Tip & How-To about Refrigerators

Defrost Solutions

Most refrigerator problems begin with a failed defroster.
This can lead to sticky smelly ice, a roaring freezer fan and a loss of cold in the refrigerator compartment.

The freezer remains quite cold though, but frost continually builds up.
Manually unplugging the refrigerator will defrost the refrigerator in time, but that will eat up precious hours as your food slowly spoils.

Your defrost circuit consists of a defrost timer:


Defrost heater:


And a Defrost Thermostat:


The weakest link here is the defrost thermostat.
All refrigerators that come equipped with a defrost function use all 3 of these parts.

The second weakest link is the defrost timer since it has an electric motor inside it's case which wears out in time.

Defrost heaters are pretty similar to the heating element on a stove and rarely need replacement.

Every defrost thermostat has a temperature range stamped on the body of the part and should be replaced with the exact same temperature range replacement part. To troubleshoot this part you simply short the 2 wires together which lead to the thermostat to bypass it, rotate your defrost timer until you hear a click and wait for the defrost heater to begin melting the frost. The defrost timer has a tiny hole in the middle with gear teeth protruding outwards. This gear will only rotate one way so you cant make a mistake while rotating to the defrost cycle.

To troubleshoot the defrost heater make sure the thermostat is shorted as mentioned above and that the defrost timer is in the defrost mode.
Now, using either a digital or analog multimeter connect to both leads of the heater and your reading should be 100 to 120 volts AC. If the voltage is there but your heater is cold, you need a new heater.
If the voltage is absent and you get no reading then your timer is defective and will need to be replaced.

Rarely is there more than one failed part in a defrost circuit, and these minor parts are fairly inexpensive.

Good luck and Vote for this tip if you have found it to be helpful!

Posted by on

Refrigerators Logo

Related Topics:

Related Questions:

1 Answer

The freezer is working - the refrigerator is not cool. Removed the inside back of the freezer and found some ice along the bottom of the condenser - a lot of ice up the left side leading to the opening in the refrigerator produce area. Will defrosting solve the problem - or will more actions likely be needed after defrost?


Defrosting may solve it, if the ice was simply blocking the airflow.
There's also a circulating fan that may have failed, but the part shouldn't cost more than $50 to replace if it has failed.

Defrosting should definitely be the first step though -- you're on the right track.

Jun 14, 2010 | Kenmore 21.0 cu. ft. Bottom Freezer...

1 Answer

Refrigerator not making ice or getting cold


Hi and welcome to FixYa. I am Kelly

Your symtom comment that it is barely getting cold leads me to think the problem is in the automatic defrosting of the refrigerator.

Your unit has a mechanical defrost timer. It is item 6 of this link:
http://www.appliancepartspros.com/partsearch/model.aspx?model_id=5168518&diagram_id=1349648#d1349648

If you look at the panel all you will see of the defrost timer is 2 raised / tapered tabs that would only allow you to rotate those tabs in one direction.

Use a flat bladed screwdriver with a good blade or a rather wide flat ended kitchen utensil to rotate the defrost time until the compressor shuts off. That is the beginning of the defrost cycle. Leave the unit sit for about 1 hour and see if it performed the defrost cycle and restarted the compressor.

If the compressor did not restart.... there are other components of the defrost circuit that have failed.
Those components can be any one of the following:

1. The defrost timer itself.
2. The 60 deg bi-metal thermostat
3. The defrost heating element
4. A wiring problem to any of the above

If the unit did not defrost at all.... what you can do is perform a manual defrost by unplugging the unit, emptying the contents of the freezeer section and placing a fan blowing into the freezer section for just over 2 hours. This WILL make a WATER MESS so be ready to tend to the drips with rags and a mop.

After that 2 hour manual defrost reload the freezer and plug the unit back in. The temps should return to normal in about 4 hours.

If the manual defrosting corrects your no ice and warm fresh food problem then you for sure have an automatic defrosting problem.

One thing to note is.... if the evaporator fan in the freezer compartment is not running you will have a warm fresh food compartment and no ice. If the fan is NOT running and the compressor IS running the evaporator fan has failed.

The wiring diagram for your Refrigerator can be found here:
http://www.appliancepartspros.com/partsearch/frame_diagram.aspx?diagram_id=1326763&pkw_=basket&model_id=5168518&NewWindow=1

Thanks for using FixYa,

Kelly

May 01, 2010 | Magic Chef (CSD2610KRW) Top Freezer...

1 Answer

kenmore elite 596 73503201 no cooling in top compartment


if the freezer is getting cold the problem is due to the cold air from the freezer not getting into the refrigerator. There are several things that can cause this problem. The coils in the freezer icing up and not defrosting properly is one of the things that can cause the refrigerator not to get cold enough. Another problem is the fan that blows the cold air from the freezer compartment into the refrigerator, not working. When the compressor is running open the refrigerator's door and push the switch that makes the light go out. You should hear the fan blowing the cold air from the freezer into the refrigerator, when this switch is pushed in. If the fan is working then you will need to find what is blocking the air flow. Iced up coils are a common problem. The icing problem can be due to a defective defrost timer or something defective in the defrost circuit. Click here for more information. Check for these problems and let me know what you have found.
REFRIGERATOR TROUBLESHOOTING
#1 Refrigerator side getting warm Freezer still cold
Evaporator fan motor not running.
Defective defrost timer. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Defrost heater defective. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Defrost thermostat defective. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Airflow blocked from freezer compartment.
Freezer control turned to "coldest" setting blocking air flow to refrigerator side. On most refrigerator/freezers, the freezer control closes a baffle when turned to coldest setting, and this blocks off the air flow to the fresh food compartment.
Fan blade broken.
Defective door switch on older models.
Light staying on with door closed.
2 Refrigerator & freezer compartments both are getting warm
Make sure refrigerator is plugged in and has power.
Condenser fan motor on bottom under refrigerator not running.
Condenser coil clogged.
Defective defrost timer. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Defective defrost heater. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Defective defrost thermostat. See Defrost Diagnosis Procedure
Evaporator fan motor not running.
Cold control defective.
Compressor overload defective.
Compressor relay defective.
Light staying on with door closed.
Compressor defective.
Low on refrigerant. #3 Freezer compartment getting hot.
Defrost timer stuck in defrost cycle.(replace)
Defrost thermostat stuck.(replace)
Ice maker stuck in harvest cycle
Light staying on with door closed. 4 Ice maker not making ice
Defective inlet water valve.
Freezer temperature not cold enough. (see problem # 2 & 3 above)
Defective thermostat in ice maker.
Defective drive motor.
Water inlet tube clogged with ice.
Defective module in newer style icemaker. 5 Refrigerator sweating around door edges
Door gaskets leaking air.
Defective case heaters.
Energy saver switch not set to reduce exterior moisture
also if require more help click the link http://www.applianceaid.com/refrigerator.html please do rate the solution .thanks in advance.thank you for using fixya.

Mar 27, 2009 | Refrigerators

1 Answer

Viking Imperial Fridge... Purchased in early 90's


what is the stat set to ? A common problem with bottle coolers that work the same way, is people turn the stat to high ( very cold). This then drops the evaporator temperature so low it freezes up, in turn this stops the airflow and the ice build up worsens until you get the result you have, a warm fridge due to no airflow at all. It could be short of gas as this can cause it. A faulty defrost heater / timer can also cause it if its fitted as can a faulty fan that stops spinning. Due to the age of the unit I would try turning the stat back to 3/4 and see how that goes. it will get cold but will be more gradual, but hopefully shouldn't freeze up.

Mar 19, 2008 | Refrigerators

5 Answers

Refrigerator freezes up


PLEASE DISREGUARD GUEST FIXYA SOLUTION,FREEZER PROBLEM PROCEDURE IF NOT DEGITAL,FIRST CHECK IF ICE ON BACK FREEZER WALL. STEPS-FIND DEFROST TIMER,BOTTOM FRONT ,BOTTOM BACK, INSIDE FRIG.ON CONSOLE,LISTEN TO SEE IF FAN IS RUNNING IF SO TURN THE DEFROST TIMER CLOCKWISE TILL YOU HEAR A CLICK SEE IF FAN TURNED OFF IF SO YOUR FREEZER IS IN DEFROST,FREEZER WILL COME OUT OF DEFROST IN 20-30 MINUTES IF IT DOES AND THE FAN COMES ON YOU HAVE ELIMINATED DEFROST TIMER&FAN,NEXT REMOVE BACK PANEL TO FREEZER IF THERE IS ICE FORMING REMOVE BOTH LEADS TO HEAT AND CHECK WITH VOLT METER ON OMES,IF YOU GET ANY READING THE HEATER IS GOOD,IF NO READING REPLACE HEATER AND CLIPON TEMINATOR,IF HEATER IS GOOD DEFROST COILS WITH HAIR DRYER TOP TO BOTTOM AND THIS WILL ALSO CLEAR THE DRAIN,IF EVERYTHING CHECK OUT GOOD DEFROST TIMER ,FAN ,HEATER, DRAIN, YOU NEED ONLY TO REPLACE THE LITTLE ROUND CLIP ON TERMANATOR,LET ME KNOW-MIKE

Oct 13, 2007 | Kenmore 55612 / 55614 / 5561 / 655619 Side...

Not finding what you are looking for?

866 people viewed this tip

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Refrigerators Experts

John Tripp
John Tripp

Level 3 Expert

4654 Answers

yadayada
yadayada

Level 3 Expert

76164 Answers

Brian Coughlan

Level 2 Expert

275 Answers

Are you a Refrigerator Expert? Answer questions, earn points and help others

Answer questions

Loading...