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Kenmore Refrigerator not Cooling


Model #253.76822400, this top mount refrigerator, made by Frigidaire by the way, suddenly stopped cooling and the customer only found this out after returning home from a weekend away. All the food had spoiled from the warm temperatures and the ice was now water in the bin. The lights were on in the fresh food section indicating there was power to the unit, but none of the normal sounds were present along with it being noticeably warm inside. The only refrigerator in the home, it was important to get this up and running quickly. The customer gave me a call and I headed right over to have a look.

The non-cooling refrigerator calls can sometimes be difficult to isolate the problem because this type of call tends to be rather generic and limited in information. The sealed refrigeration system is responsible for the cooling that takes place within, but most people will associate the other noises being produced as evidence that something is working. That is why many times the compressor can stop working, but the fans will continue to operate making the customer think everything is still functioning. Defrost failures can have similar symptoms by making the inside of the cabinet warmer than normal resulting in the compressor and fans operating all the time. For these reasons, it is always important when dealing with a cooling problem on a refrigerator to verify operation of each component, and isolate the failure to a specific refrigerator part as being the problem.

This refrigerator was one of the nicer units to trouble shoot simply because other than the lights being on, everything was off. And this being a basic top mount, there isn’t much to go wrong. I usually begin by looking at the defrost timer and thermostat as they are the two electrical components that will turn off the compressor and both fan motors if they were to fail. Located in the same housing the interior lights are connected, I tried to advance the defrost timer through the access hold using a screwdriver. When that didn’t seem to work because it wouldn’t move, I took the entire housing off to make sure I have voltage to the components.

The wiring on this refrigerator has power coming up to the control housing and splitting between the interior light switch and the thermostat. From there it goes to the defrost timer and then on to either the cooling or defrost components. By verifying voltage in and out of the thermostat, I knew it was as least passing current to the timer. The timer had voltage going to it and out the orange wire to the defrost timer which would indicate the unit was in a defrost cycle. Obviously for a day or more so I suspected the timer motor had failed resulting in the switch contacts inside remaining in defrost. But what troubled me was my inability to advance the timer to switch the power from defrost to the compressor and fans.

I decided to take the timer apart and have a look inside. What I found was the switch contacts appeared to have been arcing for some time, and eventually just melted themselves to the timer shaft. So it appears the last defrost cycle that had started, while the customer was away, was the last thing this timer did. Fortunately, the defrost terminator inside the freezer section did it’s job and cut power to the heating element, or the customer would have returned to a melted refrigerator or worse.

With the old timer removed, I installed a new defrost timericon in it’s place and reconnected the wire harness. With the unit plugged back in to the outlet, the familiar sounds of a working refrigerator could be heard throughout the kitchen. I did a few more quick checks to make sure everything was working properly then was on my way. The customer lost allot of food because of this timer, but can now confidently go shopping again after this repair.

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