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Defrost problem with GE Monogram ZISS48DAASS 48 inch side by side

Hi, one day I noticed that the ice tray was frozen in place, and ice would not dispense. I was able to open the door and melt the ice freezing everything together with a heat gun on low setting. Since soft ice has been caused before by dirty coils, I vacuumed the condenser coils on the top of the unit. These seem to get dirty faster due to the type of condenser coils (looks more like an automotive unit). I put everything back in and expected for the problem to be solved. However, I an still getting ice sickles forming, that make it down to the ice make dispenser and freeze all the rotating components in the door dispenser together.
After further poking around on the web, it looks as if there is something wrong with the defrost system: 1) drain tube clogged. I don?t see any water in the tray. In this unit (ZIS48DAAS), the drain tube runs horizontal across the top to a pan just under the compressor. The tube looks clear, but I guess the obstruction could be in the entry which I can?t quite see since it is in the evaporator box. 2) The drain trough heater is faulty. It seems like I would not be getting ice sickles from running water if the defrost heater was bad since there wouldn?t be anything to defrost the evaporator to turn the frost into a liquid. From the wiring diagram, it looks as if the control circuit for the defrost heater also runs the fill tube heater, and the drain trough heater, so I am assuming the defrost thermostat and defrost control are working.
So my first guess is that maybe the drain trough heater is bad, or the tube is clogged. It seems like if I unplugged the unit, and blew warm air from say a hair dryer into the evaporator box, that water should drain thru the drain tube into the pan below the compressor. If I can figure out where the connectors are, I might be able to check the resistance on the drain trough heater. It looks like it is supposed to be 338 ohms.
The three heating elements look to be in parallel with the following resistances:
Fill tube heater=3412 ohms, defrost heater=38 ohms, and drain trough heater 338 ohms. So if I can find the correct place to check the resistance, it seems like I could use my parallel resistor law and figure out if anyone of them is bad. Since the ice maker works, I think I can assume the 3412 ohm resistor is good. If the resistance is 307 ohms, then it seems like the defrost heater is bad. If the drain trough heater is bad the resistance will be just under 38 ohms, maybe 37.5, fill tube heater is bad then the resistance should be about 34.2 ohms. Everything good, the resistance should be about 33.8. Sounds good in theory, but I am not accounting for tolerances in the resistive elements. However, I hope that my ohm meter could at least pick out a bad drain trough heater.
Before I do something stupid, any thoughts about my analysis, or any better suggestions?

Posted by teesalmon on

  • 5 more comments 
  • teesalmon Oct 30, 2007

    I checked the resistance of the three elements in parallel. It was 32.8 or 32.9 ohms. Looks like the heating elements must all be good. So now I am wondering about the drain tube that looks hard to clean. Maybe a thin wire. Wish I was the size of a ferret so I could get my head in there to see where the water is supposed to exit into the drain pan. Cleaning from the evap size looks like about as much fun as pulling an engine out of a car.

  • Stumanchu Dec 14, 2007

    I've got a GE Monogram ZISW42DSE with a clogged defrost drain tube and dirty coils. The good folks at GE repair want almost $400 to do this no-parts job.

    How much of a pain is this once I pull the top panel on my fridge?


  • Anonymous Feb 22, 2008

    I have the same problem. I am not confident in messing with the condensor. Initially I attributed the problem to the ice maker after paying a hefty service fee to have an expert tell me to leave my ice maker turned off. The problem continued.

    Large icicles are forming in the freezer and then periods of improper freezing and thawing and pooling of water in the base of the freezer. After pullling out the ice tray and examining the ice formation, I discovered that the water is coming from the pan above the freezer. With everything out I could look up into the unit through a very tiny space in the top and see water hanging below the pan which is obviously overflowing into the freezer.

    I have now defrosted the freezer and removed all the interior moisture and restarted. We'll see. Any suggestions?

  • teesalmon May 14, 2008

    OK, I have major Ice problems again. This issue went away for about 5-6 months, then ice formations returned. I thawed everything with a heat gun ( I thought very throughly), but the issue returned immediatley. So, I have measured the resistance again between the pink and yellow wires and I get 32.9 ohms which should mean I have three good heaters (drain trough, fill tube, and evap coil heater) in parallel. I have seen technicians say that GE thinks water runs uphill which is funny since the drain tube does look like it runs "uphill". Poor design for sure! Supposedly you can get a service publication from GE by writing to

    Dri-View Mfg

    3214 East Blue Lick Road

    Shepardsville, KY 40165

    Make Check Payable to

    GE Company


    Publication Number 31-52000

    I make no claim to how useful this is. I may send away for one since I have no faith that any techs around here have ever worked on this refrigerator.

  • teesalmon May 14, 2008

    More info. After studying the situation with a flash light, I can see that the clear drain tube that I thought was discolored is filled with some sort of sludge. The issue is that I can not get a piece of wire or anything into the outlet end that is behind the compressor to "snake" it out. It is a real problem to get my hand up in there and feed a miniature drain snake down the end of the tube. I may cut the portion I have access to and make a "Drain clean-out with a "tee" or "Y" fitting. This has gotta be the problem.

  • animial Nov 07, 2008

    How do I test the resistance. Where do I disconect the wires? I already droped the panels in the freezer. That was a real pain. I got to the Baffel and could not get that down to see the pan heater. Is there a trick I should know or should I just pull harder.

  • animial Nov 07, 2008

    I have a monogram ZisB42Dis that keeps driping water in Freezer from ceiling. I have Defrosted and cleaned Condencing coils. Same result in 10 Days.

    I just cut the hose between the condensor and Evaperator and blew them out. Seemed to have small blockage not sure. But its open now. I just started again.

    I tried to check the resestance but i didn't know where to put my wires. Should I be checking at the conection from the defroster? Which wires?

    I assume since the unit is driping it has to either be pan heater or the blockage? What do you think?



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I have ge monogram POS model zisw 42. Had the same problem. Poor design is the issue. Drain tube exits the case of the exchanger, is strapped to top of frig box, then up and over the pullout glides for the compressor. Water has a hard time running up hill. Stuff collects in the tub and blockage and or major restriction occur.

GE fix: replace defrost timeer to run longer,( so much for energy savings...nothing like runnig a heater full time in a freezer to keep ice cream soft) replace ss heater tray with one made of AL to conduct more heat. This fix worked for a while, then problem reappeared.

MY fix: Buy 2, 90 degree 1/2 inch fish hook style elbos, gray in color, at the local hardware store..see where PVC fitting are kept, Cost was less $5.00. Plus about 12 feet of 1/2 inch clear tube...about $6.00. go back home. Cut drain tube at top of box at about where it was attached, mid way between the pullout tray with the copressure and where it exits the freezer/exchanger box. Fit one elbo, point to the rear, add new clear line long enough to exit the rear of the frig case. Add 2nd elbo, pointed down, keep it close to the back of the frig. Add additional clear line to chase the drain line down through floor or wall such that the drain tub is now dripping it's waste water (very small amount really and under no pressure) outside the house. This fix has worked for about 10 years.

Posted on Aug 11, 2009



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Yep, the drain tube is "iced up" and formed a plug of ice which is preventing the water from the defrosting cycle from exiting the defrost pan and exit to the pan under the compressor. The heat from the compressor will evaporate this water.

It looks like the compress can slide out to access the drain tube but I can not figure out how to remove the grill. So, I go into the freezer compartment and remove the panels to expose the heated drain pan. This is a small hose clamp that hold the drain tube to the drain pan. Once you remove the pan you can either use a dryvac to **** out the ice plug or do what someone else suggested and cut a ****/hole in the drain line from above. I used this method to push the plug out.

A service tech told me that the drain plug will freeze up when the line get dirty. The first time I did this, there was a lot of dirt inside the tube.

Posted on Apr 15, 2009


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