Refrigerator Running Too Often? Check It With These Tips

Researched & Written by Craig

The persistent humming from a refrigerator that won’t stop running is irritating. But what’s even more irritating is the sky-high electric bill that’s coming as a result at the end of the month. This article will help you identify your refrigerator’s problem and fix it.

If your refrigerator is constantly running, check for one of the following:

  • Dirty condenser coils
  • A high freezer temperature
  • A faulty defrost heater
  • A faulty defrost termination thermostat
  • Damaged refrigerator door gaskets
  • A faulty condenser fan motor

Ok, it’s all well and good identifying the problem. But what about the solution? Take a look at the following refrigerator guide. It will talk you through these problems in more detail. It will also mention tips that will help you to get your fridge working properly again ASAP. 

Refrigerator Running Too Often? Check It With These Tips

The endless hum of a refrigerator is one of those noises that you try to convince yourself that you can ignore. The kids manage to block it out. But, they walk around with earphones in for 90% of the day. Your partner, of course, is completely oblivious to it too. It’s the kind of noise that slowly gets under your skin. It makes you contemplate plugging the fridge out for the day just to catch a break. 

But a refrigerator that runs 24/7 does more than simply disrupt your peace. It will also land you a hefty electric bill at the end of the month. So for these reasons and more, you’re no doubt keen to get the problem fixed pronto.  

Take a look at the following information. It will go into detail about the most common reasons why a refrigerator would run continuously. Follow the tips to get the problem sorted. 

Dirty Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are located under your refrigerator. They work to draw heat away from the unit.

If your condenser coils are dirty, your refrigerator will have to work overtime to keep cool. This will make it run for longer than it should do. 

What can you do if dirty condenser coils are making your refrigerator run constantly? Keep them clean! They should be cleaned twice a year. This will help to keep your fridge running so well you won’t be able to catch it. (Pun intended.)

Not too sure how to clean your condenser coils? Then take a look at the method below:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator. 
  2. Move the refrigerator from its place.
  3. Use a refrigerator condenser coil brush to clean the coils of dust and dirt. 
  4. Sweep and then mop the floor under the refrigerator. Wait for the floor to dry.
  5. Put the refrigerator back in place and plug it in. 
The back part of the refrigerator showing it's vital parts.

The parts of a refrigerator we need to check.

A High Freezer Temperature

Do you get that numbing sting on your fingertips when digging through the freezer looking for the cookie dough ice cream? This sensation no doubt has you convinced that your freezer is plenty cold enough. But just how cold should your freezer be? 

For your food to freeze safely, your freezer should be set at a chilly 0 degrees Fahrenheit  (-18 ०C). Any warmer, and your refrigerator will have to work hard to keep the unit cool. This could cause it to run constantly. 

What can you do if your freezer temperature is too high? Consider some of the following tips:

  • Manually defrost the freezer if it has iced up and doesn’t have an auto-defrost mechanism. 
  • If you hear a whirring or a rattling noise replace the compressor. 
  • Replace the cold control thermostat.
  • Listen to the sound of the evaporator fan working inside the freezer when the compressor runs. If you can’t hear it then you may need to replace it. 

A Faulty Defrost Heater

Your defrost heater operates a couple of times a day. It works to thaw the build up of frost on the evaporator coils. The defrost heater has a heater wire encased in a glass or aluminum tube. You will find it located next to the evaporator coils. 

What will happen if your defrost heater is not working properly? – Frost will begin to accumulate on the evaporator coils. If your evaporator coils are frosted over, it will be difficult for the refrigerator to remove heat from the unit. This will cause the refrigerator to run constantly as it battles to cool itself down. 

To determine if your defrost heater is faulty, you will need to test it with a multimeter. Here’s how:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator. 
  2. Remove the defrost heater. (To do so, you will likely have to remove the shelves, drawers, and other parts that are in the way.)
  3. Set your multimeter to Rx1 mode. 
  4. Place the probes on the defrost heater’s terminals and test for continuity.
  5. You should see a reading between zero and infinity. Any other reading will show that your defrost heater needs replacing.

A Faulty Defrost Termination Thermostat

Your defrost termination thermostat and defrost heater work hand in hand. The defrost heater works to thaw the build up of frost on the evaporator coils. The defrost termination thermostat is what detects the temperature on the coils. It turns the defrost heater on when they’re too cold and off when they have finished defrosting. 

Is your refrigerator running constantly? Then you may have a problem with the defrost termination thermostat. If it is failing to work properly, then it will not detect the temperature of the coils accurately. This could cause the defrost heater to stay on although the coils have finished defrosting. This would keep the refrigerator running. 

What should you do if you think that your defrost termination thermostat is faulty? Conduct a multimeter test for continuity. If it does not show continuity, replace the thermostat. 

Damaged Refrigerator Door Gaskets

Door gaskets are the seals that run around the refrigerator. These seals help to keep warmth and moisture out of the fridge so that it can maintain its temperature. 

If your fridge is constantly running, that could mean that your door gaskets are damaged. If your refrigerator is letting in warm air, the defrost cycle will have to run constantly to keep the environment cool. 

How can you tell if your door gaskets are damaged? The following are signs of wear and tear on your gaskets:

  • Torn gaskets
  • Brittle or cracked gaskets
  • Moisture on freezer shelves
  • Moisture on the edge of the door
  • Moisture around the air outlet ducts
A refrigerator's rubber gasket that is loose can cause problems.

Damaged gaskets is a big no-no.

Do you think that your refrigerator gaskets could use replacing? Then here’s how to do it:

  1. Start by soaking your new gasket in warm water or running it on a low cycle in your clothes dryer. This will make it easier for you to get the new gasket on. 
  2. Loosen but do not remove the screws that hold the old gasket to the edge of the door. 
  3. Pry the old gasket away from the door.
  4. If you soaked the new gasket in warm water, dry it off. 
  5. Starting with one of the top corners, pull the gasket lip behind the metal retainer. Continue working your way around the fridge pulling the gasket around the container. 
  6. Tighten the screws that fasten the gasket to the edge of the door. 

A Faulty Condenser Fan Motor

The condenser fan motor works together with the condenser coils. These help to keep your refrigerator at the right temperature. When the condenser coils begin to build a layer of frost, the condenser fan motor pushes air over them. This defrosts them. 

If your condenser fan is blocked or faulty, then your refrigerator will not function well. If the fan doesn’t operate properly then the compressor will have to work harder to keep the fridge cool. This could cause the fridge to keep running non-stop. 

What can you do if you suspect that your condenser fan motor is blocked? Take a look at the following tips:

  1. Unplug the refrigerator. 
  2. Remove any rubbish that may be blocking the fan. 
  3. Vacuum clean that area frequently to stop rubbish from building up in the fan. 

What can you do if you suspect that your condenser fan motor is faulty?

  • Check for wear and tear on the motor and blades. 
  • Have a technician test that the electricity is flowing correctly to the fan. 
  • Check that the motor has continuity. 

How Often Should a Refrigerator Start and Stop?

There isn’t an average time for a refrigerator to start and stop. That’s because various factors will alter how long it runs. 

Here are some of them:

  • How often you open the refrigerator door. 
  • How often you put warm food in the refrigerator.
  • The ambient temperature of your kitchen. 

Do you live with many people and is the fridge is constantly being opened and closed? Do you live in a hot or humid climate? If so, then your fridge will turn on and off more often than it would in a house where someone lives alone in a cold climate.

Conclusion

The noise of the fridge constantly running can be annoying. Not to mention expensive. I hope that this article has helped you to pinpoint the problem and get on the road to fixing it. 

If this guide has helped you, why not check out some of our related articles below?

Thanks for reading. Have a great day!

-Craig