Fridge problem, won't defrost?


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Old 08-07-07, 02:11 PM
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Fridge problem, won't defrost?

I have a 6 year old GE vertical fridge/freezer. I moved in here about 8 months ago, the fridge was never all that cold but the freezer still froze, over a few months it slowly got worse and worse until we had to throw everything out.

As we were doing this I noticed a ton of frost on the outside of the panel in the back of the freezer, I decided to remove the panel and see what was going on. When I open the panel 75% of the coils are solid ice. I opened the doors, put a fan blowing on the coils and let the ice melt.

What would cause an ice buildup like that? Is the freezer not defrosting? My roomie had the freezer PACKED for months on end, would this cause a problem because of poor circulation?

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 08-07-07, 03:19 PM
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I would check the defrost timer. It could be in one of a number of places. Look along the front of the bottom behind the kick plate to start. It iwll have several wires coming out of it and have a round dial like piece in the middle of it. This dial should have a slot in it. Use a screwdriver in this slot and turn it clockwise til it clicks. This should put it in defrost mode and turn everything off except the defrost heater. This is assuming the compressor is on now. Or you might mark the timer dial in the position it is in when you find it, and check on it in a little while to see if it is moving. Have you defrosted it manually and know that the fan is blowing cold air out of the freezer department into the fresh food department? Check the drain line and know it is draining to the pan below the fridge and not accumulating and freezing over if it is defrosting? Other than the timer, I would suspect the defrost heater and/or defrost thermostat. I 'm betting it is among the timer, stat and/or defrost heater.
 
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Old 08-08-07, 12:29 AM
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Everything was thawed out and dry about 5pm, it's been on constantly ever since, almost 12 hours. It did seem to get quieter for a short while, maybe it was trying to defrost? The area around the drain hole is dry as a bone.

I was reading and they say it's best to replace the heater and the thermostat at the same time. The thermostat could've blown the heater, it's only an extra 13 bucks so better to fix both.

I have a GE Side by Side; Model #GSS20IBMAWW

What all would be involved? The heater doesn't sound too hard, I'd just like to know exactly how to do things. I've never been in a fridge but I can fix pretty much anything I can get my hands on, always good to learn something new.

Thanks in advance.
 
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Old 08-09-07, 11:55 AM
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The drain line could still be partially blocked. Assuming you have the back panel off and have access to the evaperator coil area, flush the drain line with warm water with a turkey baster ( spelling? ) anyway, until you can tell it is draining properly. Look for the heater. May have two wires on one end or a wire on each end. Unplug the fridge and remove the heater. Check for continuityand/or short. Somewhere on the coils I'm thinking the stat is clipped on. Just pull it off and disconnect any wires. I agree with replacing both while you are in it, actually the timer also. Does the fan blow to circulate the cold air to the fresh food department? Did you try turning the timer manually with a screwdriver until it clicked to see if it stopped the compressor? I'm also thinking some timer are set to cycle at 12 hours. Anyway, I usually liked to give it about 24 hrs for the temp to stabilize.

Note: the defrost thermostat has to be at a certain temp to show continuity. Not sure now how cold, freezing at least I would say. Zero to 10 would be a good temp to check it. The heater itself should show continuity at any temp. If this does not solve the problem, you may need to check the fan and temp switch. If it has a baffle between the freezer and the food department , make sure it operable/clear.

Like you, I can fix a lot of things. But, it has been awhile and I do not know each model well enough to always be correct on the configurations, and I may be a little fuzzy as far as giving advice with out being there to eyeball it.

"on the outside of the panel in the back of the freezer, "

Do you mean on the inside of the freezer dept or on the hidden side of the panel? Have you checked the door seal to see if it is sealling off and not letting warm air in?
 
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Old 08-14-07, 02:45 PM
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It's fixed, it was the defrost heater. When I pulled out the old heater it was black, I knew it was bad by looking at it. I knew it had to be replaced so I figured it was a good place to start before I got into the electronic side of things.

What could cause the heater to go bad? The fridge is only 6 years old, is this a normal time frame for a defrost heater to go bad? We live in an old house with suspect electrical wiring so I'm sure it's not getting clean power. Should I put the fridge on a surge protector? The fridge is newer so it has a main board and all the sensors modern fridges have, it's a computer and we all use surge protector's on our PC's.

For those who may look at this thread in the future:

I have a GE side by side made in 2000, the defrost heater my fridge needed is used on multiple side by side models so these instructions may help people with different models.

UNPLUG THE FRIDGE FIRST! Remove the back panel inside the freezer (2 screws at the top, 2 bolts on the bottom). If the coils are iced up let them thaw out and dry the area where you will be working. First take note on how the wires are running because they will move around when you are changing the heater. Look at the bottom, below the coils there will be a silver bracket with a glass tube going through the middle and two wires on each side, this is the defrost heater. Simply hold the bracket and pull down on each wire somewhat gently, you may need to wiggle it a bit as you are pulling. If it does not come off easy do not force it, there may be rust on the connection and you don't wanna break the connection on the end of the wire, it will come off just don't force it. After both wires are unhooked look at the silver bracket, there will be two screws on each side. Remove the screws and lift up on the bracket and the heater is out, take a mental note what side was facing forward. Get the new heater, set it on the screw brackets and screw it in, plug in the wires on each side. Look at the wiring and sensors and make sure everything is where it was originally, then put the back panel back on. Plug the fridge back in and let it run.

I let the fridge get down to temp so everything was frozen in the freezer, I taped put a small piece of paper towel on the opposite side where the drain hole is, I came back a few hours later and it was frozen. This means there was water which means the defrost heater kicked on to thaw everything out, the water dripped down on the paper towel and got it wet, the freezer then went out of defrost mode and the paper towel froze up. I know it's crude and a bit risky but I didn't have a way to get my fridge in defrost mode manually so this was my test. Make sure you use electrical tape because you do not want the paper towel to get lodged inside the drain hole.
 
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Old 08-14-07, 06:23 PM
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Glad you fixed it. For anyone reading this, I advise to always unplug when checking appliances, unless you are accustomed to checking live power and know what is live! and when! it is live.

Sorry, can't seem to find any edit buttons, bold, italics, etc..
 
 

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