Refrigerator Troubleshooting Diagram

Archive for the ‘Refrigerator Compressor’ Category

Semi-Hermetic Compressors Field Repairs

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Semi-hermetic compressors are frequently used on light commercial air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. With the cast iron body and bolted head, oil pan, oil pump, and end cover that opens the electric motor section for service, certain field repairs can be made. Only two types of repairs should be attempted in the field. Replacement of valve plate assembly and/or the oil pump, if the unit has separate pump. No other type of repair should be attempted in the field.

The semi-hermetic compressor has many of the same component parts as an automobile. To rebuild a compressor thoroughly, special tools and test instruments are needed. If a compressor is not pumping properly, the head bolts and head should be removed carefully from the block. Looking into the cylinders, you can turn the crankshaft and see if all of the pistons move up and down. If there is a broken piston or connecting rod, put the head back on and replace the whole compressor. Some say that a compressor with the above condition would make a lot of noise. In some cases, this is so; however, I’ve come across many compressors that had broken rods or pistons and didn’t make any noise.

If the pistons are alright, examine the valve seats and the valve reeds. Also, examine the head gaskets. There is one gasket between the block and the valve plate and another gasket between the valve.

Written by sam

November 10th, 2019 at 8:23 am

Refrigerator Compressor Reed Valves

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When the compressor is in a refrigeration system and in operation, if the suction-side and high-side pressures are almost the same, the valves might be bad. An ammeter will tell you if the electric drive motor is doing the work for which it is rated. Without proper compression in the compressor, the amperage reading will be very low. The problem could be a piston not pumping. When a compressor is operating properly, it should draw an amperage close to its rated amount on the data plate. The suction line should be cool to the touch and sweating. This cool gas is needed to help cool the compressor windings. The small liquid line should be warm to the touch . . . not hot. If the liquid line is very hot when in the cooling mode, there is a problem with the unit. Remember, refrigeration equipment and air conditioning equipment have design temperatures and conditions. In different areas of the world there will be different designs in the equipment. In a low humidity area, the suction line might not sweat. If a unit is designed to attain 74 degrees F. conditioned space with an ambient of 95 degrees F., and it is being checked on a day when the ambient is 80 degrees F., the equipment will accomplish the 74 degree F. without any problem. Even if there was an inefficient compressor with a possible bad valve, it wouldn’t show that easily until the unit was being operated under its design conditions. Conditions such as the evaporator coil being clean or the condenser coil blocked with grass cuttings will affect the operation of the entire system. Another thing that I learned a long time ago, know what the engineer wanted the equipment to do. If you don’t know what it is supposed to do, how can you repair it? As a service technician, you will see many applications of the refrigeration theory, from food processing to industrial manufacturing. That is why it is important that you know what the unit is supposed to do before trying to make a repair.

Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:36 pm

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Reverse Rotation Method to Break Locked Rotor

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■     Turn off power and remove the wiring from the hermetic compressor motor terminals.
■     Study Fig. 3-15.
■     Wire line one to common and line two to start. Use rated compressor line voltage.
■     Attach the jumper wire from run to capacitor and second jumper wire from start to capacitor.
■     Disconnect jumper from motor run terminal.
■    Turn on the line voltage and hold jumper wire by the insulation; then hold jumper to run for four seconds, four times at four-second intervals.
■     If motor does not reverse, repeat step six using 240 volts ac instead of 120 volts ac motor rated voltage. Use 480 volts ac instead of 240 volts ac for a motor rated at the higher voltage (single-phase).

Check the capacitor for a higher rated voltage. When you have completed steps one through seven using double line voltage, you have hot-shotted the compressor in reverse. Do not hot-shot in re­verse until you have done steps one through seven with rated line voltage for the compressor. You might be able to break the locked rotor with normal line voltage. There is no need to strain the compressor motor unless absolutely necessary. If these steps don’t free the locked rotor, there is nothing else you can do in the field. That covers the important electrical problems that you will find in the field with a compressor. The other malfunction of the compressor is mechanical failure.


Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:35 pm

Refrigerator Compressor Hot Shotting

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This is another method that can be used to try to break loose a locked rotor in a single-phase compressor.

■     Make sure the start and run capacitors have high enough ac voltage rating for the new applied voltage.
■     Remove wiring from the compressor motor terminals. Double the line voltage hook-up as in Fig. 3-14.
■     Make sure the power is off while you are doing the second step.
■     If the compressor is 120 volts ac, make the line one to number two 240 volts ac. If the compressor is rated at 240 volts ac, single-phase, make line one to number two 480 volts ac, single-phase.
■     Attach a jumper from run to capacitor and a second jumper from start to capacitor.
■     Take the jumper wire off the start terminal of the compressor.
■     Turn on the higher voltage.
■     Take the jumper wire and tap it about four times (one sec­ond each, to the start terminal). Do not touch the live voltage. Be careful and hold the insulation of the jumper wire.
■     Turn off the power, then repeat the above procedure in five minutes.

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December 23rd, 2010 at 1:33 pm

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Refrigerator Compressor Locked Rotor Test

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The compressor hums but will not start. The overload relay usually opens the common winding either internally or externally, this allows the windings to cool and not get hot enough to melt. This is very apparent when you place your hand on the compressor shell. It is very hot to the touch, and it would be difficult to keep your hand on the compressor.

■     Turn off the power to the compressor.

■     Remove all extra machine wiring attached to the compressor motor terminals.

■     Ring out the compressor and label the common, start, and run pins, (single phase)

■     Secure line one to the run pin and line two to the common pin.

■     Place insulated jumper wire from run to start, (see Fig. 3-13)

■     Turn on the power.

■     If the locked rotor breaks lose, the compressor will start and come up to speed in less than five seconds.

■     After compressor reaches full speed, remove jumper wire with compressor operating, leaving line one on the run pin and line two on the common pin.



To start a hermetic compressor motor which has a start capac­itor, repeat the first four steps above. Step five is to place jumper wires between the run and start capacitors and from the start terminal to the start capacitor. It doesn’t make a difference on the hook-up of the jumper wires to the start capacitor terminals. See Tables 3-1 through 3-3 show operating current information. With your ammeter you can determine if a specific horsepower motor is operating properly. The tables are also helpful in sizing overloads and heaters for motor starters, especially when the data plate on the machine is missing or not legible. Never exceed the rated amperage of a motor. If you do, the motor will have a short life due to overheating the windings. Always remember that these ratings are given to be the maximum, when the unit has the maximum load on it, whether the motor drives a fan or a pump. All amperage ratings are given for the maximum. For instance, you are topping the charge of a reach-in freezer, or a walk-in freezer that is operating at the time of charging at five degrees below zero (-5 degrees F.), if you bring the compressor up to maximum amperage at this time, the unit will draw excessive amperage when terminating its defrost cycle and entering the freeze cycle. In fact, the compressor might trip its thermo-overload at that time.




Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Refrigerator Compressor Rotation Testing

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The single-phase hermetic compressor has a fixed rotation of its electric motor. In three-phase applications rotation is very important. The compressor might have a directional oil pump that will not pump efficiently if it turns in the wrong direction. Rotation on three-phase motors may be reversed by reversing any two motor leads.

This can be done either at the motor starter or at the motor itself. It is easier to do at the starter or disconnect most of the time. Be careful not to cause trouble in another circuit or cause a cross-phasing. This occurs when you touch two phases together without a load circuit in between. Figure 3-12 shows a compressor being rung out, note the readings at the terminals.


Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Refrigerator Open Windings Compressor Testing

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Place a test probe on terminal one. With the other probe touch terminal two. The meter needle should deflect. This shows there is a circuit. Repeat the procedure until the circuitry between the terminals is confirmed. There should be a reading across each pair of terminals.

The windings in a three-phase compressor are different than a single-phase compressor. In the three-phase compressor, you should read the same amount of resistance through the three windings. This is not true in the single-phase compressors. The reason is that the start-winding has more wiring turns in order to develop more torque on start up. The run-winding has a heavier gauge wire with fewer turns, thus the resistance readings will be different between the three windings. Knowing this, it is possible to identify the windings in a single-phase compressor.

RUN—The lowest reading of resistance—(about one ohm)
START—The middle reading of resistance—(about five to 22 ohms)
COMMON—The maximum resistance reading—(total of all windings)

Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Refrigerator Grounded Compressor Testing

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Scrape the copper suction line on the compressor so it shines. This can be done with a knife blade or a piece of sand cloth. Place one probe on the clean copper surface, and the other one on a compressor terminal. Check each one by moving the probe to each terminal. If there is no deflection on the meter, the compressor is not grounded. If you have a reading, the compressor is bad and you need not check any further. The three terminals are electrically connected internally.

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December 23rd, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Refrigerator Compressor Testing

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With the compressor being the most expensive component in the system, it is wise to be sure it is bad before you condemn it. For this reason, you should learn a systematic method of diagnosing the compressor. You will need a good ohmmeter that can measure from one ohm through 20 ohms. A meter such as this can be purchased in the price range from $20 to $125 depending upon the quality. The homeowner can get by with the less expensive one due to the fact his will not be subjected to the amount of usage the ser­vice technician will give his.

This procedure is followed if the compressor doesn’t operate when called to do so. Always remember safety comes first. Before opening the condensing unit, turn off the electrical power supply to the unit. With the service panel removed, look with your eyes before you touch anything. There should be some type of flash cover enclosing the terminals of the compressor. This is a basic safety de­vice to protect the service technician from electrical shock when the unit is operating, and it protects the technician from pressure-driven oil if one of the terminals should fail and blow out of its mount. Don’t assume that oil in a unit is clean. In most units the refrigeration oil is clean; however, in some instances, the oil has become contaminated. The formation of sulfurous acid might have occurred inside the inoperable unit. This acid can be dangerous to your skin and eyes. For this reason, don’t assume anything; be sure and careful. With the cover removed, you will notice that the terminals are arranged in the approximate order as shown in Fig. 3-11. The following is a list of electrical failures that you will test for.

a—Grounded compressor (short circuit). This condition takes place when the insulation of the drive motor windings leak the electricity to the steel compressor body. Blown fuses result.

b—Open-winding. A condition that occurs when the conductor of one of the motor windings parts.

c—Locked rotor. This condition happens when either the crankshaft bearings seize due to lack of lubrication, or a compression component breaks within the compressor shell jamming the crankshaft. In the case of a single-phase unit, the same locked-rotor condition will be witnessed if the system has a defective starting component.


The multimeter enables us to diagnose internal electrical problems of the compressor. “Ringing out a compressor” means taking continuity tests. Make sure the power is off. If necessary, turn your meter to ac volts and check it out. Sometimes a disconnect leaves a blade engaged that has broken loose from the main control bar. After you check for voltage, mark the wires that are connected to the terminals so they may be returned to the same position when re-assembled. There are many ways to mark them: different color tape, black bands of electrician’s tape, notch with knife blade. What­ever works for you is suitable. The wires must be removed from the compressor to prevent voltage from other circuits. For instance, a 240-volt compressor might have a 120-volt condensing fan motor. It is possible that you might read the neutral leg of the 120-volt circuit as a grounded compressor.

Zero your meter. Make sure that it rests at infinity. This is done with the little screw at the base of the indicator needle. Then touch the two probes together and turn selector switch to X1000 scale. The needle should deflect to zero ohms. If not, make adjustments with the little knob to set your meter to zero.

Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Refrigerator Compressors Electrical Connecting Terminals

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Two types of terminal connections are used with hermetic and semi-hermetic compressors. On the hermetic compressors, pins or terminals are sealed within bakelite or ceramic. The semi-hermetic compressors use terminal boards with threaded bolts being used for the terminals. The board has an ‘0’ ring on both sides of it. The ‘0’ ring is designed to compress against the board and prevent the leakage of refrigerant and oil around the terminals.

Written by sam

December 23rd, 2010 at 1:09 pm