Should A Refrigerator Run All The Time?

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If you notice that your refrigerator is running all the time, it may cause you a bit of worry. You may begin to wonder if it's supposed to run 24/7 or just a few hours a day. Well, we've researched the average time a refrigerator should run, and in this post, we will discuss the answer to these questions.

Although a refrigerator won't run all day, it should be running between 80%-90% of the time. Your fridge runs for such long periods to maintain its interior temperature and keep the food inside safe, so don't be alarmed if you hear it often.

That said, if your refrigerator is older, you may notice that it runs louder than it did previously, which can make it more noticeable. On top of that, the compressor and fan motor in refrigerators run on cycles that will vary depending on their contents and temperature setting, so they can impact run times as well.

If your refrigerator runs constantly, that doesn't always mean there's something wrong with it. That said, if you start to notice unusual sounds or motors running louder than usual, you may want to take a closer look at your appliance. Continue reading to figure out what may be causing your fridge to run longer than expected and determine if it's time for a replacement.

Modern appliances and new design in kitchen, Should A Refrigerator Run All The Time?

What Makes A Refrigerator Run Longer?

Stainless steel refrigerator in a newly remodeled home

A few factors will determine how long a refrigerator will run. Here are the biggest ones:

  • You live somewhere warm or humid, and the temperature in your home is above 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There is a large amount of food in the refrigerator/freezer.
  • The freezer portion of your fridge is over 75% full. This can cause the refrigerator to increase its run time to keep all of the contents inside cold.
  • You open your refrigerator often or for several minutes at a time. This can require your appliance to run longer and requires more energy to re-cool.
  • There are dirty/damaged door gaskets on your refrigerator, causing cold air to leak from your appliance.
  • Too many items are stored inside your fridge, causing the compressor to work overtime.
  • There are dirty condenser coils underneath your refrigerator, causing it to work less efficiently.

How Long Should A Refrigerator Run Before Shutting Off?

On average, a refrigerator will run anywhere from 3-8 hours before shutting off. However, it depends on the refrigerator unit's make, model, and year.

Newer model refrigerators run anywhere from 75%-90% of the time. This allows them to be more energy-efficient as the frequent cycles help to regulate their internal temperature.

Why Does A Refrigerator Run All The Time?

broken refrigerator door seal. appliance repair service concept. replace fridge door sealant or gasket.

A refrigerator shouldn't run all the time, but it's not abnormal for it to run most of the time. If your refrigerator is constantly running, you may think that it's sucking up energy and on its way to becoming inoperable, although this isn't always the case.

In general, if your fridge is running 24/7 without shutting off, there could be an issue. When this happens, it's typically due to four reasons. Let's take a look at them.

1. Broken Door Gaskets

The door gasket is the seal that keeps cold air inside a refrigerator, so if it's broken or worn down, you may start to notice issues. This can happen over time or if you slam the doors of your appliance, so it's better to be gentle with your refrigerator's doors.

Typically, you can feel cold air slipping out of your fridge when its doors are closed if there is a problem with the gaskets, so that's an easy way to tell something's up. So if you start to notice cold drafts when you walk past your refrigerator, the chances are that the gaskets are worn out and need to be replaced (or the door wasn't shut hard enough).

2. Bad Condensor Coils

It's also possible that the coils on the back/bottom of your refrigerator have accumulated too much dirt and debris. These coils are responsible for allowing the refrigerant to move through your refrigerator and into the compressor.

This is what allows the unit to provide cold air. If these coils are covered, they can't absorb enough warm air from the room to cool the refrigerant properly. As a result, the compressor will overcompensate by running continuously, eventually leading to premature burnout.

3. The Freezer Needs To Defrost

Over time, the freezer portion of a refrigerator will accumulate ice. You will need to defrost the unit to help get rid of it at some point. If you don't defrost your freezer at least once per year, the frost that's developed will likely cover the interior air vents.

This can prevent your fridge's temperature sensors from properly regulating the temperature inside of the freezer, which will cause the compressor to work overtime.

Does A Refrigerator Compressor Run All The Time?

Resistance test of temperature sensors in the cooling supply section of the ventilation unit.

A compressor serves as the main "engine" of a refrigerator and is responsible for circulating coolant throughout the entire system. And a functional refrigerator compressor should run about 80% to 90% of the time.

When it is running, you often hear a slight hum coming from the refrigerator unit. The compressor will run long enough to circulate the refrigerant throughout the refrigerator and freezer, then shut off. It will do this multiple times throughout the day.

How Do I Stop My Refrigerator From Running Constantly?

It depends on the factor that's causing your refrigerator to run constantly. There are a few things to check, including the condenser coils on the back or bottom of your refrigerator, the amount of food in the freezer/refrigerator compartments, excess of ice in the freezer, and the door gaskets.

These factors can cause a refrigerator to run non-stop to keep the interior temperatures cool. You'll also want to note how you're storing food in the fridge and the freezer to prevent this from happening in the future.

How Can You Tell If Your Refrigerator Has Stopped Working?

The easiest way to determine if your refrigerator has stopped working is to check the interior temperature. Does the inside of the fridge feel warm? Has food gone bad or spoiled in a short period?

A properly functioning refrigerator should reach and remain at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. A higher temperature can cause bacteria to develop on the food and is usually a sign that the fridge has a mechanical issue.

How Do You Know If Your Refrigerator Is Dying?

partial view of repairman in working overall fixing refrigerator by screwdriver in kitchen

Refrigerators will typically show a few signs that they're on their last leg. Let's look at the most common ones:

Excessive Condensation On The Inside Of The Refrigerator

Does it look like your refrigerator is constantly sweating? The most common cause of condensation is improper cooling. Inspect the seal around the fridge door to determine if the gasket is broken.

Next, check the condenser coils to ensure that they aren't covered with dirt or debris. If both of these areas appear OK, then chances are the refrigerator may be dying, especially if it's ten years or older.

Loud Noises Coming From Your Refrigerator

It's normal for a refrigerator to have a slight hum, especially when the compressor and fan motor are running. However, if you notice that the noise is louder than normal or occurs sporadically, the chances are that the compressor is breaking down and needs a technician to come and take a look.

Higher Energy Bills

There could be several reasons why your energy bill is suddenly rising. But if you notice that your bill is increasing steadily throughout both warm and cold months, it may be a large appliance causing the issue.

As refrigerators age, they may lose their energy efficiency due to faulty parts and wear and tear. The fridge may be the source of this sudden spike in energy costs.

Food Spoiling Faster Than Usual

Are you finding that your food spoils faster than previously? Perhaps it takes longer for food to cool down than it did when you first purchased the refrigerator years ago.

If your fridge is between 8-15 years old, it might not be cooling as it should, which can result in food spoiling much faster than usual. Of course, a repair could be made to your appliance to help improve this problem, although doing this could be expensive and not worth it for an older refrigerator.

To Wrap Things Up

New luxurious kitchen interior

We hope this post has helped explain how often a properly functioning refrigerator should run. Remember, if you find that your refrigerator is running most of the time, this typically isn't bad. However, if you notice that it is running non-stop or is louder than usual, you may want to have an appliance technician inspect it for possible issues with the cooling components.

Made it to the end? Check out these helpful related kitchen posts below!

Does A Refrigerator Typically Stay With The House?

How Old Is My Refrigerator? Here's How To Find Out!

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