Troubleshooting Difficult Home Appliances

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3 Potential Electrical Problems That Can Keep Your Fridge From Kicking On

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Your refrigerator's motor is designed to cycle on and off to keep the interior temperatures at optimal levels. Several mechanical parts that work together to start, stop, and run the motor control this cycling. A problem with one of these mechanical or electrical parts can keep your fridge from kicking on, which will lead to rising interior temperatures and potential food loss.

There are a few key electrical components that control cycling. You can check the health of these parts yourself if you own a multi-meter and have electrical experience. Otherwise, it is safer for both you and the refrigerator to leave the checks to an appliance repair technician.

Start or Run Capacitor

A start capacitor is an electrical component that provides an extra boost of electricity to the refrigerator's compressor as it starts. The run capacitor also provides electrical assistance for the compressor but instead of providing an initial boost then shutting off, the run capacitor keeps going as long as the compressor runs to help ensure the compressor receives a steady electrical charge.

The capacitors can be tested using a multi-meter that has at least AC and capacitor testing capabilities. Consult your owner's manual to locate the capacitors in your particular refrigerator. Unplug the unit before you conduct any testing.

You will also need to discharge the capacitors, which removes any lingering electricity before you conduct the actual capacitor test. Discharge the capacitors by unhooking the wires then attaching the multimeter, which you should set to AC readings. Wait for the capacitors to read zero before continuing with the capacitor test, which should match the range specified on the side of the capacitor itself.

Damaged or broken capacitors should be replaced.


If the capacitors are healthy but the fridge still isn't kicking on, the problem could lie in the compressor itself. Was the compressor noisy before the refrigerator stopped kicking on? You likely need a new compressor as the sound could be a sign that the fan was going and has now completely quit.

A compressor issue can also be a sign of improper refrigerant levels. Refrigerant is a liquid chemical that serves as the fuel for the cooling process that operates your appliance. You will need to call in an appliance repair tech to check the refrigerant as the chemical is both hazardous and legally regulated, which means the average homeowner isn't able to walk into a store and purchase more refrigerant. Contact a business, such as All Appliance Service Inc, for help with your appliances.