Refrigerator keeps running and doesn’t turn off? – 3 easy checks

Yes, your refrigerator should run. But what do you do when it’s constantly running, and running up your utility bills at the same time?

Let’s see what some of the common causes are, and some solutions to get it running optimally…

Refrigerator Keeps Running And Won’t Turn Off

So every time you walk by, your fridge seems to be running. What gives?

It is normal for a refrigerator to make a running sound 35-85% of the day. If yours is running beyond this time, or never stopping at all, here are some things to check.

**Warm/sunny Room Location or Season

During the warmer months of the year, your refrigerator keeps running in order to preserve the right internal temperatures. The air in the room is warmer, causing the fridge to run more. You can’t change the season, and likely can’t change the location of the fridge…so we’ll look at something else.

Usually, after 6-8 hours of the COOLING CYCLE, fridge should stop for the DEFROST CYCLE for about 20min. This allows the frost to melt, which may build up on the evaporator coils.

  • It’s in direct sunlight, heat, a warm room (mentioned above)
  • The fridge is being opened all day, which allows warm air to enter, meaning it has to run to cool back down to the appropriate temperature when closed
  • You recently added a load of warm food, meaning the fridge has to work harder in order to cool it down
  • Condenser or dirty coils can cause the fridge to operate harder than it has to
  • A faulty defrost timer (get a new one here) can cause the fridge to run too long
  • The defrost heater is bad or defrost timer is bad

Some of the solutions are simple. For example, if it’s in a hot room, add a drape over the fridge or turn the AC up.

If it’s as simple as opening the doors to frequently, limit access to the fridge (especially with the kids).

If the coils are dirty, clean them. In the event it is an issue with the defrost timer, or heater, this may require calling a professional repair technician to repair or replace the faulty parts.

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refrigerator keeps running

How Long Should a Fridge Run When Plugged in For The First Time?

The time will vary between one manufacturer to another.

Furthermore, the size of the fridge, the size of the freezer, and the quality of the parts, are all going to contribute to how much time is required for the fridge to remain running after it is plugged in.

A brand new fridge, when plugged in, will require 4 to 8 hours for you to verify the cooling units are working properly and everything is at the proper temperatures. Try to keep the door shut as long as possible during this time.

Some factors which can contribute to the fridge running beyond this time (new or old) include:

  • Insufficient air vent space to circulate air appropriately
  • Wear to the door gaskets; this can allow warm air in, and force the compressor to work harder
  • Hot foods or heat waves will keep the fridge running for several hours after it’s plugged in
  • An empty fridge also runs longer than one which has food in it. By adding food to the fridge, it technically reduces the amount of space it has to cool; so, when the fridge is empty, it has to work harder to keep the entire space cool.

For most refrigerators, they should stop running rather quickly.

Especially newer models, they have compressors which are built to run 80 to 90% of the time, meaning they cool quickly.

But, as mentioned above, the fridge runs 35 to 85% of the day. This means times vary greatly.

A general rule of thumb is if it is running for more than a couple of hours, you might want to check some of the fixes above, or call a repair technician.

Refrigerator keeps Running But It’s Not Cold

How about your fridge that keeps running but isn’t cooling inside?

There are several reasons this might be occurring as well.

**Obviously, the fridge is plugged in and getting power (it’s constantly running) so this isn’t a viable solution in most cases.

But, it wouldn’t hurt to unplug and plug it back in after waiting several minutes.

If something is frozen or jamming the fridge, this might resolve it.

**Check the thermostat; if it isn’t at the right temperature setting, the fridge is not going to do its job.

**Check the vents at the back of the freezer compartment.

If they’re blocked by food, they’re not allowing the cool air to flow.

This is going to cause your fridge to run, but won’t cool internally to the set temperatures.

**Another quick fix might be to check the vacuum coils under the fridge.

If they are clogged, your fridge is going to work harder, but isn’t going to cool down to the set temperature.

**The freezer temperature might be off. If it is above 1o to 12 degrees F, this is going to prevent your fridge from cooling down to the appropriate temperature also.

**A final quick check is the condenser fan. Make sure it’s not blocked, it should spin freely.

If it isn’t, this can be contributing to the problem as well.

The defrost timer, control board, or main control boards might be shot. If this is the case, repair or replacements must be made.

But, in most cases, when refrigerator runs constantly but not cooling, it is caused by freon leak or compressor malfunction. The pump then can’t get freon in the sealed system and cool efficiently.

Refrigerator Constantly Running and Freezing Items

You don’t want partially frozen milk (you’d rather have the ice cream in the freezer) of bread that you need to thaw when you take it out of the fridge.

So, what’s causing your foods in the fridge to freeze over? Some problems may include

  • Temperature in the fridge was inadvertently set too low
  • Dirty or dusty coils make your compressor work harder, and this can cause freezing in some refrigerators
  • A gasket on the freezer door is causing it to work hard, and freezing foods
  • Air duct placement in newer refrigerators is very cold (if in the wrong position) move the air duct

Again, every fridge and model will vary. So, check your owner’s manual as well for some solutions. But, these are some of the common reasons items are freezing over in the fridge.

If these simple solutions don’t resolve the issue, contact a licensed repair technician in your area. Other articles of interest…

Reader Comments (9)

  1. Is it normal that my LG fridge has been turned off automatically for a few hours. It’s a brand new fridge. Four days old .

  2. I have a samsung RSA1WTPE, I had one light showing on temp control so repalced the freezer defrost sensor and display is working normally now but it does not switch off on temp. I set temp to lowest but it keeps running even after it reaches the set temperature.

  3. My refrigerator won’t kick off but I’ve installed a new thermostat,is it good to unplug it then plug it back after a few minutes?

  4. I bought a refurbished refrigerator at budget appliances. It’s gasket is perfect, it cools both freezer, and bottom part well. It seem like it won cut off.

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