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Refrigerator on the fritz

  1. #1
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    Refrigerator on the fritz


    My fridge has been working not-so-great for a few weeks, off and on. Milk going bad prematurely, not staying very cold, etc., and it finally seems to have stopped getting cold altogether. The freezer seems totally fine.

    We have dogs that shed, so I vacuumed out the coils at the front (there are two rows and the second row is impossible to get to). I also pulled the back cover and vacuumed out the condenser fan area (wasn't very dusty). The fan spins normally and doesn't make any noise. I also observed that the condenser itself is really pretty hot.

    I have the temperature cranked way down and I can't feel or hear cold air entertaining the fridge anywhere. Anybody have a suggestion on what to check next, or a decent place to look to help me diagnose this? I can't find a date on it, but it was here when we moved in two years ago. It's not ancient...probably 5-10 years old. Also, it's a barn-door style (probably not what they're actually called), and the flap that is in between the two doors is pretty hot too.

    Any help is appreciated!!

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  2. #2
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    It's most likely not defrosting. Is it one with the freezer on top? If so, pull the inside back cover off.

    Oh I see it's a side by side. You need to find the cooling coils, they're most likely solid ice.

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    Last edited by GearHd6; 06-12-17 at 07:20 PM.
    Jeff

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    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    My top freezer fridge had the same problem a couple years ago, it was the defrost sensor that went bad on mine. I did a few tests to check the defrost timer and the heating element and they were both fine.

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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Freezer is on the bottom. I'm going to see if I can get to the relay at the condenser and check that.

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  5. #5
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    You need to find where the evaporator coils are on that fridge and get them thawed out even if it's manually with a heat gun for now.

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  6. #6
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    I don't see anything that's frozen or frosted…I'll keep looking though.

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  7. #7
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    It's going to be behind a cover you have to take off INSIDE the fridge.

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  8. #8
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Usually it's behind the back wall of the freezer.

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  9. #9
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Found it. Behind the back wall of the freezer. All frosted. You're saying I should defrost that and be good to go?

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  10. #10
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    A frozen one looks like this in a side-by-side:
    Refrigerator on the fritz-20170101_124715-jpg

    In my case it was both the defrost heater and the upper limit thermal cutout switch. Both were inexpensive via online stores.

    Edit: Apparently the forum software doesn't preserve the rotation information in the picture when uploaded from my phone, but you get the idea of what's going on.

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    Last edited by ZX-12R; 06-12-17 at 08:20 PM.
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by nick5446 View Post
    Found it. Behind the back wall of the freezer. All frosted. You're saying I should defrost that and be good to go?
    Yes, you need to defrost it. Depending on the humidity and how often you open up your fridge, it will operate correctly for up to a couple of weeks before it freezes up again. This will give you enough time to order parts but be prepared to defrost it again when you go in to make the repair.

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  12. #12
    Expert Agitator GearHd6's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by nick5446 View Post
    Found it. Behind the back wall of the freezer. All frosted. You're saying I should defrost that and be good to go?
    You can manually defrost it and it'll work fine for a couple weeks possibly but there's an obvious problem. I know nothing about your fridge, it could have circuit boards that control the defrost function or it could have a timer, heater and defrost sensor.

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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Could just be that your freezer door isn't sealing 100%, letting humidity build up.

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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by GearHd6 View Post
    You can manually defrost it and it'll work fine for a couple weeks possibly but there's an obvious problem. I know nothing about your fridge, it could have circuit boards that control the defrost function or it could have a timer, heater and defrost sensor.
    Thanks a lot! Seems to be working fine now. Now to diagnose what really happened...

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  15. #15
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Timely thread; my fridge is doing the exact same thing right now. Freezer seems to be too cold, fridge at 65* right now.

    I'm hoping the door was cracked due to my wife jamming a shit-ton of food in the freezer. But...how does one go about diagnosing the cause?

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  16. #16
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Make sure the door is shut and see if the fridge temp drops? If it doesn't I'd pull the inside back cover and see how bad the evaporator coils are encased in ice.

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    Jeff

  17. #17
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by nick5446 View Post
    Thanks a lot! Seems to be working fine now. Now to diagnose what really happened...
    You're welcome. Your electric bill will thank you as well. Mine dropped about $30 a month once I fixed it seeing the thing had been running non-stop except for when it was in defrost mode which really wasn't defrosting.

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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by GearHd6 View Post
    Make sure the door is shut and see if the fridge temp drops?


    This is what the coils were looking like last night. I defrosted w/ a heat gun. I was asking in case there were some basic troubleshooting tips while in there.
    Refrigerator on the fritz-fridge-coils-medium-jpg

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  19. #19
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Mine is the old style. I found the defrost timer, manually turned it to defrost and then checked to see if the heater element got hot, it didn't. So then I bypassed the defrost sensor and then the heating element got hot. So I replaced the defrost sensor.

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  20. #20
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by keeena View Post


    This is what the coils were looking like last night. I defrosted w/ a heat gun. I was asking in case there were some basic troubleshooting tips while in there.
    If you have a multimeter, the easiest thing to check while you have the coils exposed is the resistance of the heating element. If it shows as an open circuit, it's bad. Lots of heating elements are around 750 Watts which would put their resistance in the 18 Ohm range. Real values will be somewhere in that ballpark and shouldn't be too far off unless the wattage of the element is significantly different.

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    Last edited by ZX-12R; 06-14-17 at 05:54 PM.
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    nria

    STOP

    empty contents into cooler dry ice helps

    simply unplug it and leave with doors open for like 8 hours... it will fix itself


    Modern cheap refrigerators only have the freezer coil not 2

    The refrigerator counts on an air passage where freezer air is forced/drifts into and cools the refrigerator portion

    Under certain conditions frost/ice will eventually block off the passage way. everything stops

    Left open this melts and opens the passageway and it will run like new

    I have "fixed" my frig 3 times doing this.

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  22. #22
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Coincidentally, I discovered last night that my automatic icer's sweeping arm had gotten stuck in the on position, so it made tons of ice until it got backed up. I noticed some of the ice cubes had hollowed out, and eroded. Is this normal, or an indication of something?

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  23. #23
    Lifer SteveM's Avatar
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Mine just shit the bed, system leak, 10 years old, not going to put $500 into it.

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  24. #24
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveM View Post
    Mine just shit the bed, system leak, 10 years old, not going to put $500 into it.
    I'm going to be selling one. I'm bringing my current one to the new place and won't need the one that's there. You can pick up on 7/1 in Boston. Amana, stainless. Unsure of model number but it's nice. PM me.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Refrigerator on the fritz-20170603_122915-jpg  

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    Last edited by CEO; 06-15-17 at 02:04 PM.
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  25. #25
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    Re: Refrigerator on the fritz

    Quote Originally Posted by aldend123 View Post
    Coincidentally, I discovered last night that my automatic icer's sweeping arm had gotten stuck in the on position, so it made tons of ice until it got backed up. I noticed some of the ice cubes had hollowed out, and eroded. Is this normal, or an indication of something?
    I've found with mine that that's due to the freezer not being cold enough to freeze the cubes in time before the ice maker timer ejects the cubes. That's a tell tale sign that my freezer is packed too full or the unit isn't defrosting.

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