A refrigerator that keeps running is noisy and irritating, but it also adds on to your power bill.
This guide will address the most common reasons for a refrigerator that runs constantly and provides potential fixes you can try to fix the problem.
The following Whirlpool refrigerator models are covered in this guide:
Adjust the Thermostat
Before trying anything else, make sure the thermostats are set correctly. Your refrigerator should be set at or below 40°F and your freezer at 0°F.
The most common reason that an incorrectly set thermostat will cause the refrigerator to run constantly is a freezer temperature that is set too high. If the freezer is not cold enough, it will cause the refrigerator to warm up. This will cause the refrigerator to constantly run in order to keep cooling it down.
Regularly check the actual temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer with a thermometer. If it is warmer than what the thermostat is set at, you may need to adjust the thermostat down further to account for the difference.
Clean the Condenser Coils
The condenser coils underneath the refrigerator dissipate heat that is generated as the refrigerant passes through them. This is a part of the process of cooling the refrigerator. Since they are located underneath the refrigerator, they can accumulate dirt, dust, and pet hair over time.
When the coils get dirty, it has the effect of insulating the heat of the coils, making it harder for them to dissipate the heat. This can cause your refrigerator to run constantly to try to cool down. Giving them a good clean should solve the problem.
Here’s how to do it:
- Turn your refrigerator off at the wall or unplug it.
- Remove the panel at the bottom of your refrigerator. This is at the front of the refrigerator underneath the door. It can be removed easily by pulling it firmly.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a stiff brush attachment to brush the coils and suck away any dust, dirt, or hair. Thoroughly clean the whole area.
- Replace the panel and turn your refrigerator back on.
Check the Evaporator Coils for Frost
After the refrigerant passes through the condenser coils, it enters the evaporator coils. Inside these coils, the refrigerant expands into a cold gas. This is how the refrigerator gets cold.
As the evaporator coils work, they frost over. The frost stops the coils from working efficiently, so the refrigerator runs regular defrost cycles to remove it.
If this defrost system is malfunctioning, the condenser coils will remain frosted, and the refrigerator will run constantly, as it won’t be able to cool down the compartment.
There are a variety of components that could cause this problem if they are defective. To check that you are on the right track, first access the evaporator coils and check them for excessive frost.
Here’s how to do it:
- Consult your model’s instruction manual before starting. It will tell you the exact location of the evaporator coils, so use it in conjunction with these instructions.
- Switch off the refrigerator at the wall and unplug it.
- Remove everything from the freezer, including food, drawers, and shelves.
- If your freezer has an ice maker, use a ¼-inch nut driver to remove the screws holding the ice maker in place. Pull out the ice maker and disconnect the wires; then remove the fill tube extension by pulling it.
- Use a ¼-inch nut driver to loosen all screws holding the rear access panel in place. Remove the panel.
- Remove the insulator block if your model has one by simply pulling it out.
- If there is a large buildup of frost on the evaporator coils, you can use a multimeter to check a number of different parts that may be causing the problem. These are described in the next section.
- Replace the insulator block, rear access panel, and ice maker. Use a ¼-inch nut driver to replace all screws holding the rear access panel and ice maker in place. Replace the fill tube extension.
- Place drawers, shelves, and food back in your freezer and switch it back on.
Check for Defective Components
If your evaporator coils are covered in frost, there are several components that could be causing the problem. While you have the rear access panel off, you can access these components and test them with a multimeter.
Remove the component and place one multimeter probe on each side or one on each terminal. You will be looking for a reading of one or close to one. This indicates that current cannot pass through this component, and it will need replacing.
Some of these components will require you to use a ¼-inch nut driver or a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove the screws holding them in place before you can remove them.
The following components need checking:
- The defrost heater assembly. This is the element that heats the evaporator coils, causing them to defrost. It is a long, thin metal filament like an element from an electric oven and runs around or behind the coils. It is secured by several metal straps that need to be unscrewed.
- The defrost thermostat. This detects the temperature of the evaporator coils and activates the heater when the coils are below a certain temperature. It is a circular component attached to the coils by a metal strap. It has wires attached to it. It can be removed by unplugging the wires and pulling it off the coils.
- The evaporator fan motor. The fan motor is usually located above the evaporator coils. It can be removed by simply pulling it downward firmly. It has terminals on it that you can test for electrical failure. You can also try to manually turn the fan with your fingers. If it does not turn freely, this could also indicate a defective fan motor.
You can replace these components yourself. To find the correct part number, you need to consult your refrigerator’s instruction manual. Some models use different parts.
If you are uncomfortable with doing these checks or repairs yourself, contact a professional refrigerator repair technician to perform them.
Those are some of the major causes of a Whirlpool refrigerator running endlessly. If these fixes don’t work, you will need to contact a professional appliance repair technician to find the source of the fault and fix it.
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