Refrigerator: Why won't my refrigerator run?
If you know the refrigerator has electrical power because the inside light turns on, but the compressor won't run, possible causes include a control board failure, a wiring problem or a failed compressor. A problem with the compressor start relay will also prevent the compressor from running. Follow the tips in our troubleshooting compressor problems video to figure out the problem with your refrigerator.
THESE REPAIRS MAY HELP SOLVE YOUR REFRIGERATOR PROBLEM
Replace the refrigerator compressor start relay
The start relay—also called the PTC relay—is the electrical device that jump starts the compressor motor. The compressor motor won’t start without the extra starting current from the start relay.
If the start relay isn’t working, you’ll often hear the compressor clicking and humming briefly every few minutes. To verify that the problem is the start relay, unplug the refrigerator, remove the start relay and shake it. If the start relay rattles, replace the start relay.
Refrigerator compressor start relay
If you never hear the hum of your refrigerator's compressor anymore and your food is warming up, the problem might be a failed compressor start relay. This DIY repair guide and video show how to replace the compressor start relay in just 6 easy steps.
Replace the refrigerator temperature control thermostat
The temperature control thermostat is also called the cold control or cold control thermostat, and is located in the control housing. The thermostat has a sensor tube attached to it that detects the temperature inside the refrigerator cabinet. The temperature control thermostat controls the temperature inside the cabinet by turning on and shutting off the compressor based on the temperature sensed by the sensor tube. Replace the temperature control thermostat if it fails to sense temperature properly or if it does not cycle the compressor properly.
Refrigerator temperature control thermostat
Is your refrigerator is too cold or too warm? The temperature control thermostat could be to blame. This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for refrigerator temperature control replacement in 30 minutes or less.
Replace the refrigerator electronic control board
The electronic control board-also called the main control board or the power control board (PCB)-controls the compressor and the defrost cycle. When it senses that the compressor must run to keep the refrigerator cool, it sends voltage to the compressor and fans. The electronic control board also receives signals from temperature sensors to monitor the temperatures inside the refrigerator and freezer. With this information, the electronic control board controls the defrost cycle. You can usually do a diagnostic test on the electronic control board to see how well it's working. The test varies by model, but the most common is the Forced Defrost test. See the tech sheet for instructions on running the diagnostics. Replace the electronic control board if it's not working correctly.
Refrigerator electronic control board
If the control panel lights or fans in your side-by-side, top-mount or bottom-freezer refrigerator aren't coming on, it could mean the electronic control board has failed. This DIY repair guide shows how to replace a faulty refrigerator electronic control board in 7 quick steps.
If your refrigerator won't cool at all, the electronic control board may be faulty. This DIY repair guide and video show how to easily replace the electronic control board, and it usually takes only 15 minutes or less.
Replace the refrigerator defrost timer
The defrost timer is an electro-mechanical device that controls the intervals between automatic defrost cycles in the refrigerator. The defrost timer motor runs and moves the control components in the device. When the control contacts in the defrost timer advance into the defrost cycle, the compressor stops and the defrost heater turns on for a specified period of time to melt frost off of the evaporator fins. This promotes more efficient exchange of heat across the evaporator. When the specified period of defrost ends, the defrost timer contacts switch back to allow normal cooling operation in the refrigerator.
You'll need to replace the defrost timer if it doesn't advance when activated.
Faulty contacts in the timer can also cause the defrost heater to either not energize at all or constantly energize. In that instance, replace the defrost timer.
Refrigerator defrost timer
Replace the refrigerator compressor
Repairing the compressor in the refrigerator usually involves the replacement of the start device and/or overload on the motor. If the compressor looks to be in working order but will not start, then replace the start device and/or overload. If the compressor is locked up, or it runs but will not compress the refrigerant, then replace the compressor. A refrigerator service technician will need to complete this repair since it involves the recovery and recharge of the refrigerant.
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