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Fisher and Paykel N308 upright freezer. It has slowely been defrosting from the top shelf.. we are now down the the last two shelves. I can hear a fan working on the inside. Ive pulled it out and vacuumed the parts I can see at the back. There is a large black round container that is very hot. There was a very small amount of frost build up in the freezer itself on the back wall. This has been removed. The door seals appear to be fine and are clean. The shelves are shutting properly. We have had several accidental episodes of the door being left open and things defrosting slightly. Last time was about 6mths ago. The unit is about 10-15years old.. any ideas?

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  • delia328 Jul 16, 2010

    Thanks so much for this! so im wondering if this sounds like an expensive fix .. if its worth doing or not? I do know that a technician call out is $99 and a regas is $500!

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If your shelves are the evaporator and only the bottom two are covered by frost then you probably have a freon leak and it is now low on freon. This condition requires a qualified tech to service.

Or if you have ice built up on the evaporator coils behind the rear cover inside the freezer. The ice on the back you found is probably just the tip of the iceberg do to speak. The times the door was opened would add to the amount of ice buildup. This would indicate a defrost problem. The info below mentions the fridge but also applies to a freezer if it has an auto defrost system.

The evaporator coil behind the cover on the back wall inside the freezer will ice up under normal conditions. Every 8 to 10 hours for around 20 minutes the defrost timer (or in most newer models the electronic adaptive defrost control) will turn the defrost heater on to melt the built up ice. There is a defrost thermostat which prevents the heater from overheating the freezer by breaking the heater circuit when the temp reaches close to 32 degrees F. The entire cooling system shuts off during the defrost cycle and starts back when the timer advances through the cycle.

If this ice is not melted it will continue to build up until the air can’t flow over the coil to circulate the cold air through the freezer and into the fridge. The temperature change in the fridge is usually noticed first followed by the freezer.

If the defrost thermostat is bad, it can prevent the heater from coming on OR it won’t turn the heater off when it gets too warm. It is clamped to the evaporator coil at the top to sense the temp. If it appears to be misshapen it is bad.
With an ohm meter it should show continuity when cold and none when warm.
You can also bypass(disconnect the two wires plugged into it and twist them together) the thermostat to see if the heater comes on then. If it does then you know the thermostat is bad and needs replaced.

The defrost heater is located on the evaporator. It is in a tube which is at the bottom and can also go up the sides of the evaporator. On some types you can see a burnt spot if it’s bad. With an ohm meter it should show continuity from end to end when disconnected from the wiring in the freezer. You can also test the wiring for voltage when it’s in the defrost mode.

If you have a defrost timer you can test it. It can be located under the fridge behind the kick panel on the front. Some are in the fridge with the controls at the top. You can turn the defrost timer till it clicks and everything shuts down. The heater should now come on. If it does, replace the timer because that means the timer is not running. If it doesn't, check the heater and defrost thermostat. Turn the timer again till everything starts back up to end the defrost cycle.

If you have an adaptive defrost control instead of a timer, replace it if the heater and thermostat test good. It is located in the fridge with the controls in some models and on the back in others.

Posted on Jul 16, 2010

  • Charles T Nevin
    Charles T Nevin Jul 16, 2010

    Because of it's age if it requires a tech and repair for a leak and recharging the freon it may not be worth fixing since it would cost several hundred dollars. You may can get an estimate from someone before you call them out.

    If the sealed system is not the problem then the other items are not very expensive and should be worth it to fix.

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