What To Do If Your Fridge Compressor Overheating?

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Troubleshooting an Overheating Fridge Compressor

Have you noticed that your refrigerator is not cooling as it should? Is your fridge compressor emitting excessive heat?

Dealing with an overheating fridge compressor can be a cause for concern, as it may lead to potential damage to your appliance and its contents.

However, there’s no need to panic just yet! In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the steps to take when your fridge compressor is overheating, helping you troubleshoot the issue and take appropriate action to rectify it.

So, let’s dive in and learn what to do if your fridge compressor is overheating!

How To Troubleshoot A Fridge Overheating Compressor?

Understanding the Fridge Compressor

Before we delve into the troubleshooting steps, let’s start by understanding what a fridge compressor is and its role in the cooling process. This knowledge will provide you with a better grasp of the potential issues and solutions.

What is a Fridge Compressor?

The fridge compressor is the heart of your refrigerator’s cooling system. It is a motorized pump responsible for circulating refrigerant throughout the appliance’s coils, facilitating the heat exchange process that allows your fridge to maintain a cool temperature.

The Role of the Fridge Compressor

The fridge compressor compresses the refrigerant gas, increasing its temperature and pressure. This high-pressure gas then flows through the condenser coils, where it dissipates heat and transforms into a high-pressure liquid. The liquid refrigerant then travels through the expansion valve, where it expands, cools down, and turns into a low-pressure gas. This low-pressure gas absorbs heat from the refrigerator’s interior, cooling it down. The cycle repeats to maintain a consistent cool temperature.

Signs of an Overheating Fridge Compressor

Before taking action, it’s crucial to identify whether your fridge compressor is indeed overheating. Here are some common signs to look out for:

Excessive Heat Emission

Heat emission in a compressor is a natural byproduct of the compression process. However, excessive heat emission occurs when the heat generated exceeds the system’s ability to dissipate it, leading to elevated temperatures within the compressor and its surrounding components. This can have detrimental effects on the performance, efficiency, and lifespan of the compressor if not addressed promptly.

Unusual Noise

An overheating compressor can produce unusual noises, such as buzzing, clicking, or humming sounds. Pay attention to any unfamiliar sounds coming from your fridge. If the compressor produces unusual noises keep reading.

Frequent Cycling

Its primary function is to compress the refrigerant, raising its pressure and temperature. Compressor frequent cycling occurs when the compressor turns on and off more frequently than normal. Instead of running for longer durations to meet the cooling demand, the compressor cycles on and off rapidly. This can lead to various problems that affect the system’s performance and efficiency. 

Poor Cooling Performance

An overheating compressor may struggle to cool your refrigerator effectively. If you notice a rise in the internal temperature or spoiled food, it’s a red flag. Although this is not the only reason for an overheating compressor we suggest cleaning the condenser coils and allow 24 hours for the compressor to cool down properly.

Visible Damage or Leaks

Inspect the compressor for any visible signs of damage, such as dents, leaks, or oily residue. These signs may indicate a problem. Unplug your fridge from the outlet and call an expert compressor repairman

What To Do If Your Fridge Compressor Is Overheating?

Now that we’ve established the signs of an overheating fridge compressor, let’s explore the steps you should take when faced with this issue. Remember to prioritize your safety throughout the process.

Step 1: Safety First

Before proceeding with any troubleshooting, ensure your safety by unplugging the refrigerator from the power source. This precautionary measure will prevent any potential electrical accidents.

Step 2: Clean the Condenser Coils

Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the condenser coils, hindering proper heat dissipation and causing the compressor to overheat. To clean the coils, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the condenser coils: Depending on your refrigerator model, the condenser coils can be found at the back or beneath the appliance.

  2. Unplug the refrigerator: Always disconnect the power supply before performing any maintenance tasks.

  3. Remove dust and debris: Use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft brush to gently remove dust and debris from the coils. Be careful not to bend or damage the delicate fins.

  4. Check for stubborn dirt: If there are stubborn dirt or grease residues on the coils, you can use a coil cleaning brush or a coil cleaning solution specifically designed for refrigerators. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper usage.

  5. Reassemble and plug in: Once the coils are clean, reassemble any parts you removed and plug in the refrigerator.

Cleaning the condenser coils regularly, ideally every six months, can help prevent the compressor from overheating and maintain the efficiency of your refrigerator.

Step 3: Ensure Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation around your refrigerator is crucial for heat dissipation. If your fridge is positioned too close to the wall or other objects, it can impede airflow, causing the compressor to overheat. Follow these tips to ensure adequate ventilation:

  1. Check the clearance: Verify that there is enough space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall, as well as between the sides of the appliance and nearby cabinets or furniture. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the recommended clearance.

  2. Remove obstructions: Remove any objects or debris that may block the airflow around the refrigerator.

  3. Maintain room temperature: Avoid placing the refrigerator in extremely hot or humid areas, as it can put additional strain on the compressor. Aim for a room temperature range of 60-80°F (15-27°C).

By allowing proper ventilation, you can help prevent the compressor from overheating and optimize the performance of your refrigerator.

Step 4: Check the Fan

The condenser fan assists in dissipating heat from the condenser coils. If the fan malfunctions or gets obstructed, it can lead to compressor overheating. Follow these steps to check the fan:

  1. Locate the condenser fan: It is typically found near the compressor or on the backside of the refrigerator.

  2. Inspect for obstructions: Check if any debris, such as food particles or dust, is blocking the fan blades. If so, unplug the refrigerator and gently remove the obstruction.

  3. Test the fan: Plug in the refrigerator and listen for the fan running. If you don’t hear any noise or notice the fan not spinning, it may be faulty and require replacement. Consult a professional technician for further assistance.

Ensuring the proper functioning of the condenser fan can contribute to preventing compressor overheating and maintaining your refrigerator’s cooling performance.

Step 5: Test the Compressor Start Relay

The start relay is an electrical component that provides a boost of power to the compressor during startup. A faulty start relay can cause the compressor to overheat. Follow these steps to evaluate the start relay:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator: Always disconnect the power supply before performing any electrical inspections.

  2. Locate the start relay: It is usually located near the compressor and can be identified as a small rectangular or square-shaped device.

  3. Remove the start relay: Carefully detach the start relay from its connector pins. Take note of the wire connections to ensure proper reinstallation.

  4. Inspect for damage: Examine the start relay for any visible signs of damage, such as burn marks or loose wires. If you notice any issues, it’s likely that the start relay is faulty and needs to be replaced.

  5. Test with a multimeter: If the start relay appears undamaged, you can use a multimeter to test its functionality. Set the multimeter to the resistance or continuity mode and place the probes on the start relay’s terminals. If the multimeter reading shows no continuity or significantly high resistance, it indicates a faulty start relay that requires replacement.

If you’re unsure about evaluating or replacing the start relay, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a qualified technician to avoid any electrical hazards.

Step 6: Call a Professional Technician

If you’ve followed the previous steps and your fridge compressor continues to overheat, it may be an indication of a more complex issue that requires professional attention. Calling our licensed refrigerator technician can provide you with an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate solution. We have the expertise and tools to identify and repair compressor-related problems, ensuring the longevity of your refrigerator.


Dealing with an overheating fridge compressor can be worrisome, but with the right knowledge and troubleshooting steps, you can address the issue effectively. By understanding the role of the fridge compressor, identifying signs of overheating, and following the appropriate steps such as cleaning the condenser coils, ensuring proper ventilation, checking the fan, evaluating the start relay, and seeking refrigeration professional assistance when needed, you can mitigate the risks and maintain the optimal performance of your refrigerator.

Remember, safety should always be your priority when handling any electrical components. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with any of the troubleshooting steps, it’s best to consult a licensed technician who can provide expert guidance and ensure a proper solution.

By taking proactive measures and addressing compressor overheating promptly, you can extend the lifespan of your fridge, preserve your food, and avoid costly repairs or replacements.

Frequently Asked Questions

To further address common concerns about an overheating fridge compressor, here are some frequently asked questions along with their answers:

In some cases, an overheating compressor can be fixed by addressing underlying causes such as dirty coils, improper ventilation, or faulty components like the start relay. However, if the compressor itself is damaged, it may require replacement.

Typically repairing a compressor will cost anywhere from $300-$3,500. The cost of repairing an overheating fridge compressor varies depending on the specific issue and the technician’s rates. It’s recommended to obtain quotes from reputable appliance repair services to get a better understanding of the associated costs.

While an overheating compressor can pose risks, such as potential damage to the refrigerator and its contents, the immediate danger is relatively low. However, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage and ensure proper functioning.

Replacing a fridge compressor is a complex task that requires specialized knowledge and tools. We highly recommended to leave compressor replacements to trained professionals to ensure proper installation and avoid safety risks.

Routine Maintenance: Regularly cleaning the condenser coils, ensuring proper ventilation, and addressing any malfunctions promptly are essential preventive measures. Additionally, maintaining a stable room temperature and avoiding overloading the refrigerator can help prevent overheating.

Replacing the entire refrigerator should be considered as a last resort. In most cases, addressing the underlying issues and repairing or replacing specific components can resolve the overheating problem without requiring a full appliance replacement.

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We value our senior customers and their needs. Therefore, we offer a senior discount of $40 OFF on any appliance repair service.

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Our team will reach out to you to confirm your appointment after you’ve booked with us. When we connect, don’t forget to confirm that your discount has been applied so you can enjoy the savings we’re offering.


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