Refrigerators typically last a long time but that doesn’t mean they never have problems. If your refrigerator isn’t working properly, an issue with the compressor may be the cause. Appliance repairs can be costly, so it’s helpful to know what to expect before you call for service.
Replacing a refrigerator’s compressor usually costs between $250 and $700 depending on your specific make and model. In most cases, the compressor itself will cost at least $100 and may be $500 or more plus labor costs of up to $200 per hour. Repair work on the compressor may cost between $100-$300.
How Much is a Refrigerator Compressor?
A new compressor may cost several hundred dollars, with most priced between $200 and $500. However, some models may be less expensive than others while some are priced in the $600 to $700 range.
The cost for the new compressor mainly depends on the make and model and the compressor’s size. Larger compressors typically cost more than smaller units.
Let’s take a look at some example compressors and their prices to help you get a better idea of what to expect.
|Manufacturer||Part Number||Sample Price|
As you can see, in many cases a new compressor costs between $200 and $250. Still, there are some makes and models that are priced much higher. Depending on your refrigerator, you may find that a new compressor is $500, $700, or even $900.
Additionally, this cost is just for the compressor itself and any necessary parts included in the kit. It does not account for the labor cost to have a technician diagnose the problem and do the replacement.
You should expect to add another $200 or more to the price for labor. The total labor charges will depend on the technician’s hourly rate and how long it takes them to complete the work. So, a skilled tech may be worth it to ensure the job is completed timely.
In most cases, you’ll have to pay at least $50 (often more) just to have someone come out and look at your fridge. You should ensure you’re aware of the service call fee or minimum charge before the technician comes out. Usually, you’ll be expected to pay that charge even if they don’t work on or repair the issue.
What Does a Refrigerator Compressor Do?
The compressor is what keeps your refrigerator cold, so it’s a critical part of the appliance. It works by using a refrigerant gas and fans to move air through the compressor and into the refrigerator.
Your thermostat controls how frequently the compressor needs to kick on and push more cool air into the fridge. The compressor also works to keep your freezer cold, too.
How Long Do Refrigerator Compressors Last?
Refrigerator compressors are typically built to last because they’re so important to the appliance’s functionality. You should expect most refrigerator compressors to last 8 to 10 years, or even longer in some cases.
Keeping your refrigerator and compressor well-maintained is key to extending the fridge’s lifespan.
Dirty evaporator coils and dust blocking the ventilation systems are culprits for condenser damage because they make the parts work harder than they should. When dust and debris covers the coils and decreases the compressor’s efficiency, the refrigerator may not operate properly.
Low refrigerant or using the wrong kind of refrigerant may also cause condenser problems, or you could be dealing with poor electrical connections.
How to Know if Your Refrigerator Compressor is Bad
A faulty compressor will be something you notice rather quickly because it will normally result in your refrigerator not working properly. If you notice your fridge isn’t cooling like normal or it feels warm inside, it could mean the condenser is failing.
Signs your refrigerator compressor may be failing:
- Loud or unusual noise coming from the compressor
- Compressor is not running (no humming sound coming from the fridge)
- Compressor frequently turns on and off
- Compressor turns off before fridge is cool
- Temperature inside refrigerator is not cool enough
- Compressor is overheating
- Refrigerator is using excessive wattage
- Increased utility usage/bills
If you suspect a bad compressor, there are some other things you can check first to narrow down the problem. For example, it’s a good idea to verify the fridge has power running to it before placing a service call. If the light comes on when you open the door, it means the refrigerator does have power. So, it could still be the compressor.
Another thing to check is the temperature setting. Verify that no one has tampered with the thermostat and that the fridge is still set to your desired temperature.
Troubleshooting Your Refrigerator Compressor
Before you call a service technician, there are a few things you can try on your own. Of course, if your compressor is bad, you won’t be able to take care of it yourself without a professional. Still, in some cases, the compressor hasn’t failed completely and it’s something that you may be able to resolve.
Follow these steps to reset your refrigerator’s compressor:
1. Unplug the refrigerator and leave it unplugged for several minutes.
2. Turn off the refrigerator and freezer from the fridge’s control panel (inside the fridge) or turn the settings to “zero.”
3. Plug the refrigerator back in.
4. Reset your temperature settings.
5. Wait for the temperature to stabilize (up to 24 hours).
If the temperature doesn’t go back to normal and you’re still having problems with the compressor after performing the reset, you may need to call a professional.
Compressor Care and Maintenance
To keep your refrigerator compressor in tip-top shape and reduce the chances of damage or failure, there are some easy care and preventative maintenance tasks you can do. Taking the time to do a little housekeeping now can save you a lot of time, money, and headaches later on if your compressor fails.
Here are some things you can do approximately twice per year to keep your compressor in optimal condition.
- Check electrical connections: Look for any frayed wiring, check insulation, and look for corroded terminals. Replace anything damaged and tighten all electrical connections. Check connections inside the compressor’s electrical box.
- Check electrical components and contacts: Look for any worn or pitted contact points, taking a moment to wipe them clean. Take a close look at conductors to see if there are any signs of discoloration indicating loose wiring or an overcurrent issue. Remove any debris from the contactor.
- Inspect the defrost timer motor: Check that the mechanism rotates freely, cleaning the contact points and lubricating the gears as needed.
- Check operations and controls: Verify pressure controls are operating correctly and check setpoints. Check the room temperature thermostat by ensuring the compressor pumps down and cycles off correctly, and the solenoid valve closes.
- Check the oil level: The oil level in the compressor should be between ⅓ and ⅔ filled in the window.
- Check the defrost cycles: The defrost cycle should happen automatically according to the timer. The defrost cycle should stop based on the temperature controls, and the evaporator fans should have about a two minute pause before the system restarts.
- Inspect refrigerant lines: Insulation should be intact and in good condition. Anything damaged or waterlogged should be replaced. Refrigerant level should be full while the fridge is operating normally.
- Check for dust and debris: Remove any visible dust and debris on the back of the unit or blocking any of the mechanisms. Look for visible ice buildup or other debris that could affect the operations.
The Bottom Line: Is It Worth It to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor?
Refrigerator compressors normally last a long time and may continue working properly for the entire time you own the appliance. However, if your fridge starts having temperature problems or you hear a loud noise instead of a soft hum, it could indicate a condenser problem.
Replacing a bad condenser costs between $250 and $500 for most people. However, there are some refrigerator models that are much more expensive to repair. In those situations, the condenser itself may be priced at $500 to $700 (or more) plus the labor costs.
Depending on the problem, you may be able to repair the condenser rather than replacing it altogether, but that may not be a worthy investment depending on the price for a new unit.
If your refrigerator is less than 10 years old and otherwise hasn’t had many problems, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and replace the compressor. Purchasing a new refrigerator is significantly more expensive than doing the repair work in most cases.
However, if your refrigerator is very old, has had other problems, or you are interested in getting an upgraded model anyway, it may be better for you to skip the repair work and just purchase a new fridge altogether.