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Norlake Refrigeration & Freezer Troubleshooting


When it comes to cooling and freezing your ingredients, Norlake has been a top choice for restaurants, cafeterias and other commercial kitchens since the late-1940s. With a wide variety of top durable walk-in models and refrigeration systems, they're incredibly reliable for everyday use.

But like any commercial equipment that gets used daily, there can be some issues that pop up occasionally. Fortunately, we have some simple Norlake refrigeration and freezer troubleshooting tips to help you identify any issue quickly.

Compressor Not Starting

When your compressor doesn't start, you should first identify if the unit is humming or not. When there is humming, it could trip on the overload protector. Below are common problems in either scenario.

No Humming

  • Service cord not supplying power – See if the power cord unplugged or the cord is damaged.
  • Blown or removed fuse – The fuse will need to be replaced or corrected by an authorized technician.
  • Improper wiring – The unit's wiring could've been done incorrectly. Contact an authorized technician to correct the problem.
  • Overload tripped – See what is causing the trip. Contact an authorized technician for diagnosis and/or repair.
  • Control stuck open – When the control is stuck open, have an authorized technician replace or repair it immediately.


  • Improper wiring – The unit could've been wired incorrectly. Contact an authorized technician to resolve the issue.
  • Defective starting capacitor or faulty relay – See if the unit has a faulty starting capacitor or a relay that fails to close. In either case, determine the root cause. An authorized technician can identify the issue and repair.
  • Low voltage to unit – Look if there is an issue causing low voltage to the refrigerator or freezer.

Compressor Short Cycles

A Norlake refrigeration system can short cycle on an overload protector or just during normal operation. When either happens, look for the following issues:

  • Defective overload – If you unit has a fault overload, this can cause the compressor to short cycle. It will need to be replaced. 
  • Low voltage to unit – Check if there something causing low voltage to the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Excessive head pressure in the refrigeration system – When there is excessive head pressure in your refrigeration system, check the ventilation. There could be something restricted it.
  • Undercharged or overcharged – An undercharged unit could come from leak and would require refrigerant. It's also possible the refrigeration system was overcharged. In either case, the issue MUST be resolved by an authorized technician.

Compressor Operates Too Long

Whenever your unit's compressor operates for long stretches of time or continuously, it could be related to the following problems:

  • Iced evaporator coil – When the coil is frozen, drain the line before cleaning or removing ice. Your owner's manual should have specific cleaning instructions. Cleaning might have to be conducted by a certified technician or service company.
  • Dirty condenser – A dirty condenser could be the root cause. You should clean the condenser coil and surrounding area every few months. Make sure to consult the manual for additional tips, or contact an authorized technician to replace the condenser if broken.
  • Leaking refrigerant – Leaking refrigerant can lead to various problems in the refrigeration system. Refrigeration issues MUST be handled by an authorized technician.

Starting Capacitor Issues

If the starting capacitor on your Norlake refrigerator or freezer is open, shorted or blown, check for the issues below:

  • Low voltage to unit – See if there something causing low voltage to your unit.
  • Relay issues – If the relay contacts are stuck, clean the contacts or replace the relay. If there is an improper operation with the relay, replace it. You might need to have either issue resolved by an authorized technician.

Warm Refrigeration Space

When the refrigerated space in your unit is too warm, look for the following:

  • Iced evaporator coil – When the evaporator coil is frozen, the refrigerated space typically experiences a spike in temperature. Drain the line before cleaning or removing ice, and consult your owner's manual for specific cleaning instructions. Cleaning might have to be conducted by an authorized technician.
  • Dirty condenser – A dirty condenser also causes a rise in temperature. Make sure to clean the condenser coils and surrounding space every few months. Check out your owner's manual for cleaning instructions, or contact an authorized technician to clean the condenser.
  • High control setting – Check if the control setting on your unit is too high. If so, lower or reset it to the proper setting.
  • Overcharged refrigerant – Refrigerant overcharges MUST be handled by an authorized technician.

Noisy Operation

The noises listed below should be examined whenever you hear them:

  • Vibration – When you hear a vibrating sound, check if the compressor suspension bolts are loose. If they are, fasten them.
  • Vibrating fan blade – The fan blade is you unit will need to be replaced if there is a constant rattling or vibrating sound.
  • Rattling – There are two types of ratting sounds. First, see if the tubing is touching other components. If so, reform it to stop the noise. Second, check the condenser fan motor. The bracket mounting might need to be fastened or replaced.
  • Scraping from fan blade – See if a fan blade is hitting the fan shroud. If it is, reform or cut a small section of the shroud to prevent the noise.
  • Worn fan motor bearings – Worn out bearings can make a screeching or scraping sound. You'll need to have the fan motor by an authorized technician.

Need more help identifying the problem? Check out our commercial refrigeration troubleshooting guide or our selection of Norlake manuals for instructions on your specific model.

Please contact a local authorized service agent who can help with these specific units and all your commercial kitchen equipment needs.