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Fridge not freezing. Checked coils & element. Need advice on what to check next.

Fridge not freezing. Checked coils & element. Need advice on what to check next.

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  #1  
Old 09-09-08, 11:30 AM
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Fridge not freezing. Checked coils & element. Need advice on what to check next.

Hi everyone, I have a Roper refrigerator/freezer (top freezer) model RT18DKXHW00 that doesn't freeze things but the fridge does stay acceptably cool.

I cleaned the coils totally and that didn't do anything. I then removed the rear panel in the freezer and checked if there was heavy frost build-up on the evaporator coils and there was NOTHING there but a small trace of frost. I then turned the defroster switch until it clicked and I also didn't get any heat from the heating element. I tried touching my 110 volt light tester to the contacts to the element and I didn't get anything but it's possible that I didn't get a good connection.

Also, the compressor does sound like it's running. It does stop when turning the defrost dial to defrost mode. And the freezer fan is running.

So... If the heating element isn't going on, then why isn't there any frost build-up on the evap coils?

What's going on? What should I check/do next?

Thanks in advance: -Tony
 
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  #2  
Old 09-09-08, 04:24 PM
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Give us thermometer readings for the temp in the freezer and also the refrigerator. Make sure they are left in there with door shut for say 15 minutes, and then quickly read them.

What is your freezer control set at (give high number or letter and low number or letter and what you have it at). Do same for refrigerator setting.

Tell us if compressor practically endlessly runs.

If you have coils under the fridge, is the fan running down there when the compressor runs? These can be kind of quiet (the compressor sound masks it also) and you may have to access rear cardboard to actually look and see.
 
  #3  
Old 09-09-08, 04:36 PM
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Thanks for the reply; I will be going into the tenants apartment tomorrow toget the answer to those questions and I'll post them.

When I opened the freezer door, ice cube trays had small cubes surrounded by water in every ice cube compartment ...like they were once frozen and now thawing.

Also I 'm pretty sure I could hear the fan running on the bottom of the fridge with the compressor. I DO have the cardboard on the back. If the fan is not running, that would explain this problem I think.

Also, this has only one controller; in the fridge. It is set on maximum. I know I should try the middle so all the cool air doesn't go to the fridge.

I'll post my discoveries tomorrow ...GREAT INFO, THANK YOU!!!!!

Thanks! -Tony
 
  #4  
Old 09-09-08, 05:20 PM
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No baffle control for freezer temperature on a plasic cover where the freezer fan is behind it? Usually there is an adjustment knob there that may even say max or min.

Very important to know if compressor and both fans are running sustained over long period, yet not cooling. if they are, likely freon loss/leak.

IF say that is NOT the case and one of these components is not working or the compressor and fans shut off (and it is not in defrost cycle), could be compressor thermal tripped out (although sometimes the top fan continues to run) or maybe even a thermostat out of whack, or ?. If compressor goes out, feel if compressor is almost scorching hot (be careful to not get burned).

So you do not have to be in rental any longer than you have to and plan on putting thermometers in there, think in advance how you plan to place them and open door and do so quickly. Infrared thermometer scanned inside can be deceiving if you have never done this before as readings will jump all over the place depending upon what you are pointing the gun at. If you had one, you would slowly aim it all over the place, and take(remember) the lowest readings you get.

But we need answers to all the questions.
 
  #5  
Old 09-10-08, 11:30 AM
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OK, I got some more info!

Answers:
1. Freezer = 40.6 degrees, fridge = 63 degrees.
2. The condensor fan IS running fine.
3. The compressor is running fine and is not scorching hot.
4. I cannot tell if the compressor is running all the time since it's in a tenant's apartment and the tenant doesn't know either.

LIST OF EVERYTHING THAT TESTED OK:
1. Airflow not blocked to fridge;
2. Condensor coils clean;
3. Door seal good;
4. Door switch works;
5. Evapoator fan works;
6. Drain tube not clogged;
7. Outlet voltage = 123 Volts AC;
8. Defrost heater element = 35 Ohms (not 0 or infinity);
9. Compressor running and not super hot (can touch for 1 second);
10. Evap fan (in freezer) running.

THINGS I DIDN'T TEST BECAUSE OF EVIDENCE THAT IT's OK:
1. Compressor Relay (since compressor is running);
2. Compressor overload protector (since compressor is running);
3. Compressor motor (running ...very quiet by the way).

OTHER TESTS:
1. Temperature Control: Ohms were infinity when knob set to "off" and Ohms are 0.3 when knob is on any level of coldness. I thought the ohms may change as I get closer to "coldest." I do not know if this is a problem or not.

2. Defrost Heater: I get 35 Ohms when testing the element BUT I get only 12 volts AC to the element when turning the defrost timer to defrost mode. If that's true why don't I have tons of frost build-up?

3. Defrost timer: This could be it. An appliance repair website says that when I test for Ohms I should put one probe on the white wire terminal (labeled "3") and the other probe on each of the other 3 terminals. At least one of the other 3 terminals should give me 0 resitance (continuity) when in defrost mode. Then when not in defrost mode, a different terminal should show 0 ohms (still touching the white wire terminal). HOWEVER, I don't get any continuity on any of the 3 terminals when touching the white wire terminal when in defrost mode or not!!

I went to the appliance parts store thinking they'd let me do the same continuity test to a new timer and if it DID show continuity between the white wire terminal and another terminal, I'd buy it. But when I got there, I found they went out of business and I'll need to go to a much-further-away parts store tomorrow.

Any thoughts?

Could a bad defrost time cause me to get only 12 volts AC to the heating element? If not, then do I have 2 seperate problems?

THANK YOU! -Tony

P.S. I have 2 photos at www.tonytonini.com/fridge1.jpg and www.tonytonini.com/fridge2.jpg . I couldn't find a second temperature controller ANYWHERE on this thing. I even went to a parts website that lists EVERY part and couldn't find a secondary controller there either.
 
  #6  
Old 09-10-08, 03:36 PM
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I'm quite certain from all you have said, that you are low on freon.

You confirmed everything that needs to be running, is.

The reason low volts to defrost is there also is a defrost stat in the line there. With your warm evap. coil temps, it is sensing no need for defrost, so it is not letting current thru the stat, which is normal under this situation.

Since no ice on coils to block air flow, and everything running, - by process of elimination, you are low on freon, unfortunately, or, have a defect in the compressor. One of the two.

You won't get by for under $125, and that does not count trying to fix the leak, which can be difficult to do on refrigerators sometimes depending where the leak is, IF they find it.

With our rental company, boss's policy is that if I find one this way, we scrap it, unless fridge is say under warrantee period of under 5 years, or whatever(we call our retailer where he buys them) and worth taking the chance to get fixed.
 
  #7  
Old 09-10-08, 04:40 PM
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&@%$!

Can a defective defrost timer cause this problem? I guess it could never allow the freezer to stay at 40-some degrees. When I first went over to check it out, there was solid ice in the ice trays but surrounded by water. So it was down to 32 degrees at some point.

The tenants JUST moved in and the fridge was fine before this, I guess there's no way to know what happened.

I guess I'm off to lowes to pick a new one up for $425. I can bring this one home to my garage so if there are any other thoughts on repairing it, I'll still have it.

Do you think I should look into the defrost timer? The darn thing doesn't seem to be giving me the right reading in resistance, but I will do more research on timers tonight.

-Thanks for the input; this is exactly what I needed to know from those with experience ...THANKS! -Tony
 
  #8  
Old 09-10-08, 05:38 PM
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Nope. The entire defrost circuit - the whole thing - is taken out of the realm of possiblity when the compressor is running, in the same way that you can never have red and green lights occur at an intersection at the same time.

The fact you said your compressor and both fans are running has said enough to convince me of my earlier opinion.

The fact that it had been working fine means nothing. There comes a time when everything in life works, and then one day it doesn't work. There comes a time when people are alive and breathing and the next minute they are no longer with us. Same thing.

The resistance and low volt reading results you had mean nothing regarding your problem as per my explanation above. These readings are occuring due to other causes regarding laws of electrical currents, like backfeeds, phantom voltage, etc.
 
  #9  
Old 09-10-08, 05:43 PM
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If you only have a small amount of frost, you don't need to worry about the defrost circuit. I am thinking that the start relay may be the problem. Pull off that relay on the left hand side of the compressor, and shake it hard. If it sounds like there is sand or small rocks inside, that is your problem. There will be to a control knob in the freezer section to allow cold air to the refrigerator section. The best way to test is turn the refrigerator control to max, freezer to the mid setting, and let it run. If it is running right, the freezer will get to about -10, and the refrigerator to about 28 to 32. Let us know.

Himeros
 
  #10  
Old 09-10-08, 05:58 PM
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I was just getting ready to call it quits and hurried up to come back to say soemthing really important though: (Oh, I see Himeros is now online too), -

You said you were not sure how long it has ben running, as it is at a rental, and you also said the compressor is not that hot? Or IS it really hot (see the end f my post here). Really hot would indicate it has been running a while. You may have to monitor the fridge to make sure the compressor stays running, to rule out that it was stuck in defrost and only came on shortly before you got there. It does take a while for a freezer compartment to come way down in termperature. But I deal with this scenario enough in rentals where the fridge has been unplugged for days, and then we fire it up the day of move in, and usually a good unit will allow room air temp that was in the freezer, to at least get down into the teens in about 1/2 hour of running time, with the door kept closed and not peeking in at the thermometer all the time. Therefore, if you stay by this unit and monitor it's running for a while, then you will find out if it is susbstantially coming down in temperature or not.

But I am not banking on this if what you were saying in your one post about being able to touch the compressor for 1 second, means that in esense you really can't hold your finger on it for say 3 or 5 seconds. Then I'd say the thing has been running a good while and indicates what I said ; Low on freon.
 
  #11  
Old 09-10-08, 06:19 PM
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Yes, I can barely keep my finger on it for one second, maybe even less, but I wouldn't get burned like a stove element.

The fridge was on for about 2 weeks before the tenant moved in without it being turned off and it seemed to work fine all that time.

himeros: I cannot find any controller of any kind in the freezer on this unit. I have the model number in the first post of this thread and I can't find a controller even in parts lists for this unit much less looking in there and disassembling myself. Can it be the compressor starter/relay even if the compressor is running?

-Tony
 

Last edited by tony17112acst; 09-10-08 at 06:48 PM.
  #12  
Old 09-11-08, 06:57 AM
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Well - the compressor is quite hot, indicating it has been running and probably runs a lot.

But I woud check it out (the uninterrupted run time, to be certain, as you don't want to misdiagnose and scrap a fixable unit. But if I was a betting man, I'd say the thing leaked out. And you do not know exactly how well, it had been working up until the point of total failure. As you said yourself, you thought the fridge section was cool. 63 degrees is not exactly a cool refrigerator.

The freezer may had been at 20 degrees (that freezes icecubes and meats, but not ice cream very well), and the fridge section at 48, or something like that for a while, before it became REAL obvious you had a problem.
 
  #13  
Old 09-11-08, 10:48 AM
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Well, I am having a new fridge delivered tomorrow to the apartment and I'm brining this one home. When I get it home, I'll pull the relay and post my findings. I'll also be able to check if it runs constantly. Thanks again!

I really hope I don't have to scrap this one; it'd be a $450 loss. -Tony
 
  #14  
Old 09-11-08, 03:39 PM
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I can't recall if you said how old this fridge is. A $450 loss would be more palatable if you had it long enough that by dividing $450 by years, it then sounds to you like you got your money's worth, and the loss would not seem as great.
 
  #15  
Old 09-12-08, 01:19 PM
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Alright, I got the fridge here at home now.

I removed the cardboard and took 2 more photos. Please see them at http://www.tonytonini.com/furnace.htm

I removed the starter relay and when I do shake it, IT DOES feel like there are small rocks in there!!! Could this be it?

The odd thing is that (as the photo shows), the relay and overload protector are on the right side of the compressor. When I look up model RT18DKXHW00 on appliance parts websites, all the diagrams show them on the right side (just as himeros thought)! I can't seem to find a "relay" on any of the parts websites either.

Anyway, is there a way to test this part? I'd not want to buy one if this isn't the problem since a parts dealer probably won't let me return it if it wasn't the problem. Or do I just have to take the gamble?

-Tony

P.S. I will be VERY HAPPY if replacing the starter relay fixed the problem but I do't know how a relay could affect the temperature of the freezer when all it does is allow the compressor to run or not.

Also, I found directions on how to test it ...be right back!

...Bad News, the relay passed all the tests. I learned that there is a magnet in there that moves and that's what the rattling is that I fell when shaking it. I tested for continuity from terminal "S" to "M" while upsidedown (Was OK), then flipped it around and continuity was broken (as it should). Then I tested for continuity from "S" to "L" and I got continuity and when flipping it over, I got none (as it should be). Then tested continuity from "L" to "M" and got contiuity on both sides (which is what it should be).

So it looks like t he relay is good. I also tested the overlad protector and it's good with contiuity.

Any advice? -Tony
 

Last edited by tony17112acst; 09-12-08 at 01:42 PM.
  #16  
Old 09-12-08, 06:04 PM
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My advice is that if the compressor is running for quite a while straight and sounds normal, and both the upper and lower fans are running with it, and there is no thick ice over the coils, that whether or not there is some other problem also - I bet you are low on refrigerant/ a leak. Even if the unit 'used to be' just fine.
 
  #17  
Old 09-16-08, 11:23 AM
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Well, I 've had the fridge home for a few days and I have a thermometer in the fridge and a wireless thermometer in the freezer.

So far I got temps of 22, 44, 17, 38, and 40-something in the freezer. The fridge is anythign from 38 - 55.

I check every now and then and sometimes the freezer is below freezing and sometimes it is above. The compressor seems to be on every time I check it. One time it shut off and I got all excited but as I saw the temps rising in there, I realized the defrost timer must have kicked in.

Does this new info solidify the opinion that the problem is low freon? Or wouldn't low freon cause those temp fluctuations?

Thank you! -Tony
 
  #18  
Old 09-16-08, 05:33 PM
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Yes, I'd say the freon. Sounds typical.
 
  #19  
Old 09-16-08, 06:18 PM
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If you feel brave, unplug the box, get to the cold control, and put a jumper on those two terminals, so the compressor will run 100 percent of the time, except for the auto defrost cycle, leave it off for at least 15 minutes before plugging it back in. If you have a system leak, you will never have a complete frost pattern on the freezer coils. You still could have a bad temp control, or defrost timer with bad contacts. If you have that kind of compressor relay, it probably is over 14 years old. The rattle sound is only for the newer relays, the kind you have don't cause much of a problem, that is probably is why they changed relay types. The thing on my mind is when you said the ice cubes were frozen and then thaw out, don't sound like a system problem. Let me know if you try this out.

H.
 
  #20  
Old 09-16-08, 07:32 PM
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himeros:

I'd like to try it out but I need to know what you mean by not haiving a "complete frost pattern on the freezer coils."

Do you mean an evenly distributed frost pattern on the coils? Or something different.

Also, you say I could still have a bad defrost timer (or temp control). My defrost timer DID NOT pass its Ohms test but Ecman said that the defrost timer could not make the fridge do what it's doing. If I am understanding both of you, that wold be conflicting info, so I'm not sure what to do about the timer.

One more thing: The fridge has been running like a dream all day today; freezer at 20 and fridge at 40 ALL DAY. However, the compressor IS running every time I go into the garage to check the temp (which I did 10 times today). -Tony
 
  #21  
Old 09-17-08, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by tony17112acst View Post
Also, you say I could still have a bad defrost timer (or temp control). My defrost timer DID NOT pass its Ohms test but Ecman said that the defrost timer could not make the fridge do what it's doing. If I am understanding both of you, that wold be conflicting info, so I'm not sure what to do about the timer.
When the compressor runs, there is no defrost - nothing to heat up the fridge -so it should be cooling down if you have a good fridge, and the compressor continues running. I am not sure what actual ohms reading numbers would be on a defrost timer, but this all seems moot if the compressor and fans run and it is producing swings in temps.

On fridges I work on that have problems, I really do like using that watt meter I have, as I can see (without unhooking wires and testing) what the defrost current draw is, and for how long, and then when the compressor runs, what that draw comes down to after the initial spike and initial run wattage. The readings (on 15-18 cu.' units) are about 450 on defrost and about a 900 watt spike at compressor start up, where then it falls to into the low 200's for a short bit, until it finally drops to about 150 + or so, on compressor, after it has been running for a bit.

..........................

For the fun of it, I went and got my watt meter from my vehicle and will do readings on the fridge right behind me, after the pressures stabalize in a bit.

...........................

I never got to see the spike as when I plugged it in and the compressor started, it stayed 0. That is one drawback of digital. Anyway, I got an inital run reading of the real low 200's and then it took 25 minutes for it to gradually come down from that and tank at 147-149. I have previously tested out the defrost on this unit at 450-455 watts when on.
 

Last edited by ecman51; 09-17-08 at 07:43 AM. Reason: included test result
  #22  
Old 09-17-08, 10:04 AM
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I don't see a conflict with what has been said. With many defrost timer that I have go bad, I remove the case, and see what might have caused it to go bad. I find that sometimes the contacts will go bad, and when the timer is in the compressor run cycle, the contacts will not make good connection, and the compressor will shut down. The cold control contacts and springs can go bad causing the cold control to shut down the compressor, or stay off too long when it should come back on. You could have a wiring problem, etc. etc. If I were testing this box, I would hard wire the compressor relay assembly to the 110 volt line so there would be nothing that could shut the compressor off. Then I would look at the coils in the freezer section, there should be an complete even frost pattern on those coils, this should happen within 1 1/2 hours from when you start the compressor, with the cover off the coils, so the freezer fan if it is running will not provide any air flow over the coils. It would cost you the price of a simple 6 foot ac cord, two wire nuts to test it this way. If it passes this test, you know the system and compressor are good, and time to look elsewhere. If you test it this way, the coils temp should be -20 F.

H.
 
  #23  
Old 09-17-08, 10:18 AM
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Thanks guys.

I went to the appliance parts store and found that a new defrost timer gives the exact same test results as the one in my fridge. The website that said there should be continuity between #3 (white) and another terninal IS WRONG!!
(http://www.acmehowto.com/howto/appli...rosttimer2.php) Terminals 1 and 4 give continuity for cooling mode and 1 and 2 give continuity for defrost mode. Terminal 3 (the white wire) has no continuity with any other terminals in either mode.

Since the cpmpressor seems to run ALL the time, I will run it with the cover to the freezer coils off and check out the frost patter. When I originally took it off many days ago, the frost patter was very lopsided (frost favoring the top one fourth section).

I am about to sit next to it with a good cigar for an hour straight and see if the compressor runs the whole time. I'll report back. -Tony

P.S. I'm hoping this post will serve many people in the future as a good resource of things to check in a fridge.
 
  #24  
Old 09-17-08, 12:34 PM
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Alright, I let the freezer run for 1 and 1/2 hours and the frost only appeared on the top 1/5th of the feeezer coils with the panel removed. The compressor also ran all the time but the fridge only read 65 degrees which would cause the compressor to run all the time sionce the cold control would always be trying to cool it down, I'm guessing.

It's looking like there isn't anything else to conclude but low/leaked freon! This would probably be a total loss. The only thig I can think of is dropping it off at a repair shop and if it costs too much to repair, I'd try to convince them to not charge me anything if I let them have it.

-Tony

P.S. I'm getting very low temp for the freezer: 17 degrees. All day today (before and after assembling it) It's been down in the teens!
 
  #25  
Old 09-17-08, 05:11 PM
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Your temperature spread between F and R sections is too great. I would have expected with 17 in F, the R would be more like in the low 50's. Were you using the same thermometer, or two different ones? Not a good idea to use 2 seperate ones in testing, unless you are certain they calibrate out the same.

All indications is that you are not empty on freon - you are low on it.
 
  #26  
Old 09-17-08, 07:45 PM
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51 is right on, only part of the freezer coil being frosted when the compressor runs all the time means only one thing, low on "freon" or in rare cases, the compressor valves are not pumping 100 percent as they should. My bet is on system gas loss, next bet is that it is the yoder tubes, those tubes that go into the cabinet just before connecting to the dryer. Steel tubes rust out and slowly let some of the charge out.

H.

heat transfer between metal surfaces warmed by a condenser yoder loop and the storage compartments of a refrigerator is prevented by forming a longitudinal rib around the outwardly extending flanges of the compartment liners, whereby engagement of the external surfaces of the ribs by the door gaskets form positive heat transfer barriers between the warm metal surfaces and the interiors of the compartments.
 
  #27  
Old 09-17-08, 08:24 PM
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Yes, I didn't mean to connect the two temps I mentioned, 17 and 65. 17 was at a different time when I measured the 65 in the fridge. I plan on posting the freezer/fridge temps tomorrow; I have been writing down the temps all day today and will also tomorrow.

Also, I have a digital thermometer that shows temp. plus a wireless unit that shows temp on the main unit. When I have the wireless remote unit right next to the main unit, the difference is 1 degree. It's nice to have. I had a tenant that complained of higher temps so I put the wireless in the fridge. So I could take fridge temp readings without even going in the unit!

I will post my readings tomorrow and then possibly bury this topic. The darn thing seems to be working now
 
  #28  
Old 09-18-08, 05:59 PM
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Okay. But sorry we can't help you fix it. Sounds like this is not one of the easy quick fixes that can be had with some refrigerator problems.
 
  #29  
Old 09-18-08, 07:25 PM
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Here are my temp checks today:

Time/freezer/fridge
9:00am/15/36
10:30am/14/35
2:00pm/26/42
4:00pm/22/43
6:30pm/18/40
10:00pm/27/42

These don't seem like bad temps. Also the compressor was running each time I checked the temp.

Maybe I'll keep it as a backup in case someone needs a fridge as an emergency.

Any last words of advice? I thank everyone for contributing. I've learned so much about refrigerators and I'll be able to use all this info for the rest of my life!

-Tony
 
  #30  
Old 09-19-08, 07:05 AM
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Them are odd readings as far as ratios go between the 2 sections. I think you have the freezer setting to max. Set it back to factory settings ( middle marks for fridge and middle for freezer) so that freezer has to run longer before shutting off the refrigerator section thermostat.
 
  #31  
Old 09-19-08, 07:24 AM
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Those readings are with the cold dial at the middle! There isn't a seperate freezer control on this fridge; there's just one in the fridge. Any thoughts?

Wow, if it's doing 17 degrees in the freezer when set on the middle, would it get even colder if I put it on max?
 
  #32  
Old 09-19-08, 09:59 AM
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If this refrigerator is in fact low on gas, as we think, it will never get any colder if you turn it up higher. I think the compressor is running full time now.

H.
 
  #33  
Old 09-19-08, 04:47 PM
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Confirming what himeros said so you have a second opinion.

A fridge when running is actually putting out quite a bit below zero temps. It is only the fact that the thermostat shuts off (and hence compressor stops) that keeps it all from going lower. Hence, if your compressor keeps running, it is doing all it can right now with the amount of gas it has.
 
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