Freezer problem or operator problem?

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  #1  
Old 08-05-16, 06:09 PM
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Freezer problem or operator problem?

The freezer compartment on my mom's Frigidaire refer/freezer doesn't always keep things frozen solid. The cubes from the ice maker (not thru-the-door) often are damp to the touch and the loaf of bread that's always stored in the freezer is sometimes hard as a brick (as it should be) and other times fairly soft. She also told me the defroster wasn't working properly and it would build up frost over time.

So I put the probe from an indoor-outdoor thermometer inside the freezer a couple of days ago. It records high and low temps and hasn't shown anything above the high 20s, even with the door opening and closing. And if the door is left undisturbed for several hours, it reads as low as 12F.

I'm thinking that it getting to as low as 12 indicates that the freezer and the door seals are okay, and that the most likely cause is that she sometimes isn't completely shutting the door, because that would explains both the soft/unfrozen items and the collection of frost.

What say the experts?
 
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Old 08-05-16, 06:34 PM
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Freezer should be 0 Deg. ref. 40 deg.
 
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Old 08-05-16, 07:54 PM
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Ideally the freezer should be at 0 but anywhere from 5 to 10 is ok. The icemaker requires the temperature to be under 10.

If the fridge isn't defrosting that could be a problem. Although usually when there is a heavy frost buildup the fridge temp goes up first.
 
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Old 08-06-16, 02:14 PM
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So what I'm understanding you to say is that there might be (probably is?) a problem with the fridge. Next time I'm over I'll pull it away from the wall and make sure the coils are clean. If that doesn't put it right, should I tell her to call a repairman, or start shopping for a replacement?


In the interest of full disclosure, this is where I should point out that a couple of years ago this same 'fridge had a problem with the water solenoid on the ice maker (thread here). A thorough thawing fixed that problem, and I still haven't installed the replacement solenoid that I bought (and hope I can still find). So I reckon there's always the remote chance she's having a double-failure, and that the soft loaf of bread isn't directly related to the damp ice, but this time it isn't showing the ice waterfall as before:

 
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Old 08-07-16, 09:26 PM
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So I pulled the fridge away from the wall and cleaned the coils. They were so dusty, I thought for sure that was the problem. I unplugged the fridge so I wouldn't let the smoke while was out poking around with the vacuum wand and paint brushes (for dusting) and what-not, then I spent maybe half an hour cleaning it as thoroughly as I was able. The coils are folded in pretty tight bends and I couldn't get as far into the recesses as I would have liked, considering the trouble I'd gone to to get to that point, but I was certain it was clean-er enough the temp should come down if that was the problem.

That was more than six hours ago and the temp in the freezer has never got any lower than it is now, which is 18. The door has been open maybe five or six times in that period, but only long enough to grab something and slam it shut again.

Am I sounding more and more like it's time to call the Maytag repair man?
 
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Old 08-07-16, 09:35 PM
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The problem with the waterfall was probably something stuck in the fill valve allowing the water to trickle in. Normally, when the solenoid valve opens for the 3-4 seconds to fill the ice tray, the water entering the freezer is room temperature and from the flow does not freeze. When the valve doesn't close fully the water trickles in drop by drop and freezes in place.

So the fridge wasn't unplugged long enough to thaw out if the coil was iced up ?
Does the compressor run continuously ?
 
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Old 08-07-16, 10:23 PM
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I only brought up the old problem with the ice waterfall in case the damp ice was unrelated to the soft bread. AFAIK, the ice otherwise has been working fine.

As for frozen coils, I don't know how to tell. There wasn't any frost on them when I cleaned them.

I haven't paid any attention to whether the compressor was running all the time but I will now. Every time I've been in the kitchen since I read your post, it does seem to be running.


Last-second update, in the 56 minutes since my previous post, the temperature has come down 2.7, now reading 15.3.

I'll come back in the a.m. and update again.
 
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Old 08-08-16, 08:13 AM
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Overnight the coldest it got was 10.8.
 
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Old 08-08-16, 04:57 PM
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So the fridge wasn't unplugged long enough to thaw out if the coil was iced up ?
...wait ...did I miss a hint? It just hit me that you might be suggesting I should have left in unplugged until (possibly) frozen coils are thawed, yes? If so, how long would you suggest? And could I use a hair dryer to accelerate the process, and maybe save the food in the fridge?
 
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Old 08-09-16, 07:39 PM
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Hokay, I've been watching some YouTube videos, trying to pick up some information on troubleshooting, and here's what I *think* I know.

The condenser fan runs.

The condenser coils are (relatively) clean.

The evaporator fan runs.

The passageway from the evaporator fan into the refrigerated chamber is clear.

There is no food stacked against any of the interior vents.

The compressor runs, else there'd be no cooling at all, right? One copper tube emerging from the compressor is warm to touch, the other is cool.

The defrost timer works. I figured out how to advance the timer manually, then advanced it until shortly before it was due to start, then let it run. It self-advanced from there and ran a defrost cycle (reaching an indicated 57), then resumed chilling.

I can hear the evaporator fan running, I can hear the compressor running, and I can hear a third sound that I can't identify. It sounds sort of flatulent, like the sound you sometimes make when you drag your fingers across an inflated balloon. The sound runs in about a 4-5 second cycle, on for about a second, then off for 3-4 seconds, then on again. The only time I don't hear it is when the defrost cycle is running.

On occasion I also hear a single click which sounds to be coming from in the vicinity of the compressor. I've heard this three different times when I was manually advancing the defrost timer out of defrost and into chill. One YouTube vid I found said something similar happened when the compressor was overloaded.


The only two things I can't seem discount at this point are frozen evaporator coils and low freon. Tonight I will unplug the refrigerator after mom goes to bed and let it sit for two hours, which would leave only the low freon.

And possibly a wimpy compressor. Do compressors ever partially fail?
 
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Old 08-09-16, 08:16 PM
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You've been busy.

You said the compressor was running and you heard clicking from down below. If you cycle the defrost timer to quickly the compressor will try a hot restart and click like that. Usually a few times and then is quiet.

There is a fan under the fridge down by the compressor. Is that running ?

In order to determine if the system is low on refrigerant you can check the running current draw of the compressor or remove the cover over the freezer coils and see how the frost forms. If it only forms on one end... it's low.

Fridge compressors rarely fail and I've never see one get weak. The compressor itself should almost run too hot to touch.
 
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Old 08-10-16, 06:33 PM
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Yes, the fan on the compressor is running. There's only one fan underneath; the same one that sucks through the condenser coils blows across the compressor.

I left it unplugged last night most of two hours, after which the temp in the freezer compartment was 36. Don't know whether that guaranteed defrosting of the evaporator coils but it only got down to as low as 15.8 overnight.

So tonight's objective is to investigate the matter of the freon level. I pulled off the panel covering the evaporator coil and there was some ice back there, but i don't think it was enough to be responsible for this much performance loss. I removed it with a blow drier and reassembled it.

I wasn't prepared to leave the panel off and let it run so I could observe the frost level on the evaporator coils because I hadn't made alternate arrangement for the freezer full of food. That and I've been spending too much time there lately fiddling with this and the management clearly has seen enough of me for a few days.

But if I can sneak back in tomorrow, I'd like to check the freon level by testing the draw on the compressor, both because it saves me having to unpack and disassemble the freezer again (the ice maker is a PITA), and for my own education. But I'm not the sharpest crayola in the box when it comes to a multi-meter. And all the YouTube vids I could find that were about testing the compressor were testing for compressor failure, not for low freon. So if you could give me a thumbnail sketch, I'd be obliged.
 
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Old 08-10-16, 09:20 PM
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A sketch ?

You know where the compressor is. Find the two wires supplying it power. Clip the ampmeter on only one of the wires. The current draw should be on the compressor ID plate.
 
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Old 08-11-16, 09:50 AM
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Well, that explains why I didn't know how to do it. I don't have an ampmeter. I was assuming it was something could be tested with a generic multi-meter. I'll have to go rustle one up.
 
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Old 08-15-16, 06:50 PM
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My mom got a repairman to come by today. He said the fridge has a slow freon leak and it isn't feasible to repair it. Told her it would cost around $500 to repair. Or at least that's what she remembered (I couldn't be there at the time).

Is this getting mixed up in the translation, or could it possibly be that expensive to add a can of freon? Might he have been talking about replacing the entire cooling system? Because I've seen videos on YouTube of guys adding R134A with nothing but the freon and a $5 bullet piercing valve.

If we can't find a band-aid for this, this fridge is going to the junkyard, so what's the down-side to me trying to add some more freon?
 
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