GE refrigerator not cold enough

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  #1  
Old 03-27-16, 02:09 PM
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GE refrigerator not cold enough

I have a GE Profile Arctica PTS22LHPARWW that is almost 12 years old. The freezer only goes to 22 and the fridge to 45 degrees, even at the coldest settings. The fan is on and compressor seems to be working - it is warm to the touch (not overly hot). Any ideas?
 
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Old 03-27-16, 02:41 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

If you haven't cleaned and vacuumed the condensor coils under the fridge.... now may be the time.
Make sure the condensor fan is running under the fridge.

There is a fan that blows thru the evaporator coil in the freezer. Hold the door switch in and see if that fan is blowing cold air into the fridge.

You may need to remove the back cover over the evaporator coil in the freezer to see if it's iced over. If it is... you may havre a defrost problem.
 
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Old 03-27-16, 03:06 PM
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Thanks PJmax.

The condenser fan definitely is running. I have never cleaned the coils under the fridge.

If I understand correctly, if the fan in the freezer is not working then the freezer would get cold but not the fridge. The freezer only gets to 22 degrees even at the coldest setting. Am I understanding this properly?

I was planning on unplugging the fridge for 24 hours to make sure it defrosts and eliminate a defrost problem.

One other detail that may be worth mentioning - in the past I had always noticed a loud noise when the compressor kicks on. Even though the compressor seems to be running continuously it does not sound nearly as loud as the noise I remember.

Thank you for all your assistance!
 
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Old 03-27-16, 03:34 PM
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If I understand correctly, if the fan in the freezer is not working then the freezer would get cold but not the fridge.
Not necessarily. The fan circulates cold air thru both areas.

Unplugging the unit for 24 hours is a great idea. If it was a defrost issue..... it would return in several weeks and you'd know.

Tough to comment on the compressor noise without hearing it. There is a starting relay attached to the compressor but is usually fairly quiet. If the compressor is running..... it is working.
 
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Old 03-27-16, 03:48 PM
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I will unplug the unit and report back tomorrow with results.

Regarding the compressor noise - I remember a pretty loud rumbling sound when the compressor would kick on. Almost like a motorcycle starting up. Now I can barely hear it over the fan but when I put my hand on it I can feel that it is indeed running. It is running continuously so perhaps it's just a matter of perception...
 
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Old 03-28-16, 03:24 PM
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I unplugged the unit and it completely defrosted. A couple of hours after turning it back on, the freezer is at -5 (set to -6) and fridge is 45 (set to 34). Now I'm really confused! Is it a coincidence that the fridge is at 45, does it take more than a couple hours to reach the temperature set? The compressor is no longer continuously running BTW, I just heard it kick on.
 
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Old 03-28-16, 03:29 PM
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The compressor not running full time is a good thing. It could take more than several hours to reach ideal set temperature. Usually once that is reached..... it recovers faster after that.

Check it again in the morning.
 
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Old 03-29-16, 06:56 AM
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The temp this morning was -3 and 37. This is very promising. But I noticed there was a puddle of liquid by the compressor and fan. This definitely wasn't there before I unplugged the unit. I've attached a photo. Any ideas what this might be?
 
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Old 03-29-16, 10:09 AM
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If the evaporator coil was iced up when you unplugged it to defrost it..... there would be more water than the drip pan could contain which means it overflowed on to the floor.
 
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Old 03-30-16, 06:31 AM
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This morning the freezer was -1 and fridge 38. It appears the patient has stabilized. I'm still a bit hesitant to restock the fridge though. If it is indeed a defrost issue, what should I expect to happen now? How long before the previous problem re-occurs? Anything that I should be on the lookout for to diagnose precisely what the problem may be (defrost thermostat, etc.)?
 
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Old 03-30-16, 09:21 AM
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You have an electronic control board that uses adaptive defrost technology. That means it changes defrost times based on measured temperatures.

There is a defrost heating element and a defrost thermostat. The thermostat controls the heat to the element so that it doesn't melt the freezer. The board monitors the opening and closing of that thermostat to determine defrost time.

It may take several weeks to a month or so to freeze up depending how much time the door spends open and the level of humidity. More humidity = more frost.

There should be a tech sheet behind the front kick panel. It will give you diagnostics for the defrost.
 
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Old 04-01-16, 08:12 AM
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It took me a while to find the tech sheet but I eventually did. It was taped to the underside of the unit. It has schematics and parts information but I don't see any diagnostic info. In any case, the unit seems to be functioning properly. This morning I noticed the freezer temp was up to 10 but I have seen this behavior before - freezer temp spiking up and then going back to normal.

I'm hoping the unit will continue functioning normally and the problem was a one time frost issue. I will keep a close eye on it and report back if the issue re-occurs. Thanks again PJ, I appreciate all your knowledge and assistance.
 
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Old 04-02-16, 11:51 AM
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The problem is back! The temp as of 2:30 today is 19 and 44. It has been steadily increasing. Can this be the same defrost issue already?? If not, then what else could it be?
 
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Old 04-02-16, 05:18 PM
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My feeling is that you are low on refrigerant and this is causing ice buildup on the evaporator coil beyond what the auto defrost system can handle.

The following MAY be excised by a moderator although it is entirely legal.

IF this refrigerator uses R-134A refrigerant you could add a line tap valve and legally add refrigerant. R-134A is what automobile air conditioners use and is sold in auto parts stores as well as the auto department of Wal*Mart. The line tap valve would probably need to be purchased via Internet.
 
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Old 04-02-16, 11:03 PM
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Before you do anything...... look at the coil in the freezer. If it is low on refrigerant it will be partially frosted/frozen at one end only.
 
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Old 04-03-16, 11:15 AM
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I'm having a very difficult time trying to get the evaporator cover off. Is there a trick to it?Name:  IMG_20160403_140638174.jpg
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Old 04-03-16, 11:26 AM
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Exploded view of freezer section. When diagram opens.... click on it for larger view. Use arrow buttons to navigate.

sears parts direct/png/PLDM/G0306400-00003.png
 
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Old 04-03-16, 11:35 AM
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Thanks for the link. The Inset Air Fz and Tower Air Fz Asm are in the way. It appears that these have to come off first? But I don't see how. Very frustrating!
 
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Old 04-03-16, 12:09 PM
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The center piece has two tabs at the middle and two tabs at the bottom that fit into the rear piece. You have to squeeze the center piece at the tabs and gently pull to release the tabs. I'm not sure about the rest.
 
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Old 04-03-16, 12:25 PM
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Thanks Furd, that's kind of what it looked like from image. Unfortunately it is not disconnecting. Very, very frustrating! Perhaps it is frozen? In any case I've unplugged the unit so it should defrost if that is the problem.

Regarding the refrigerant, is that typical for a 12 year old unit?
 
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Old 04-03-16, 12:59 PM
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Is what typical.... being low ? No.... it may indicate a leak.

The plastic pieces need to be squeezed gently to release.
 
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Old 04-03-16, 01:40 PM
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As I recall, my mother's refrigerator was about 25 years old when it started exhibiting the same behavior you have observed. At that time it was still legal for anyone to purchase refrigerant and pretty much do whatever they desired so I was able to buy a line tap valve at the local appliance service store and I added R-12 from an automobile A/C recharge kit. I think I did this about once a year, maybe less often, until the leak got so bad that she had to buy a new refrigerator, five years after my first adding refrigerant.

Now it is unlawful to use any refrigerant without first obtaining a permit/license from the Environmental Protection Agency after taking (and passing) a qualifying examination. The sole exception I am aware of is refrigerant R-134A which is specifically exempted from the permit/licensing requirement.

For what it is worth, my previous refrigerator lasted fourteen years and then crapped out. The saleswoman at the appliance store where I had originally purchased it, as well as purchasing the replacement, stated that I was lucky as ten years seems to be the lifespan these days. Doesn't sound much like progress to this kid.
 
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Old 04-03-16, 02:27 PM
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Gotta love progress. LOL

I managed to get the cover off. The pins broke. As you can see from the picture below it appears that any frost has defrosted so can't tell if it was only frozen at one end. Can I run the unit with the panel off to see how it frosts up?

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Old 04-03-16, 05:21 PM
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My area of expertise is more with commercial size equipment and PJ probably knows more about residential units, especially more recent equipment as I have been retired for more then a decade. Still, I see no reason why you cannot run the unit without all the shrouding in place for testing purposes. I would expect it to frost over from the top down though rather than on one end.
 
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Old 04-04-16, 03:34 PM
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This is what it looks like about 5 hours after turning it back on. The temp is 0 and 47. Does this look normal?Name:  IMG_20160404_172738873.jpg
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Old 04-04-16, 05:52 PM
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Yes.... so far that looks normal. The fridge temp is high because the air isn't being forced thru the coils. Try just setting the cover in place overnight. Maybe lean something against it to hold it in place.

You should be able to witness a defrost cycle too. On power up.... the fridge defrosts quicker until it learns it's routine.
 
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Old 04-05-16, 06:30 AM
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I put the middle cover that goes over the fan back on. The temp this morning was 4 and 36 (set at 0 and 37). When might the defrost cycle kick on?
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Old 04-10-16, 06:17 AM
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The temp seems to be staying at around 11 and 42. This is borderline usable, I think. The unit is pretty empty because I'm afraid that food would spoil if the temp spikes up again. Below is what the coil looks like, is that normal:
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Old 04-10-16, 09:09 AM
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It still looks like the coil is partially icing..... starting at the top.
 
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Old 04-10-16, 09:23 AM
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Did you ever determine what refrigerant is being used in this unit? I may be completely wrong but based upon the pattern of icing I would guess that the unit is slightly low on refrigerant. As I stated previously IF this refrigerator uses R-134A refrigerant it is possible for you to legally add some refrigerant.
 
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Old 04-10-16, 09:25 AM
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Agreed. Is this an indication that the refrigerant is low as Furd suggested? I thought the defroster was at the top so it surprises me that is where it is icing up. BTW, the freezer temp spiked to 21 (fridge is still 42).
 
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Old 04-10-16, 09:37 AM
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Furd, you posted just as I was replying to PJ's message. I do not know how to determine if my unit uses R-134A. I'm not sure it would be worth the hassle in any case. I would be very disappointed if I got the tap and refrigerant and still had the same issue. Perhaps 12 years is all we can expect these days...
 
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Old 04-12-16, 07:48 AM
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So the fridge is back up to 45 degrees. It seems rather odd to me that it is frosting up at the top as seen in the photo, isn't that where the defrost heater is? I would expect that the top would be the area that defrosts first. It appears that the unit hasn't defrosted since I plugged it back in about a week ago. I read someplace that someone with similar symptoms found that the defrost thermostat was the issue, does this seem like a reasonable possibility?
 
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Old 04-12-16, 07:52 AM
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Evaporator will frost from where the inlet is. It will start there and work way through.
 
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Old 04-12-16, 10:01 AM
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Did you find the tech sheet ? It should discuss defrost cycling. That fridge should have defrosted already. The fridge uses a defrost heater strip which is located at the bottom.

There are two parts that need to be checked.... the heater and the defrost limit thermostat. The heater gets checked for continuity. The thermostat also gets checked for continuity but it will only show continuity when very cold.

High Limit Thermostat WR50X10068 with testing video : Repair Clinic

I'm noticing little black wires in your early pictures. Those look like wires from sensors. Did those sensors get put back where they were supposed to be ?
 
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Old 04-12-16, 11:01 AM
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I did find the tech sheet but it only had schematics and parts information, no discussion of defrost cycling or anything else for that matter.

Thanks for the video. Are the heater and the defrost limit thermostat items that commonly fail? It seems like I'd have to cut the wires to test the thermostat. Not sure how I'd get to the heater. Is it visible in the pictures I took?

The black wire in the picture is a ground wire.
 
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