A mini-fridge is a great way to keep your favorite food items in your bedroom, attic, dorm room, RV, garages, and many other places where you can’t install a large-size refrigerator. However, these machines get into trouble more often than their elder counterparts.
A mini-fridge is composed of a small compressor with a limited capacity and can get into trouble if exposed to more work than it can handle. The biggest symptom of a troubling compressor in a mini-fridge is that it starts to get hot.
In this article, we will explore all the possible reasons why the compressor in your mini-fridge is getting hot and what you can do to fix it.
Mini-Fridge Compressor Hot – Reasons and Fixes
Is it ok for my mini-fridge compressor to get hot?
The compressor compresses the cooling agent (refrigerant) and pushes it into the coils located at the back of the machine. During the process, the temperature of the compressor is expected to rise and get warm. However, if it gets scalding hot and you notice scorch marks on the wall behind your mini-fridge, it is time to replace the compressor or buy a new machine for yourself.
Instant Solution to deal with a Hot Compressor
If your mini-fridge’s compressor is running too hot, the instant remedy is to turn off the unit and start it defrosting. This will give ample time for the compressor to cool down, and defrosting will reduce the load on the compressor.
Possible Reasons and Fixes
Reason # 1: Wrong Location
Many people place mini-fridges in unorthodox places like garages, attics, RVs, bedrooms, and dorm rooms. If the fridge doesn’t have enough exhaust space or the sun is shining directly on the back of the fridge, things can get too hot at times. Moreover, if the sun is shining directly on the front side of the fridge, it can still heat the temperature by making the fridge work more.
Solution: Inspect the Installation Site
Check the installation site and ensure ample space behind the fridge for exhaust. Moreover, you must move the fridge if exposed to direct sunlight. This is the easiest remedy and works for almost all the recently bought machines because compressors don’t go bad before 4-5 years.
Reason # 2: Dirty Condenser Coils
The condenser coils dissipate the heat generated by the coolant in the fridge. As the coils are warm, they attract and accumulate dust, debris, and hair in the surrounding. This results in the compressor putting in more effort to maintain a constant temperature and having a higher temperature than expected.
If the dust and debris on the condenser coils exceed the tolerance level, it can get heated, and you may smell burning odors and see scorch marks on the walls behind the mini-fridge.
Solution: Clean the Condenser Coils
Almost all the mini-fridges come with condenser coils located behind the machine. Inspect the coils and give them a good clean. Using a vacuum cleaner is a great way to clean the coils because you won’t have to deal with a dirty floor later.
Reason # 3: Low Fridge Temperature
FDA recommends keeping your fridge at or below 40° F (4° C). If the temperature is set too low on your mini-fridge, the compressor will put more effort into achieving the temperature, getting hot in return.
The problem with mini-fridges is that they don’t come with a thermometer. You need to use a standalone food-grade thermometer to ensure that your machine is not overworking to achieve the desired temperature.
If the inside temperature is too low than 40° F, you risk overheating the compressor. If it is above 40° F, you risk food safety by inviting bacterial growth by providing bacteria and other germs a sustainable environment.
Solution: Set the Temperature Correctly
Make sure you don’t lower the temperature too much on your mini-fridge. Mini-fridges aren’t designed to handle temperatures that are too low. Please keep in mind that you are using a mini-fridge and not a mini-freezer.
We suggest you use a food-grade thermometer for refrigerators to check the working temperature of your machine.
Reason # 4: Overloading
Mini-fridges don’t have too much capacity in terms of storage and cooling. If you overload the machine (fill more than 80%), you put your stuff and your fridge at risk. What happens is that the fridge starts to overwork to maintain a constant internal temperature, and the compressor puts in more effort.
At this time, dirty condenser coils and a low temperature add fuel to the fire, and the compressor heats up more than it should.
Solution: Never Overload your Mini-fridge
You must never overload your mini-fridge. Make sure you don’t keep anything with the walls, as it can lead to freezing for that particular item, and the compressor will again work harder to maintain a constant temperature.
Reason # 5: Something is wrong with the Compressor
It is time to take the bull by the horns. If the location is alright, move to check the compressor. However, before checking the compressor, make sure that it is turned off and that the compressor is not too hot. You don’t want to burn your hands by touching a hot compressor.
Solution: Check the Compressor
- Turn off the power and pull out the refrigerator.
- Locate the compressor; it is usually located on the backside of the fridge in mini-fridges.
- Inspect the coils to check if they are dirty or frozen. Give them a good clean if they are.
- Use a multimeter to see if the condenser has some continuity. If it shows an open circuit, the compressor needs to be replaced. If there is continuity on the multimeter, the compressor is working all right; the problem is with something else.
- If you have to replace the compressor, call a professional to do it for you. Only do it yourself if you are an experienced DIYer.
- Test your mini-fridge to see if the problem has been solved by replacing the compressor.
Reason # 6: Defective Temperature Thermostat
The temperature thermostat is responsible for controlling the temperature on your machine. It sends out signals to the compressor to start/stop working as per the internal temperature in the machine.
If the temperature thermostat goes bad, it will not work as you would like it to. This will result in the compressor running all the time regardless of the internal temperature inside the machine.
Solution: Replace the Temperature Thermostat
The biggest indication of a faulty temperature thermostat is an always-running compressor. This leads to the compressor getting hot. If this is the case, you will need to check the temperature control thermostat on your mini-fridge. To find out where it is located, refer to the user manual as mini-fridges have different designs.
Reason # 7: Lack of Cooling Gas (Refrigerant)
One of the common reasons your mini-fridge’s compressor is running hot is the lack of cooling gas or refrigerant. The cooling gas keeps the fridge cool as it circulates through the condenser coils.
The compressor is responsible for compressing the cooling gas. If there is not enough gas in the unit, the compressor will get heated because it will put in more effort, resulting in overheating.
Solution: Check the Cooling Gas in the Fridge
The manufacturer’s warranty covers the compressor and the cooling gas. If your mini-fridge is under warranty, don’t try to mess with it, as you will void the warranty. Ensure you contact the manufacturer’s customer service and get the problem solved by an authorized technician.
Reason # 8: Condenser Fan not working
The condenser fan has two tasks to perform. It keeps the compressor cool and helps remove the heat from the fridge’s cooling system so that the insides cool down effectively.
When this fan breaks down, it will not be able to cool the compressor as it normally does, which can lead to overheating the unit.
Solution: Inspect the Condenser Fan
The most common reason a condenser fan stops working or slows down is dust and hair. As the fan blades rotate speedily, they attract dust, hair, and debris. All of these things build up around the fan, which may lead to the fan slowing down or stopping altogether after some time.
- Thankfully, checking the fan is an easy thing when troubleshooting a mini-fridge.
- Unplug the machine and move it away so that you can access the back panel.
- Locate the compressor fan and assess the dirt on it.
- Try cleaning it with a vacuum if you can. If the dust doesn’t come off, you will have to remove the fan and clean it manually.
- Once the fan is cleaned up, install it back and try spinning it manually to check if it is moving freely. If the fan moves freely, plug in your mini-fridge and test if the compressor still gets hot.
- If the fan blade is clean and is not moving freely, the problem may be with the fan motor. Replacing the fan motor is an altogether different ball game, and an average homeowner may not be able to do it. It is best to get in touch with a professional to get it repaired.
Reason # 9: No Defrosting
Most mini-fridges come with manual defrosting. Hence, you will have to clean it manually. If you don’t clean your fridge regularly and let ice grow inside your machine’s freezer section, you invite the compressor to get hot.
The reason is that ice buildup forces the compressor to work harder, resulting in the compressor getting hot.
Solution: Regularly Defrost your Machine
You should defrost your mini-fridge right after ice buildup increases more than ½ inches. Defrosting a mini-fridge is an easy but time taking process. Follow the steps below to defrost your mini-fridge in the right way.
- Unplug the machine and open the doors.
- Adjust stored items in another fridge so that they don’t go bad.
- You can use fans or open windows to increase the defrosting speed but don’t use an electric heater or hairdryer.
- You must not use any sharp object to scrape the office. However, you can use the provided ice scraper to remove the ice.
- Once all the ice melts, clean the inside of the machine and then put back the cleaned racks and shelves.
- Power back your refrigerator and test the compressor if it’s working.
Mini-fridge’s performance depends on its compressor condition. Hence, it is very important to maintain it in good condition. You must monitor it regularly to ensure that it’s not getting excessively hot.