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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm noticing that things in my fridge are not as cold as they once were. The freezer OTOH seems to be unaffected.

I suspect that the fan that blows the cold air in the frige died, but I'm no expert on these things. Looks like I might have to buy a new one, but if there's a possibility that I can fix this one I'd prefer that.

Suggestions on either fixing or replacing it welcome.
 

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Several fairly minor things could be responsible for the problem.

The condensate line may be stopped up. If it is, this will cause water to back up and freeze the coils solidly into ice. Check the evaporator pan under the fridge to see if any water drips down into it when it goes through the defrost cycle. If it's dry, then the line is likely stopped up and the coils frozen solid.

Often, these coils are located in the space between the top freezer section and the refrigerator section below. To thaw them, unplug the fridge and pour warm/hot water into the freezer part. Naturally you need to remove everything from the freezer and fridge before doing this. You can also use a hair dryer to blow hot air on the coil compartment. It's even quicker if you can remove the cover to the coil compartment, but it's not necessary.

Also, you may have a bad defrost timer. This is an inexpensive (estimated $30) part that you can buy and replace yourself.

As Albanygun said, check into some repair manuals either in print or online. Simple repairs are actually pretty easy.
 

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GWM

Snap!

Except that mines given up permanently and awaits profession repair. Suspects include a line blockage or sticking valve.

Eug
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
OK, just for reference the fridge is a Kenmore, model number 596.68147891. It has two doors, hinged on the side, the top is the frige and the bottom is the freezer. I have no idea how to get at the drip pan.

I checked it last night, the freezer air supply grille is blowing arctic winds rights into my face, but there is barely a dying gasp coming out of the refrigerator air supply tunnel. I tried to figure out how to get at this tunnel to see if it was somehow blocked, but I couldn't see how to get the back off to get at this piece. I also couldn't figure out how to remove the drip pan or get at the condenser tubes outside the box.

But then I tipped the fridge on its side and used my vacuum to get a good chunk of the dust off the condenser tubes on the bottom of the unit. Then I got in the freezer and removed the back panel, and I could at least look at the condenser tubes inside the box. They had a fair amount of ice built up, but they weren't completely engulfed.

Pictures:

Full back view:


Exposed electronics closeup after I took off the back plate:


closeups of the crap in the back underneath:






Here are the front coils, when I take off the front plate under the freezer (the fridge is on top of the freezer).




Spec sheet:



Close up of the cabinet airflow diagram:

 

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I hope when you tipped it up to clean you didn't lay it down on its side. This allows the oil to go up in the condenser coils which can burn up the compressor because of a lack of lubrication. It is probably low on Freon and that is causing the coils to freeze up.
 

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I think the problem is getting the cold air from the freezer part to the refrigerator portion. What happens when you adjust the temperature control in the refrigerator? Does the air flow increase, decrease or stay the same? If it stays the same, the air flow is blocked somewhere between the freezer and fridge. Check for the fan that blows the air. Is it running or clogged with dust and dirt? Fans sometimes get so much dust and dirt on them that they do not move very much air, but still run. A good example of that is fans in computers. Start looking for screws inside the fridge that allow access to inner controls.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
emaki said:
I hope when you tipped it up to clean you didn't lay it down on its side. This allows the oil to go up in the condenser coils which can burn up the compressor because of a lack of lubrication. It is probably low on Freon and that is causing the coils to freeze up.
No, I just tipped it about 20 degrees up and stuck a block of wood under it, then vacuumed. If you can't tip it on it's side, but at the same time the coils are underneath the unit, how are you supposed to clean them? Heh. I think I should ditch this fridge just for the poor engineering.

albanygun said:
I think the problem is getting the cold air from the freezer part to the refrigerator portion. What happens when you adjust the temperature control in the refrigerator? Does the air flow increase, decrease or stay the same? If it stays the same, the air flow is blocked somewhere between the freezer and fridge. Check for the fan that blows the air. Is it running or clogged with dust and dirt? Fans sometimes get so much dust and dirt on them that they do not move very much air, but still run. A good example of that is fans in computers. Start looking for screws inside the fridge that allow access to inner controls.
When I adjust the fridge temp control the air flow doesn't change. You can see in the 5th or 6th picture down the exposed fan is a dusty, but after I took that picture I removed the dust from it, and it didn't affect air flow in the least. I'm defrosting the freezer and fridge manually over last night and today, and then I'm going to reassemble it and see if anything changes. If not, I don't know, should I try to run some sort of improvised bore snake down the air flow shaft to see if a package of peas got lodged in there or something?

It doesn't seem to want to disassemble to get at those parts very readily.
 

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The evaporator coil inside your freezer should not have substantial ice on it. If it does, either the defrost timer is kaput, or the condensate drain in the trough is plugged, and the water can't get out, creating the "ice blockage", preventing air movement. Visually check the drain hole in the trough for pluggage (hair, lint, cockroaches, etc.), if plugged, clear same. Or, blow out the condensate drain with air pressure from outside the box. This is the white condensate drain tubing you see in the picture near the compressor. You will be blowing air back into the frig to clear the drain.

If ice is plugging the drain, you will need to empty contents, turn off power, and put a hair dryer, lamp, or whatever in box to defrost ice, and to get to plugged drain. Can you post a picture of the evap coil inside the freezer?
 

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Griz,

You are on the right track. I think you'll find the problem soon. If the freezer portion was keeping everything at the usual (zero degrees F.) temp, then it may just be an airflow problem.

BTW, many people don't realize that they shouldn't block the airflow ducts in a freezer or a refrigerator. In addition, they shouldn't stack the compartments so full that air can't circulate around the sides and back of the compartments. If there is no air circulation, then the refrigerator/freezer won't work.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
OK, here's the current story. I let it defrost overnight. There is now a ton o' water in the drain pan. I suppose that ice covered the fridge air supply tunnel and thawing opened it back up.

So what caused the icing over in the first place? The problem occured very suddenly, overnight, essentially. This wasn't a gradual buildup. The drain pan was originally dry as a bone. No water in evidence when I tipped the fridge last night (the floor was dry after that manuever), but if I did it right now the floor would be soaked. Water draining from the freezer area to the drain pan tells me that line isn't clogged. So what was the root cause of the sudden icing?
 

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The evaporator coil inside your freezer should not have substantial ice on it. If it does, either the defrost timer is kaput, or the condensate drain in the trough is plugged
The drain pan is normally dry as a bone, as condenser heat quickly evaporates any collection. Sometimes, you might see a small amount of water, if the defrost cycle had recently occured.

Check your defrost timer. If it is bad, your evap will freeze up.

Also, you may have a bad defrost timer. This is an inexpensive (estimated $30) part that you can buy and replace yourself.
Longshooter
 

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Griz,

Google "defrost timer". You'll find several good sites that explain how they work and how to check them.

I assume that you located the evaporator pan under the fridge during your defrosting process. If the defrost timer is working properly, and if you have a properly draining drain line, then this pan should get some small amount (a few ounces) of water in it about 3 or 4 times per day when it goes through the defrost cycle.
If it does this, everything should be working OK.

Heck, I would suggest you just keep a close eye on the temperature in both the fridge and the freezer compartments for the next few days. Test it with a good thermometer. If it is maintaining the proper temps, then everything should be OK.
 

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You will need to "isolate" and then test the device. First, locate the device, remove, and test. Power off while removing. Or, power off, while testing in place, with load side terminal wires pulled. Test with a volt-ohm meter, ohms function, clipped onto load-side terminals, testing for continuity. You can turn the "clock" device by turning in the slot (rotating) with a screwdriver. While turning, with VOM connected, you should alternately see "continuity-no continuity" repeatedly, while turning. If your test reveals no continuity continuously, the device is tits up.

If you don't know what I mean, get someone in the know to test it.

You have restarted usage of the frig. If the defroster timer is bad, a few days, a week, or a month down the road, the same problem will reappear.

Thank you,
Longshooter
 

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I just went through this same problem. Basically, the coils freeze up and no air can circulate through to blow into the refrigerator side. When you defrost, the coils are clear and so it works normally. It is either the defrost timer or the defrost heater itself, which was the case with me. About twice each day the heater is supposed to melt any ice buildup on the coils.
Good luck,
Gary
 
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