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. We have a maytag French door mfd2561heb and the frig n freezer get cold but not to below 40or below 0 we had it recharged and still is not cooling properly dies anyone know what it couls be the condenser gets hot the coils on bottom stay cool what am I missing

  2. Hi my hisense model H670SG has stopped cooling but still makes noise what should I do? What to check before including mechanic?

  3. Re LG lfc25770st, french doors/freezer below. Stopped cooling completely 6 months ago. replaced it.
    While checking it to maybe fix, everything runs as normal. warm humming compressor warmish coils back there.
    Removed the freezer door, back plastic cover to reveal the cooling coils, fan etc..
    Fan is good, the line into the coils will freeze my finger to it, but it’s not moving thru the coils. Could it be that skinny little thermostat thing? or bad compressor? ’cause it’s COLD down there but not moving it.

  4. Hi, my d/door defy standard self defrosting fridge not switching off, replaced thermostat with original from defy but compressor not switching off, fridge compartment freezing items.
    Any suggestions

  5. Hey Guys
    I have LG with freezer at the bottom. Top fresh food section stopped cooling , air is blowing ( when I open the door and hold the switch I feel the air blowing but it is barely cold).
    The freezer is a bit colder but nowhere close to freezing temps.
    Compressor sound like working and it is intensively warm , however both tubes : in and out tubes- are at the same room temperature and the coil is not even warm. The coil is somewhat dusty but nothing major and the fan is blowing air through the coil.
    Does it mean compressor is Done?!
    Appreciate any help, thanks

  6. A westinghouse RT159RRGA. What is the setting for the temperature damper in the freezer compartment to have the freezer warmer and the fridge cooler? It’s confusing me. Do we set it to cooler or warmer?

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