Top 5 Reasons Why Refrigerator Compressor Is Hot

The compressor is the part that’s responsible for cooling down the inside of your fridge. Sometimes, that part can get too hot and make a bad refrigerator compressor noise.

If you’re looking for the reasons why fridge compressor is hot, you’ve come to the right place!

There are five common reasons why a fridge compressor is hot. That typically happens when the temperature thermostat has failed, the cooling system lacks refrigerant, the condenser fan has stopped working, the compressor is worn out, or you’ve placed the fridge where it’s too sunny.

Let’s explore these reasons in a bit more detail.

The Temperature Thermostat Is Faulty

What is it: The temperature thermostat is the part of the fridge that monitors the temperature inside.

When it figures out that the refrigerator is too warm inside, it’ll activate the compressor to generate cold air.

Then, when the inside reaches the temperature that you’ve set, the thermostat will shut off the compressor until it gets warm again.

If the temperature thermostat fails, it’ll tell the compressor to keep working all the time even when it doesn’t have to.

As the compressor works harder and longer than usual, it’ll eventually start to overheat.

Typically, your fridge will either have a mechanical thermostat or an electrical one.

Knowing the type of thermostat you have will help you narrow down the reasons why it has become faulty.

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Why it fails: There are several reasons why your fridge’s temperature thermostat might fail.

The simplest would be from wear and tear that comes with old age.

If you’ve been using your fridge for too long, you can expect that some of its components, like its mechanical or electronic thermostat, will start becoming faulty.

Get a new thermostat here

Remember: when it comes to appliances like fridges, the insides will expand and repeatedly contract throughout the day as temperatures rise and fall. 

As that happens, the thermostat housing may break slightly, causing moisture to seep inside.

That moisture can wreak havoc on the thermostat, especially if it’s the electronic type. 

How to fix: If your fridge thermostat is the reason your compressor is running hot, you may need to replace it entirely.

Depending on your level of DIY skills, you could either call a fridge repair company or buy the parts yourself online.

Be careful if you decide to fix it yourself, though. Working with electrical appliances is dangerous, and you shouldn’t attempt it unless you’re sure of what you’re doing!

The Sealed System Is Lacking Refrigerant

What is it: The cooling system in your fridge relies on a closed-loop that circulates refrigerant.

Your fridge’s compressor will take that refrigerant and pressurize it. That way, it can circulate throughout the closed-loop and help the refrigerator to cool down.

For it to do the job correctly, there must always be the correct amount of refrigerant in the system.

You see, even the smallest leaks can cause the refrigerant to leak out and stop the fridge from cooling down to its set temperature.

A lack of refrigerant forces the compressor to work extra hard to do the same job. That’s why it’ll end up becoming a lot hotter than average.

Why it fails: Typically, small leaks along the closed-loop will cause refrigerant to leak out.

Sometimes these leaks happen because of impact (like if a part of it hits the wall as you’re moving the fridge).

More commonly, though, it occurs as a side effect of rust after many years in operation.

How to fix: There are two steps necessary to fix this problem. Firstly, it’s essential to find the spots where the refrigerant is leaking.

This could be a singular leak, or there might be several holes where the gas escapes the closed-loop system.

It’s crucial to fix those leaks first, either by soldering them shut or by replacing the piping entirely if it’s corroded.

Once all the leaks have been closed, then you’ll need to recharge the system by adding the correct amount of refrigerant.

This kind of job is best left to professionals, especially since it involves refrigerant gasses that could be dangerous to your health.

Condenser Fan Failed

What is it: Aside from a compressor and all sorts of piping, the cooling system of a fridge also features a condenser fan.

That fan is a simple component, but it plays a crucial role.

For starters, it helps to keep the compressor cool. On top of that, it helps to remove heat from the fridge’s cooling system so that the inside will cool down efficiently.

When a condenser fan stops working, the compressor won’t be able to cool down like it usually does. As you can imagine, that compressor will start to get too hot even though it’s operating normally.

Plus, the fridge will also start becoming hot between its doors.

Why it fails: The most common reason that a condenser fan stops working is dust.

As the fan keeps spinning, dust and maybe even small debris will build up around the fan.

Over an extended period, that will cause the fan to stop working.

Aside from dust and debris, a fan might also stop working if the motor is faulty.

If you know that your condenser fan has stopped working, you can identify the cause yourself.

All you have to do is unplug the fridge and move it away from the wall. Try to turn the condenser fan manually to see if it’s stuck.

If it’s stuck, it could be a problem with dust and small debris. If not, it could be a problem with the fan’s motor.

How to fix: Thankfully, a faulty condenser fan is easy to fix. If the fan is stuck, you can fix it by vacuuming the dust away and removing anything else that might keep it stuck.

However, if the problem is related to the fan’s motor, you might want to get a professional to replace it for you.

The Compressor Is Worn Out And Overheating

What is it: As mentioned before, your fridge’s compressor is responsible for compressing the refrigerant and helping it circulate.

The trouble starts when that compressor starts getting worn out.

Just like any worn out part, the compressor will start working harder than usual just to do its job effectively.

That process will require much more energy and effort to complete, which causes it to generate extra heat. 

As it draws in excess energy and way harder then it should, you’ll often find the fridge compressor hot and buzzing.

Why it fails: So, why does a compressor fail? There are a few reasons for that.

Believe it or not, a compressor can fail if there’s too much or too little refrigerant in the fridge’s cooling system! 

If there is too little or too much gas in the closed-loop system, it might cause there to be too much pressure in the compressor.

That in itself will strain the compressor and cause it to break down unnecessarily.

Aside from that, dirty or frozen coils at the back of the fridge can also lead to compressor failure.

Remember: refrigerant needs to flow smoothly throughout the coils and the rest of the system.

Dirty or frozen coils will cause a blockage and might send the refrigerant going backwards into the compressor. What does that mean? It means disaster and failure for the compressor.

How to fix: The solution for a failing compressor depends on the root cause. If there is too much or too little refrigerant, then a technician needs to balance it out by adding or removing gas in the system.

The technician will also come in handy to help you clean any dirty or frozen coils to get that system working smoothly again.

The Fridge Is Placed On The Sunny Side

What is it: Sometimes, we place our fridge in a location that experiences too much direct sunlight.

That sort of placement will cause us to see a fridge overheating in hot weather.

If this is the case, there are two possible reasons why your compressor becomes hot.

The sunlight might heat your compressor directly. Or, because direct sunlight heats the fridge, the compressor has to work extra hard to cool it down.

Why it fails: You see, a compressor’s job is to help the fridge cool down and remove any heat. That job becomes difficult when there’s too much sunlight heating the area surrounding that fridge.

So as mentioned before, the compressor needs to work extra hard to cool down the fridge, causing it to overheat.

How to fix: Thankfully, this is probably the most straightforward problem to fix.

All you have to do is move the fridge to a location that’s away from direct sunlight.

If you’d like to go the extra mile for your compressor, make sure the area has plenty of good airflows.

Excellent airflow will help remove even more heat from the fridge, and that’ll make the compressor’s job much more manageable.


As you can see the compressor is the heart of any refrigerator and there are many things that can cause it to overheat.

If that happens, you’ll need to identify the root cause so it becomes easier to figure out how to cool down an overheated compressor.

You could do some of it yourself, but it’s always safer and better to call a professional instead.

Reader Comments (8)

  1. hey my refrigerator compressor is overheating but the temperature is too high and there is no cooling fan behind it since it was new can it be added to reduce temperature?

  2. Hi,

    My 10 year old Whirlpool Gold Series has stopped cooling about 50%. It is buzzing in the back somewhere behind the the bottom drawer freezer.
    The compressor fan is working but the compressor is hot.

    What do you think?

    Greg C.

  3. Hi there. I have a Samsung Freeze freezer around 6 years old, all of sudden it was making loud noise for 2/3 weeks and now stopped working. Any idea how to deal with the issue?

  4. i can’t seem to find anything on my situation. My ge model tpx21prxaww is warming on both sides. I turned the temp to colder and that seems to work as far as cooling but not fixing the problems. The ice machine has stopped making ice yet water has gone into the maker. This was replaced only 4 or so years ago. The fan is working, the compressor seems very hot, i get frost on the back on my freezer side. The coils at the bottom are cleaned out. Does anyone have any idea as to whether this is the actual compressor (which is hot) or the relay????

    • Check condenser fan. It is located behind the fridge, close to the compressor. Is it working? If not, then this is the cause of your problem

    • My LG refrigerator has no fan.
      The compressor is hot but not cooling the fridge.
      When the fridge was working the side used to be warm but not anymore only the compressor is hot.
      What could be problem please.

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