How to Replace a Refrigerator Start Relay

man working on a refrigerator
  • 2 hours
  • Advanced
  • 50
What You'll Need
Allen wrench
New compressor relay
Needle nose pliers

A well-maintained refrigerator may last for a long time but there are those that encounter problems and require repair such as replacing the start relay, also known as the compressor relay. A start relay is responsible for supplying power on the hotline that runs into the refrigerator compressor to make it start and run. Symptoms of a damaged compressor relay are when the refrigerator begins to warm up and certain clicking sounds are heard. Another sign is a refrigerator that’s having problems cooling. Replacing a damaged refrigerator start relay is easy and will save you the cost of paying a technician to repair this simple problem. Below are the materials that you need along with the instructions on how to replace a refrigerator start relay.

Step 1 - Unplug the Refrigerator

Before starting on the refrigerator work, unplug it from the wall and avoid electrocution by also turning off the circuit breaker that gives electricity to your refrigerator.

Step 2 - Wear Protective Gear

When dealing with electricity it is always recommended to wear safety gear such as insulated gloves and safety glasses to protect against accidents.

Step 3 - Removal of the Refrigerator Panel

Most refrigerator panels are on the back lower part of the appliance. Remove the cover by loosening or removing the screws.

Step 4 - Locate the Refrigerator Capacitor

Confirm if a capacitor is present. The capacitor is a tube-like part of the refrigerator with wiring attachments to the compressor and to the relay. Once this part is found, remove the leads from the resistor part and onto the leads of the capacitor. This process will prevent the capacitor’s discharge to ensure that there is no shock accident to occur during the procedure.

Step 5 - Locate the Relay Terminal Cover

Determine the location of the relay terminal cover. Its normal placement is by the lower interior part at the back portion of the refrigerator. A wire will be visible that connects to the cover from the compressor. Take out the cover and the start relay will be found directly underneath the cover. You will see wires plugged into the relay terminals. A spool of copper wires will be seen wrapping the relay. These wires should be taken out by pulling the connector attached to the relay.

Step 6 - Replacement of the New Start Relay

Find a start relay at appliance or hardware stores. Connect the wire again back to the new starter relay. Install the new relay back to the connectors that the old start relay was removed from. Put the terminal cover back on. Return the cover panel of the refrigerator back on. The refrigerator can now be plugged back in.