Modern refrigerators can last several years without experiencing any problems. However, that does not mean you should not do what you can to maintain them. An HVAC contractor is typically the person that will help you with refrigeration maintenance and repair. If you notice that your refrigerator is having a problem and does not seem to be keeping things quite as cool, you may need a compressor replacement. Here is how you can tell if the compressor is the problem or there is something else going on with your refrigerator.
There Is No Regular or Steady Hum
When a compressor in a refrigerator kicks in, you know it. It hums and may even make your refrigerator vibrate slightly. Usually, all it takes for the compressor to kick in is opening the refrigerator door and standing there a few minutes with the door open. Then the refrigerator's sensors signal the compressor to push more refrigerant into the cooling tubes to keep the refrigerator at the temperature it was before you opened the door. If your refrigerator has no regular hum with the door closed or no steady hum when the door is opened, your compressor may be shot.
The Temperatures in Your Fridge and Freezer Vary Wildly
When there are fluctuations in temperatures in your refrigerator and/or freezer (e.g., your ice cream is soup one day and solid the next), your compressor may be on its way out. The compressor is responsible for keeping the refrigerant moving and for helping it turn into a liquid (instead of remaining in its gaseous/vapor state). The problem could also be the amount of refrigerant in the cooling coils or the evaporator.
A sure sign to help you tell the difference is the compressor's activity levels. If your compressor is suddenly so loud you cannot hear yourself think every time it kicks in, or your refrigerator vibrates to the point that bottles are falling off the shelves inside the refrigerator, it is probably the compressor. Conversely, if the compressor is relatively quiet and behaving normally, but the heating and cooling coils are neither cool nor warm, it could be the amount of refrigerant in them or the problem could be the evaporator.
There Is a Burning Smell or Smoke Coming from the Back of the Refrigerator
This typically happens with older refrigerators, but that does not mean it cannot happen with newer ones. If you get a burning smell coming from the back of your refrigerator when the compressor attempts to kick in, or you see small puffs of smoke, unplug your refrigerator and call an HVAC contractor right away. Everything inside the refrigerator or freezer should keep until the contractor arrives, but you should look for alternative freezing and refrigeration options just in case. Contact a business that offers compressor replacement for more information.