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Fridge Keeps Turning On and Off? Top 6 Causes (+ Easy Fixes)

If your refrigerator keeps turning off, it can spoil the food. It’s important to fix a malfunctioning fridge as soon as possible to save your food, electrical bill, and the appliance. The longer you wait, the worse the issue can get.

If your fridge keeps turning on and off, here are the likely causes:

  • Blown fuses
  • Motor damage
  • Electrical connection problems
  • Broken ADC board
  • Thermostat issues
  • Damaged control board

In this article, I’ll explain each of the problems that make your fridge turn on and off, as well as walk you through the appropriate fixes. I’ll also let you in on the easiest way to fix your fridge. (Check the bottom of the article.)

Let’s get started!

Blown Fuses or Circuit Breaker

According to Appliance Analysts, the vast majority of fridge problems stem from blown fuses. Whether your fridge has a series of fuses or a circuit breaker, it can experience electrical problems.

In-line fuses prevent the fridge from overheating or surging the main power line going to your home. Unfortunately, a blown fuse or one that keeps tripping won’t let your fridge stay on. You’ll have to turn the breaker on and off to reset it. However, that doesn’t mean it won’t trip again.

Circuit breakers deteriorate over time. They could trip or fail to transfer enough power to the fridge, even if nothing else is wrong. Below, we’ll show you how to fix both of these common electrical issues.

How to Fix

Follow these steps to replace a blown fuse or circuit breaker:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker going to the fridge and unplug the appliance.
  2. Locate the blown fuse (check if it’s tripped or blackened).
  3. Use a screwdriver to loosen the clamps holding the inlet and outlet wire in the fuse.
  4. Replace the fuse with an exact match fuse, screwing the inlet wire (to the fridge) and outlet wire (from the fridge) into the appropriate sides of the fuse.
  5. If necessary, pull the circuit breaker out with a gentle tug and replace it with an exact match breaker.

Broken Motor

Your refrigerator uses a motor to keep the lights, cooling fans, and cold air going. Without the motor, the fridge would stay off. The motor slowly breaks down, which is why the fridge sometimes stays on, but other times it shuts off. If you notice none of the components work, the motor is one of three primary causes (the ADC board and control board are two other possibilities).

Fabalabse states that the primary reason the motor stops working is due to corroded contact points. Once these connections wear away from excess heat, calcification, chemical damage, or long-term use, they won’t supply enough power to run the motor.

How to Fix

Replacing the motor in your fridge is as easy as unplugging the fridge, unscrewing the rear bottom panel, and pulling the motor out of the fridge. Some fridges have screws mounting the motor.

  1. Unscrew the screws and remove the wires.
  2. Add the new motor in its place.
  3. Connect the wires to the motor and screw it into place, then replace the rear panel.

If you prefer a video guide, view this helpful tutorial by PartSelect:

Loose Electrical Connections

Your fridge has a plug on the back that hooks into the wall. If the prongs are bent, damaged, or aren’t plugged in all the way, the fridge could turn on and off randomly. The plug has evenly-spaced prongs. When the prongs don’t touch the inside of the outlet, they short the electrical current.

How to Fix

Try these suggestions if you think there’s a loose connection:

  • Check if the circuit breaker is pushed all the way into its slot (if not, push it until it clicks).
  • Unplug the fridge and check if the prongs are facing straight.
  • Ensure the plug isn’t loose in the outlet (if the outlet is loose, you’ll have to hire an electrician to replace it).

Malfunctioning ADC Board

The ADC board is responsible for handling defrost timers and compressors. These two components are required to keep the fridge running and cold. American Appliance Repair shows the easiest way to know if the ADC board is the problem is to unplug and plug the fridge. If it turns on right away, the ADC board is likely the culprit.

How to Fix

To replace the ADC board:

  1. Unplug the fridge.
  2. Locate the ADC board in the back panel of the fridge.
  3. Unplug the board from its wires and tie them together, so you know where they go.
  4. Place the new ADC board where the old one was, then attach the old wires to the new board.

Damaged Thermostat

Every fridge has a thermostat that controls the temperature. If your fridge’s thermostat is broken, it might turn on or off at incorrect intervals. The fridge thinks it’s at the right temperature, so it turns off until the thermostat thinks it’s too high. Thermostats are often damaged during transit when moving a fridge from one room to another (or from house to house).

How to Fix

Much like replacing the motor or ADC board on your fridge, you’ll need to unplug the appliance. Then, follow these instructions:

  1. Unscrew the wires from the thermostat.
  2. Unscrew the thermostat from behind the rear panel (some fridges have the thermostat inside the fridge portion).
  3. Add the new thermostat and attach the old wires to the corresponding prongs.

Control Board Concerns

The control board in a refrigerator connects most of the internal parts to the plug, which provides power to everything. Without the control board, your fridge wouldn’t turn on. A failing board typically turns the fridge on and off randomly. Eventually, it won’t turn on at all. If your refrigerator experiences these symptoms, read on.

How to Fix

Replacing the control board is the same as replacing the thermostat, ADC board, and motor. However, the primary difference is that the control board has a lot more wires going to it.

  1. Unplug the refrigerator and locate the control board behind the rear panel.
  2. Zip tie the paired wires going to each component to each other, so you don’t mix them up.
  3. Unscrew the control board and mount the new one recommended by the manufacturer.
  4. Carefully and attentively plug each pair of wires from each component into the corresponding spot on the control board.

The Easiest Fix for a Fridge That Keeps Turning On and Off

If you don’t have the time or expertise to figure out why your fridge keeps turning on and off, the smart decision — as you know — is to hire a fridge repair expert to fix it for you.

The problem is that finding a trustworthy and affordable fridge repair service — and actually booking an appointment with them — can feel like pulling teeth.

Some services never call you back. Others charge criminally high rates. The best options are often booked out for months… and the worst don’t even fix your fridge. (But they charge you for it anyway.)

To save you the teeth-grinding frustration and bring you fast and affordable fridge repairs from trusted services, I’ve partnered with a company called Networx. They work with thousands of vetted contractors across the United States, and they make it easy for you to get free fridge repair quotes from the best repair services near you.

Here’s how it works in 6 easy steps:

  1. Go to the form below.
  2. Add some basic contact information and a brief description of your problem. (Your information will only be used to provide you with fridge repair quotes.)
  3. Click the “Get Free Quotes” button when you’re done.
  4. Our repair service partner will contact multiple fridge repair experts near you. They’ll explain your problem and ask each service to contact you with a free quote.
  5. You’ll receive an email or phone call with repair quotes from each service. You can choose the most affordable option and schedule your repair directly with them.
  6. They’ll come to your house and fix your fridge. Problem solved!

Using this form to find the best repair rates is 100% risk-free. There is zero obligation to hire any of the vetted contractors who contact you.

Fill out the form now to find the most affordable repair services in your area.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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