Why is Fridge Compressor Running But Not Cooling?

If you have this issue with your Maytag, Samsung, LG, Kitchenaid or Frigidaire refrigerator– where the fridge compressor running but not cooling– you need to troubleshoot a few things to fully understand the problem.

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 chance that the compressor is lost efficiency (in other words is broken) or there is a restriction in the sealed system (usually on the drier 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).

Read Details: How do you know if Fridge Compressor is bad?

But, If the temp below 10°C or 50°F then 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:

Fridge compressor running but not cooling– causes:

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.

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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.

Read: Top 5 Reasons Why Refrigerator Compressor is Hot

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.

Read more detail: Why Does My Refrigerator Compressor Click But Won’t Turn On? Troubleshooting Steps

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: Fridge compressor running but not cooling

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.

fridge compressor running but not cooling

Reader Comments (54)

  1. 3 Days (when it stopped working, 4 days now) old Frigidaire French Door Fridge with bottom drawer freezer (brand new). The freezer, fridge and ice maker do not work. The water dispenser works though :/! Very frustrating! Fan is working and so is the compressor when I checked yesterday and we still hear the fridge running. Any ideas? We have someone coming out to check it out in a week (earliest they could). Thanks

  2. Hi Eugene.
    I have an Bosch KDN40X03/04.
    The compressor running ok but the fan sometimes runs and sometimes not. I can hear the compressor running and the evaporator is very cold but the fan doesn’t work. I unplugged the fan from the socket backside in the freezer and measured the voltage at the 2 pins and is 0V. In this time the compressor was running. Sometimes i switch on and off the fridge and the fan start running and keep running for some time and the temperature is ok. But than sometimes i found the icecream is half melted and i can see the fan is not running again. Do you know if this model has some control board ? I mean maybe there is some relay that send power to the fan and sometimes not works correctly?

      • Thanks for answer. Yes is from Europe i bought it from Romania. I will try to pull out that control board and see if i can identify the outlet for the fan.

      • Now is one week since my fridge working correct. Probably some electronic piece on the control board sometimes get crazy. Problem is i hardly found that #0144 spare part. Only in Spain, France, Greece and other Europe countries but not in Romania. When the malfunction will show up again maybe i will try to replace some capacitors on the control board in order to fix it. Anyway the fridge has 11 years and probably doesn’t deserve too much investments in repairs.
        Have a nice day.

  3. Hello, Whirlpool refrigerator not cooling. I replaced start relay/capacitor, and the Thermistor. I hear/see both fans running (condenser and evaporator) Compressor seems to run fine but Condenser coils not hot at all, and I don’t think the freezer coils are getting cold either. Not sure if Compressor is faulty or not. Not sure what to check next?

    • 1. Compressor failed
      2. Sealed system got a leak or restricted (in both cases expensive repair)

  4. Fridgidaire bottom freezer is working correctly. Evaporator fan is running. Evaporator coils frosted (now defrosted). Condenscor fan runs constantly, condenscor running, condenscor coils clean. Freezer temp is 0 but fridge portion is 47.

  5. Hi , ol 2008 Whirlpool in garage , compressor clean an working checked all power good ,freezer working fine , but no air at all in fridge , checked fan in freezer working as well

  6. My Frigidaire side by side is not cooling either the fridge or the freezer. I replaced the start relay because it was rattling, and originally had the evaporator coil freezing up, but after replacing the heater that’s no longer the case. Now it gets up to 73 degrees and won’t cool at all. What should I look for?

  7. Is 33 on Fridge setting the coldest or warmest? Its always been on 33 , freezer is cold , but Fridge is not as cold as it was before.

    • I think 33F is the coldest temperature you can set. Check the evaporator fan to see if it’s working. If it is working, check frost build up in the freezer back panel

  8. I have a Kenmore Elite double door refrigerator/bottom freezer combination – it has ceased cooling after less than 3 years of service. I am going to replace the defrost sensor assembly on a hunch, as it was iced up before malfunctioning. Appliances used to work for decades, trouble-free. The new digital stuff malfunctions within a few years – unreliable garbage! And Sears is kaput – this is an LG in disguise.

  9. Hi, I have a 22CF side by side, it was iced up so bought a new fridge and moved it to the garage, it sat not working for about 6 months. I’ve cleaned it completely and it looks like new, but when I turn it on, nothing gets cold anymore. Everything seems to run, the compressor get warm, all fans are blowing, it all appears to be working, but there is no cold on the copper lines into it. I’ve let it run now for over an hour, still nothing cold. I’m at a loss wondering what it could be, I’ve done the unplug reset, flashed the light switch to initiate and deactivate the defrost cycle, still nothing. A real waste of a fridge if it’s the compressor, but stuff happens. Thanks in advance, Fred.

      • Hi Eugene, it’s a Kenmore (Fridgidaire) model 970 543 123, I didn’t have much luck finding it online since Sears has almost shut down in Canada.
        It is about 15 yrs old, with the water and ice dispenser. It was a good fridge until it iced up due to (I suspect) a connection with the defrost heater coming undone, I found the unplugged connecter after I de-iced it, then I started it back up and ordered a new fridge. It was moved into the garage and has not been used or even turned on for 6 months. I was going to use it for a second fridge, but the “cold” function doesn’t want to work. Thanks in advance for your time, Fred.

      • Hi Fred, after you will turn fridge ON, check in the freezer section (you need to remove freezer back panel), if you have evaporator coils cooling down. Also check if compressor is running. Cause if its running and not cooling at all, it is a major issue and expensive to fix

      • Hi Eugene. Thanks for your reply, and I have had the freezer back off a couple times to check the evaporator coils for coolness, it ran an hour and didn’t feel any. The thing that sort of had me excited was the gurgling sound when I shut it off, so suspect there’s coolant / gas in the lines only it isn’t very cool. I have put everything back together for now and am going to let it run a couple hours with a thermometer in it. I gave the compressor a couple bangs with a rubber mallet, (the old fix for everything) and if there is no drop in temperature I will have to either call in the pros or use it for a big white tool storage cupboard. I’m thinking my tools will win a new home. Thanks again for your time, it’s much appreciated. !! Fred.

  10. Hi!
    I have an upright freezer that is not blowing cold air. From my first diagnosis, all components are working fine with exception of the thermostat where I need to crank it to max to trigger the compressor to run. I can hear the compressor and the fan running. Before replacing the thermostat I would like a second opinion. Any feedback are greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    • As long as the compressor is running but still not cooling, so it’s a problem with the compressor or sealed system, but not with the thermostat

      • Please help, I have a kitchenaid frenchdoor fridge thats not cooling, the compressor and fan are working and the evaporator fan is working. The evaporator coils dont seem to be getting cold. Could it be the thermistor?

  11. Samsung freezer not working has completely defrosted. Display lights on freezer are blinking on temperature. Does this seem like compressor or thermostat issue?

    • If you hear compressor running but not cooling, then compressor failed. Other possible reasons:
      1. Compressor Start relay (if your compressor has one)
      2. Inverter control board

  12. My LG Fridge stopped cooling and I had a tech come and take a look at it; he said it needs a new compressor – now he installed a new compressor and refilled gas for $1000 but fridge is still not getting cold…. after 24 hours of plugging in; now it gives an error code F5 which means freezer sensor or something….. any assistance on why it would still not work with new compressor and gas? Thanks,

    • Well, i can not help you in this situation, you need to call that company. They are responsible for proper troubleshooting and installation. Did they provide you a warranty? If your fridge completely stopped cooling, then yes, most likely compressor is failed. But why it is not working after installing a new compressor, I don’t know. Did they replace drier filter as well? Maybe it just drier filter was clogged and gas was not moving inside and thus not cooling.

  13. 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

      • I have a Frigidaire sign-by-side refrigerator when you plug it in compressor starts and runs condenser fans running I want to say about 3 to 5 minutes compressor and condenser fan shuts off it is not cooling at all I did the own test on the compressor in the compressor pass the test the coils are clean there is no Frost problem because it doesn’t even cool at all could it possibly be a thermistor

      • Let it work for at least 30 minutes. Will the compressor start after that? It is possible when you turn the fridge ON, it start defrost cycle.

  14. my Homa refrigerator stopped working before two days. i tried to check the its compressor and i get the following resistance readings:
    common-to-starting=35ohm
    common-to-running=23ohm
    start-to-running=12ohm
    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

  15. 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 ?

  16. 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

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