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How Often Should a Refrigerator Cycle On and Off?

A refrigerator goes through a cycle that turns on the compressor for cooling the air and pushing it into the fridge. That's perfectly normal because the air inside the refrigerator gets warmer every time you open the door. 

Some older models enter the cycle more than 50 percent of the time. Newer models with an Energy Star rating may go through the cycle as much as 90 percent of the time.

Everything depends on the model and size of your fridge. Keep reading as we explain how everything works.

What is a Refrigerator Cycle?

Refrigerators get their name from a group of chemicals called refrigerants. These chemicals make it possible to cool the inside of the fridge. They are also present in air conditioning units.

The chemicals have a low boiling point, which is needed to start the cycle in the first place. Then, it continues going in a loop to maintain a constant temperature inside the fridge.

Your fridge wouldn't be able to do anything without the compressor. It's the part that compresses the refrigerant, heating it up in the process and turning it into liquid form. It also dictates how much liquid flows through the system. From there, the coils on the outside of the unit turn the refrigerants into liquids by cooling them.

The fluids then flow through the expansion valve boiling into gas once more. That is what lowers the temperature inside the unit. Those gases are then pulled through the compressor, and the cycle starts again.

That's basically how every refrigerator works. It compresses gases, turns them into liquids, then expands the liquids back to gasses for cooling the inside of the fridge. It's a simple process that completely changed the way we store food.

The Normal Refrigerator Cycle

There is no "normal" refrigerator cycle. Every fridge has a different cycle because it depends on a few various factors. The average cycle is about 30 minutes, but that's only when the refrigerator stays closed.

Factors that impact the refrigerator cycle are outside temperature, the internal content, and the frequency of door openings. For example, if you live alone and if you don't open the door of your fridge all the time, the cycle may repeat every 30 minutes or so.

On the other hand, if you live in a large family with four, five, or more members, the door will be opened quite often, which will trigger the cycle to come on much more often. If you live in a warm and humid area, the run time could be as high as 100%. A faulty fridge could also cause increased runtime.

How Often Should a Refrigerator Cycle On and Off

Possible Reasons That Increase Runtime

There are a few more reasons why your fridge could be working constantly.  For example, if the gaskets on the door snap or dry out, the fridge will keep leaking cool air and the compensator will have to turn on constantly. It won't be able to cool the interior to the expected temperature, and that could cause even more damages.

Blocked air vents can also cause an increase in runtime. If you put a lot of food into your fridge or freezer, it could block the vents where the cold air is pumped inside. The thermostat will recognize a rise in temperature, pushing the compressor to run the cycle over and over. That will lead to an increase in electricity bills and perhaps more wear and tear.

Furthermore, if the coils on your fridge don't use the NeverClean condenser, they may easily get dirty. The grime and dirt prevent the gases from turning into liquids in the pipes, making it harder for the fridge to keep your food cooled to the right temperature.

Something as simple as the light not turning off when the doors are closed can trigger the cycle over and over. Also, if you put warm food inside to cool off faster, the fridge will work more than it usually does.

Proper Maintenance Is Key

Regular maintenance is all you need to keep your fridge working properly. That will help you get a regular cycle, and your fridge will be more efficient. Start by making sure that the doors are not opened for too long. Close the door every time you take something out or put it back in.

When you put food inside, make sure that it's not cramped in front of the air vents. The air has to have a clear path through the vents. The thermostat will then be able to read the correct temperature and limit the cycles coming on.

Also, make sure you check the door gaskets frequently to make sure that the cold air isn't escaping.

Lastly, clean the coils behind the fridge at least once a year to optimize the heat exchange. One more thing — avoid putting hot food inside the refrigerator as much as possible.

Make Things Easier for Your Refrigerator 

As you can see, your fridge has to do a lot of work to keep your food at the right temperature. The process is simple, but it does require some regular maintenance to be able to work.

Check your fridge from time to time, and do all you can to keep the doors closed as much as possible. A little care will go a long way.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 4 comments
Kathy Sanders -

I put to much food in my hot point and it cuts off alot well now I no we had to clean the back of the refrigerator and empty the pan under refrigerator my landlord property owner doesn’t really do shit hes a slum landlord I had not no you have to clean every year I’ve been here 10years but it was dust and nasty and I’m very organized and clean it looked like swamp water in pan under my hot point ok I like your comments they make sense thanks

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    Nutritionist -

    A refrigerator should run for 4 to 8 hours before shutting off and going into the defrost cycle. However, there are  several factors that determine how long your refrigerator would run before shutting off. They include internal and ambient temperatures, as well as, how often you keep warm foods in the refrigerator or how often you open the refrigerator door.  Usually, a refrigerator that is plugged in for the first time will run for about 24 hours. The reason a refrigerator will run for 24 hours after the first startup is to reach a stable cold temperature.

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Kathy Sanders -

I put to much food in my hot point and it cuts off alot well now I no we had to clean the back of the refrigerator and empty the pan under refrigerator my landlord property owner doesn’t really do shit hes a slum landlord I had not no you have to clean every year I’ve been here 10years but it was dust and nasty and I’m very organized and clean it looked like swamp water in pan under my hot point ok I like your comments they make sense thanks ok

Reply
marlin -

in the section “WHAT IS A REFRIGERATOR CYCLE’ make up your mind is the refrigerant liquified by heating or cooling. it can’t be both as you stated. also the cooling coil haven’t been on the back of a unit for several decades.

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