Is It Worth Replacing A Compressor In A Refrigerator?

Compressor fault in the refrigerator poses a serious issue. If you have diagnosed a faulty compressor in your refrigerator and are confused between replacing the compressor and replacing the entire unit, you are at the right place. Let’s find a clear solution to your issue. 

It is worth replacing the refrigerator’s compressor if it has no other issues and is under 10 years old. But you should avoid it if the refrigerator is over 10 years old and has other faults. Also, consider the repair cost and decide whether you want to repair or get a new refrigerator.

In this article, I will help you understand the importance of a compressor and the factors to consider while replacing the refrigerator. At the end of the article, you will have a clear answer to your question. So, keep reading. 

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Understanding the role of the compressor in a refrigerator

Refrigerators have become an essential appliance in the household, and refrigerators’ primary role is preserving food for a long time in a colder environment. 

The basic idea of having a refrigerator is to slow down the growth of harmful microorganisms in the food by storing it at a lower temperature. 

The compressor is the crucial component helping the refrigerator system to cool, fulfilling the overall purpose of the refrigerator to prevent and keep the food inside it cool. 

It is considered the heart of the refrigerator as the cooling system won’t function inside it without the efficient function of the compressor. 

The primary function of the compressor is to carry the refrigerant throughout the system. 

The refrigerants are the essential components that go through a compression refrigeration cycle to keep the refrigerator cool. 

The compressor undertakes the refrigerant through the following process:

1. Compression

It is the primary stage of the refrigeration cycle. In this stage, the compressor lets the refrigerant enter inside as the low-pressure vapor.

It converts the low-pressure vapor refrigerant into high-pressure vapor by increasing the pressure. In this process, the refrigerants are heated and released to enter the next cycle. 

2. Condensation

The refrigeration cycle’s next stage starts when the hot refrigerant is accepted inside the condenser and travels through the series of S-shaped tubes. 

When the hot refrigerants travel inside the S tubes, a fan will blow cool air into the tubes. 

As the air blowing inside the tube is cool, the heat from the refrigerants is transferred to the air. 

At this point, the refrigerant reaches its saturation point and changes from the vapor state to the liquid state. This process is called condensation. 

 And now, when the refrigerant is converted into a high-pressure liquid, it will move to the metering and expansion stage. 

3. Metering

The high-pressure refrigerant liquid will enter the metering and the expansion stage. When the high-pressure liquid refrigerant enters the metering device, it maintains the high pressure in the inlet stage. At the same time, it is designed to lower the high pressure of the liquid refrigerants at the outlet stage. 

Due to the low pressure at the outlet stage, the refrigerant expands, and the temperature is also decreased. 

Next, the refrigerant is ready to enter the evaporation process. 

4. Evaporation

In the evaporation stage, warm air is blown with fans into the evaporator coils. The refrigerants that enter the evaporation stage will come in touch with the warm air from the fan. 

It will begin to absorb the warm air and reach the boiling point. At this point, it is converted into low-pressure vapor. 

The refrigeration cycle starts again when the low-pressure vapor enters the compressor. 

Understanding the refrigeration cycle going through all these three stages will help us know the compressors’ role in the cooling system. 

The lifespan of a refrigerator compressor

A compressor fault in the refrigerator is rare, and it happens only when the refrigerator is older than 10 years. 

If the new refrigerator has a compressor fault, it must be due to improper handling. 

On average, the compressor lasts between 10 to 20 years. However, the number of years varies based on the brand of the refrigerator and how well you maintain it throughout the year. 

These are the signs of a faulty compressor: 

  • Overheating fridge and the compressor. 
  • The food inside the refrigerator is warm. 
  • Unusual noises from the refrigerator.
  • High utility bills. 

Factors that can impact the lifespan of a compressor

Even though compressors are long-lasting, some factors determine the refrigerator’s lifespan. Here are some of the factors impacting the lifespan of the compressor. 

Old refrigerator

The refrigerator’s lifespan is 10 to 20 years. And the compressor also has a limited period of its lifespan. It also lasts up to 18 years. 

If your refrigerator is 10 to 15 years old, there are more chances of the compressor getting faulty. 

The symptoms of faulty compressors are a humming sound that creates a knocking sound when the compressor shuts off. 

 In such cases, the compressor is not working efficiently. Replacing the refrigerator itself is the wiser choice than replacing a compressor. 

Imbalance in the load in the refrigerator

Heavy or no load in the refrigerator will also cause damage to the compressor. 

If the refrigerator is empty and running for a long time, a refrigerant will enter the compressor in both liquid and gas states. 

It will cause the compressor to fail. 

If you overload the refrigerator, the amount of refrigerant inside the compressor will increase. 

Because of this, the compressor will work excessively, and eventually, it will break down. 

So, it is important to keep the load in the refrigerator balanced. 

Dirty condenser coils

Condenser coils are situated at the backside of the refrigerator. 

If there is dirt and debris accumulation in the condenser coils, the efficiency of the compressor performance will be reduced. 

It can also cause difficulties for the refrigerator to cool the interior and exterior. 

If there is an accumulation of oily substances, the compressor will work excessively, which causes overheating and damage to the compressor.

High voltage

During the rainy season, lightning strikes commonly occur. 

During these times, there will be a heavy surge of electricity to the appliance. 

It will damage the inner parts of the appliance, like the compressor and condenser. 

Turning off the refrigerator during the rainy season is important to prevent this mishap. 

Refrigerant contamination

The refrigerator’s compressor is designed to carry refrigerant and oil if other dust particles, moisture, and air contaminate the compressor. 

If the compressor is contaminated, it will not pump the refrigerant effectively. 

And the compressor will start working excessively, leading to damage. 

Low refrigerant

If the refrigerant is insufficient for the compressor to pump, the compressor will break down. 

Consult a professional to check if enough refrigerant is filled in the compressor. 

Damages in the suction lines

The suction line refers to the pipes which carry refrigerants. 

If those lines are blocked or damaged, there will be a shortage of refrigerant in the compressor. 

As a result, the compressor will work hard to keep the refrigerator cool

Then it will cause damage to the compressor. 

Bad valves in the compressor

There are valves in the compressor that facilitate the movement of the refrigerants. 

If the valves are damaged, the compressor will not work efficiently. 

Diagnosing the damages in the compressor valve will be difficult. 

Even though the valves are damaged, the compressor will keep repeating the refrigeration cycle. 

As the valves are damaged, a compressor will work heavily to continue the cycle. Eventually, it will break down. 

So, you must consider hiring technicians to check the valves in the compressor. 

Lack of maintenance

Not maintaining the compressor regularly will lead to the accumulation of dirt and debris. 

Proper maintenance is important to prevent the compressor from getting faulty. 

You can also hire a professional for the regular maintenance of your refrigerator. 

Cost of replacing a compressor in a refrigerator

The cost of replacing the compressor varies based on the model and brand. 

Replacing the compressor in the high-end model is more expensive than a common brand. 

The labor cost in your area is the major factor to consider while replacing the compressor. 

The replacement compressor’s cost ranges from $40 to $500. 

The cost may differ based on the brand and model. And the labor cost ranges from $250 to $650. Consider consulting the local technician in your locality to determine the total cost of replacing the compressor. 

When it is not worth replacing a compressor in the refrigerator?

Suppose your refrigerator is older than 10 or 15 years. 

In that case, replacing the compressor in your refrigerator will not be beneficial because replacing the compressor will be half the price of a new refrigerator. 

And also, even if you replace the compressor in the old refrigerator, it is common for other faults and repairs in your refrigerator. 

There are chances for the compressor to break down again. 

Factors to consider while replacing the compressor in the refrigerator

Refrigerator age

If your refrigerator is 10 to 15 years older, replacing the compressor is not wise. 

Instead of struggling with the compressor repair, you can replace the refrigerator. 

Repair history of your refrigerator

If your refrigerator has undergone repairs recently or frequent repairs are occurring, it is better to replace the refrigerator than repair the compressor. 

Warranty status of the refrigerator

Check if the compressor or your refrigerator is in the warranty period. 

If the compressor is in the warranty period, you can repair the compressor issues free of cost. 

Or you can replace the refrigerator by claiming the warranty. 

Cost of the refrigerator

If your refrigerator costs $1700, it is not good to go for a repair worth $1000. 

You can replace the refrigerator to your benefit. 

When is it worth replacing the compressor in the refrigerator? 

If your refrigerator is new and is in the warranty period, you can replace the compressor instead of replacing the entire unit. 

Repairing the compressor is good for the environment and will be a cost-effective choice. 

The impact of replacing a compressor on the overall efficiency of the refrigerator

If your refrigerator is new and under warranty period, the compressor in the refrigerator became faulty due to improper handling. 

It will be beneficial to replace the compressor and improve the refrigerator’s overall efficiency. 

Impacts of replacing the compressor in the relatively new refrigerator

  • Replacing the compressor in your refrigerator will regulate energy consumption and reduce utility bills. 
  • A faulty compressor will reduce the cooling efficiency of the refrigerator system. Replacing the compressor will enhance the cooling efficiency of the refrigerator.
  • Replacing the compressor ensures safety, as the faulty compressor is prone to fire and causes damage to the refrigerator. 
  • Replacing the compressor in the relatively new refrigerator will increase its lifespan. 

The importance of hiring a professional to replace a refrigerator compressor

A compressor contains toxic refrigerants in it. 

Replacing it without experience will lead to refrigerant leakage or other damage to the unit. 

And also, replacing compressors is a complicated job that requires technical knowledge. 

So, it is best to hire a professional to replace the compressor to avoid risk and hazards. 

How to maintain the compressor in the refrigerator to prevent issues? 

You can prevent the issues in the compressor by cleaning it regularly. 

They are prone to dirt and debris accumulation on the back side of the refrigerator. 

In such cases, dirt accumulation will reduce the efficiency of the compressor. 

Follow the steps below to clean the compressor

  • Unplug the refrigerator from the electric outlet. 
  • Prepare a damp cloth to clean all the dirt and grim accumulation in the compressor coils. Ensure the cloth is dry enough to protect the other parts of the refrigerator. 
  • If the compressor is not so dirty, you can use a duster and a vacuum cleaner to clear the dust in the compressor. 
  • As you have cleaned the compressor with the wet cloth, you must not plug in the refrigerator immediately. Let the compressor coils dry before you plug in the refrigerator. 
  • Maintain a schedule for cleaning the compressor and the entire refrigerator to avoid excess accumulation of dust and debris. 

Final thoughts

Faults in the refrigerator’s compressor are rare, and it causes a serious impact on the efficiency of cooling systems. If the compressor is faulty, the content inside the refrigerator will not stay fresh for the longest time, and it also increases the utility bills. 

Replace the compressor if your refrigerator is relatively new and has no other issues. If your refrigerator is older than 10 to 15 years, replacing the entire refrigerator unit is the wiser choice. 

Consider hiring a professional to replace it, as it requires special equipment and technical experience. 

How long do replacement compressors last?

If you have replaced the compressor in the refrigerator, it will last up to 10 to 15 years, provided you maintain it properly.

What does a broken compressor sound like?

Banging, ticking, ratting, and loud clanking sound in the refrigerator indicates the faults in the compressor.

Reference: Compressor Wikipedia

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Jeniffer Smith

Hi, I am Jeniffer Smith, a housemaker and blogger, and I grew up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. I have been researching and fixing appliances and other things around the home and kitchen from a young age to help my single mother. Every time something went wrong, I couldn't rest until I fixed it. And ever since, I have enjoyed fixing things around my home, and I am always ready to help my friends and family with advice and hands-on help. Since we were always looking for affordable ways of fixing things, we rarely hired experts and tried to fix most things ourselves. That interest brought me to write for this blog, as I realized my knowledge could help many people trying to fix things around their homes on their own without spending hundreds of dollars.

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