Freezer too cold; fridge too warm

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Old 05-25-09, 08:31 PM
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Freezer too cold; fridge too warm

I have a Kenmore model 106.72132100 refrigerator.

Lately I've noticed that the fridge is not as cold as it should be. I found a thermometer, and have measured that even with the freezer setting as warm as possible, and the refrigerator setting as cold as possible, the freezer remains at 12 degrees (too cold) and the fridge at 52 degrees (too warm).

What might cause this? What should be my first step toward resolving this?
 
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Old 05-25-09, 11:03 PM
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First of all reset both of your settings to the middle. If there is a problem, adjusting the settings will not make any difference in temperature. 12 degrees in the freezer is actually too warm. It should be about 0-8 degrees.

Check to see if the fans are running both in the freezer section and by the compressor at the back of the refrigerator. Check for excessive frost buildup on the evaporator (defrost problem). Check for frozen defrost drain (this could also clog air ducting to refrigerator section). Check for proper sealing of door gaskets. Check that the condenser (under the refrigerator) is not clogged with dust and hair.
 
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Old 05-26-09, 08:17 PM
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It appears that air is circulating in the freezer compartment but not in the refrigerator compartment.

I'm looking at online parts diagrams and I can only see one fan motor in the liner assembly. (Kenmore part 2205138 or 4389142). This fan motor is in the freezer compartment and seems to be working fine.

I'm going to go ahead and disassemble the ductwork in the refrigerator compartment and see if that clarifies things for me, unless there's a good reason not to...
 
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Old 05-27-09, 05:08 AM
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Ah so- you have a top freezer mount style fridge. Is there frost on the back wall of the freezer section? Take off the air tower and the back wall for a look see. I think you'll fnd that the freezing coil is frosted over or the drain is clogged.
 
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Old 05-27-09, 07:23 PM
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Yup, the back wall is all frozen up.

But you knew that.

When you say to take off the back wall of the freezer section, you're talking about the inside of the cabinet, right?

I don't yet see how to remove the air tower, but it appears to be a platic part that's just clipped in. I suppose I just have to find the right location to press to disengage the tabs?
 
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Old 05-27-09, 07:41 PM
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You don't need to remove the tower itself. The back wall and the tower will come off together from inside the back of the freezer. You need to have and know how to use a volt/ohm meter to diagnose the problem. There are three parts to the defrost system: Defrost timer, defrost thermostat, and defrost heater. Most likely the defrost thermostat is faulty which is a little thermostat, clipped to the evaporator that has two wires coming out of it. If the thermostat has no continuity when it is frozen then it is bad. The defrost heater should ohm out to about 20-25 ohms.

The freezer will have to be manually defrosted after the defrost system is repaired. It will need to be defrosted by using a hair dryer/heat gun or leave the refrigerator unplugged and the doors open for about 24 hours.
 
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Old 05-27-09, 08:06 PM
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I measure zero ohms across the thermostat when it's clipped to the still-fozen coil.

I'm not sure that I've identified the heater correctly. I see a two pin connector with black wires on both pins. The black wires go behind the coil in different directions; I can't fully visualize the wire because of the ice buildup. I suspect this is a heating coil that forms a loop. I currently measure ~2Mohm across these two pins, but I might be measuring the resistance of the water in the connector. The Kenmore parts diagram isn't really clear, but I believe this is the heating coil. I'll take a more accurate resistance measurement when I can get the unit dry.

Thanks for the assistance!
 
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Old 05-27-09, 08:46 PM
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Sounds like the defrost heater might be bad as long as you are checking the heater correctly. It is unusual to have a cal rod type heater fail but it is possible.
 
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Old 05-27-09, 08:49 PM
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I got out some alligator clips and now I'm reading 50 ohms across the heater coil.

I'm reading an open circuit on the thermostat when it's warm.

I've read that one other cause of iced coils could be clogged drain plugs. There was significant ice buildup all the way to the top of the coils... could a clogged drain plug cause icing to that extent?

It seems the thermostat and the coil are good... that leaves the timer and the drain plugs as my suspects, right?
 
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Old 05-27-09, 09:00 PM
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A clogged drain would not cause a frosted up evaporator. It is definitely a defrost problem. Other possibilities are a loose connection or the defrost timer. The defrost timer is accessed in the roof of the refrigerator section behind the controls.

You can put the timer into defrost by using a flat blade screwdriver and turning it slowly until it clicks and the refrigerator shuts down. You can check power at one side of the heater and the other side at the defrost thermostat opposite the heater. If you have power there leave it in defrost and see if it comes out of defrost on its own. You could have a stalled or sticking defrost timer.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 07:24 AM
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So clearly I'm doing these tests with the fridge plugged in.

How long do I wait for it to come out of defrost?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 07:58 AM
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OK... I think I see what you're driving at.

When I rotate the timer manually, it does switch 110VAC on and off when I measure across the thermostat/heater coil circuit.

So now I guess the question is: how do I determine if the timer is advancing?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 08:01 AM
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Another question: this is a Kenmore badged unit. How do I find out who manufactured it?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 08:35 AM
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When I advance the timer to defrost mode, it does come out of defrost mode within ~15 minutes.

So I've tested the timer, the thermostat, and the coil and they all appear to be working.

Now what?
 
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Old 05-28-09, 05:17 PM
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Maybe you had a loose connection. At this point you might be a good idea to put everything back together and run the refrigerator for a day or two then manually put it into defrost to see if it defrosts. Or wait and see if it frosts up again. It will take a week or two before it will frost up so bad that it stops cooling properly. There is also the possibility that the defrost timer is stalling while in run mode and not shutting down to defrost. Another rare possibility is the defrost thermostat is opening too early. You would notice the bottom section of the evaporator is clear and frosted up towards the top in this case.

This refrigerator is manufactured by Whirlpool.
 
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Old 05-28-09, 06:59 PM
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Thank you, gdoug and daddyjohn, for your help. I appreciate the help. If it happens again, I'm much better prepared to diagnose and fix it. Right now things are back together and we're waiting for the fridge to cool down. (There's still not much airflow at all to the fridge unit; the freezer's already cold. But I won't make any judgements until at least 24 hours.)
 
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