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I have a Model FRS20WRH fridge-freezer with ice maker. The coil in the freezer compartment keeps building up ice and the fridge side is not cooling properly. Help

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  • karrieta Jun 04, 2010

    I will try it. thanks.

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Hello,

This problem occurs because each time the freezer defrosts, the defrost water is supposed to run down the inside of the freezer case and drain out through the drainline in the rear of the case - but for whatever reason, the drainline freezes and the defrost water begins to collect and freeze in the bottom of the freezer case.

The solution is to first completely empty the freezer (sorry), unplug it and remove the cover in the back of the freezer case. This is usually a full metal sheet with screws securing it to the case. If you find it in several pieces, it is probably the bottom section you need to remove.

Once you've uncovered the inner workings of your freezer, you need to locate the rather obvious defrost elements - these will usually be exposed cooper rods or tubes that heat up during each defrost cycle. Find the defrost element that is closest to the freezer's drainline, and wrap one end of the cooper wire around the defrost rod about 5 or 6 times - then run it down the inside of the rear of the freezer case, and into the drain itself, about 6 or 8 inches or more if possible.

What you have just done is to assure that each time your freezer defrost comes on, the drain water will always have a clear and unfrozen path out. Replace the cover in the back of the freezer case, and put your food back in. Plug the freezer back in. This will fix the problem and will never occur again.

Take care.

Posted on Jun 04, 2010

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here are lots of things that can cause cooling problems. One of the most common causes of poor cooling in a frost free refrigerator is a defrost system failure. In such a case one or the other compartment may appear to be keeping proper temperature but that too may change in a short period of time. The fridge compartment's temperature rise is usually (but not always) the first to be noticed. Frost" and "Ice"
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Inspecting the (usually rear) wall of the freezer compartment for a frost build up is necessary. (In the case of many GE top freezer models, check the freezer's bottom panel.) If there is a frost coating on it, it is often a sign of excessive frosting beneath it. Sometimes however the evaporator cover panel will actually need to be removed (see the illustration below) before an excessive frost build will visible.
The refrigeration system's evaporator (cooling) coil is usually in the freezer compartment. This evaporator will periodically frost over and have to be defrosted by means of a heating system. When the defrost heating system fails, the frost can accumulate to such a degree that airflow throughout the appliance is hampered. There may be just enough air circulation to cool the freezer section but that will eventually stop too.

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Hi Nancy,

I bet you've got all kinds of frost / ice behind the plastic cover that protects (and shields from view) the cooling coil in the freezer compartment.

You probably have one or more: defrost timer, defrost terminator or defrost heating element that has failed. Call for service - or empty the fridge and unplug with door open for a day - ice will melt and when you plug in again it will work just fine. Until frost builds up again that is.

Good luck!

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1 Answer

My fridge has ice build-up in the freezer behind the inside wall. this ice is on the freezer elements, because of the buildup, the fridge is not cooling.


This sounds like a problem with the defrost circuit. It is likely that the evaporator coil is clogged with ice due to the defrost heater / circuitry not functioning. This can be caused by a failure of any one or more of the following components:

1) Defrost timer. Defrost timer may be "stuck" - failing to advance from a cooling cycle to a defrost cycle. May be found in the toe space of many fridges, but not all.

2) Defrost terminator. This is a thermal sensor that is secured (usually with a clip) to the refrigerant line close to the evaporator coil in / behind the freezer compartment. If this component fails to detect a rising temperature, it never allows the fridge to return to the cooling mode again.

3) Defroster Heating coil. This is a simple, relatively low wattage heater secured to or near the evaporator coil. It is powered through the defrost timer and shut off by the defrost terminator. If the coil is burned out or otherwise "open", it will not heat to melt ice buildup on the evaporator coil.

4) Fan. The fan is located near the evaporator coil. If the fan is unable move air from the freezer to the fridge, the compressor runs endlessly because cold air is not directed into the fridge compartment - where the thermostat is located.

5) Condenser coil. If the condenser has a "furry jacket" it's long overdue for a cleaning. Gently vacuum lint / dust / dirt collected on the coil to increase efficiency. This is probably not the problem - but it probably needs to be done anyway.

Most of these steps will require hand tools, schematics (specific to your model), electrical test equipment, etc. Be careful to not use sharp instruments that may puncture refrigerant lines or electrical insulation. Allow the ice to defrost with the fridge powered off with the freezer door opened, or place a pot of hot water inside, hair dryer directed at the coil, etc. Access to the evaporator coil is usually from the freezer compartment (back wall) and will require removal of any ice maker installed.

I hope this helps!

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Cooling is poor For an overall understanding of how refrigerators should work, read about refrigerators in the How Things Work section of our website. A refrigerator or freezer that is cooling, but cooling poorly, may have a problem in one of several areas:

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The refrigerator is supposed to self-defrost approximately four times in every 24 hour period. If one of the components in the self-defrosting system fails, the refrigerator continues to try to cool. Eventually, though, so much frost builds up on the evaporator coils that the circulating fan can't draw air over the coils. There may still be a small amount of cooling because the coils are icy, but with no air flow over the coils, cooling in the refrigerator compartment is quite limited.

Here's an inexpensive, though inconvenient, way to determine if the problem is with the self-defrosting system. Remove all of the perishable food from the refrigerator and freezer, turn the thermostat in the refrigerator to Off, and leave the doors open for 24 to 48 hours. (Be sure to have several towels ready in case the melting frost and ice causes the drip pan to overflow). This allows the refrigerator to defrost "manually." When the frost and ice build-up has completely melted away, turn the thermostat back to a normal setting. If the refrigerator then cools properly, it indicates a problem with one of three components in the self-defrosting system:

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If it still does not cool properly, there may be a problem with the refrigerant level or the compressor. You may need to consult with a qualified appliance repair technician to further diagnose the problem 

Condenser Self-defrosting refrigerators all have a set of coils and a cooling fan, usually under the refrigerator, that need to be cleaned regularly. If these coils get coated with dust, dirt or lint, the refrigerator may not cool properly. The coils may appear to be a thin, black, wide radiator-like device behind the lower kick-panel. To clean them, disconnect the refrigerator from the power source, use a refrigerator condenser brush (see the Appliance Accessories section) and your vacuum cleaner to clean the coils of any lint, pet hair, etc. You may not be able to get to all of the condenser from the front, it may be necessary to clean the remainder of the condenser from the rear of the refrigerator. 
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If these things don't work call for repair. Don't risk losing all your food!

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