Sunday, October 3, 2010

Refrigerator Compressor Repair

This Alabamian gave me a non-working wine cooler mini-fridge, half out of generosity because I might be able to fix and use it, half out of wanting to get rid of it :-).

Regardless, I've had this fridge sitting in the middle of my apartment now for the better part of a month. It haunts me every time I walk by it. Sitting there... not working... taking up space. I finally had time this weekend to troubleshoot it.

Symptoms:
After plugging it in,the compressor would hum for 15-20 seconds and then there would be a click and it would be silent for about two and half minutes. Then it would click and the cycle would repeat itself. I let this go on for about 15 minutes while I monitored the temperature inside the fridge. There was no change inside but the compressor was almost too hot to touch. So began the troubleshooting.

Teardown:
I took off the condenser (panel of tubes on the back), removed the thermostat housing and finally pulled out the compressor.



I had to bend some of the brass tubes in the process, being careful not to kink them. All that was let was to pull of a cover exposing the relay and circuitry for the compressor.



Troubleshoot:
The first step was to bypass the thermostat, sending an "always on" to the compressor to eliminate that as a potential problem. Here is the thermostat with the dial and cover removed.



Bypassed



Making sure to not touch any of the exposed contacts I plugged it in again. Same result, so I did a little Google searching and found a convenient How to Test a Refrigerator Compressor article. The takaway from that and a few other forums with posters with similar symptoms was that its either a bad relay, overload protector or compressor. If the compressor is gone then I'm hosed so I decided to check the relay and overload protector.



The overload protector is the small black plastic housing attached to two terminals protruding from the compressor housing. (P6R8MC OR0510, just in case someone searches) The common wire attaches to the overload protector. After taking it off this is that it looks like.



Now after removing the metal securing strip and the cover.



You can see a strange white disc shape that separates the two sides.



As you can see, the two sides of the disc are in different condition. One looks like it has been shocked/burnt and the other is only slightly scratched. I think this disc acts as either a sort of discharge capacitor or a large overload resistor.



Either way, I decided to flip it and put it back in the overload protector. Voila! Whatever contact or circuit that is supposed to make wasn't being made on the destroyed side. Within 20 minutes the fridge was down to 40 degrees! Hopefully this will provide others with some DIY troubleshooting inspiration. And thanks to the Alabamian for the (now working) fridge!

44 comments:

  1. After having the same issue with my Magic Chef fridge I followed your instructions and they actually worked. It took about 5 minutes for the fix ad it saved me ordering another starter relay. I hope it contnues to work. Thanks !!!!

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    1. I have a magic chef same thing here, you made me look good today lol.....Thanks a bunch!

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  2. Mine was a Magic Chef MCBR445B1 compact experiencing the notorious "click, click, click, time to pay for a new PTC Relay". When tryng to decide if it was worth the $25-$30 price for a 5 year old fridge (versus buying a whole new fridge for about $100) I came across this post. Gave it a try any YES! ..worked for me too! Great post and thanks to the Chad Experience! So for those who have diagnosed the PTC Relay, don't buy one until you try this out. How long mine will continue to work, don't know. But if it shuts down again, with the "click, click" I'll do another flip, if it doesn't work...then decide whether or not to buy a new PTC. Might be another five years though!! ;_)

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  3. Ok so my old lady was mad when i told her i couldn't fix this thing. model MCBR445b1 and i was actually google'ing for the warranty information. well i found it and was not happy with it. i saw something saying hot compressor and looked and after a few minutes found this page. OMG it was so easy it hurts to think about the time i took to diagnose the wiring ect. This worked and it kicked on and started its perfect running. Thanks to you the author!!

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  4. Same issue with a General Electrics wine cooler, thank you!

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  5. The Alabamian is a genius!!! I have a Master chef mini refer MCBR445S1 and reversed the little disk in the relay and it's working.I wonder if you can buy just the disk for future repairs???

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  6. Wow! worked like a champ after this fix

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  7. You, sir, are a steely-eyed missile man! Same problem here and, yessiree....all better now. Thanks!!!

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  8. Thanks- I too have a Magic Chef MCBR445B1 and had the same clicking problem. I took thatP6R8MC apart and fixed the problem.Thanks to the Author! BTW, it is not a relay but a thermal resistor. The white coating is a conductive coating on the disk. The Disk is a resistor that measures about 12 ohms from side to side. It breaks easily so be careful with it. What looks like burnt marks in the picture, is just warn away coating. You really just need to rotate the disk a little. Mine works now, but I'll buy a replacement anyhow.

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  10. Rescued a Haier minifridge with P6R8MC OR0403 thermal resistor in it using this tip. Rescued from the dumpster...

    Repair is just a good as Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Thanks for posting your experience.

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  11. Thanks kindly, your little trick worked for me. I am still going to order a new relay but for now its nice to know that it'll run while the new part is shipped.

    Thanks again for your insight, you saved this fridge from getting junked!

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  12. Worked like a charm!!! Fixed my Haier mini-fridge! Thank you so much for posting your trick!

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  13. Worked great for me. Did the quick fix but then bought the $13 part and changed it. Easy fix for my GE GMR04BLTBASC bar fridge. Hope more people can search this great post. Thanks.

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  14. Worked on my Haier as well! Thanks!

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  15. fixed mine to but it was the overload protector. I bypass it and walah the compressor came on and went down to 45* now just need to order the protector.

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  16. You are the best! That worked perfectly. No need for extra money for parts or new fridge. Thank you very much. I am so happy to find this.

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  17. Thank you very much! This instructions are priceless (or at least have the price of not buying the new fridge!). Worked as a charm - thanks again!

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  18. Great fix for a PTC starter and fix to a Magic Chef refrigerator. Thank you

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  19. After a year of letting the Magic Chef MCBR445B1 sit in the bar it was time to throw out. For grins and giggles I decided to take one last stab thinking it was dirty contacts and realized it was a failed relay. Stumbled upon your post when looking for parts and in 5 minutes had it working! You are the Man!

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  20. Wow, this posting SOLVED my problem in less than 5 minutes. The central disk is apparently a temperature sensor that opens up when it gets too hot. My disk looked exactly like yours with one side looking new and the other having four distinct marks on it. The connector on the marked side was very dark and oxidized. I simply scraped the oxidation off of both the disk and the connector. Before that, using a multimeter it appeared as an open-circuit. As soon as I cleaned off the oxidation, I read 0 ohms (a short circuit). After reassembling the unit and plugging it back into the compressor, the compressor immediately started running and the cooling the wine cooler. THANK YOU THANK YOU for this gREAT article. It saved me hundreds of dollars for repair or replacement of the cooler. BTW, this is a Vinotemp Model VT60 unit and has been in service for over 8 years now. I have two of these units and have replaced the control board on the same one with this problem about a year ago. At first, I thought the board had gone on my again.

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    1. NVDon, you're very welcome. I'm glad this post continues to help people. Thank you for taking the time to let me know it helped and also for providing your model number and diagnostic (multimeter measurements) information!

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    2. Thanks, worked like a charm for my Vinotemp fridge.

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  21. Thanks for the advice. I had the same problem and this fixed it. Thanks for saving me $30 for the part!

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  22. Worked perfectly on my Haier. Thanks!

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  23. Worked perfectly on a Kenmore Wine Cooler.

    Model # 183.14242500

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  24. Thank you so much, buddy! I´m in Brazil. I have the same problem and fixed. Thanks for saving me time and money. In Brazil this kind problem costs a lot of money!

    Priscila - Sao Paulo - Brazil

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  25. Bravo! Same thing here with a Haier HSQ04WNAPG 4.2 cu. ft. I fretted over this thing for awhile. I Googled the fridge number, the compressor number and finally decided to try the starter number and found this. I followed the instructions and it worked like a charm. Thanks for saving me some money and time.

    LPadrino

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  26. Holiday mini-fridge here. I had the PTC out, apart, and was searching the part number looking for a replacement when I ran across this. Flipped the disc around and slid it back in, cleaned the pitted contact, and reassembled. Works like a charm! The replacement ptc is only 3 dollars and change on amazon so I'll order one to have a spare but it's nice to have it working without waiting on parts! Thanks for the write-up!

    One slight correction, the ptc isn't an overload protector. It's there to switch off the start windings in the compressor after the compressor gets up to speed. Not meant for continuous use, the start windings will overheat and eventually burn out if left on. With the ptc damaged, the start windings never get energized in the first place and the compressor can't start with the run windings alone. Running power through the run windings with the compressor stalled causes it to overheat which trips a bi-metal strip thermal protector causing the familiar click after 20 seconds or so.

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  27. Hey thanks a lot for this information...this was a quick fix that otherwise would have cost $45.00 to buy a new starter on ebay! Really appreciate you taking the time to write up the information and show the pictures...home run!!!!

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  28. Just tired this on my Magic Chef - exact same situation. It worked for me too - and it took only a few minutes to fix! Thanks for the info.

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  29. Thanks you so much man, you are the best. Problem solved without spend money. Awesome, now I will sell it, an general electric mini fridge. Thanks

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  30. Other sites have said you need to replace the relay AND the overload protector. So I took both off and in my exhuberhance to get it off now I have another question - which wire - the red or the black goes back on the PTC?

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  31. Just getting ready to 86 my Vinotemp VT-60 when I came across this, I'll see what the contacts look like first

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  32. And now I have a perfectly operational Vinotemp !

    Relay was exactly where you said
    Problem was exactly as you described
    Solution was exactly as pictured

    Thanks

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  33. Score it works. Just makes me smile.

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  34. Thank you so much for the great advice. I was not expecting to fix my refrigerator, but I was curious about the price of a new compressor. I noticed some pages about it most likely being the starter relay and not the compressor. I started googling for a starter relay. When I found one, I was debating about spending @ $20 for one when that might not be the problem.

    I happened to find your great article with the fix for the relay. I gave it a try and within 5 minutes, the refrigerator is working.

    Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge. This was one of the best fixes I've ever found.

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    1. I couldn't agree more with the comment above! I first searched for the starter relay as well, and was surprised at so few results for this high priced little item. One last search for a better price, or at least a local store with the part in stock, and I stumbled upon this posting. Now, I'm enjoying a chilled glass of vino with the sweet taste of victory, thanks to you!

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  35. Worked for me too! on my Haier wine cooler. Anybody find that this is just a short-term fix or that it causes any other problems down the road? Fingers crossed it'll work awhile and doesn't do any harm.

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  36. P.S. The disc is actually the relay, not the overload protector.

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  37. Great article, Chad...you are the man !!
    My magic chef mini fridge stopped working yesterday, and I your solution worked like a champ. Many Thanks.

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