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Any HVAC or refrigerator repair folks? Troubleshooting & repair question

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    Any HVAC or refrigerator repair folks? Troubleshooting & repair question

    My spare fridge, a maybe 16-17yr old Frigidaire top freezer model, began misbehaving. The fridge area only gets down to about 45-48 degrees (thank goodness I had a Thermoworks fridge/freezer thermometer! I had 3 briskets in the freezer and 1 wet aging in the fridge, plus some hamburger & milk, when I found this!) The freezer probe says it's -32F and colder. I found this odd, why is the freezer so cold but the fridge won't go lower? Lots of frost hanging in the freezer, hanging like stalactites. Unusual. Freezer is usually either side of 0 and frost-free.

    I noticed this right as we were leaving for a few days. I feared the thermometer wasn't accurate so I moved my 3 frozen briskets to my buddy's freezer for fear they'd thaw while we were away. Pulled the probes both out to settle at room air to verify their accuracy, and they both read 64 so I know they're working (shouldn't have second-guessed Thermoworks!) Put them back in and freezer once again is -30 to -40s and fridge is 45-48F.

    If I adjust the dial to colder nothing happens, even all the way. It doesn't get colder in the fridge, this is of course the first thing I tried. If I back the dial downward, I get to about half, (11:00-12:00 position) and it shuts off. This tells me it's behaving as if it cant' cool it past that point on the dial.

    It's not making any odd noises. It seems to be running fine and at the normal noise level. Just behaves as if the cold from the freezer area can't quite make it to the fridge compartment.

    Ideas?

    #2
    I've had to troubleshoot our fridge issues this year and my MIL's last year. I'd say first step would be to check the vents in the back of your freezer to make sure it's not iced over. I believe this is where a fan is that blows cold air from the freezer down to the fridge. My MIL's was all iced over and had similar problems to what you are describing.

    Comment


    • PBCDad
      PBCDad commented
      Editing a comment
      No I chipped all the ice out. Had to take everything out of the freezer to get to it. It defrosted a bit since it was turned off, but I think chipping the ice did the trick.

    • Panhead John
      Panhead John commented
      Editing a comment
      It does sound like a venting problem to me also. Sometimes the vent does freeze up and not allow cold air to the fridge. Most freezer temps are good at 0* F. It’s way too cold in your freezer and not cold enough in the fridge. Also check your door seals.
      Last edited by Panhead John; October 21, 2020, 03:15 PM.

    • ItsAllGoneToTheDogs
      ItsAllGoneToTheDogs commented
      Editing a comment
      careful chipping, don't use anything sharp. I prefer to use a spatula and a hairdryer when possible. Run a leaf blower under and across the back to blow out any dust bunnies too.

    #3
    I would pull the plug and look at the back or underneath. Clean all the cooling fins and fan. Don't bend anything. let it sit, doors open, for a day or so. Turn it back on at mid range for both setting.

    Comment


    • smokin fool
      smokin fool commented
      Editing a comment
      +1 on cleaning the cooling fins and fan, I try to do this yearly.

    #4
    I believe Redman an is who you want to talk to, but he's probably at work now.

    Comment


    • Donw
      Donw commented
      Editing a comment
      Good call. Redman was my first thought too.

    • PBCDad
      PBCDad commented
      Editing a comment
      Red Man

    #5
    My only expertise is flux capacitors, but I can say for a fact that whatever was in the freezer was FROZEN likely 57 degrees past the freezing point of meat.

    Comment


    • rickgregory
      rickgregory commented
      Editing a comment
      It's not the flux capacitors, it's the EPS conduit leading to them. Sheesh.

    #6
    I had something like this happen not too long ago, and it was due to ice buildup preventing the cold air down to the refrigerator section. Root cause turned out to be a bad temperature sensor, according to the technician.

    I ordered a $15 part and watched a good YouTube video and it's fine now.

    Comment


      #7
      Awesome, thanks everyone. I knew we had a person who did this stuff but forgot it was Red Man.

      Comment


        #8
        My freezer at the cabin can frost up blocking the cold air flow to the fridge compartment. When I took it apart the first time I noticed the ice blockage preventing the fridge from being cooled down by the freezer which does all the work of cooling. That's probably your problem. If so you'll need to defrost the unit.

        Comment


        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          There’s also a drain line from the back of the freezer down to the drain pan under the fridge. This is where all the humidity from the freezer drains into. The heat from the motor is supposed to evaporate the condensate. Your drain line could be frozen also, if so, that’s what could be causing your problem. It happened to me and I fixed it myself. After defrosting I had to remove my ice maker and the bottom plastic panel of the freezer and the back panel as well. Took many hours to defrost.

        • Attjack
          Attjack commented
          Editing a comment
          Yes, that was what I discovered trying to fix mine. The tube that brings cold air down was frozen solid. I couldn't see that without taking everything apart. I did notice some minor frost build up in the freezer each time this happened.

        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          I googled my problem with model number and watched a YouTube video on how to fix it.

        #9
        A check of the automatic defrost system would be wise. It consists of a timer, heater, and one (maybe two) bi-metal thermostats near the evaporator coil. A failed defrost system should not cause such a low temperature in the freezer. About the best a properly charged sealed system can do is zero degrees. Just maybe you have a slow leak and a low freon level resulting in the real low temperature in the freezer and not enough in the fridge. Check the defrost system first though after defrosted. Like said before, defrost very carefully. You don't want to create your own freon leak.

        Comment


        • HawkerXP
          HawkerXP commented
          Editing a comment
          Don't use any tools! Let it melt on its own or put a pan of hot water in. Seen to many people break / puncture Freon line chipping at ice build up.

        • Panhead John
          Panhead John commented
          Editing a comment
          When I defrosted mine, I carefully laid a hair dryer on a dry towel and turned it on in the freezer. Helped a lot.

        • jfarley
          jfarley commented
          Editing a comment
          tbob4: Yeah, don't do a lot of posting. I worked in appliance repair for most of my career although my refrigeration experience was a couple of decades ago. Not much has changed in the basic operation in refrigerators since then. Just lots of bells and whistle add-ons. The others have answered the "carefully" issue very well. An older refrigerator is not worth repairing as a rule if it has a freon leak.

        #10
        My first check would be to pull it away from the wall and make sure the compressor fan and area is clear and that the fan runs. Can check that before taking anything else apart.

        If that’s fine I’d defrost the freezer side and check the evaporator fan and thermostat in the freezer section.

        thermostat is $15 bucks and just replacing it on the three wires (with fridge unplugged of course).

        I’ve also had an issue where the airflow between the sections was not working and replaced that part but since both sections and running too high that doesn’t sound like the problem in your case. (I had warm fridge and freezer just fine when that happened).

        Comment


          #11
          Huskee go to you tube. type in problem and model.

          Comment


          • Huskee
            Huskee commented
            Editing a comment
            YouTube is amazing with the wealth of helpful DIY videos they've amassed. I've used them for vehicle and tractor repairs as well. Even my dad, a very non-Internet non-tech savvy person, used a YouTube video to help him Bluetooth his phone to his truck.

          #12
          I do hvac and large commercial and industrial refrigeration, not refrigerators, but the concept is the same and I’ve messed with my fridges some. You mentioned monitoring your freezer. Is -30 to -40 normal? That would be very unusual for a fridge freezer combo. They typically don’t go below zero. Sounds like you’ve been pointed in the right direction by every one to do everything you can. My first thought would be airflow from the freezer to the fridge. Some fridges have a damper that can be adjusted to control temp. Make sure that damper isn’t closed. Whenever you have fridge problems, or even better to do it more often, it’s a good idea to check the condenser coil which is typically under the fridge but sometimes it runs up the back. Make sure it’s not plugged with dirt, dog hair, etc.

          If it works after defrosting it, don’t trust it until it’s held temps for a few days to a week. Something in the defrost cycle could be failed and it could freeze up again. Older fridges were built to last but nowadays I wouldn’t expect more than ten years out of them. If you have any more questions I’m happy to help all I can, but if it’s something that requires calling a repairman, I’d recommend just replacing it. At that age it’s just not worth it to fix, better to get something with a warranty than risk throwing a bunch of money at an old fridge.

          Comment


            #13
            Too bad with the school schedules in an uproar over the virus. We use to take our major appliances down to the vocational school nearby where they fixed them for the cost of parts and a twenty dollar donation to the school. Same thing with our cars. They always did an outstanding job.

            Comment


              #14
              Huskee take a look at this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g_39UHYeEA

              Comment


              • Huskee
                Huskee commented
                Editing a comment
                Thank you! I ended up just doing a defrost overnight & the next day and that solved it! I didn't have to even take anything apart. I appreciate you finding this for me.

              #15
              Fanortner Rod?

              Comment


              • Huskee
                Huskee commented
                Editing a comment
                possibly, might need 2.

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