The first important rule for accessing any components of a refrigerator is: Unplug the refrigerator. If the motor has a capacitor, it must be discharged of all residual electricity before moving on to make repairs. The capacitor looks like a dry cell battery, and it stores electricity even when the refrigerator is unplugged. Not discharging this unit, which sits on top of the motor, could cause electrical shock. If necessary, defrost the refrigerator, as well. Now you're ready to try and repair the refrigerator or freezer.
The motor, compressor, compressor coil and the condenser are at the bottom of the refrigerator. If you need to check or service these parts, you must also empty the refrigerator because the only way to access the lower unit is by removing the service panel or by tipping the refrigerator over to access from underneath. The upper section of the refrigerator houses the control components.
They are covered with metal or plastic panels, and to access them the screws or clips first have to be removed. Sometimes the fasteners are covered with trim or molding that needs to be pried off with a putty knife. Some of the control components may have protruding control knobs. Some refrigerators enable access to these parts from the inside by removing the shelves.
Refrigerator parts that can be unscrewed or loosened, whether from the top or bottom of the refrigerator unit, can often be replaced without calling for service. If the parts that malfunction are housed in sealed units, such as the compressor or the condenser and evaporator coils, don't try to repair them yourself. These kinds of repairs must be done by a professional.