How to Bypass Start Relay on Your Refrigerator


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A refrigerator is the most indispensable appliance in any home. Modern-day kitchens and households would face a severe shortage of fresh food and a piling mountain of food waste without the refrigerator. It has become impossible to lead a healthy lifestyle without a refrigerator.

With power outages and fluctuations, the efficiency of a refrigerator can easily be affected. We are all used to the regular hum and click of the refrigerators, which is the compressor noise. A keen observer can actually differentiate the different noises of a refrigerator and take quick steps to decrease malfunction or damage.

If you have some basic knowledge of the functioning of a refrigerator, you will understand that the compressor doesn’t work all the time. It gets into action only during cooling cycles to maintain the ideal temperature of the fridge. As the functioning of the compressor is on and off, each time it needs to be on to begin the cooling, it requires a vigorous jump start to kick off. This is the job of the compressor relay or the start relay.

So, what is this start relay? It is just a name given to an electrical switch that brings the compressor from a complacent mode to a start mode. In other words, it wakes up the compressor to begin its job. So, what is the big deal about all this? It is a component doing its job. But wait…sometimes the fridge isn’t just efficient. Your can of drinks are just not cold enough and well, the ice-cream appears to be a bit watery? What do you do then?

This is the first sign that your compressor in the refrigerator is just complacent and does not want to kick start its day. This also means that the seemingly innocent electrical switch called the start relay is just not working. Oh no, this is the beginning of a long road of food wastage and rotten food. But wait to hear the second sign. The audible click of the start of the compressor is a common sound that most of us are used to. If you only hear repeated clicking but the compressor doesn’t start, it is time to check the start relay.

Read on to know how to bypass start relay on refrigerator.

Bypass the start relay

When the compressor doesn’t start and repeated audible clicks are just more noise with no humming, it is time to bypass the start relay. Now, be warned that this is the job of a professional.

The compressor and the start relay have a unique job of keeping the appliance cool and saving energy. It is an efficient combination. If the start relay malfunctions, the fridge will get heated up and other parts of the refrigerator may malfunction. But the refrigerator won’t wait till the professional comes along. It loses cooling, food starts to spoil and the temperature inside the fridge may rise. This is a disaster when you have party plans or guests over a holiday weekend.

If you can manage to work with some tools, you can bypass the start relay to get your compressor on and make the fridge work smoothly. Bypassing the start relay is only a temporary solution until you get a professional to do the job.

Steps to bypass the start relay

To begin with, switch off the mains and unplug your refrigerator. This is the most important step to ensure your safety and that of your loved ones. Get the refrigerator manual out and follow the simple steps.

If the refrigerator is a large one, it is better to take help to move the refrigerator safely. Some models have built-in wheels to move the refrigerator easily. Some models are mounted on a stand and that requires skill to move the appliance. You have to consider the floor type while moving your refrigerator. If the flooring is smooth and shiny, chances are you may scratch the floor and end up with damaged flooring. It is better to cover the floor with a protective layer of sheets or cardboard to ensure minimal damage. You should also check for any inlet water connections that may come loose while moving and cause leakage. Electricity and water are never a good match and be sure to steer clear of such a combination.

Tools required

You should also take stock of your toolbox. Get the required tools, including a regular screw driver, a flat head screwdriver, some electrical tape and a pair of pliers.

Compressor and start relay

The next step is to locate the panel covering the compressor and the relay system. It is usually at the bottom of the refrigerator at the rear. Use the flat head screwdriver and release the casing that protects the relay system to open it.

If you find a cylindrical object with many copper tubings, you are on the right path. It is the compressor. Next to the compressor is a box with wires jutting out of it. Check if there is any corrosion. If so, it is best to replace and not repair.

The start relay is inside this box. It is usually wire-wound. Start relays may be wire-wound or solid-state. If you see a solid-state one, it is better to drop this project and wait for the technician. If it is wire-wound, you can pull the wires off using pliers. Many times, a good shake is all that a component requires to wake up from a slumber. It is also a serious business with the start relay.

You can try the “shake and rattle” to see if it was just a temporary nap. If you hear some rattling noise, you are lucky. It is indeed the relay at fault. If there is no noise, you may have a compressor issue, which is far more complex and difficult to address by yourself.

In case there is a lot of rattling noise, it is time to replace the relay part. However, the temporary fix is the bypass. It is then time to get to some serious electrical repair business.

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How to bypass the start relay

Remove the metal heads in the relay system. Slide the wire out for access and remove the metal connectors from the housing. Strip some of the wire with the pliers by cutting about less than a quarter of an inch on either side. Secure the loose ends with electrical tape to complete the circuit by bypassing the missing relay.

Testing the relay

The most important step is to test the relay. Identify the “L” slip-on terminal and the “s” and “m” plug type terminals. Position the relay on a counter facing down and test the terminals with a multi-tester probe. Set the tester to zero ohms. Turn over the relay. You should hear a clicking sound and the tester should display ‘infinity’. On turning over, it should read zero. Repeat this step with the other terminal. If there are no changes, the relay system is fine and does not need a replacement. This also means that the start relay is functioning. Otherwise, it is time to get a new start relay part. Replace the metal casing and connect the refrigerator to the mains. Voila! You should have a functioning compressor in the refrigerator now.

A word of caution

If you are new to electrical systems, do not do this by yourself. Wait for the help of a professional technician to do the job. Remember, safety is of utmost importance and bypassing the start relay is only a temporary fix. It is not advisable to let the refrigerator operate in the bypass mode for a long time.

We hope this article helped you learn how to bypass start relay on refrigerator.