If your fridge is clicking, it could be because it’s overloading the compressor. That clicking sound is coming from the compressor shutting down when it’s overloaded. The compressor is connected to a condenser coil, which is usually on the back or the bottom of the fridge. It’s the tubing that the refrigerant goes through after compression to get rid of heat and get ready to expand and cool. If your fridge isn’t cooling properly but still looks like it’s holding some air, that’s probably what’s causing the clicking.

There are a few different reasons why your fridge might be clicking. Unfortunately, they’re not simple fixes and you could end up having to send it in for an expensive fix. Here is the most common reasons why your fridge is clicking and what you can do about it.

Possible Causes of the Clicking Noise and No Cooling

Why does my fridge keep clicking on and off?
My Fridge Is Clicking and Not Cooling

There are several potential culprits for this issue, and we’ll explore each one:

1. Start Relay Switch and Overholt Switch

Fridge Compressor Not Starting Replace Start Relay & Overload
How to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor Start Relay

One of the common culprits behind a clicking fridge and inadequate cooling can be a faulty start relay switch or overholt switch. These essential components are responsible for the compressor’s operation. When they fail, the compressor may run intermittently or not at all, leading to temperature fluctuations and an annoying clicking sound.

2. Defective Run Capacitor

What Makes a Refrigerator Run Capacitor Go Bad?
How to Replace a Refrigerator Compressor Run Capacitor

Another possible cause of the clicking noise and cooling issues is a defective run capacitor. The run capacitor works in conjunction with the start winding to cycle the compressor on and off. If it fails to hold a charge, the compressor might struggle to start properly, resulting in inadequate cooling and the infamous clicking sound.

  • The run capacitor, responsible for cycling the compressor on, could be faulty, leading to cooling problems.

3. Malfunctioning Compressor

Signs of Malfunctions Compressors
Malfunctioning Compressor

While less common, a malfunctioning compressor could also be to blame for the clicking noise and lack of cooling. If the compressor itself is faulty or has shorted to the ground, it will hinder the proper refrigerant circulation and cooling process, leading to potential clicking noises and warm temperatures inside the fridge.

  • Though less common, a defective compressor could also be the reason behind the clicking noise and cooling issues.

Troubleshooting and Fixing Steps

1. Start Relay and Overholt Switch

The first step in troubleshooting a clicking fridge that’s not cooling is to examine the start relay and Overholt switch. These components are crucial for the proper functioning of the compressor, responsible for cooling the refrigerator. Check for any signs of damage, such as a rattling sound or burnt smell. If you detect issues with either the start relay or Overholt switch, replacing them with new parts might be the key to resolving the problem.

  • Unplug the fridge for safety.
  • Locate the compressor and the start relay switch (usually next to it).
  • Remove the cap on top in front of the relay to access it.
  • Gently wiggle and pull out the compressor starter relay.
  • Check for signs of damage, such as a rattling sound or burnt smell.
  • If faulty, replace it with a new one. You can find universal parts if the exact match isn’t available.

2. Run Capacitor

A defective run capacitor can disrupt the cooling process and result in a clicking noise. To determine if the run capacitor is faulty, use an analog ohm meter to test its ability to hold a charge. If the test indicates poor performance, replacing the run capacitor could be the solution to get your fridge back to its cooling glory.

  • Unplug the fridge for safety.
  • Locate the run capacitor and test its ability to hold a charge using an analog ohm meter.
  • If the test shows poor results, replace the capacitor with a new one.

3. Compressor

The compressor is the heart of your fridge’s cooling system, and if it’s malfunctioning, you may experience clicking noises and inadequate cooling. However, diagnosing and replacing a faulty compressor is a complex task that requires professional expertise.

  • This step requires professional help, as compressor replacement involves recovering Freon.

Diagnostic Test Mode for Kenmore Refrigerators

  • If you have a Kenmore refrigerator, you can enter the diagnostic test mode to check operations.
  • Within 2 seconds, press the light switch 3 times, then hold it for a 4th time until a long beep sounds.
  • In this mode, press the door switch twice to start the compressor. If it runs, check the thermistor.


How to replace a refrigerator thermistor
What Is the Function of the Thermistor in a Refrigerator?
  • A bad thermistor can prevent the compressor from running normally.
  • Use the diagnostic test mode to confirm if the compressor runs, indicating a broken thermistor.

Electronic Control Board

Checking Wiring and Harness

  • Inspect the control board harness for any pinched or broken wires.
  • Ensure continuity between wires in the harness using a multimeter.
  • Replace any damaged wires.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much do the start relay switch and Overholt switch cost?

These parts are relatively affordable, usually around 20 bucks.

Can I use a universal part for the start relay switch?

Yes, you can find universal parts if the exact match isn’t available.

Is a faulty run capacitor easy to replace?

Yes, replacing a faulty run capacitor is a straightforward task.

Should I attempt compressor replacement myself?

No, compressor replacement involves specialized procedures and should be done by a licensed technician.

How do I enter diagnostic test mode on a Kenmore refrigerator?

Press the light switch three times within 2 seconds, then hold it for a fourth time until you hear a long beep.

What if I hear the compressor running in the diagnostic test mode?

Check the thermistor, as it may be the cause of the problem.


By following the steps and tips provided, you can troubleshoot and potentially fix the clicking noise and cooling issues with your fridge. Remember to prioritize safety and seek professional help if needed. Don’t let a malfunctioning fridge ruin your day – get it back to working order and keep your food fresh and cool!

Key Takeaways

  • Clicking noise and no cooling in the fridge can result from start relay, Overholt switch, or run capacitor issues.
  • Troubleshoot and replace faulty parts to avoid costly repairs or replacements.
  • Use the diagnostic test mode for Kenmore refrigerators to pinpoint specific problems.
  • Safety first! Unplug the fridge before any repairs or tests.

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