How to Bypass a Refrigerator Relay

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If your relay fails, you may need to bypass it.
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Your refrigerator's compressor is designed to run sporadically and keep the appliance cool by doing so. A compressor can't run continuously, so the relay is used. This is an electrical switch that tells the compressor when to turn on or off depending on the need for cool air inside the unit. If the relay fails, however, the compressor might not ever kick on, so you may have to bypass the refrigerator's relay system.

Important Safety Considerations

The refrigerator relay and compressor relationship is an important one that not only saves energy and ensures the proper operation of your appliance but also ensures that the refrigerator doesn't overheat. If the unit gets too hot, other parts of the refrigerator might go bad, overheat or even wear out. If at all possible, you should avoid bypassing the refrigerator relay. If you must, do so for only a short time and then call a professional to help you fix the relay.

Before you attempt to place your appliance into bypass mode, you should unplug it and turn the power off at the circuit breaker. Then, get the help of another adult who can help you to safely move the machine away from the wall. Refrigerators aren't only heavy but they're also a tipping hazard.

Compressor Direct Start Without Relay

To bypass a refrigerator relay, follow the safety instructions outlined above and move the appliance away from the wall. Then, locate the cover plate at the bottom rear of the refrigerator and remove it with a screwdriver. Set the cover plate aside.

Next, push or flex the metal box in the lower right rear of your refrigerator to disengage it. Once it's removed, you should see the refrigerator relay system. Use a flathead screwdriver to press down on the space between the relay and its casing. Then, press on the relay itself and pull it out to remove it from the refrigerator.

Slide the wire from the relay so it's accessible. You'll need to remove the metal connecter attaching it to the relay system first and then use pliers to strip some of the wire (no more than ¼ inch) on either side. Using electrical tape, connect both ends of the wire back to the relay housing so it completely bypasses the missing relay and closes the circuit. Replace the relay system box cover and the cover plate at the back of the refrigerator.

Critical Next Steps

Restore power at the circuit breaker and plug the refrigerator back in. Monitor it for several hours to be sure the compressor is still functioning properly. If you hear the compressor kick on (it should make a clicking or humming sound), you can tell that the relay itself was defective.

To avoid bypass compressor overload, don't leave the appliance in a state of relay bypass for very long. This quick-fix will work temporarily, but you should contact a repair technician to help you repair the refrigerator relay and get your appliance back in working order as soon as possible.

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Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com).

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