Why is Fridge Compressor Running But Not Cooling?

DISCLOSURE: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning when you click the links and make a purchase, we receive a commission at no additional cost to you

If you have this issue with your Maytag, Samsung, LG, Kitchenaid or Frigidaire fridge (probably this will apply to any fridge manufacturer) been not cooling, you need to check couple things to fully understand the problem.

Get Help Online
Our Technicians Are Always Online and Ready To Help You
“How To Fix Your Broken Appliance”

Is your fridge not cooling at all or cooling, but not enough?

You need to check the temperature in your fridge compartment.

If the temperature is high then 10°C or 50°F then your fridge (most likely) not cooling at all, even with the running compressor.

There is a big probability that the compressor is lost efficiency (in other words is dead) or there is a restriction in freon sealed system (usually on the dryer filter side).

In this case, you need to call Appliance Repair Technician to fix this issue. You will not be able to fix it by yourself ( in most cases)

But, If the temp below 10°C or 50°F than your fridge compressor seems like trying to produce enough cold, but not able to.

Now, this issue when not cooling enough is a little bit advanced and requires the right knowledge and tools to track it down and fix it.

Here’re are some tips to help you troubleshoot the problem:

1. Wrong temperature control settings

Before you get the big repair tools and begin tearing your beloved fridge apart, start by double-checking the controls.

If your refrigerator has a temperature digital or dial control setting, sometimes the reason there’s no cooling even if the compressor is working could be wrong temperature settings.

This happens mostly if you have kids around who may unknowingly or purposefully dial in the incorrect cooling settings.

If the temperature settings are wrong, just set them back to reasonable levels.

Usually, the higher the temperature on the dial, the colder your fridge will get.

You can always dial up the control temperature one number higher if the beverages are not getting as cold as you like.

2. Frozen evaporator coils

Of course, the number one reason your fridge won’t cool normally is frozen evaporator coils.

Just remove the cover from the freezer compartment to access the coils.

If you notice the coils are completely covered in frost, you have to thaw it for 24 to 48 hours.

Always unplug the fridge, then transfer your items to another fridge to keep them preserved while you work on the faulty fridge.

Remember to keep a few towels nearby to soak up water that leaks onto the floor as you thaw away the frost from the evaporator coils.

Check after 24 hours if the ice has melted away;

But remember, thawing it for longer than 24 hours ensures all the frost from the frozen sections is completely melted.

evaporator coils frosted over

After melting all frost away, plug the fridge and test it, if it works, then the likely cause of the frozen evaporator coils is a faulty defrost timer, a faulty defrost thermostat or a bad defrost heater.

These parts may be replaced easily once you call in a pro to troubleshoot exactly which part is defective.

Or if you want to speed up the defrosting process, you will need a steamer and you can defrost evaporator coils in 15 minutes. Get One HERE

3. Worn evaporator fan (most likely bearings)

If your fridge is not cooling and this is accompanied by increased vibration and squealing noise whenever you open your fridge, then the likely cause of both problems is a faulty evaporator fan.

A stuck or broken evaporator fan usually makes chirping or squealing sounds.

The evaporator fan is located inside the freezer compartment, near the coils, and covered by a fan cover.

To verify this, open the fridge door and feel using your hand, at the back of the fridge, if the fan is blowing.

If the temperature at the back of the compartment is the same level as that of the room, then the fan is not working.

Replacing the evaporator fan should fix the issue. You can get fan HERE

4. Bad condenser fan issue

The compressor and condenser fan are located behind a rear access panel at the back of the fridge and usually come on if the thermostat demands more cooling.

The condenser fan cools condenser coils by drawing air over them.

Condenser fan providing proper heat exchange for the condenser coils.

Replace the condenser fan if it’s noisy or not running.

A noisy condenser fan usually causes rattling noise to come from the back of the fridge.

Fridge making noise condenser fan

To verify the faulty condenser fan problem, pull your fridge away from the wall, unplug it then proceed to remove the rear access panel near the bottom.

Next, plug it back in, and as the compressor turns on, the condenser fan should turn on too.

If the fan doesn’t run when the compressor is on, you need to switch it out for a new one.

Also, if the fan is noisy, replacing it will save you from headaches as very loud fridges can interfere with conversations, etc.

Sometimes, the compressor may fail to turn on if the condenser fan is faulty, and instead, it just gets hot but doesn’t run.

Experts say you can test if the fan is the one interfering with the working of the compressor by blowing air over it using a fan or hairdryer in “no heat” mode.

If the compressor cools and starts to run, then what interfered with its operation initially was a faulty condenser fan.

Replacing the fan with a new one should fix the issue.

5. Faulty start relay (less likely)

If the relay is bad, signals from the thermostat won’t get to the compressor and fan.

The start relay is usually mounted to the compressor; it helps kickstart the compressor during the cooling cycle.

If the start relay is faulty, you may hear clicking as the compressor turns on and off intermittently.

If you hear clicking sound, unplug the relay from the compressor, shake it, and if it rattles on the inside, then it’s bad, and you need to get your mitts on a new start relay.

6. Dirty condenser coils

A fridge condenser is just like a radiator; it must stay kept clean to dissipate heat from the fridge.

In the case of dirty condenser coils, the refrigerator will never be able to cool down to the temperatures you like.

A dirty condenser coil may even make the thermostat to cut it from the power supply if it begins to overheat.

Also, as the compressor overheats due to dirty condenser coils, it turns on and off, causing clicking sounds to come from the back of the fridge every 2-3 minutes.

fridge condenser coils cleaning

To check the dirty condenser coil issue, unplug the fridge, open the rear access panel at the bottom of the refrigerator and visually inspect the coils.

If the condenser coils are dirty, you can vacuum the dirt away. It’s wise to clean condenser coils every six months for smooth fridge operation.

7. Thermistor malfunctioned

The thermistor is a sensor connected to the fridge control board and monitors air temperature inside the fridge.

If the thermistor is defective, the refrigerator won’t cool as usual.

If you suspect a faulty thermistor, call in the fridge repair expert as this is a bit technical problem.

Other reasons your fridge is not cooling include blocked vents in case boxes of food prevent air from circulating through the refrigerator.

Organizing the fridge to keep items from air vents should fix this issue.

The other cause could be faulty doors, in case gaskets around the edges of the door are worn out such that air leaks into the fridge.

Be exhaustive while searching for the reason your fridge is not cooling, some of the causes can be rectified using DIY techniques, but some reasons are a bit complex, and you better leave the warrant to take care of them.

Get Help Online
Our Technicians Are Always Online and Ready To Help You
“How To Fix Your Broken Appliance”

15 thoughts on “Why is Fridge Compressor Running But Not Cooling?”

  1. I have a Frigidaire fridge the coils are clean the compressor starts but it doesn’t cool.
    I think it’s the thermostat am I right

  2. my Homa refrigerator stopped working before two days. i tried to check the its compressor and i get the following resistance readings:
    The compressor is not running. i hear click sound a few seconds after i plug-in my refrigerator. I supposed the problem may be with my compressor. but i were no able to identify the type of problem. I need help! could my refrigerator repaired??? please help me!!!

    • Seems like a problem with the start relay (a device attached to the compressor). Every compressor has a start relay, if it’s failed, compressor not going to work. Try to replace start relay and see if it will fix the problem

      • Thank you for your willingness to help me. but I have tried to start my compressor manually by direct method (without start relay) and still it were not running. for working refrigerator the resistance reading of starting-to-running should be the biggest value (approximately the sum of common-to-starting and common-to-running terminals), but for my refrigerator instead this resistance have the lowest value (12 ohm). I think the problem is related with this reading. is it possible for a short to happen between the starting and the running winding coils??? Or is there capacitor between the starting and running winding coils inside the compressor??? Or what is the reason for this low resistance reading of the starting-to-running terminals??

        • 1. There is no capacitor inside compressor
          2. It is quite possible for a short circuit to happen between windings, then you will have incorrect readings (which you actually have). And you are right, Resistance between starting and running windings (terminals), should be the sum of the resistance between common-starting + common-running .
          For example: common+starting=8 Ohms, common+running=4 Ohms, then starting+running=12 Ohms
          If its less or more then that, you have failed the compressor windings

  3. I have ice cream deep fridge of capacity 500 liters. The problem was not suspected. So he asked to replace the compressor and replaced it with 400l compressor . And then again the fridge wasn’t cooling so he replaced it with 500 l compressor. And now again fridge isn’t cooling. They refilled the gas hydrocarbon. What’s the problem ?

  4. Every thing is running I have correct amount of Freon. But Amanda double door freezer at bottom will not cool. Any help is appreciated. Thanks

    • If everything running and still not cooling, then it can be a restriction in the sealed system. You can’t fix it by yourself, you need to call appliance tech


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.