wrong either because of the noise or because your refrigerator is no longer cooling. Common problems include:

  • Defective compressor
  • Bad relay switch
  • Disconnected wires
  • Refrigerator too close to the wall

Is Your Refrigerator Compressor Hot?

There are other problems, but if your refrigerator compressor is hot, it could simply mean that you should move it away from the wall a bit. If the unit is too close to the wall, the heat that comes off the motor may seize the compressor and cause it to stop working. If there is a refrigerator compressor noise, you may need to do some additional troubleshooting.

Troubleshooting a Loud Refrigerator Compressor

If your compressor is not necessarily hot but it’s making noise, you may want to consider taking some other troubleshooting steps. For example, if your food is not remaining cold and you think it has to do with your refrigerator compressor:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Pull it away from the wall or otherwise give yourself room to reach the compressor on the back.
  3. Remove the screws from the side panel of the compressor.
  4. Pull out the relay switch inside.
  5. Shake the relay switch.
  6. If it rattles, you may need to replace it.
  7. If it does not, you may need a new compressor.

Much like a lightbulb, if shaking the relay switch produces a rattle or some other noise, you may be able to get away with simply getting a new one from the store. However, you may want to consider professional help if your problem lies with the compressor itself.

How to Quiet a Refrigerator Compressor? Replace It

A bad compressor usually needs to be replaced. You will want to have a professional handle this job, as it requires skill to install a part that handles gas and pressure. As discussed above, the other components in a refrigerating system cannot properly function if one of them is not working, so you’ll want to handle this as soon as possible. A refrigerator compressor noise of any type aside from the normal soft humming should be a call to a professional for help if you’re not sure what to do.

Home Warranty of America Refrigerator Maintenance

We have refrigerator maintenance tips you can use to keep your food safe and your fridge in good shape. You may also want to consider protecting yourself with a home warranty. It is important to understand what a home warranty covers to help you avoid potentially expensive repairs.

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