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Hi, Our refrigerator has stopped cooling and I desperately need to try to fix it myself. Lights still come on. Fan or something is still running but the freezer still works so I thought maybe that's what I hear running. I cleaned the coils. Any ideas on what I should check next? Kenmore 596.79147990 Thanks

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  • Kenmore Master
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There is likely a problem with the defrost circuit or cold air circulating fan (but could be a low freon charge or other problem). The freezer compartment has the cooling coil with defrost heater and a fan that pulls cold air from the freezer and blows it into the fresh food compartment; based on the setting of the thermostat in the fresh food compartment.

When the defrost heater fails, the area that the cooling coil is located in eventually turns into a solid block of frost and ice. It becomes impossible for air to be drawn across the cold coil, cooled and blown into the fresh food compartment. The result is a rising temperature in the fresh food compartment - and eventually in the freezer section, too. Since the fresh food compartment contains the thermostat and the temperature never gets low enough to satisfy it - the compressor runs non-stop. That is, until the defrost timer kicks in to shut it off for 20 minutes or so.

The first thing to do is to manually defrost the freezer by accessing the cooling coil after emptying the contents of the freezer. This can be a pain in the neck to remove racks, shelves, ice maker, etc. to get to the back wall of the freezer, behind which the cooling coil is found. If you expose the cooling coil and it is encased in frost and ice it is a problem with the defrost circuit. If it is not - the fan is suspect. If the fan spins, check for a blocked path between the fan and the fresh food compartment. Defrost by placing a heat source in the freezer or directing the output of a blow dryer at the coil. If you're unable to access the cooling coil, you can simply empty the freezer and defrost it with a heat source. it will take longer to melt all the frost and ice, but it will work.

If it is a defrost circuit problem, you'll need to check voltages and continuity on the defrost terminator & timer and defrost heating element, fans, etc. after completely thawing the ice & frost.

This job isn't a good first time DIY job due to the danger of freezing skin, etc. due to possible exposure to freon in the system and the tight spaces you'll be working in with live voltages. You might want to call a pro after you've defrosted or put up another fixya request if you decide to dig in on your own and need specific help with procedures, locating parts, wiring diagrams, etc.

I hope this was a good starting point to help you decide whether to go forward or not on your own. Good luck!

Posted on Oct 07, 2010

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