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Signs of Compressor Damage in a Freezer

Casandra Maier

The compressor is one of the most essential working elements of a freezer. The compressor motor is responsible for creating the cold air that freezes your food. Located outside the freezer, the compressor is a football-sized case that sits behind the unit, toward the bottom. It is important to recognize signs of compressor damage in your freezer as this can save you money and food loss. Compressor repair and replacement can cost in excess of $500.


Signs of compressor damage include a noisy motor, continual running or the motor not running at all, causing your food to thaw.

Noises can be one of the first signs of compressor damage in a freezer. Paying attention to this annoyance can potentially save you money and replacement if you catch the problem early enough. A compressor that is unusually noisy is the first sign of internal damage to the compressor motor. Compressors that are damaged will make clicking, buzzing sounds. The compressor may also hum or make continual noise each time it is running.

Not Running or Freezing

Another sign of damage to your freezer’s compressor is if the motor stops running or if the unit stops freezing all together. Compressor damage will cause your freezer to stop working properly. To asses this damage, try turning your freezer to a colder temperature. If the motor does not turn on at the colder setting, it is likely that your compressor is damaged or broken. In some cases, the motor may be running, but the unit is not freezing. If items in your freezer are beginning to thaw, but you still hear the motor running, your compressor may also be damaged or broken.

Continual Running

A compressor is designed to turn on and off as needed. Therefore, a compressor that runs continually is inefficient and may have sustained damage. If your freezer has a self-defrosting mechanism and you notice frost build-up inside the freezer, it is a sign that your compressor is not turning off to allow the freezer to self-defrost. Your compressor may also sustain damage from continual running if the unit is pressed too tightly against the wall. The compressor needs clearance so it can radiate heat as it runs. The unit may be damaged and inefficient from continual running in either of these instances.


The freezer’s thermostat controls the compressor. If the thermostat is not working properly, the compressor will not turn on and off as needed. If the thermostat is bad, you may notice that your compressor rarely turns on or it may run all the time without kicking off. A bad thermostat can eventually cause compressor damage, especially if the motor is continually running. Therefore, if you notice any problems with your freezer, it is important to contact your local freezer and refrigerator repair to avoid costly repairs and replacement.