Is It Worth Replacing The Compressor On A Refrigerator?

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf
The compressor is one of the most important parts of a refrigerator, and it can be a nightmare when they go bad. Many homeowners opt to replace a bad compressor, but there are several reasons that is a bad idea, including the cost. Follow along as we explore why it is not worth replacing a bad refrigerator compressor.

Every component of a refrigerator is important and necessary for it to function properly. This is especially true for the compressor, so it can be disconcerting when it goes bad. So, is it worth replacing the compressor on a refrigerator?

It is worth replacing the compressor on a refrigerator if the unit is under 10 years old and nothing else is wrong with it. Replacing a refrigerator compressor costs $350 on average and is worth it if your refrigerator is otherwise healthy. It is a better deal to replace a refrigerator than the compressor if it is an old model.

Homeowners with DIY experience can replace a compressor for $175 or less without professional help. The decision ultimately comes down to how old the fridge is and if there is anything else wrong with it. Follow along as we explore the factors the determine if it is worth replacing the compressor on a refrigerator.

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Is it Worth Replacing the Compressor on a Refrigerator?

It is worth replacing the compressor on a refrigerator if it costs less than getting a new fridge altogether. A refrigerator can last for an average of 12 years, but compressor issues can occur anytime during its lifespan. However, it isn’t worth it to replace a compressor if your refrigerator is over 10 years old in most cases because you won’t be able to use it for long.

Compressors cost as much as $500 to replace or more if you hire professional help. New refrigerators cost $1,500 on average which is more than a compressor costs. It is only worth it to replace a compressor if your refrigerator is healthy besides that and has several more years of operation in the future.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace the Compressor in a Refrigerator?

It costs an average of $350 to replace the compressor in a refrigerator. You cannot repair a broken compressor, so you need to replace it or replace the entire refrigerator. Costs vary based on the type of refrigerator you have, how old it is, and the size of the previous compressor.

New Compressor$50-$300

It can cost over $500 to replace a compressor depending on the refrigerator. That is why some homeowners replace the fridge altogether if you’ve already had to service it several times or if the compressor costs too much. A compressor is an expensive part that is necessary for a refrigerator to run, so it’s important to replace it right away despite the cost.

How to Tell if Refrigerator Compressor is Bad

You can generally tell that a compressor is bad if you look out for several tell-tale signs. The quickest way to diagnose a bad compressor is to pull you’re your refrigerator away from the wall and listen for a humming or clicking noise. Feel around at the back of the refrigerator and take notice of excess heat which can indicate a bad compressor.

Another way to check the compressor without having to take things apart is to pull the fridge off the wall and check the thermostat. It is easy to accidentally turn up a refrigerator thermostat, so excess heat doesn’t always mean the compressor is bad. However, you can tell that your compressor is bad if it constantly puts off too much heat in the back if the problem isn’t with the thermostat.

Make sure that no contents inside of the fridge block the vents because that may make it seem like the compressor is bad. The best-case scenario is that you have food in the way of one of your vents because that means you won’t have to replace the compressor. A blocked vent can mimic the effects of a bad compressor, so it is easy to misidentify the problem.

Compressor Runs Constantly

You can tell that your compressor is bad if it runs constantly but your refrigerator won’t stay cool. This is a sign that either the compressor or the refrigerant system is faulty. Inspect the compressor or call a professional if this happens because it can be dangerous for food safety and the contents of the refrigerator may spoil.

Refrigerator Trips Breaker

A refrigerator can trip the breaker if the compressor is bad because it draws too much power and takes too long to start. Compressors take longer to start up over time, and they may draw up to 6 times more power than normal. The excessive electrical load can trip the breaker repeatedly as a safety measure.

How to Reset Compressor

Try to reset your compressor before you replace it to save time and money. You can generally fix a bad compressor if you reset it unless it is too old or damaged. Replace your refrigerator’s compressor if resetting it doesn’t help. It only takes a few simple steps to reset a refrigerator compressor, such as:

  • Disconnect the power cord from the refrigerator in the back. You will likely hear a tapping sound when you unplug the fridge, and that is normal. Wait 3-5 minutes before you do anything else so that the refrigerator is safe to work with.
  • Set the fridge and the freezer controls to either “0n” or “off” depending on your model. Plug the refrigerator back in and wait a minute for it to fully regain power. Adjust your freezer and fridge controls back to your desired settings. Most go from 0-9, and the average homeowner sets it to 5.
  • Wait a full day for the refrigerator to adjust and retain a stable temperature. You can tell that your compressor is bad if nothing changes by the end of the day. It is worth it to replace your refrigerator’s compressor in this case.

How Long Does a Refrigerator Last?

Refrigerators last for an average of 12 years. However, a healthy refrigerator can last closer to 15 years with regular maintenance. The older the unit is, the more that it will cost to repair the unit if you are looking to salvage it.

Repairing the fridge all depends on what you have into it, what it costs to repair it, and what it costs to replace it. While it may be ideal to keep your current fridge, it just may not be fiscally reasonable to keep that fridge for much longer. Additionally, consider what you use your fridge for. If you tend to use it for a lot of things, replacing it may not be the smartest option versus repair.

How Long Does Food Last When the Fridge’s Power Goes Out?

A power outage or a busted component that robs the fridge of its cooling power can leave you with serious question marks about how long your food may last. A good rule of thumb is that if the power goes out and you don’t open the doors, the fridge component can last for around 4 hours before foods will stop cooling properly.

The freezer, meanwhile, should last for 48 hours if it is a full freezer. If you have a half freezer, as is the case with smaller models of fridges, the food inside should remain fine for a full 24 hours. All of this is contingent on you not opening the freezer door, so keep that in mind.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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