Everything You Need to Know about Faulty Refrigerator Start Relays

Most people don't know much about how their refrigerator works. One thing you need to know is how important the compressor is. It's responsible for compressing refrigerant, which is vital for your refrigerator to work properly. However, the compressor must rely on the start relay to work.

What Does a Refrigerator Start Relay Do?

In many ways, the relationship between compressor and start relay is much like the relationship between your car's engine and its starter motor; the compressor does most of the work, but it can't function without a jump from the start relay.

You see, your compressor only runs during cooling cycles, so it needs help starting up when each cooling cycle begins. It's the start relay's job to give it that push. Luckily enough, it's fairly easy to tell when that's not happening.

How Do You Know a Start Relay Needs Replacing?

When the start relay isn't working properly, your refrigerator won't be able to cool itself. As such, the temperature inside your refrigerator will start to rise and fresh food will start to spoil. However, that isn't the only sign. When your compressor is running properly, you'll occasionally notice humming sounds coming from your refrigerator. If this sound is suddenly absent, something is wrong with the compressor, and it's usually nothing more than a bad start relay if the sound dropped off all at once.

While you're keeping an ear out for humming, pay attention to any clicking noises coming from the back of your refrigerator. When the start relay gives the compressor its kickstart, you should hear a click. However, the click happens regardless of whether or not the compressor comes on. A bad start relay may fail to start the compressor and keep trying every couple of minutes. If you hear multiple clicks over a fairly short period, the relay might need replacing.

How Can You Fix a Bad Start Relay?

While it's technically possible to fix a bad start relay, you're generally better off simply having it replaced. This is a relatively quick and inexpensive procedure. The refrigerator simply needs to be unplugged, then the bad start relay can be pulled from its socket and replaced with a new one. While the operation itself is straightforward, it's usually best to contact a refrigerator repair professional to ensure things go perfectly and that you get the right type of start relay. They'll also be able to diagnose any potential problems that caused your start relay to fail in the first place.