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What are the common causes of refrigerator failure?

why my fridge is not cooling fast

Everything requires proper maintenance regularly for the best results, whether it is your home appliances or your health. And, when it comes to your refrigerator, an appliance that also has an impact on your diet and health, it becomes even more important to keep a keen eye on its functioning. Refrigerators are kind of an essential appliance used in almost every home but are usually left ignored or unnoticed. But the moment your refrigerator stops functioning properly, you realize how important its regular maintenance is. Refrigerator failure leads to damage to the food stored inside it and thus damage to your health. Now, there can be numerous causes behind a refrigerator failure such as issues with any of the components, frequent power failures, lack of cleaning, etc. but there are some very common causes behind it as well. Here, we are going to discuss the common causes of refrigerator failure like overstuffing, compressor issues, etc. 

Common causes of refrigerator failure

Image credit: Flickr

Refrigerator malfunction can be caused due to several reasons and when not taken care of on time, they may result in some serious damage to the unit.

Following are some of the most common causes of refrigerator failure: 

  1. Constant running:

    When you buy a new refrigerator, they are required to run constantly for a few hours, as mentioned in the user manual, after plugging in the unit. This step is necessary to make the refrigerator ready to handle the full capacity load to be stored inside it. Skipping the free running on a new refrigerator can lead to the refrigerator malfunctioning at an early stage of usage of the unit. But, if your old refrigerator keeps running constantly, it is an issue that needs to be dealt with on a priority basis as it may damage the components of the refrigerator.

    Some refrigerator accessories that can be helpful for you are:
    a) AKINLY 9 Pack Refrigerator Mats
    b) Set Of 6 Refrigerator Organizer Bins
    c) HapiLeap Fridge Drawer Organizer, Unique Design Pull Out Bins
    d) Magnetic Black Dry Erase Board for Fridge: with Bright Neon Chalk Markers
    e) Refrigerator Deodorizer – Fridge and Freezer Odor Eliminator
    f) Dualplex Fruit & Veggie Life Extender Liner for Fridge Refrigerator Drawers
    g) Sooyee 2 Pack Covered Egg Holders for Refrigerator
    h) Zip n Store – Your Refrigerator Organizer Bins
    i) Camco Durable Steel Refrigerator-Freezer Thermometer
    j) OUGAR8 Refrigerator Door Handle Covers

  2. Compressor motor issues:

    There can be two main reasons behind the breakdown of the compressor motors of the refrigerator. The first reason can be the age of the refrigerator and its compressor motors. If the refrigerator is too old, its compressor motors may have completed their useful life period and thus started malfunctioning. The other reason may be that the compressor motors became over-heated due to the refrigerator’s heavy usage, such as over-stuffing of food and beverages inside the refrigerator. The over-heating of the motor can cause it to stop functioning completely. Make sure to change the compressor immediately to get your refrigerator functioning properly again.

    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

  3. Overstuffing inside the refrigerator:

    Like any other appliance, refrigerators also have a specific capacity of load they can handle at any time to run properly. The user manuals mention the specific amount of food that can be stored inside the refrigerator at any time. But when you overstuff the refrigerator, its starts to over-heat and thus starts malfunctioning. Overstuffing puts extra pressure on the compressor motors of the refrigerator sometimes leading to its breakdown. Now if your refrigerator is within the warranty period, you can contact the manufacturer for the repair or replacement of the compressor motor. But, if the warranty period for your unit has already expired, repairing a compressor motor is a costly affair. Therefore, it is important to follow the guidelines and specifications mentioned in the user manual of your refrigerator to keep it in good condition for a long time.

  4. Old models of a refrigerator:

    If the refrigerator that you own is an old one, it has a higher risk of failure. After being used for a certain period, refrigerators, like any other appliance, starts slacking on their performance. The reason behind this can be wear and tear of the components, over usage of the unit over time, expiration of its useful life, etc. All this can lead to refrigerator failure, thus causing problems with the foods and beverages stored in the refrigerator. Check the useful life of your unit and if you have been using it past its life, it is probably time to get yourself a new refrigerator. 

  5. Frayed cabling:

    Usually, frayed cables are a result of small rodents chewing up the cables and damaging them. Frayed cables or wires present a serious risk to both the appliance and you as it may lead to power failures, arcing, and electrical fire. When the cables are frayed, damaged, or ripped, it stops your refrigerator from functioning. So, whenever you notice any functional issue with your refrigerator, check for cables and if there are any frayed cables, contact an expert repair person immediately to fix the issue safely for you to prevent any further damage. 

    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

  6. Refrigerant leakage:

    Refrigerators use a chemical, commonly known as refrigerants, to create the cooling effect in the refrigerator and keep your food fresh. In case the refrigerant starts to leak from the refrigerant lines due to any reason, the refrigerator stops the cooling. The signs of refrigerant leaks are oil on the floor, continuous running of the motors, or a chemical smell inside the refrigerant. If you notice any of these signs, call a professional so that he can find the source of the leak and refill the refrigerant as per your refrigerator’s standard requirements. Refrigerant leaks, if ignored for a long time, can cause severe damage to your refrigerator. 


Though there can be several reasons behind the malfunctioning of your refrigerator, above mentioned points are the most common causes of refrigerator failure. These issues if not taken care of on time, can lead to some serious damages to your refrigerator, your health, and sometimes even to your home. Proper maintenance of your refrigerator and acting on its abnormal functioning is a must to keep your unit in good condition and running smoothly for a long time. 

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