Everything You Need to Know About Your Refrigerator’s Electric Motor

Your electric motor on your refrigerator has a big impact on the way your refrigerator works.

As simple as a refrigerator seems, they’re most often taken for granted. These food-storing machines include a lot of different components.

When an issue arises with your trusty refrigerator, it can be a frustrating situation. Where do you begin to look? Electric motor repair can be pricey and if you’re not even sure where the issue is coming from, trusting a technician to be honest with their price and service can be stressful.

The best way to eliminate this stress is by becoming an expert on your appliances, piece by piece.

In this blog, we will outline how an electric motor works, including the various electric motor parts and potential repairs you or a technician can perform on a faulty electric motor.

What Electric Motor Do You Have?

type of fridge motor

Image via Kitchn

Chances are your refrigerator has a brushless electric motor.

As its name explains, the brushless motor indeed is without brushes.

These motors are built with mechanical windings through sliding contacts on the bars. The commutator is positioned on top of the rotor and is powered electronically through power transistors which are microcontroller operated.

Brushless motors are usually priced a bit higher than standard motors and make less noise when powered. They also involved minor maintenance needs and work with reduced vibrations.

This type of motor involves permanent magnets which are positioned on top of the rotor which replace the winding. These are made of special materials which help create low rotor inertia and great motor control – through both acceleration and speed.

Due to these characteristics, this motor is used with appliances that require energy saving, less noise and hardly any vibrations, along with continual speed regulation.

Along with refrigerators, other common appliances which use this motor are washing machines, suction and ventilation appliances.

How Does an Electric Motor Work?

Before delving into how an electric motor works and therefore electric motor repair, it’s beneficial to start with reviewing the electric motor parts.

Typically, an electric motor is made with these main parts:

  • Commutator
  • Armature/Rotor
  • Axle
  • Brushes (unless a brushless motor as explained above)
  • Axle
  • DC power supply
  • Field magnet

Electric Motor Repair

So now that we’ve reviewed the basic functions of an electric motor, it’s time to address some DIY repairs when your refrigerator, or motor aren’t working.

Fan Issues

The fan motor, out of the electrical components is one of the easiest to fix. The motor’s fan is made to work whenever the compressor is working and is controlled by the exact same set of contracts within the temperature control switch.

If the compressor is running but the fan isn’t, chances are the fan’s motor will need to be replaced.

However, before you run out to buy a new motor, the issue could lie within the electrical connection. Make sure you check the motor’s wiring relation with the DMM, or digital multimeter.

Double-check the Motor

First, unplug the refrigerator from the wall. Before you grab the DMM, turn the fan blade manually. In a lot of situations, the motor’s bearing gets sticky with grime and the motor becomes stuck. If it feels like the motor is right or the shaft is proving to be difficult to turn, you can spray the shaft with an oil to lube the system into working condition.

However, if you feel that the fan turns easily, check the windings for issues (see below).

Motor Windings Check-up

fridge motor

Image via DoItYourself

The first step to checking the motor windings is to change the function switch (DMM) so that it is in the “Ohms” position.

Next, insert test probes into the connector within the fan’s motor leads. Chec the black and white wires: if the meter’s LCD shows an “O.I.” that means that the motor’s winding ability has opened and therefore you must invest in a new motor.

If the LCD shows a low reading (10.00-30.00 ohms) then your motor is healthy. If your motor succeeds in passing this test, look in between the wires to try and find an “O.I.” Any other display means that the motor has conked out and you’ll need to replace it.

Check for Wiring Continuity

After you have checked all these parts of the motor, you should look for any sign of a broken wire. While you still have your DMM set to “Ohms,” make a continuity reading in between each end of the wires which are connected to the motor.

Also, make sure to check the wiring which is fixed at the back of your refrigerator or within the compressor in order to find the test points.

Electric Motors: At a Glance

So, there you have it! Everything you need to know about your electric motor in order to keep it running smoothly. With this knowledge and practice, you will never have to rely on paid services again for your refrigerator and electric motor repairs!

Feature image via CG Trader

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