About 65 percent of American households already use Energy Star appliances, a 2011 survey found. If you use an energy-efficient refrigerator in the home, you should be very concerned if the appliance will not stop running. Energy Star-rated refrigerators experience about 20 percent energy efficiency. If the compressor and other working components continuously operate, however, your savings on utility expenses may diminish significantly. A malfunctioning refrigerator can be a major problem, but you may be able to tackle and remedy this issue on your own before seeking professional assistance.
Filled to Capacity -- or Emptiness
Overfilling both the refrigerator and freezer compartments can cause the appliance to continuously operate. Many modern side-by-side and French door refrigerators have an extra-large cubic-foot capacity, but owners do not have to fill the compartments to capacity. If you do stock up on perishable groceries, mimic the neatness and efficiency of the frozen and refrigerated food aisles at your supermarket. Evenly space items out on shelves so that there is even cold-air flow throughout the compartment. On the other hand, if your refrigerator is near empty, that could also cause the unit to run longer than usual. In particular, try to keep your freezer three-quarters stocked with food.
Large households may open the refrigerator several times a day, when you consider that each person's daily food intake includes preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Multiply three meal-prep sessions by maybe four family members, and that means the refrigerator door is opened at least 12 times a day, letting cold air out. The cooling system in a refrigerator has to power up and run longer to maintain the selected temperature in each compartment. Try to remove all items from the refrigerator at once, as a meal for everyone, to minimize the number of door openings that allow in warm air.
Kitchen and Outdoor Environment
Refrigerators keep in cold air and keep out warmer air using an airtight, magnetic seal on the door. But your appliance is not impervious to the external environment, both in your kitchen and outdoors. Some appliance manufacturers state that refrigerators in very humid areas, such as near oceans, may run 100 percent of the time. You may also create a humid environment from cooking on the stove in the kitchen, in the absence of proper ventilation. Direct sunlight through a kitchen window, onto the door of the refrigerator, can heat up the exterior surface, forcing the compressor to run longer. Learn about your local climate and study how external factors are directly influencing the refrigerator. If you cannot move the appliance out of sunlight, consider closing the blinds or shades in the window.
Simple Technical Troubleshooting
Even after using best practices, your refrigerator can continue to run for long periods. If your refrigerator is a new installation, give the unit 24 hours to cool down. Inspect for damage around the gasket on the doorframe, which may allow warmer air to enter the unit. For proper air flow in the back of the refrigerator, carefully pull the appliance away from the back and side walls, about 1 to 2 inches. Cleaning dust and dirt from the condenser is a slightly more involved process, and you should refer to the refrigerator manufacturer's instructions. Always disconnect the power before cleaning the coils. In some cases, the condenser never needs cleaning, which means you might need to contact an appliance technician for diagnosis and service for a refrigerator that will not stop running.