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The defrost cycle has been dripping for several hours. Is this normal?

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  • steve
    steve May 11, 2010

    The system should come back on after a 30 minute defrost cycle.
    Need a model number to be more help.



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No its not normal the time frame is 20 to 30 min max

Posted on Jun 01, 2009


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GE model gth16dberww top mount freezer. Freezer is iced over. Removed rear cover and coils are also iced over. Poured warm water into drain and water immediately exited to drip pan. not sure where to

Sounds like the defrost timer is not functioning, or a defrost element is burnt out.
#1. After an accumulative "run time", typically the timer will initiate a defrost cycle. At that point the defrost heaters are energized and the compressor is turned off for the duration of the cycle. The defrost time cycle varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and can be as low as 15 minutes to as much as a half hour. If it is defective, it could be stuck in the cooling position not initiating a defrost function.

#2. If the defrost heater element is burnt out, the timer functions normally and will cycle the defective heater on, but there will be no heat generated to defrost the ice.

#3. A more remote possibility is a defective "defrost termination thermostat" which is wired in series with the defrost element. If defective, it will keep the element from energizing on a call for defrost.

At any rate, unless you are extremely handy AND have access to a supplier of repair parts, it sounds like a service tech needs to be called.

Oct 17, 2014 | GE Refrigerators

2 Answers

My fridge works fine but sometimes the freezer will stop working and you can here a sizziling sound coming from the back like water dripping and hitting something hot. I unplug and plug back in and it...

Hello, welcome to FixYa.

This is just the normal operation...specifically the defrost cycle every frost free unit must cycle through every 8-12 hours.

You are correct, the sizzle is water (from the melting ice) dripping onto the defrost heater. It is all normal so no need to worry.

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Aug 15, 2011 | Kitchen Ranges

1 Answer

I have a Kenmore Side by Side with the ice maker and water on the freezer door. I just hear water dripping and then running, and used a flashlight to look under it. There seems to be a driptray under the...

The evaporator coils frost up in normal use and every eight hours or so the entire unit shuts down and the defrost heater comes on to melt the frost. This cycle last about 20 minutes. The melted frost drips into a drain pan and through a drain tube to the drain tray under the freezer/refrigerator where it's evaporated by the condenser fan.

Feb 04, 2011 | Kenmore Refrigerators

1 Answer

I heard a hissing while I was looking in the refrigerator, and I realized that it was coming from the freezer. I looked in the back of the freezer compartment, and I saw a red coil through the vents at the...

Hi and welcome to FixYa. I am Kelly. Relax :) You just witnessed part of the NORMAL automatic defrost cycle. There is a heating element in a glass tube that melts ice off of the evaporator until either a thermistor or 60 Deg F defrost thermostat cycle and terminate the defrost cycle. Just so you know automatic defrosting cycle intervals are anywhere from every 6 hours up to 16 hours and 35 minutes depending on the model. The hissing sound you heard was melting ice dripping on to the hot glass tube of the heating element so the water was boiling on the glass tube. It is nothing to worry about unless the defrost cycle never terminates. (i.e the unit never starts back up)

Thanks for choosing FixYa,


Nov 15, 2010 | Refrigerators

1 Answer

This is a new fridge and the element located in the lower freezer behind the pull out drawer is red hot with water dripping on it? we had the same problem with our old fridge and this is why we replaced...

the element you see in the back of the freezer compartment is the defrost heater. your frig will defrost 2-3 times every 24 hours for 15-30 minutes. when its in a defrost cycle the element will get hot and melt the frost that has built up on the cooling coils from normal operation. the melted frost will then drip down ..some will hit the heater and sizzle,most will drip onto a tray and go down a small drain into a pan under the frig and then evaporate out.. Also ,it doesnt defrost at the same time each day., it is based on how much the frig runs and the electronic control will figure out when it it time to initiate a defrost..the red glow and the sizzling is normal and only lasts a short time....

Mar 25, 2010 | Whirlpool 25.6 cu. ft. Side-by-Side...

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Most of the time when a unit runs all of the time there is a problem with the evaporator fan being either blocked with ice or running slow due to a dirty bearing. The 5 minutes a day you are refering too is the time when the defrost cycle is in progress. If the defrost cycle is working properly is should take more than 5 minutes. I would try manually defrosting the unit by unplugging the uint, removing all the contents of the freezer and place a fan so that it blows into the freezer section for about 2 hours. This will melt the ice if any in the freezer section and clear any ice blockage. Mind you this will result in water dripping in places that it normally does not drip so have a mop and rags available to tend to the dripping water.

After the 2 hour period plug in the unit and re-load the freezer. If the problem is corrected by maually removing the ice with the fan then you of course need to do nothing more. If the unit after a serveral days begins running all the time again then it is not defrosting properly. Just reading your 5 minutes a day off time has me thinking that the defrost thermostat has failed in the closed position causing the defrost timer to cycle straight through the defrost cycle vs pausing until the termostat reaches 60 F an closes as it should in normal operation. If that thermostat is closed all of the time there will only be a very short pause 3 to 4 times a day whent he compressor is off. This is not an expensive repair should the uint require further servicing after you manually defrost it. Good Luck.

Jan 04, 2010 | Refrigerators

2 Answers

Element at back and bottom of freezer has one bar glowing red with creaking/dripping sound sound

the unit is just in the defrost cycle. the red glow is the defrost element. the sounds you hear is it defrosting and the water hitting the element. it does this every 12-18 hours. shane

Sep 10, 2009 | Amana Refrigerators

1 Answer

Long run time between defrost cycles

You have a broken defrost part. Either the heater, t-stat or timer. The longer you let it go without repairing it, the more parts is take out.

Aug 13, 2009 | Kenmore 56176

1 Answer

Door display shows ER WITH A UPSIDE DOWN HP. I turn the power off and back on and the display goes back to normal but after several hours it goes back to where the only thing on the display is the ER PH...

That stands for "error defrost heater"
Even though the refrigerator has gone through a defrost cycle, if a temp sensor does not reach a set temp within an hour, that error will display. You may have a bad defrost heater, defrost relay, thermal fuse, blocked defrost drain,..... something wrong with the defrost system anyway.

Aug 03, 2009 | LG LFX25960ST Stainless Steel French Door...

1 Answer

Divider between fridge and freezer is heating up a lot.

Between the freezer and fresh food compartment is where the evaporator coils are. Frost free refrigerators aren't really frost free at all. Every 12 hours or 24 hours, a timer turns on a set of heating coils in the evaporator to melt the ice on them. If your refrigerator is otherwise functioning normally (normal cooling), it could be that you simply felt the divider it when the unit was self-defrosting.

Most refrigerators go through the defrost cycle unnoticed. When the cycle starts depends on when you plug in or turn on the refrigerator. If you'd prefer to change the time of your defrost cycle, simply unplug the refrigerator for an hour or two then plug it back in. Every hour it's unplugged will delay the defrost cycle one hour. To avoid having to remove food from the refrigerator, you might want to do this over several days, but it's cumulative so each time you unplug it for whatever length of time, it further delays the defrost cycle that length of time.

Your refrigerator has no idea what time it is (unless it's an electronic model with a built-in clock), so setting its timer to self-defrost in the middle of the night is an exercise in trial-and-error.

The other alternative... That the heater is turned on all the time... Would DEFINITELY affect the cooling capacity of the refrigerator and you'd notice that WAY before you'd notice the heat coming from the freezer/refrigerator compartment wall.

Jun 27, 2009 | Kenmore Refrigerators

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