My Kenmore full fridge intermittently turns off, and the only way to turn it back on is to bang it on its side.

When it is off, unplugging it and plugging it back in doesn't help, neither does turning the thermostat help.

Also, when in it's "off state" the fridge light still goes on.

Any idea of what is causing this to happen?

  • 1
    What do you mean by "off" , just the compressor or it looses all power even to the light ? A refrigerators compressor does not run constantly, it cycles on when the temp inside gets above a set point so it can cool back down to a set point. It turns off when it reaches the temp set on the thermostat. How do you expect it to behave and how is it behaving. "Any idea of what is causing this to happen?" Not without more info from you!
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 3, 2020 at 19:53
  • @alaska when then the fridge turns off, it doesn't turn back on even if it goes below the set temperature. And yes, even when off, the light works
    – harvey
    Apr 5, 2020 at 2:29
  • Harvey, "when then the fridge turns off, it doesn't turn back on even if it goes below the set temperature" how do you know the temp inside the fridge is below the set temp point ?
    – Alaska Man
    Apr 5, 2020 at 2:32
  • Because it is very warm.
    – harvey
    Apr 5, 2020 at 3:50
  • 1
    My fridge was not running even when the dial was turned to coldest setting. I just found that banging on the temperature control caused the fridge to turn on. Appears to be a bad temp control thermostat.
    – nbx
    Oct 21, 2020 at 1:30

5 Answers 5


It could be a door switch but also could be the contactor or relay that runs the compressor has bad contacts. Sometimes wiggling them will allow them to seat so it starts again, if it is getting worse over time I would probably replace first you could test Jraef’s theory by opening the door while it is running if it keeps running it’s the contactor or relay.


In some fridges, the compressor and fan are turned off when you open the door. If your door switch sticks open, it would not turn on. Banging on the side of the fridge might be jostling the switch so that it closes again. Bottom line, the door switch would need replacing.


If it's a bad compressor relay, the fan will continue to run, but the compressor won't turn on (unless maybe if you bang it). If the fan is on, check the compressor relay. So if the fan doesn't run but the light is on, it's more likely the door switch. If the light doesn't come on, check the outlet.

Compressor relays are cheap (around $20) and easy to replace. You can test them — there are videos online showing you how.

  • Almost exactly what I said but to say it is something without some troubleshooting and jumping to cause a common rookie mistake.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 11:09
  • Yes, I should have clarified that the suggestions I made were just good places to start troubleshooting in each case.
    – AndyB
    Apr 5, 2020 at 16:51

Its very likely it's the thermostat that's on its way out, which is usually located in the same housing as the fridge light. Basically if you bash the unit the light is housed in and the fridge (compressor) comes on again then it is a faulty contact in the thermostat, an easy change for a basic DIY competent person. The same will probably happen if you hit the side wall of the fridge. A faulty thermostat is also why the fridge including the light etc appear to be on but the fridge itself isn't on because the faulty thermostat is telling the compressor that the temperature is already cold enough so it doesn't activate the compressor. Hope this helps


Something physical and not something electronic. Either a bad connection or more likely a bad switch or sensor. The slap causes something to move and close or open a circuit or provide updated information to the electronic controller. Electronics don't work that way and jarring won't fix them directly, though could via a power or other cord etc.

A good first step in troubleshooting can be to do a quick web search of your make and model to see if there is a common item that fails and people are asking or complaining about. Also, you can try slapping (softer) different areas to try and narrow down where the item is located. This is decidedly low tech but at least something to try and often I can work out issues this way. Also, I don't like getting out the tools and taking things apart until I have to.

  • I might agree if compressor relays were not a common problem on both refrigerators and air conditioning equipment.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 11:08
  • Don't relays have a physical component? Also, the OP mentions that it smacking the refer gets it to work again. Its seems that everything I said stands. I value your option, I just don't understand which part you disagree with and why, would you mind elaborating?
    – Ack
    Apr 4, 2020 at 17:56
  • With coming up on 50 years working on electrical and electronic controll circuits a relay or contactor contact is the first to fail unless there is a buzzing sound where dirt or rust has built up on the contactor magnet and this usually causes enough vibration to seat contacts so no I don’t see mechanical issues over pitted contacts or another control turning off the compressor but that is super easy to trouble shoot as I said.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 18:46
  • For clarity, I didn't question your expertise, actually I'm confident it in which is one reason I bother to asked the question, I want to understand. My understanding is that contacts, pitted or otherwise, are physical items and not electronic. I do think your answer is a good one and my answer doesn't diminish your answer. I'm still not sure what is the basis for why you disagree with my answer.
    – Ack
    Apr 4, 2020 at 18:55
  • Contacts constantly reform and do not normally have problems until there are large pits, this is why filing is discouraged you wipe out material that may refill it is resistance based close inspection of contacts even small motor ones will have many balls of the contact metal fused into the surface a large ball may take several cycles to melt in and may cause other problems where arcing that burns one side of the contact away this is more noticeable on +50 hp motors but it is the arcing that causes the contact to get worse with time as the surface is not reforming.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 4, 2020 at 19:48

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