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I have a Danby mini fridge I bought used off Craigslist about 9 months ago. It's worked great until about a week ago when it suddenly stopped cooling at all (both fridge and freezer compartments). Now when I plug it in, it clicks every minute or two, and I don't hear any humming like I would expect from a fridge. Also, the compressor gets uncomfortably hot to the touch after being plugged in for a couple hours.

I pulled the relay off the compressor and shook it; I didn't hear any noise from it. It hasn't been laid down recently. I have a multimeter and can test different parts if I need to. I haven't taken off the interior rear panel to inspect anything yet.

What is the most likely cause of these symptoms?

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Sounds like the compressor is kaput. –  Tester101 Apr 16 at 17:37
    
@Tester101 Well that's not cool (pun intended). Is there a good way to test that the compressor is bad before I toss it to the curb? –  FreeAsInBeer Apr 18 at 12:56

1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Test the compressor

Your compressor is going to look something like this

enter image description here

To test the windings, you'll first have to remove the "box" where the wires connect.

WARNING: There's likely a capacitor in here. Take care not to let the capacitor discharge into you.

enter image description here

Once you've go that out of the way, you should see three pins/terminals. They'll typically be arranged in a triangular pattern.

enter image description here

One terminal will be start, one will be run, and the other will be common. To determine if the windings are still good, you'll simply test the resistance between each terminal.

  • Set your multimeter to read ohms.
  • Touch one probe to each of the bottom pins.
  • Write down the reading.
  • Touch one probe to the lower left pin, and the other to the upper pin.
  • Write down the reading.
  • Touch one probe to the lower right pin, and the other to the upper pin.
  • Write down the reading.

NOTE: Your readings may vary.

You should end up with something like this.

enter image description here

This tells me that the top pin is common, the lower left is start, and the lower right is run. It also tells me the compressor is still good. The reading from start, to run should always be the largest reading. The readings between start and common, and run and common should total up to the reading from start to run.

If the values are way off, or you get infinite resistance between the pins, replace the compressor.

If the compressor checks out, you'll want to make sure it's getting power.

Check the power to the compressor

After reassembling the compressor, plug the refrigerator back in. Set the refrigerator to a setting that should cause the compressor to come on. Using a multimeter set to volts AC (VAC), carefully probe the two wires connected to the compressor. You should measure ~120 volts.

If you get the proper reading, you'll likely have to replace the relay and/or capacitor. If you don't get ~120 V, the problem is in the control circuitry.

Mechanical failure

If everything checks out, there's still the possibility that the compressor is seized. In which case, you'll have to replace the compressor.

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