Refrigerator won't work or works intermittently on one outlet, works fine on another

I can’t think of any reason for this?
I know my tenant plugs too much of her crap into an outlet on the same breaker, think rice cooker, microwave, elec. skillet, deep fat fryer and god knows what else. I’ve explained the best I can to her what not to do, but English is not her first language (Swahili), and I can’t tell if she’s getting it.
We moved the reefer to another wall and unused outlet and it’s working, move it back, nope. I have a guy working on a quote for a dedicated outlet/breaker for reefer only, but what the heck. 50 year old home, wired like they used to. I think I read that updated code requires a dedicated breaker.
The repair guy is getting me a new “cold controller,” whatever that means.

When you plug the refrigerator into the receptacle that “doesn’t work,” what exactly happens?

Does the light still work inside the refrigerator when the door is opened?

Does the circuit breaker trip? (Or does the fuse blow if you have a fuse panel?)

Do other things on the same circuit also stop working? Or just the refrigerator?

“Works intermittently” usually implies a poor connection in the outlet. Anything that was wired up 50 years ago is certainly not up to today’s standards or today’s demands.

DGH, you need to get that attended to. Electrical fires are nothing to sneeze at and, if you have old and/or faulty outlets or wiring of any kind, you significantly raise the risk for such an occurrence.


A poor connection can result in series arcing, and series arcing can result in a fire via a “glowing contact.”

Lite’s on, it just won’t cool. Tenant said it was “sometimes work, sometimes not” before. So yeah, it’s on another wall, and my electrician is looking at the mess.

I would first try replacing the outlet. It’s a simple project for a homeowner.

Good plan.

One scenario: Bad (resistive) connection somewhere in the circuit. There is a hefty inrush current when the compressor kicks on. The inrush current causes the voltage to droop to the point where the compressor can’t get up to speed and it quickly shuts down.

Another scenario: Bad (resistive) connection somewhere in the circuit. The resistance starts out relatively low. The compressor successfully kicks on, but the resistance of the bad connection continues to increase to the point that the voltage to the compressor is too low, and it kicks off.

Either way, the root cause is a bad connection somewhere in the circuit.

If she’s doing all that in a standard duplex receptacle, she’s either plugging & unplugging things all the time as she uses them, or else she’s using aome of those cheap ‘splitter’ octopus adapters that allow her to plug in multiple cords to a single outlet.

Both of those are likely to result in poor connections (thus intermittents, high resistance, overheating and, eventually, a fire).

A partial fix: have your electrician replace that receptacle with a double or even triple box, with 2 or 3 modern duplex receptacles in it. It will still be on the same wire & breaker, (no extra power), but at least it will give her 4 or 6 places to plug things in. That will be safer, and it’s a fairly easy rewiring task.

As well as the outlets it may be fed from. Could be the actual problem is in its neighbors box.

Op says they have an electrician so all is well but, I’ll mention that they are better described as a landlord than a home owner and as such I’d recommend they not to do electrical work on a tennants place themselves.