How long does a refrigerator compressor last?

Have you owned a refrigerator for a few years? Are you not sure how long your refrigerator compressor will last?

Just like most appliances in your home, how long a compressor lasts can vary based on several factors.

A compressor is an important part of any refrigerator. That is why they are called the “heart” of a refrigeration system. It’s their job to drive refrigerant to other parts of the fridge.

Compressors do most of the mechanical work in the refrigeration system, such as pumping the refrigerant gas throughout the coils embedded in the refrigerator.

Therefore, if they fail, everything comes to a halt. Fortunately, the catastrophic failure of a compressor with no prior warning is rare.

How long does a refrigerator compressor last

In this blog post, you’ll learn more about your refrigerator compressor’s lifespan so you can plan when the time for its replacement (rare) comes near.

How long does a refrigerator compressor last?

The compressor lifespan in most cases varies by the model and the handling, however, many agree that it should be between 10 to 20 years.

Some last even longer than that but it’s quite rare given that a standard refrigerator should last between 10 and 18 years with an average age of 14 years according to the US Appliance Industry, 23rd Annual report.

How do I know if my fridge needs a new compressor?

Compressors don’t quit easily, but when they do, it often means your fridge needs a new one.

How do you know if your fridge compressor is kaput? Check for these five telltale signs:

  1. Fridge is making strange noises.
  2. Fridge isn’t cooling properly.
  3. An overheating compressor.

Is it worth replacing a compressor in a refrigerator?

Well, if the refrigerator has been working for over 10-15 years, we think there is no point in investing money in repairing the compressor.

Pile of fridge compressors

While it’s possible to repair some compressors in refrigerators, the average repair cost can be almost as the average cost of a new refrigerator, if not more.

In fact, the compressor and the labor may cost as much as half of the price you bought the refrigerator for.

Fortunately, troubleshooting fixable problems early enough and maintaining your compressor should be able to extend its lifetime.

What causes a refrigerator compressor to fail?

Given how expensive they can be to replace, it’s of utmost importance that you know what causes a fridge compressor to fail.

Below are some ‌‌causes of compressor failure:

Too Little or Too Much Refrigerant in the system

An insufficient charge from the last technician or refrigerant leak may cause too little refrigerant.

The compressor will work harder than needed to pump enough refrigerant throughout the system, causing a breakdown.

Too much refrigerant caused by improper charging can also create too much pressure in the system- sending your compressor to an early grave.

Lack of maintenance

If you don’t clean and maintain your compressor coils regularly, dust can build up and clog the compressor. This makes it work harder, and can eventually lead to failure.


Just like any other appliance, compressors can wear out over time. If your fridge is more than 10 years old, it’s more likely that the compressor will fail.


This often happens because of a dirty condenser coil or a clogged ventilation duct.

Voltage fluctuations

If there are sudden changes in voltage (from a power outage, for example), it can damage the compressor. This is why it’s important to use a stabilizer with your fridge.

Dirt and contamination build-up

Dirty fridge compressor

Over time, dirt and other contaminants can build up in the refrigerant. This can prevent your compressor from working properly, and eventually lead to failure.

How much does it cost to replace the compressor in the refrigerator?

Depending on the appliance’s brand, model, and age, replacement parts may be harder to find and can be expensive.

Repairing refrigerators of common brands is more budget-friendly compared to high-end brands and models.

That said, depending on the type of fridge, a new compressor costs between $35 and $500. The Labor cost of replacing a compressor is between $250 and $650.

Always ensure that the hired compressor repair technician has experience with your refrigerator brand. Some refrigerators, such as side-by-side fridges or ones with a freezer on the bottom, could require special parts.

How do you diagnose a bad refrigerator compressor?

Since new refrigerator compressors should run for 80-90% of their life, it’s hard to tell when a compressor is being overworked just by listening to the sounds of your fridge.

Man repairing fridge compressor

Even though compressors last quite long, there will come a day when the compressor will fail. But how will you diagnose when that happens?

There are signs to look out for and know your compressor is working hard but not getting the job done. If you notice these signs, know you have a bad refrigerator compressor:

  • The rear outside surface of the fridge generates an excessive amount of heat.
  • Food spoils quickly even when you set the temperature to a food-safe setting.
  • The refrigerator’s interior condenses, although the door gaskets are not broken.
  • The fridge makes a loud noise even after unplugging and plugging it back in.
  • When plugged in, your fridge is silent. Compressors are supposed to make low humming sounds when plugged in as part of their normal operation.
  • You frequently notice that a thick layer of frost covers the frozen foods you retrieve from the freezer.
  • Your utility bills are shooting up despite making no changes in other appliance usages.


Although plans for a compressor replacement should start around eight years of service, a well-maintained compressor can go for over ten years, sometimes even longer than that.

As the refrigerator ages, efficiency loss is gradual. It’s much simpler to spot issues as they arise and address them quickly if your compressor is subject to routine maintenance.

Additionally, it is important to contact specialists to have your compressor evaluated if you’ve neglected maintenance for a while.

Because of its crucial role in the refrigeration system, if something goes wrong with the fridge, there’s always a good chance that your compressor needs some help.

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