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Take a look at this YouTube page that explains with good videos what are some of the common problems with heat pump noise. The one that seems dominant is the defrost cycle a heat pump goes thru when it melts ice off the evaporative coils. In defrost cycle, The compressor runs but the cooling fan does not, so you will hear a loud buzzing sound and the unit sounds like it is stalled...because only the compressor is running to generate heat to melt coil ice.
Don't worry about the line, it is supposed to be the way it is. If you are talking about the condenser coil, located on the back bottom part of the unit, with a small fan in front of it, yes, it is supposed to be hot.
The condenser job is to disipate the heat absorbed by the evaporator (the coil inside the freezer). Make sure the condenser is clean and condenser fan is working, also, make sure there is air circulating thru the back of the unit to help cooling the condenser.
The noises you hear, are probably the defrost coil melting the ice on the evaporator, this function is on a timer and happens 3 or 4 times a day.
Does the loud cracking noise normally happen at night when its quiet.
Anyway whenever it happens it is most probably the automatic defrost heater kicking in and the noise you hear is ice melting.This could cut in every 12/14 hours depending on system and would normally run for about 15 mins.After this time the compressor should cut back in and the unit will run as normal.
if temps are still good, with settings at normal, that popping noise you hear is likely the resulting temperature change when the defrost heater comes on. when its in defrost, you may hear the clicking of the defrost timer, which you wouldnt normally hear when the unit runs. You say there is a thin layer of frost on certain items, where are these items located in your freezer? are they near the top, the bottom, the back, the front, combination thereof? Are you having any problems with the door not closing well? check your door gaskets, are there any tears, rips or gaps. if you place a dollar bill between gasket and frame, does the bill move, ON ITS OWN. Of course you will be able to move the bill, but if you close the door on the bill and it falls out or shifts position by itself, you have a seal problem. Do you have too much food inside the unit? If you only noticed the frost recently, perhaps you cleaned it out and something is obstructing door from closing completely, on its own. Or if you went shopping, perhaps you bought just a little too much food. check the bottom drawer if yours has one, is it pushed all the way in?
This is such a vague problem you are describing. Could be a number of things. However, I can give you some advice to help determine if its the compressor or not. Typically when compressors are not running, even though they are suppose to be, you can hear a "click" sound come from bottom back area of fridge. This "click" sound may be preceeded by a few second long hum or buzz, or it may just be a click every couple of minutes. If you hear that then you know the compressor is trying to run, but isnt. Also, make sure that when you open the freezer door you can hear the evaporator fan running. If that fan is not running, but the compressor is, then you have bad evap fan.
Find out if the fan(s) and compressor are running when you push the "on" button. You should be able to hear them run as some are that noisy...if they run very quiet then put your ear near the rear bottom of the unit. You probably can see the small cooling fan blades turning at the bottom rear of the refrigerator probably on the right side where the cardboard cover has some cutout slits in it. If that is ok then listen carefully for the compressor noise. If it is actually pumping freon and cooling while running you will hear a slight hissing noise a little like water in a brook. If you hear a humm but no hiss then maybe the compressor is trying to start but can't. If that is the case you will in a short while hear a fairly loud click near the compressor which is the current overload tripping out. It shuts the power to the compressor off but when it cools it will reset itself and the compressor will humm again. If this is the case repeatedly and you do not hear the hissing of the compressor running you must unplug the unit and have it repaired since allowing the compressor to try to start numerous times can eventually cause damage. To make sure the compressor is trying to start you can also remove the cardboard cover at the bottom back of the refrigerator and place your hand on top of the compressor. You can feel if it is running plus it will get warm...even hot...if you can hold your hand on it while running and you hear the hissing noise mentioned above then you should be getting cooling. First thing to check if the compressor is not running is the start/overload unit that is mounted on the compressor..the old fashioned refrigerators used a real coil type relay to do this lasting over 40 years without need of repair but all refrigerators in these modern times got rid of the real relay and simply insert a very cheap disc type thermistor wired across the run and start terminals on the relay...this design of start unit goes bad very often and can burn off (melt) the compressor terminals and even catch fire. Many years ago I worked for Western Electric Co. in their thermistor area making these for the telephone company. They are fine when not subjected to high current but for the refrigerator they allow them to get really hot in normal use and they burn up. So, if that is your problem then replace the unit and you may be back in business...after you clean the dust off of the condenser coils at the bottom of the refrigerator...I like to use a leaf blower for this..does a great job quickly.
it could possible be the defroster unit going out on the thermostat theres a hole on the bottom where you can access a screw that will allow you to check and see if the defroster is working put a srew driver in the hole and turn it clock wise till you here it click and then listen for the unit to start defrosting cycle you'll hear a hissing like sound if its working if not you'll need a new defrosting unit
Offhand, what would seem to be the problem is that there is a refrigerant leak hence even if the compressor is running, there is no refrigerant being compressed and flows through the system to cool things down.
Most compressors could be checked with a clamp ammeter to determine their starting and running current which would indicate if they are in need of replacement or not.
Good luck and Thank you for using FixYa. Happy Holidays.
Weird scenario... the first thing I would do it to remove the interior back panel of the lower freezer section after the unit has been running for hours and check the coils to see the frost pattern on them. Should be even white frost all over the coils with no solid frozen coil (block-O-ice thing). Check the fan is running above the coils, etc. when. If everything is OK then you may have a control board problem. Let us know what you find in the freezer coil investigation and we can go from there.