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GE MDL:TBX25ZLB Top Freezer Refrigerator Freezes up

I take the unit apart and the coils are solid ice. I defrost it with a hair dryer and put it back together. In less than a week it's froze up again. A friend told me it needs a defrost kit. Is this correct? If so, do I need the defrost heater and the thermostat or just the heater?

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  • 4 more comments 
  • muller_je Feb 10, 2009

    Thanks for the info. I found the timer and turned it clockwise as instructed. There was a loud click and the refrigerator turned off. It appears to have melted some of the ice but not all so after about 2 hrs I tried the procedure again. For some reason the timer will not click as before and the refrigerator continues to run. Suggestions?

  • muller_je Feb 10, 2009

    Thanks. You were correct, I must have turned the it to fast. I turned it slower this time and it did go into defrost mode. The refrigerator did turn back on but some time between 45 min and 1.25 hours. I check at 45 min and it had not turned back on yet. I checked again 30 min later and it was running. The coils are completely frozen, evenly across the entire freezer. I think the melting I say early may have been from the unit being turned off. I don't see any measurable evidence that the ice is thawing in the freezer. I purchased the defrost heater and defrost thermostat. I got the part numbers from the GE website and then order them through a discount parts house. I only hope the timer isn't bad also.

  • muller_je Feb 10, 2009

    Okay, I just took the unit apart and it does appear the heating unit is turning on (glowing orange) when I turn the timer to engage it. The bottom set of coils are cleared so the unit must be defrosting. The top set are still frozen so it probably just needs to cycle a few time to thaw them. Now my question is: Why isn't the unit defrosting automatically?

  • muller_je Feb 10, 2009

    One other thing I should add. I purchased the Defrost heater and the Defrost thermostat. When I was sizing up the effort to replace these (if need be) I noticed the Thermostat has a wire connecting to the defrost heater and a wire connecting to the plug for the Ice maker. I removed the Ice Maker some time ago (I don't recall if this is when my icing issue started). Could I have created an open circuit and rendered the Defrost Thermostat useless by doing so?

    Also, I just defrosted the freezer with a hair dryer. Needless to say the inside of the freezer was warm when I finished. Just for the heck of it, I plugged the Refrigerator back in, the coils started to get cold and frost a bit, I then started the defrost cycle (to make sure I didn't damage anything while defrosting) via your suggested method above. This time the heater did not come on (glow red or orange). Could this be due to the thermostat sensing the warm temp in the freezer and hence blocking the defrost heater from engaging? If so, I would guess this would be a good indication that the defrost thermostat is operational and doesn't need replaced.


  • muller_je Feb 13, 2009

    Well I known the defroster wasn't kicking in before because when I manually defrosted (with a hair dryer) as there were no signs of the defroster working. I can see when I engage the defroster manually (turning the defrost timer) it definitely shows signs of it defrosting. I think the automatic process of engaging the defrost cycle is the problem. I will try to see if I can locate a replacement for the defrost timer.

    How ofter should the refrigerator enter the defrost cycle? Once a week? Once a day? etc.


  • muller_je Feb 13, 2009

    Thanks for all your help. I couldn't have figured this out without your shared knowledge.

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You need either a WR51X314 defrost heater, or more likely a WR9X413 defrost control (defrost timer) for your TBX25ZLB. Unfortunately, these part are listed as "No Longer Available". Next time you want to defrost it, find the defrost control at the back of the refrigerator section, very near the temperture set knob (the one that goes from 1-9). You will most likely have to pull the knob off and remove the cover to find the visible part of the defrost control timer. It is a round flat looking plastic part, usually black or white, smaller than a dime, with a groove in it which you can turn with a flat blade screw driver. Turn it slowly clockwise (they usually make a clicking noise as you turn them) until it makes a rather loud click. Now if the refrig was running, it will stop and turn on the defrost heater. If the heater is good, it should begin to glow red and heat until the frost melts or the timer advances back to the run position (usually about 30 minutes). (if there is lots of build up on the freezer, it will most likely take longer than 30 minutes of defrost heater operation to melt it all. You can help it with your hair blower, if you think you need to. ) All this will help to eliminate the defrost heater itself as the problem. A larger parts store may have a defrost control timer left in inventory, or be able to suggest a generic defrost control which you can use. In the mean time, you can defrost your refrig manually this way once a week or so for 45 minutes, then manually advance the timer again to the run position. (If the defrost control timer is bad, it usually will not advance itself back into run) Send a comment with how things turned out or if you have any other questions. Please don't rate this, as anything but a Fix-Ya lowers my score.

Posted on Feb 05, 2009

  • 2 more comments 
  • Carl Schulzetenberg
    Carl Schulzetenberg Feb 10, 2009

    You must have turned it a little too fast and skiped over the defrost portion of the cycle that second time. Just try it again, very slowley. Did the refrigerator go into "run" by itself a half hour or so after you did the defrost? Also, you said it was solid ice at first,.... was it an even coat of ice, or only in one part, like only on the right side, right bottom?

  • Carl Schulzetenberg
    Carl Schulzetenberg Feb 10, 2009

    Obviously the defrost heater is OK, and if it turns on your defrost thermo is OK for defrost, which leaves the defrost control timer. I would also check for reasons for excessive frost build up, like the door gaskets leaking air. (look especially at the bottom of the fresh foods door for torn gasket)

  • Carl Schulzetenberg
    Carl Schulzetenberg Feb 10, 2009

    Your are correct with the thermo. The thermo needs to cool down to a certain temp before it resets and allows the defrost heater to work again. During defrost, when all the frost is cleared and there is still time left in the defrost cycle, the defrost themo warms up and turns power off to the heater so it will not add unnecessary heat to the freezer compartment. Unplugging the icemaker will not adversely affect the defrost system.

  • Carl Schulzetenberg
    Carl Schulzetenberg Feb 13, 2009

    Generally, mechanical defrost control timers will cycle into a 30 minute or so defrost time for every 6 - 10 hours of run time. If your refrig runs 50% of the time, you will have at least one defrost cycle per day. (as stated earlier, the max time the heater is on is determined by the defrost thermo, so even in a 30 minute defrost cycle, the heater may only be on 20 minutes, for example) It takes about 2 weeks for enough frost to build up to cause cooling issues. You should be able to get a WR9X502 defrost timer to replace the original and get your refrig back in shape. This should be a Fix-Ya for your refrigerator.

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