A compressor controls a refrigerator’s interior temperature and represents its beating heart. However, like any other mechanical device, the compressor can fail over time, and replacement may be necessary.
Replacing a compressor costs between $400 to $1,500. In this article, we’ll discuss the cost of replacing a refrigerator compressor and the factors that impact the price.
Refrigerator Compressor: The Basics
A refrigerator compressor is an essential part of the fridge’s cooling mechanism.
It’s in charge of compressing and circulating the refrigerant gas throughout the refrigerator’s evaporator coils, responsible for removing heat from the interior and discharging it outside. The process helps maintain a consistent, cool temperature inside the fridge, which preserves the freshness of the food.
The Lifespan of a Refrigerator Compressor
A refrigerator compressor lasts between 10 and 20 years on average. Maintenance and usage frequency are the most important factors impacting a compressor’s lifespan.
Regular cleaning and upkeep can help you avoid problems like dirt buildup, which may negatively impact the compressor’s performance. Additionally, excessive refrigerator use or keeping the temperature too low stresses the compressor, causing it to wear out more quickly.
Signs That the Refrigerator Compressor Needs to Be Replaced
Here are some typical symptoms of a faulty refrigerator compressor:
- Your refrigerator is not cooling properly or feels warm to the touch
- Your fridge makes loud or unusual noises, such as clicking, buzzing, or rattling sounds
- The compressor is cycling more frequently than normal, which indicates it’s having trouble keeping the temperature within range
- Leaks or puddles of fluid around the refrigerator could be a sign that the compressor is unable to cool the refrigerator as it should
- Sudden increase in your energy bills may also indicate problems with the compressor as the fridge will consume more energy.
Compressor Replacement: How Much Does It Cost?
On average, a standard compressor costs between $200 and $600, with higher-end versions costing $1,000 or more. But in addition to the compressor, homeowners must pay for labor, which ranges from $200 to $500 or more, depending on where they live.
Taking into account the aspects above, the overall expense to replace your old compressor ranges between $400 and $1,500.
Factors That Influence the Replacement Cost
When it comes to replacing a refrigerator’s compressor, three factors influence the overall cost: the age of the refrigerator, the compressor type, and the labor cost.
The age of the refrigerator is the biggest factor that influences how pricey the replacement will be. If your refrigerator is no more than five years old, it may still be protected by the manufacturer’s warranty, making replacement costs free.
However, if the warranty has expired, the homeowner will be responsible for all expenses regarding the replacement.
Similarly, replacing the compressor may not be cost-effective if the refrigerator is older than its typical lifespan (10 to 20 years). Finding old parts is more complicated, and other components may also be nearing the end of their usable lives. In this situation, investing in a new fridge may be better.
Additionally, two types of compressors are used in refrigerators — reciprocating and scroll compressors — and both come at different prices.
Scroll compressors are more expensive than reciprocating compressors, with an average price range between $200 and $600. They use a scroll-shaped rotor and a stationary spiral-shaped rotor to compress the refrigerant gas. These rotors are more advanced and provide more effective compression results.
Reciprocating compressors, on the other hand, compress the refrigerant gas using a piston and cylinder, and these parts are less expensive than the more advanced ones described above. The average price range for reciprocating compressors for fridges could be between $100 to $400. Although they aren’t as advanced, reciprocating compressors are the more prevalent type out of the two.
The third major element affecting the price is the cost of labor. The labor cost varies according to the location, the technician’s expertise, and the complexity of the task. If you reside in a high-cost-of-living area, such as in a major city center like New York, you should expect to pay more for labor. Similarly, the labor cost will also be higher if the task is complex and requires multiple work hours.
To Replace or to Repair? What to Do With Your Refrigerator Compressor?
Sometimes, buying a brand-new refrigerator is more cost-efficient than replacing its existing compartments. Let’s see whether replacing the compressor or purchasing a new refrigerator is better for you.
On average, replacing a compressor is less expensive than buying a new refrigerator. However, the total cost can quickly add up if other components fail or wear out. It’s a good idea to check the other parts in the refrigerator and their state to determine the most cost-effective solution for you.
Additionally, replacing only the compressor may not be the most energy-efficient option if the refrigerator is old. Newer refrigerators usually spend less on electricity, so purchasing a new refrigerator may help you save money on your energy bills in the long run.
Considering everything, if you have a fridge that’s less than 10 years old and all of its parts are in perfect working condition except for the compressor, you only need to invest in compressor replacement.
However, if your refrigerator is nearing the end of its life and you’re experiencing problems with other parts in addition to a faulty compressor, such as a faulty ice maker or the door flap on your fridge not closing properly, you may want to consider purchasing a brand new fridge because replacing each part separately will cost you more than buying a whole fridge.
Overall, the compressor is a critical component of a refrigerator, as it plays a vital role in the refrigeration cycle and ensures that food is stored at the correct temperature. If the compressor breaks down and isn’t replaced, the refrigerator won’t cool down correctly, which could lead to food spoilage.
The cost of a refrigerator compressor ranges from $400 to $1,500, depending on the type of compressor installed, the refrigerator’s brand, and the installation cost. Replacing a compressor is an investment, so you want to compare the repair cost to buying a new refrigerator before you decide whether to go for it.
If the fridge is in excellent shape and is not too old, it’s better to replace only the compressor. However, if the refrigerator is older or has other underlying issues, purchasing a new refrigerator may be a better long-term solution.