Fridge Compressor Hot? – Here’s 5 Basic Reasons

If you find your fridge compressor hot during the function, you need to find the cause right away. For this, you should know the possible faulty components and situations that make the compressor overheat. Before you judge the condition of the compressor:

  1. Go through these main possibilities and determine which might be the cause for the compressor getting hot.
  2. Unplug the refrigerator from power before you inspect any components or attempt any disassembly.
  3. Use the necessary safety equipment to ensure your safety and avoid potential hazards.

Faulty Thermostat 

Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat is responsible for monitoring and regulating the internal temperature of the refrigerator. When the temperature is detected to be high, it activates the compressor, generating cold air into the fridge.

When the internal temperature reaches the required level, the thermostat will pass the signal to turn off the compressor until required again. So if the thermostat fails to function, then the compressor would keep working even if it is not required. Due to this continuous function, the compressor would get overheated.

Refrigerators would have either a mechanical or an electrical thermostat, and knowing its type would help you find the possible causes for its defect. A possible cause for a thermostat to be defective is due to being worn out with time. This is common in fridges used for too long as the components can become faulty.

In addition, the interior of the fridges would continuously expand and contract continuously as the temperatures vary. Therefore, the thermostat housing may crack slightly over time and cause moisture to penetrate inside. This would cause the electrical thermostat to weaken and interrupt the function.

Solution:

If the thermostat is why your compressor on the refrigerator is hot, you would have to replace it entirely. You can choose to replace it yourself if you are confident about handling electrical appliances. However, these components need to be fixed properly, and it is recommended to get help from a professional technician.

Lack of Refrigerant

Lack of Refrigerant

The refrigerator is cooled by circulating the refrigerant in a closed loop as the compressor pressurizes it. To cool the fridge successfully, it should have the correct amount of refrigerant in the system. If it leaks out, then the refrigerator will not cool up to the required temperature.

Therefore, lack of refrigerant results in more work for the compressor when trying to cool the system. Therefore, you would find your fridge compressor hot in this situation. The cause of this refrigerant leak may be due to damages on the tubes caused by rusting with many years of use. There is also a possibility of leaks after an impact, such as accidentally hitting a part while moving the fridge. 

Solution:

The first step in fixing this problem is to find the locations where the refrigerant is leaking from. It might be a single place or several spots on the system. You would need to fix the leaks first by soldering the damages. If there are so many corroded areas that are too much to be repaired, you might even have to replace the whole piping.

After closing the leaks, then you need to refill the correct amount of refrigerant to the system. This should be done by a professional technician specialized for the purpose. Since it involves refrigerant gases, it might be hazardous and hence should not be performed by an inexperienced person.

Failed Condenser Fan 

Failed Condenser Fan

If you find your mini-fridge compressor hot, then the reason behind this could be a defective condenser fan. Despite all the piping and refrigerants, the condenser fan also has a major function in the cooling system. Its purpose is to remove heat from the compressor as it gets warm due to operation.

Heat is removed from the cooling system with the help of this condenser fan. So if this stops functioning, then the compressor would not be able to cool down efficiently. This makes the freezer compressor hot, even while it is operating as usual. In addition, the failure of the condenser fan would make the area between doors hotter. 

Dust and debris accumulation around the fan is the most common reason that a condenser fan stops working. This is a common occurrence in old refrigerators used for a long time. Apart from this, the failure of the fan might also be due to a faulty motor as well. 

Solution:

If you know that the fault is in the condenser fan, you can find the reason for it yourself. Start by unplugging the refrigerator and pulling it out from the wall to have more room to work. Locate the condenser fan and try to turn the blades by hand to check whether it rotates. If you find that it is stuck, then it would be due to dust build-ups.

You can fix it by vacuuming the dust and removing any visible obstructions that hinder the movement. If there is no such obstruction to the motion, then it might be due to a faulty motor. For this, you would have to get help from a professional to replace the condenser fan motor.

Worn Out Compressor Overheating

Worn Out Compressor Overheating

As the compressor is the most crucial component in the refrigerator’s cooling system, any defects might cause improper cooling. As the refrigerators get old with use, the compressors get worn out eventually. As the compressor gets worn out, it would work harder to cool the refrigerants, consuming more energy. Therefore, the compressor would get heated up due to the drawing up of excess energy. As a result, you would find the fridge compressor hot and emitting a buzzing sound.

A compressor will fail if the cooling system lacks refrigerants or even if it is excessive. This is because it increases the pressure inside the compressor. This strain in the compressor would cause premature breakdown. In addition to this, compressors can also fail due to dirty or frozen coils. Coils under this condition would send back the refrigerant into the compressor by blocking and reversing its motion. Since the refrigerant does not flow smoothly throughout the coils, it would fail the compressor.

Solution:

The solution for compressor failure would vary depending on the cause. If the problem is related to the amount of refrigerant in the system, a technician should balance it. It would be done by adding or removing gas in the system. They will also clean the coils dirty or frozen to ensure that their cooling system works smoothly and efficiently.

The Fridge Placed On Sunny Side

Another reason why the compressor on the refrigerator is hot might be to place the refrigerator in direct exposure to sunlight. The refrigerator would get overheated in hot climates, and there might be two main reasons why the compressor gets hot in this case. One reason is that the compressor would get heated directly by sunlight.

The other possibility is that the compressor gets heated up due to excessive work as the fridge gets heated up by the sun. Since the main task of the compressor is to help cool the fridge, its task might get complicated with the increased temperature. Hence, the compressor would get overheated, which you would notice as your freezer compressor hot than usual.

Solution:

This can be fixed easily by moving your refrigerator to a more cool and shady location. Avoid direct sunlight and make sure to have proper airflow throughout, especially around the compressor. Also, leave abundant space behind the fridge to allow air to flow across the components. This would help the function of the compressor and enhance the longevity of both the compressor and the fridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions about fridge compressor hot

How hot should a compressor get?

Getting heated up is a normal situation for the compressor when functioning. However, it can get warm up to a certain extent, but not very hot. 

What happens if your refrigerator compressor overheats?

The worst-case scenario of an overheated compressor is a fire. Before this, the refrigerator would stop functioning, and you would need to inspect the cause behind it.

How do I reset my refrigerator compressor?

Unplug your refrigerator from the power outlet. Turn off the refrigerator and freezer from the control panel by setting the controls to zero. Next, reset the freezer and fridge temperature settings around 40 ˚F. For settings with levels 1 to 10, this would be around level 4 or 5. Then wait for about 24 hours for the refrigerator temperature to stabilize.

Is it worth replacing a compressor on a refrigerator?

It might not be worth replacing the compressor as it costs around $200 to $500 for a new one. 

Conclusion

There are many reasons behind an overheating compressor in a refrigerator. It is essential to find the exact cause and follow the necessary steps to prevent it from heating. If you find your fridge compressor hot, now you can figure out the cause and how to cool it. But if you are not familiar with handling electrical appliances, make sure to contact your technician to troubleshoot and conduct the necessary repairs or replacements.

If you have similar problems, you can find how to troubleshoot your Frigidaire Refrigerator not cooling. When purchasing household appliances, make sure to avoid these Worst Refrigerator Brands and choose your product from the recommended brands.