Question about Kenmore 53542 / 53544 Side by Side Refrigerator

1 Answer

Not Cooling and has burning smell

My unit is just 4 years old and two days ago I started smelling and electrical burning odor. I also heard a relay clicking sound at the time. Over the next 24 hours the freezer thawed out and by the next day the refrigerator side also quit. The burning smell has subsided but the clicking still occurs when the unit starts up and only runs about 10 to 12 seconds then stops again. I unplugged and emtied the unit and checked for obvious problems and can't see any at this time. There isn't much lint anywhere in the unit and the vents inside seem to be clear.There was never any ice build up or problems until the burning smell. We did have a power outage earlier that day for about 1 minute and that was the only odd thing to happen. The unit has been in the same spot for 4 years. Thank you for your help.

Posted by on

  • 8 more comments 
  • RENE KIRK Sep 21, 2007

    This unit is a Kenmore side by side model # 53544.

  • RENE KIRK Sep 22, 2007

    To: fmauka
    Thank you for responding to my question regarding the burning smell and non freezing and cooling Kenmore. I have had it unplugged for about 30 hours now and tomorrow I will plug it back in and try to diagnos the problem with a little bit more acuracy. I do not have the electronic diagnosis type system so I don't have that advantage.
    The burning smell was coming from the compressor area underneath the unit. That is about all that I have for now. I will report in again after I take a better look at the problem This has been a very busy week for me and I just have not had the time to really look into this problem
    Thank you,

  • RENE KIRK Sep 23, 2007

    Hi fmauk,
    I did do all the things you mentioned above and I did find the capacitorabove the start relay was where the smell was coming from. It is the only place that showed any signs of overheating as well. I had t order that as it was not in stock at the sears repair store here. I did not remove the start relay because I wasn't truly sure that it just pulled off for inspection. The capacitor came right off but the relay seemed attached more solidly. I hope I found the problem. For the few seconds that the compressor runs the cold line gets cold and the return line heats up so I am hoping the compressor isn't having a problem. The fan comes on each time and works fine. We did clean all the coils real good this morning as well. I hadn't done that in the 4 years that we have had this unit. It wasn't very dirty though. We have no children or pets living at home with us and we keep a clean home so not to many dust bunnies live here. Ha! Ha! Thanks again, and I will keep you informed as to the progress.

  • RENE KIRK Sep 27, 2007

    I got the capaciter and installed it. It didn't fix the problem. I did remove the start relay and of course it is burnt up and rattles when I shake it. It is where the burning smell was coming from. Now it seems that finding one of those is not going to be easy. So far it keeps showing out of stock. The part number on the relay is 2220475 if anyone has one. Also one more question. Does this normally burn out by itself or am I looking at another problem that causes it to short out?
    Thank you for any help,

  • RENE KIRK Sep 29, 2007

    Hi Fmauka,
    Thanks for the continued support. Previously you asked me if the coils were clogged up and I said no, but I had only looked and cleaned out the back of the unit. I had looked through the grille in front but never removed it until I went looking for the papers you spoke of. Well inside the front was a whole different story than in the back. The exchange coils were as plugged with lint as they could be. Between the vacuum cleaner and an air hose we removed enough lint to make a blanket out of.
    I did run Ohm readings on the run and start windings and they were within specs according to the paperwork. I had right at 5 ohms on the run side and 10 ohms on the start side. I have ordered the strat/run relay and it should be in this week. Last week when I removed the start/run relay it was burned up and the internal parts rattle so I know it is definately bad. I am hoping that replacing that and cleaning the clogged coils will fix the problem. It is good to know that the compressor will be covered for another year. I did not know that. Thanks for the info. I will stay in touch until this unit is up and running or replaced. I will also make it a habit to remove the grille every 6 mos or so and clean under there. Needless to say we were very suprised to see that mess.
    Thanks again,

  • RENE KIRK Sep 29, 2007

    Hi again,
    I just saw your new post when I submitted my other one. When I installed the capacitor and plugged the unit in, the fan came on and the motor was sluggish but trying to start when the relay tripped off again. I only tried it twice before I decided to try and remove the start/run relay. I had tried to remove it before and it felt like it was attached more than just plugged in. I finally got up the nerve to force it a bit and it unplugged, then I was able to tell that it had burned up and was heating up the capacitor. Each time I have tried to run it from the beginning the cold side got cold to the touch and the return was warm. It never ran more that 10 to 15 seconds each time though, but I could tell that the compressor was at least trying to do its job.

  • RENE KIRK Oct 04, 2007

    Good evening fmauka,
    My start / run relay came in this afternoon and it corrected the problem. My unit is working perfectly and the ice maker has been making ice all evening. The freezer is freezing and the fridge is cooling just fine. I want to thank you for all your help and encouragement through out this process. I have a new found respect for refrigerators.
    Thank you again,

  • RonaldW Jan 01, 2008

    Hi. Have the problem with same model, whereas cooling has ceased to function in both the freezer and the refrigerator. Unit is only 3 years old, and

    came home, (after 3 days away) to find all frozen food defrosted, and all refrigerated items had to be discarded as well. Someone is supposed to come tomorrow, (Weds 1/2/08) and (fix?) Company was suggested by Kitchenaid, here in Ft. Myers.

    Checked for lint in front behind grill. vacumed it out. Don't think there was that much to shut down (compressor). Frige is humming, but not cooling.

    Any suggestion??? Don't want to be ripped.


  • salvadore ferrara Jan 05, 2008


    I have read this thread and found that the Start Device Relay has burned up. I have already ordered a new replacement part from Sears Parts on-line and it should be here Sat. 1/5/08. Rene Kirk asked "Does this normally burn out by itself or am I looking at another problem that causes it to short out?" The answer was from fmauka was..."A normal tech check at this point, is to check ohm readings, short run motor and check current draw, ( to check motor run resistance) and if abnormal reading, then replace the condenser/compressor unit on warranty service..." I have also read on other web sites that I should check the ohms on the Start side/windings (between 1-5 omhs) and the Run side/windings (between 3-11 ohms). To honest I have know idea how to do this and where to find the Start and Run windings. Please help...

  • boo-shy Apr 18, 2008

    A few days ago I smelled electrical burning odor and now my freezer in my side by side 3 yr. old frigidare frig. What do I do first? The frig side is still cooling.



1 Answer

  • Level 1:

    An expert who has achieved level 1.


    An expert that hasĀ over 10 points.


    An expert whose answer gotĀ voted for 2 times.

    Problem Solver:

    An expert who has answered 5 questions.

  • Contributor
  • 17 Answers

If you are looking for help, one must explain the problem in detail, described properly, for one one the internet to review. For myself, a would require more details of your refrig, to properly explain a resolution. Otherwise a general answer is not worth much. If you have the fully electronic temperature controlled unit, then the components can be easily chedked in 5 minutes, by the on-board service diagnostic computer. One needs to know the general operating knowledge fo the refrig, which is naturally available, since you operated it for some years. Anyway, a layman can check it out by doing what is natural. Since the refrig defrosted, it has shut down. Four years is too short for genral compressor defects. Put the power plug in and check for operating sounds. Just a few seconds. You mentioned smell (outside or inside), ket a paper tube, like a paper towel center, and sniff the evaporator motor, then the condenser motor. I will recheck later, and see if you want to continue, this troubleshooting. Regards fmauka

Posted on Sep 22, 2007

  • 2 more comments 
  • fmauka Sep 22, 2007

    Rene, OK, when you start, examine the parts below unit, sniff the condenser fan motor, and compressor, it condenser motor smells, look for overheated ares, curled paint etc, also on compressor. Look and examine the wires attached to the compressor.
    If the final condition was, running and stopped.
    Fan problems would result in performance operation effects. Any control item malfunction, can stop the operation. Do you clean the condenser coil on a yearly basis. If you found the area fully covered with lint like material/dust, and the compressor face looks overheated, well, then one common failure is that when a condenser is blocked up, (but the refrig would show some signs of poor cooling performance)was it keeping frezzer at 0 deg??,
    continuing then the compressor runs for long periods, shuts only on defrost, and burns up the floor area (compressor overheats) This cooks the oil in the case, and ends with a early compressor death.
    When you start the compressor, touch the and feel the temperature of the two small tubes attached to the compressor. If one gets cool, and the other real hot, great, your compressor may still be alive. WATCH your fingers, be ready to lift it offf quickly!!!! If we have enough data input, we can easily, figure out the problem for your unit. A service tech could diagnos the situation about 45 min.
    Regards, fmauka

  • fmauka Sep 29, 2007

    Hello! Rene, Backing up, when you inspected the front portion of this unit, on the floor grille, was a folded paper service instructions sheet located there??? This paper normally comes with the new unit... Then, usually your motor would be a capacitor start, and line run unit. Check with a motor stocking store , yellow page motor fractional horsepower repair shop. You indicated that the capacitor did not help....backing up, your mentioned checking the operation of compressor and feeling the tube temperature change. Compressor must have operated, then. The compressor has two relays, wound in there, one is to get it going-start,,then second winding to get it running and in the proper direction. Trouble shooting, if elec able, in using a ohm- meter, check the continuity of the relay, check the ohm reading of the two windings, BACK-UP
    For the parts to heat up abnormally, something is hapening, like compressor overheats, frictional resistance, drawing excessive current, and overloading the relay, which would trip before damaging anything.
    Don't forget, The sealed cooling system is warranteed for five years or more. If the internals of compressor is causing the problem,
    the warranty service will repair it. You may
    get to a point where warranty servce can be
    A normal tech check at this point, is to check ohm readings, short run motor and check current draw, ( to check motor run resistance) and if abnormal reading, then replace the condenser/compressor unit on warranty service... I will check again, Regards fmauka...

  • fmauka Sep 29, 2007

    Hello? Rene, Again, when you installed capacitor, indication nothing happened? But, with power plug on, did the refrigerator compartment lights go on, or in the freezer, did you hear the evaporator fan running, did any lamps go on? In the interval start, did the compressor start with no problem, ( that is when you checked tubing temp). The refrig can also be in defrost mode, so then compressor would not run. If the compresser is trying to start, then the evap fan should be running. Have someone check the contiuuity of start relay, before you purchase new... Regards ,,,fmauka....

  • fmauka Oct 05, 2007

    Hello! Rene Kirk, great job, and I am glad your repair turned out well. Regards, Aloha! fmauka.



1 Suggested Answer

  • 2 Answers

SOURCE: I have freestanding Series 8 dishwasher. Lately during the filling cycle water hammer is occurring. How can this be resolved

A 6ya expert can help you resolve that issue over the phone in a minute or two.
Best thing about this new service is that you are never placed on hold and get to talk to real repairmen in the US.
The service is completely free and covers almost anything you can think of (from cars to computers, handyman, and even drones).
click here to download the app (for users in the US for now) and get all the help you need.
Good luck!

Posted on Jan 02, 2017


Add Your Answer

Uploading: 0%


Complete. Click "Add" to insert your video. Add



Related Questions:

1 Answer

I have a 1990s JVC tv that we were wattching the other day then we smelled a smoky smell. Then horizontal lines and staticy sound started to go through the tv. We tried canned air to clean the vents a few...

That tv is very close to catching on fire. UNPLUG IMMEDIATELY. When electronic equipment is old they dont just stop working sometimes. Sometimes the electrical current starts burning the wires and the dust inside. there is a definare odor to electronics burning or shorting out. smell around the air vents in the back of the TV. youll know if wires were burning its a distinct odor

Jun 03, 2012 | JVC Televison & Video

2 Answers

Kenmore model 105.53534300 side by side refridgerator not cooling

Relays are located on the left side of the compressor. How long ago did you smell the burning smell? Are you 100% sure the compressor is running? If it is, nothing is wrong with the relays. Although sometimes it is hard to tell if the compressor is running. By morning temps will be higher than tonight if compressor isnt running. If it isnt running, relays must be changed. I will post shortly on how to change the relays.

Dec 23, 2007 | Kenmore 53542 / 53544 Side by Side...

1 Answer

Freon leak in refrigerator?

no refrigerant leaks have little to no odor and if it was leaking bad enough to smell it the unit would be out of refrigerant and not cooling...the problem sounds like gases coming off of a veggie of something un-covered inside the fridge--have you put any veggies in the fridge or freezer un-covered check real good if one or a piece of something has fallen behind something else where you cannot see...all else fails remove all your products from the unit and clean and get a box of odor control arm&hammer to rid the for a leak in the sealed system i think your just fine.

Mar 27, 2012 | Samsung RF265AA Bottom Freezer French Door...

1 Answer

What's your problem? I have a Airtron furnace/air cond unit and last night I smelled a odor that of something electrical burning. I also noticed that the heating unit stayed on and continued to blow...

I'm willing to bet a relay burned up. You likely have your tstat set to auto changeover, meaning it automatically goes from heat to cool to maintain desired set points??

Jun 21, 2017 | Heating & Cooling

1 Answer

Vehicle smelled like burning brake fluid when backing out of a parking space. battery light came on. vehicle acted fine, didnt lose power or anything. tranny is 4 years old, engine is 4 years old. both the...

Is the alternator and/or all accessories turning when the engine is running?One may be seized and the belt is sliding across it producing a burning smell.

Jul 01, 2017 | 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix

1 Answer

Freezer is all deforsted. Fridge is 5 years old. We smelled a burning smell 2 nights ago and now everything is defrosted. We couldnt tell where the smell was coming from in our house. Motor is running....

If the evaporator (freezer) fan and the condensor (bottom rear) fan are both running but you have no cooling at all, the odor you smelled was probably the compressor start relay/overload device. It would be in your best interest to have a professional service technician look at it. Proper repair could mean the difference between a $60 part, or a $300 compressor. Prices are for the part only.

Dec 23, 2009 | Refrigerators

1 Answer

Electrical smell

did you recently screw or nail something to the wall?do you have the old fabric coated wires?

Feb 26, 2009 | Honeywell Electronic Programmable...

2 Answers

Burning smell

you can unplug the unit , and reomve the lower aces panel (3 screws along the front bottom of unit) youll probalby see an excess of lint built up in which case you can vacuum it out, and then check/clean and or replace your dryer vent

Nov 16, 2008 | Kenmore Elite HE4 Electric Dryer

1 Answer

Smells like burned

Since power outages aren't always polite and absolute, your fridge may have been subjected to low line voltages for an extended time and gee, Whirlpool still hasn't figured out how to protect their product from this kind of damage. We lost one the same way years ago in CA; we came home after being gone for hours, smelled the fridge, checked the line voltage which was wandering around 25 volts +- ~2 volts. Enough to burn the compressor windings but not enough to start it.
In that case, the electric company paid for the compressor replacement on our two-year-old Whirlpool. If you can dig up anyone who was noting the line voltage, maybe you can file a claim with your utility.  

Sep 23, 2008 | Whirlpool GS6NBEXR Side by Side...

2 Answers

Burning smell from AC Unit

"Odor problems can be as serious as a gas leak or as simple as a dirty air filter. But remember, a good mechanic doesn't just use his hands. He uses his ears and nose. Unusual odors could indicate a serious problem and should not be ignored. 

We will go through each of the five categories and list the possible causes and things to check.

1. Electrical odor - Electrical odors are usually caused by parts overheating. Indoor blower motors are a common example. If there is a mechanical failure such as the bearings seizing up, the motor over-heats and the insulation on the wires and the motor windings themselves start to melt, causing the odor. 
Sometimes loose electrical connections cause wires or plastic relays to overheat causing electrical odors. 

It is possible for a very dirty air filter to cause the odor. If the airflow is restricted enough, it could cause electric resistance heaters to overheat, even burn-out. 

If you smell an electrical odor, check your air filter. If it is not blocked, shut off equipment at the breaker if possible and call for service. 

2. Burning odor - This is similar to an electrical odor only worse. It is also sometimes accompanied by smoke. Once again, this can be caused by parts or wiring burning-up. 

It can also be debri such as plastic getting into the ductwork and melting on the electric resistance heaters or heat exchanger. 

If you smell a burning odor, check your air filter. If it is not blocked, shut off equipment at the breaker if possible and call for service.

3. Gas odor - First of all, if you really smell gas and suspect a gas leak, you should open the windows, get out of the house, then call the gas company. 

Now excluding that "worse-case" scenario, if you notice an odor that smells like gas and it seems to be coming out of the supply vents, it usually isn't gas. Sometimes dust that settles on the heat exchanger during the summer months burns off at the beginning of each heating season and it smell just like gas. 

If the odor doesn't seem to be coming from the vents, try to pinpoint where the smell is coming from. Use your nose. If it is gas, it usually would be from a leak in a pipe fitting or at the equipment itself. 

Gas odor is the one that causes the most fear. People think of gas explosions or carbon-monoxide poisoning. Well, gas explosions are very rare and carbon-monoxide for the most part is odorless. 

Having said that though, don't take a gas odor lightly. If you can't locate the source of the odor and you are worried you have a gas leak, remember, open the windows, get out of the house, then call the gas company. 

4. Oil odor - Oil odors are usually caused by one of two things. An oil leak/drip or an oil burner that is not working properly. 

The oil leak is usually easy to spot. Just look for oil. Check the burner itself, the oil tank, filter and oil line. Sometimes it is just a matter of tightening a fitting. If there are no signs of an oil leak then it is most likely a burner problem. 

This can be caused by many things, too many to list. It could be a minor adjustment to the burner to a faulty or blocked chimney. From a bad fuel pump to a plugged oil nozzle. Listen for any unusual rumbling or banging sounds or smoke or soot while the burner is running. If you notice any of these things and/or you have an oil odor, you should call for service immediately. 

One other common problem today is that new houses are insulated so well and are built so tight that they run out of combustion air, causing odor problems. In this case it is just a matter of bringing in a fresh air for the burner. Call your local Heating Company to assist in a proper diagnosis. 

5. Damp and musty odor - This is more common in the air conditioning mode. Sometimes attic units or very damp basements have this problem. Check for air leaks in the return ducts. Check for water damage to the ducts or air handler itself. Possibly consider having your ducts cleaned. Run a dehumidifier and see if the odor goes away. 

But this odor problem is almost never due to a problem with your equipment. 


Final Tips:

Keep in mind that almost all heating systems cause an odor the first time they are fired-up. And the first few times at the beginning of each heating season. Brand new furnaces are coated with oil to keep the heat exchangers from rusting. This burns off, creating a bad odor - even smoke. But it usually only lasts for about 20 minutes. Opening the windows usually solves the problem. And the first few times the backup heat on a heat pump kicks on, it smells like an electrical smell. This might last for a few days but isn't that bad. If you are worried, call for service. 

Remember to check for a clean air filter and that your vents are opened. Check to see if the fan is working which mean your motor hasn't burned-up. 

Check for air leaks in damp areas, oil stains or rumbling sounds, strong gas odors - these all indicate problems. Do not ignore them. 

Hope this helps, remember - these are just rough guidelines and not all possible situations are covered."

Jul 28, 2008 | Sharp CV-P09FX Air Conditioner

Not finding what you are looking for?
Kenmore 53542 / 53544 Side by Side Refrigerator Logo

2,998 people viewed this question

Ask a Question

Usually answered in minutes!

Top Kenmore Refrigerators Experts

Sal De

Level 3 Expert

2694 Answers

Jim Goldsmith
Jim Goldsmith

Level 3 Expert

2002 Answers


Level 1 Expert

27 Answers

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

Answer questions

Manuals & User Guides