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Refrigerator Not Running? All the Easy Fixes You Need to Know

Refrigerator Not Running? All the Easy Fixes You Need to Know


You open the fridge and everything seem normal. But you don't hear that familiar noise. Even though the lights are on, nothing is running. A few common issues can cause a refrigerator to stop running, including a control failure, wiring problems or a failed compressor. Our friends at Sears PartsDirect have some common fixes to get your appliance running smoothly in no time.

Learn more about troubleshooting a fridge compressor from Sears PartsDirect.

Potential Fixes

Replace the Compressor's Start Relay

A compressor's start relay is what makes your refrigerator run efficiently. This component energizes the start windings of a compressor motor during an initial startup. The PTC (positive temperature coefficient) start relay shuts down voltage to the start windings after the compressor starts, allowing it to run using the motor's run windings. If a broken start relay is the culprit, replace it so the compressor can have necessary voltage to operate properly. You should also check the start relay's wiring. Wiring failure could be the root cause of the start relay's issues. If you fix the wiring, that might help cure the problem.


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Refrigerator Start Relay

Refrigerator Temperature Control Thermostat

Replace the Temperature Control Thermostat

Also known as the cold control or cold-control thermostat, this part is found in the control housing and features a sensor tube attached to it. The senor detects the temperature inside the fridge, helping control the temperature in cabinet and turning the compressor on or off based on the temperature level. Replace this part when it no longer senses temperature or won't cycle the compressor properly.


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Replace the Electronic Control Board

The electronic control board is an essential piece to any fridge. Also commonly known as the main control board or the power control board (PCB), this part controls the compressor and defrost cycle. It senses when the refrigerator needs to be cooled, sending power to the compressor and fans. The control board also works with the sensor to maintain temperature in the both the fridge and freezer, helping control a proper defrost cycle. Run a diagnostic test to check if the electronic control board is malfunctioning. Tests can vary by make or model, so check your owner's manual or tech sheet for more information.

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Learn more about replacing a refrigerator electronic control board from Sears PartsDirect.

Refrigerator Electronic Control Board

Refrigerator Temperature Control Board

Replace the Temperature Control Board

This part helps control the compressor and other main components of a refrigerator. It's found next to the compressor in the machine compartment, which is behind a panel on the back of your fridge. Much like the electronic control board, you should run a diagnostic test to see if the temperature control board is not working properly. Consult your owner's manual or tech sheet for further instructions.  

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Replace the Thermistor

A thermistor monitors temperature changes, sending signals to the control board. This key component gives temperature information to the thermostat, meaning a broken a faulty thermistor will give incorrect readings. It also won't allow the fridge to stay at your desired temperature settings.

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Learn more about replacing a refrigerator thermistor from 
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Refrigerator Thermistor

Refrigerator Defrost Timer

Replace the Defrost Timer

Your fridge's defrost timer controls the intervals between automatic defrost cycles. It makes sure the compressor is off before turning on the defrost heater temporarily to melt frost off the evaporator fins, allowing an efficient exchange of heat. Once the defrost cycle ends, the timer turns off the defrost heater to continue regular cooling. When this part isn't working properly, the defrost heater will run constantly or not run at all.

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Replace the Refrigerator Compressor

A compressor is one of the most vital parts in your fridge, moving refrigerant throughout the entire appliance's system. If it looks like the compressor looks okay but isn't starting, replace the start device and/or overload. If it's locked up or runs without compressing refrigerant, then the entire part needs to be replaced. In this case, it's recommended that you call a service technician because the job will require the recovery and recharge of refrigerant.

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Refrigerator Compressor