How to Install a Refrigerator Compressor

Lead Image
  • 4 hours
  • Advanced
  • 400-600
What You'll Need
New fridge compressor
Wire stripper
Working gloves

A refrigerator compressor is one of the most important parts of a fridge because it compresses the refrigerant, which helps keep your food cool. While a bad fridge seal and other issues can cause your fridge's food to get warm and spoil, so can a damaged or worn-out compressor. If your fridge isn’t keeping your food cold, install a new compressor with the proper preparation and skills found below.

Step 1 - Unplug the Unit

Before starting the installation process, unplug the unit from the power outlet. This step is important so that you don’t shock yourself. Then, remove the contents of the fridge and put them in another fridge or icebox temporarily.

Step 2 - Locate the Old Compressor

exposed parts on back of a refrigerator

Next, locate the old compressor. Usually, it’s located at the bottom of the fridge and can be accessed from the back of the unit. It’s cylindrical, and a metal guard is usually hiding it. Use a screwdriver, if necessary, to remove the guard and expose the compressor.

Step 3 - Remove the Old Part

Inspect the compressor to check if it has a capacitor. A capacitor looks like a large box, and it’s directly connected to the compressor to provide starting power, much like a battery.

Detach the wiring and the valves on the old compressor from the capacitor to remove it from its spot. Uninstall any mounting hardware. Then, purchase a new compressor with the same model to ensure an exact fit. If you search for a new compressor and it’s more expensive than purchasing a new fridge, you should buy a new fridge, instead. New refrigerators may be more efficient than an older unit with a new compressor.

Step 4 - Connect the Capacitor

Connect the capacitor to the new compressor following the correct wiring code as provided by your manufacturer.

Step 5 - Add Refrigerant

bottle of refrigerant

Refrigerant makes the compressor work. If the refrigerator is an older unit, you will need to add more R22 refrigerant. If it is new, then you will need R404c refrigerant, unless the manufacturer recommends a different kind.

Before charging the unit with a refrigerant, you need to pull a vacuum. To do this and add refrigerant, follow all directions as provided by your fridge's manufacturer. It’s important that you follow all directions carefully and wear safety gloves when completing this step, as refrigerant is an ozone-depleting chemical. If you’re unsure about how to proceed, call a professional for help.

In addition, ensure your fridge isn't leaking any of this refrigerant. If it is, fix the issue before replacing it.

Step 6 - Connect the Valves

Afterward, check the valves on the refrigerator and connect them to the compressor. Since fridges come with different compressors, make sure to follow the valve and wiring diagram provided by the manufacturer when installing the new compressor.

Step 7 - Test the Unit

After the wiring and valves have been connected, reinstall the metal guard back and test the unit to see if it works.