The reason problems with the refrigerator compressor can be so challenging is because it can be difficult for the average homeowner to detect when something is wrong. By the time they notice trouble, the refrigerator stops working altogether. At this point, all the food goes bad. We are going to discuss how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad. This way, you can plan repairs or have it replaced. By identifying the following four symptoms of a bad compressor, you have the chance to solve the problem early on before the problem damages the entire system.

The following guide on how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad works the same for both a brand new unit and a refrigerator you have had in your home for five years.


Listen carefully to see if the compressor is making a clicking sound. If there is no sound at all, this is an indication the compressor may already be damaged beyond repair. However, if the compressor is clicking on then clicks off in a short period of time, it warrants further investigation.

The usual suspect in this instance could be the start relay. The good news is that it really isn’t difficult to diagnose at all. If it is a compressor overload, the unit could fail any moment. You’d better leave this issue in the crafty hands of professionals.

In the meantime, when the compressor clicks on and off, check to see what the issue is with your amp meter. If the compressor keeps clicking on an off and you don’t have experience with these type repairs, simply call and tell the technician exactly how often the compressor is clicking. At this point, they can determine the severity of the issue.

One of the common causes of the compressor clicking on and off could be that the relay is simply dirty. Therefore, a good cleaning and proper maintenance will do the trick. In this case, a can of compressed air could remove the particles from the relay and get it working again.


One of the easiest ways how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad is simply to look at the compressor fan. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall, but leave it plugged into the electrical outlet. If you are not familiar where the compressor fan is located in your unit, simply locate it in the owner’s manual. You can also check for schematics online by searching your refrigerator make and model.

That refrigerator compressor fan is an important part of the cooling system. Just like how a computer has a processor, it needs a fan working all the time to cool the unit down and prevent overheating. If that compressor fan stops moving, then the refrigerator is going to start making some strange noises.

With regards to the compressor fan not moving when the refrigerator is tuned on, this will not be a problem you can fix easily. The simplest solution is to call a technician who knows how to replace compressor fans.


Another way to learn how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad is that it is not cold enough anymore. First, you will notice that items in the freezer are soggy and not ice cold. Items in the refrigerator that used to be cold are now warm or at room temperature. If you grab a bottle of water or a soft drink and it isn’t cold like you remember, something may be wrong with the compressor.

If you have that amp meter, testing the compressor will give you the answer immediately as to whether or not it can be repaired or if the part needs to be replaced. You can easily remove and replace the part yourself. However, if you feel more comfortable with a professional handling the job, you should go ahead and make a phone call.

Isolating the cause of the warmer temperatures by testing the compressor could save you money on a repair. That’s because a technician is not going to diagnose the trouble, they are there simply to replace the damaged part.


The last tip on how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad is all about listening carefully to your unit. When the refrigerator compressor is running fine, you will never hear it. Similar to the fan on your computer, the only time you really know it isn’t working right is when it starts making strange noises.

The same can be said about the refrigerator compressor fan. If it is making any sorts of noise, something is definitely not right. The first thing that should be done is isolating that noise to be sure where it is coming from. Again, with the unit still plugged in, slide the refrigerator away from the wall and try to pinpoint exactly where the noise is coming from.

If the refrigerator compressor is responsible for those loud noises, it might be too late for a repair. It might be time to get it replaced. The rule of thumb when it comes to refrigerator repair is that a noisy compressor is usually a bad refrigerator compressor. The reason this noise is of concern is that it might be a number of issues including bad gas to high pressure.


One of the tricky things about the refrigerator compressor is that even though you may have isolated the cause of the problem, if the refrigerator isn’t keeping things cool, there might be four different potential problems that aren’t related to the compressor. If you do not have experience with repairing or replacing electrical components, this might be something best left to the professionals. Identifying the trouble early on will save you money in hiring a technician to diagnose the trouble.

If you have any experience in how to tell if refrigerator compressor is bad, please share your tips, tricks, or experience. Thanks to you, our readers will be able to solve this issue more easily.