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4 Reasons Why Your Refrigerator Runs Constantly

Most of us rarely take note of our refrigerator’s operation until it suddenly starts running all the time. Wondering why your refrigerator runs constantly? A faulty defrost thermostat can result in a buildup of frost that restricts the flow of cold air. Determine why your refrigerator won’t stop running with these common causes.

Refrigerator Runs Constantly?
Here’s How to Troubleshoot

Should a refrigerator run all the time? While modern compressors tend to run for longer periods, using less energy, they shouldn’t run continually. Here’s how to figure out if a simple adjustment, professional repair, or basic maintenance can resolve the issue.

Internal Temperature is Too High

Both the freezer and refrigerator need to be within a specific temperature range to cool properly. If the freezer or refrigerator temperature is too high, the refrigerator runs constantly in an attempt to keep the interior cool. Even if the refrigerator temperature is within the right range, a high freezer temperature can still warm the refrigerator, leading to constant running.

Check your user manual to ensure both the refrigerator and freezer temperatures are set to the manufacturer’s specifications. Generally, the freezer temperature should be set between 0-5℉, while the refrigerator should be between 35-38℉. Most refrigerator temperatures can be easily changed via push-button controls or temperature dials.


Faulty Defrost Thermostat

The defrost thermostat is a vital part of the defrost system that prevents frost from accumulating on refrigerator components. The defrost thermostat monitors the temperature of the evaporator coils, signaling the defrost heater to melt any frost if the coils get too cold. 

If the thermostat is faulty and can’t signal the heater, frost on the coils will accumulate, restricting the flow of cold air. When this happens, the refrigerator runs all the time in a vain attempt to keep cool. A faulty defrost thermostat will exhibit no continuity with multimeter testing and should be professionally replaced.

Condenser Fan Motor

When your refrigerator runs constantly, a failed condenser fan motor is a common culprit. The condenser fan blows cool air over the condenser coils to remove heat from the refrigerant, producing cool air for the refrigerator. If the fan malfunctions, the refrigerant may not cool sufficiently, prompting the compressor to run all the time. 

If the area between the deli drawer and freezer is specifically warmer, it’s likely due to a condenser fan problem. This area contains tubing for the condenser that will heat up if the fan malfunctions. Most fans are located behind the refrigerator’s rear access panel and should first be checked for blockages that prevent the blades from turning. If there are no obstructions and multimeter testing of the fan motor shows a lack of continuity, it must be replaced.

Condenser Coils Are Dirty

In some cases, a refrigerator never stops running if the condenser coils are dirty. When the refrigerant flows through the condenser coils, it releases heat that enables it to create cool air for the refrigerator. 


If the coils are coated in dust and dirt, the refrigerant may not cool properly, and the refrigerator’s temperature warms. This will prompt the compressor to run constantly as it tries to cool the interior. Fortunately, cleaning the coils is a simple process that can be repeated annually to maintain their function.

Here’s how to clean refrigerator condenser coils:

  1. Turn off power to the refrigerator.
  2. Consult your user manual to determine how to access the condenser coils on your model refrigerator. Most are behind an upper or lower front grille or behind a rear access panel.
  3. Brush the coils with an appliance brush to remove dust, dirt, and debris.
  4. Vacuum lingering debris on and around the coils with the brush attachment.
  5. Replace the grille or access panel.
  6. Restore the refrigerator’s power.

The team at Dependable Repair Services can help if your refrigerator runs constantly. Contact us to schedule a prompt and professional assessment!

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