Question about Kenmore 53542 / 53544 Side by Side Refrigerator

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Whirlpool Side-by-Side GS6NBEXRB01 Refrigerator Burning Odor

I have a Whirlpool model GS6NBEXRB01 side-by-side refrigerator.  Tonight when I opened the refrigerator I noticed a burning type of smell.  It wasn't overwhelming but still there.  I turned the refrigerator temperature down to see if I could make it worse by having the compressor come on.  It did get more noticeable and seems to be emanating from the freezer side (which blows over to the refrigerator side at the milk section and the fresh food area).  It still seems to be cooling, the fan is running, and I can hear the compressor running, but the smell has me concerned.  We have dogs so I tried to clean the coils more as best as I could, but they weren't overly "hairy".  Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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  • brian_mohler May 08, 2009

    I should have been a little clearer.  I think that at this point both the refrigerator and freezer are cooling effectively, but the odor seems to be emanating from the freezer side.  With the compressor running, I can open the freezer door and clear some of the food away and the smell is pretty strong on the air coming into the freezer at the back of the freezer.  If that makes sense.

  • brian_mohler May 08, 2009

    Ok.  I removed the ice catcher, but I'm fairly certain the smell is coming from the rear of the freezer as I can stick my head in and it gets stronger.  If it is the evap motor that seemed to just start failing today, how much time do I have to replace it?  If it stops working, what will happen?  Also, if I were to go pick up a evap motor is there anything I shoudl get with it or do I just need to swap out the motor?  I'm not a big expert on refrigerators, but fairly handy, so is it feasible that I could replace the evap motor myself or should I leave it to the experts?

  • brian_mohler May 08, 2009

    Ok.  Thanks for the help.  But it will take me 6 hours?

  • brian_mohler May 08, 2009

    That's good to know.  I hadn't considered working on it cold being bad.  How much time should I give it to thaw before starting working on it?

  • brian_mohler May 08, 2009

    Here I thought I was handy and I'm asking all sorts of dumb questions.  I assume at this point the fridge is unplugged correct?


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SEE this page for a blowout schematic of your fridge.

It is difficult to predict the cause of the burning smell and the failure of the cooling in your freezer without more details. The smell could have been caused by an overheated fan motor or compressor. If you cleaned a large amount of dust from under the refrigerator, some of the dust could have caused the burning smell. If you removed the bottom cardboard cover on the outside back of the refrigerator to clean out dust, make sure that this cover is properly replaced. The freezer will not cool properly without this cardboard cover in place. Check the back wall of the freezer for excessive frost or ice. This could indicate an automatic defrost system problem. If you see this, you may be able to temporarily regain cooling by emptying the freezer and refrigerator and then unplugging the refrigerator and allowing the unit to completely defrost with the doors open for about 24 hours. After restarting the refrigerator, it may resume normal cooling until you can get a service technician to diagnose and repair it. A number of other failures could be causing your cooling problem in the freezer. A compressor problem or lack of Freon could prevent the freezer from cooling properly. An evaporator or condenser fan problem could also keep the freezer from working properly. I recommend calling a service technician to diagnose and fix the refrigerator. If you want to attempt to repair the refrigerator yourself, please use the "Continue With this expert" option so we are connected in the future... including if the smell is an electrical smell or plastic smell.... both very distinct odors.

There are controller boards, light sockets, wiring, and also ductwork (blowers and fans) that circulate the smell. It could be coming from under your fridge for all you know :D

unplug the fridge for a minute and open the doors... let the air clear - and sniff away to detect the area the smell is emitting from. This will give a better area to start in.

turn the icemaker off to be sure the heater is not stuck on.

Keep me posted!!

Posted on May 08, 2009

  • 5 more comments 
  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    The most likely culprit is the EVAP fan motor/wiring area.

    See THIS DIAGRAM of your fridge.

    Item #7

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    It is most likely then the previous comment I posted. The Evap. fan is failing.

    See the link I provided for a blowout diagram.

    However ~ there is also a heater in the icemaker (odd as it sounds) that heats for a few seconds and allows the release of the cubes from the tray.

    If it is stuck "on" this may result in a burning smell as well.

    You can override this heater by turning the icemaker off - or by pulling out the cube catcher to disable the icemaking and see if the smell goes away.

    Then concentrate on the evap coil fan motor.

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    Because the evap fan blows right past the icemaker - you have to eliminate the icemaker as a possible source of the smell.

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    The motor itself is plug and play.

    You essentially remove the back panel inside the freezer.. and its pretty self explanitory.

    If the fan motor fails - the freezer will not be able to circulate the cold air from the evap coil... and your freezer will thaw out.

    You can do it with approx. 6 hours... whereas a "pro" could have it in about an hour.

    Use the diagram I supplied to determine if you want to tackle it yourself.

    Thanks for using FixYa!!

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    Im including emptying freezer taking out shelves - thaw time etc. - you dont want to assemble it while cold... since all the parts are plastic - you'll risk further damage to the mounts etc.

    If you work on it straight through - and have the motor ready to swap - maybe a few hours.

    Not sure you're skill level - but I can change this motor in about an hour start to finish.

    I always ask my customers to save labor by emptying freezer and removing shelving etc.

    Good Luck!!

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    About an hour is sufficient with the door open. as soon as the plastic no longer feels cold.

    There still may be frost on the evap coils - but thats ok.

    Dont use a power screwdriver - it is too easy to strip the plastic.

    Take your time and do it right - and your motor will service you for another 10 years :D

    If you have doubts - take pictures before and during your disassembly... that way you can retrace your steps... and put things back the way you found them.

  • blueextc3221
    blueextc3221 May 08, 2009

    OH YES!!!

    thats the most important part LOL


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