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Cracked Refrigerator Water Filter
Old 12-26-2011, 07:35 PM   #1
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Cracked Refrigerator Water Filter

Did my first online chat ever today......and while I liked the fast response, I am gradually coming back to earth. The Sears chat site which goes to who knows where referred me to a bunch of vaguely related prior issues....mostly the relation was to refrigerators but not anything specific to what I had asked about. Then I was allowed to post a question to some supposed experts which kind of felt like a forum w/ responses within 48 hrs. Let's see if you guys can beat those experts:


Kenmore Trio Refrigerator Problem model 795.75194401

1) Water filter reset light and lock light came on
What does this mean? I reset light in early Dec and light comes on
every 6 mos to remind you to replace filter. Lock light as I understand
it locks the water dispenser so it won't ask for water. Why did this combination of lights come on?

2) Found water filter cracked....the front 2-3" closest to outside
broke off along a seam; the rest of the filter is still plugged in
3) There was ice in the water filter...both parts
4) The temperature is 24-28 degrees in the refrigerator and under
the water filter on top shelf is 18degrees. Normal temp is
34-38 degrees.

The temperature in the freezer is minus 10 degrees. I didn't
look up historical data but I'm guess normal temp is prob 0 deg or
so.
5) I turned the icemaker off so it won't call for water to flow.
6) I am unable to increase the temperature setting of either refrigerator
or freezer.

What is the likely root problem?
Am I ok for flooding in case the lines get unfrozen? One rep told me that
no water will flow to the broken filter unless you ask for water for drinking or ice.......both functions now supposedly disabled. Can there be other
places that got cracked from the cold that will cause a problem if lines are unfrozen?
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Old 12-26-2011, 07:52 PM   #2
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I am anxious to see some responses to this problem. I have a Samsung, French door freezer style, and the filter light came on for the third time. I talked to a service man from Sears who sold me the fridge, and he told me to just reset the light if I wanted and not replace the filter. I starting to wonder how long one can continue to do this. I think I will spring for a new filter the next time I'm at Sears. Makes me feel cheap to spend $2100 on a fridge and refuse to pay $40 for a filter. However, how bad can the water be if we have a water softener? Do I really have to change the filter or is it on a timer? You know, six months is up, time to change the filter again whether it needs it or not.
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Old 12-26-2011, 10:57 PM   #3
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Okay, it's not the answer to what you asked, but it is related:
My 'fridge came with a stock adapter that allowed us to do without the filter in the appliance. Can you get one of those? It makes a tiny more room available in the refrigerator, and then you can just put an external filter in the line leading to the fridge. These cost much less, can have higher capacity (change it less often), and are more readily available. If you can't get the blank block-off unit, maybe you could make one using an old filter body with the guts removed.

We already had a filter/reverse osmosis unit feeding a tap for drinking water at the sink, I plumbed it to the fridge/icemaker as well. I was gad not to have an unneeded filter inside the refrigerator.

I return you now to the original question.
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Did my first online chat ever today......and while I liked the fast response, I am gradually coming back to earth. The Sears chat site which goes to who knows where referred me to a bunch of vaguely related prior issues....mostly the relation was to refrigerators but not anything specific to what I had asked about. Then I was allowed to post a question to some supposed experts which kind of felt like a forum w/ responses within 48 hrs. Let's see if you guys can beat those experts:
Kenmore Trio Refrigerator Problem model 795.75194401

1) Water filter reset light and lock light came on
What does this mean? I reset light in early Dec and light comes on
every 6 mos to remind you to replace filter. Lock light as I understand
it locks the water dispenser so it won't ask for water. Why did this combination of lights come on?

2) Found water filter cracked....the front 2-3" closest to outside
broke off along a seam; the rest of the filter is still plugged in
3) There was ice in the water filter...both parts
4) The temperature is 24-28 degrees in the refrigerator and under
the water filter on top shelf is 18degrees. Normal temp is
34-38 degrees.

The temperature in the freezer is minus 10 degrees. I didn't
look up historical data but I'm guess normal temp is prob 0 deg or
so.
5) I turned the icemaker off so it won't call for water to flow.
6) I am unable to increase the temperature setting of either refrigerator
or freezer.

What is the likely root problem?
Am I ok for flooding in case the lines get unfrozen? One rep told me that
no water will flow to the broken filter unless you ask for water for drinking or ice.......both functions now supposedly disabled. Can there be other
places that got cracked from the cold that will cause a problem if lines are unfrozen?
If the freezer is usually at -10 degrees then the problem may just be a broken or jammed flapper/damper that's letting all kinds of cold air into the fridge. If the freezer heats up (from giving its cold air to the fridge) then the compressor runs to chill the freezer some more, but eventually the fridge achieves a new equilibrium and the compressor doesn't cycle a lot. The fix is to unjam or replace the flapper.

Appliance Repair Revelation: The Cold Facts About Refrigerator Controls | Refrigerator Repair | Fixitnow.com Samurai Appliance Repair Man

GE Profile PSS25 Refrigerator Freezing Everything in the Fresh Food Compartment Regardless of Temperature Setting; and the Water Dispenser Quit Working, too! | Haiku | Fixitnow.com Samurai Appliance Repair Man

The other problem could be the thermostat. Is the compressor running a lot more than usual? Your thermostat could be trying to make the freezer & fridge as cold as possible, which usually happens when the thermostat's cold contacts are stuck or fused.

Mailbag: Amana Refrigerator Freezing Everything | Refrigerator Repair | Fixitnow.com Samurai Appliance Repair Man

You'd hope that a little frozen water wouldn't crack a filter. If the filter's cracked then you might be able to replace it and not have to worry about leaks. If the block that the filter screws into is cracked then the repair is more expensive... and maybe it's cheaper to buy a new fridge.

If you don't want to trust the fridge's electronics (I sure wouldn't) then you can shut off the water supply at the wall valve behind the fridge.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JOHNNIE36 View Post
I am anxious to see some responses to this problem. I have a Samsung, French door freezer style, and the filter light came on for the third time. I talked to a service man from Sears who sold me the fridge, and he told me to just reset the light if I wanted and not replace the filter. I starting to wonder how long one can continue to do this. I think I will spring for a new filter the next time I'm at Sears. Makes me feel cheap to spend $2100 on a fridge and refuse to pay $40 for a filter. However, how bad can the water be if we have a water softener? Do I really have to change the filter or is it on a timer? You know, six months is up, time to change the filter again whether it needs it or not.
If you have a water softener for the whole house sending its water to the fridge, then the fridge filter will never clog up. We have a water softener in our garage, it demineralizes water for the whole house, and we've had the same filter in the fridge for nearly five years. I just reset the light when it comes on and ignore the filter.

I bet it's on a timer, but a $2100 fridge might even be checking water hardness & flow rate. Seems like overkill to do more than a timer... especially when the real purpose of that filter light is to persuade you to buy a new filter.

If for some strange reason sludgy water got past your water conditioner and into the fridge, and the filter clogged up, then you'd notice flakes in your water glass or much less flow from the nozzle.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:07 AM   #5
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I recently ordered a filter and replaced it. First time for a new fridge bought last May. It was easy to replace.

Not sure if I will continue though in that we do have a whole house filter and descaler so I'm not sure what the filter in the fridge accomplishes other than lining Sear's pockets (and while they need it, I do too).

My fridge is 40 degrees and my freezer is -4 degrees. These are the factory settings and seem to work fine for us.
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Old 12-27-2011, 08:23 AM   #6
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Thanks all for the replies. So far, you guys are beating the trumpeted expert forum I supposedly was elevated to. Thanks esp. to Nords for that detailed explanation complete w/ links. Seems to me you kind of like and miss that kind of stuff . I'm hoping it will be a one-item-fix , simple and cheap, but who knows.
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:02 AM   #7
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One other possibility (somewhat related to Nord's explanation of blocked damper) -

Our new fridge sent the fridge section to below freezing a couple times, it was under warranty, so I had the guy come out, but by then (a couple days) it seemed to be back to normal. I suspect that air flow was blocked to the thermistor by some stuff we had in there. So the fridge keeps running trying to get it cold enough. A fridge circulates the cold air from the freezer (typically ~ 0F), so things can freeze near the air vent. Those dampers help to keep things balanced so the freezer stays near 0F.

I've been more careful about not blocking air flow around the thermistor (mounted behind a little bump near the top of the fridge), and all has been well. This is lower-end fridge, no bells/whistles (it has an ice maker - I shut it off to save electricity (energy star my foot!, but that's a separate discussion!), so it has no built in temperature display. I bought a wired indoor/outdoor thermometer on sale at Radio-Shack, it has a thin wire so I just ran that through the gasket. I should splice in some flat foil wires there to be sure I get no air leak at all, but I haven't. But now I can monitor the temps for $12.

-ERD50
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Old 12-27-2011, 09:38 AM   #8
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Thanks for your input, ERD50. Yes, we've had that happen to us before too esp when the refrig got full. This time seems different though. The electronic control panel then seemed normal. Nothing showing normally except 2 setpoints for a short time after door is opened. Now the lights for filter reset and (dispenser) lock are always lit and can't change setpoints or
cancel the lights that are on.
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Old 12-27-2011, 10:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Seems to me you kind of like and miss that kind of stuff
I enjoy it! It's the watchstanding, log-taking, weekend duty, and inspections that I don't miss.

The Samurai Appliance Repair guy (a Navy vet) and his discussion board have saved us hundreds of bucks in appliance repairs.
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Old 12-27-2011, 02:17 PM   #10
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Nords, thanks for your thoughts on the filter changing. Next time I see the Sears service guy, I'm going to ask him how the fridge determines when it's time to change the filter. Know him well enough to believe he will give me the straight scoop. You mention that you doubt the fridge would be checking for water hardness. Well, a softener is supposed to remove the hardness so there should be soft water running to the icemaker and water dispenser. Something tells me it's a way to sell filters. I'm going to keep checking this out.
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Old 12-31-2011, 10:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by kaneohe View Post
Thanks all for the replies. So far, you guys are beating the trumpeted expert forum I supposedly was elevated to.
I'm hoping it will be a one-item-fix , simple and cheap, but who knows.
The suspense is killin' us. I guess we're going to have to wait until Wednesday?
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:57 AM   #12
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Well, I just went out to look at it again, and hopefully I'm not jinxing it by muttering it aloud........you won't believe it unless you believe in spontaneous remission( at least for now). After 3 days of the cracked water filter and increasingly freezing temps each day, we left for a dinner in SF Chinatown with DD/SIL and his parents. When we got back, the front panel display, instead of showing the filter light and lock lights on (usually meaning change the filter and lock the water dispenser) which were the original symptoms as well as showing the freezer/refrigerator temps/setpts? as -88/+88 deg F
(I don't recall when these showed up since I didn't list them originally), showed nothing. I was kind of afraid something had progressed in this disease since the display was dark and there was no sound.

During the previous days, there was always a sound which I assume was the compressor running. I meant to ask if continuous running was bad but forgot. Fortunately as I stood there wondering, the sound returned. I opened the door and the normal -1/37 returned as the freezer/refrig setpoints. Temps were still much colder than normal but gradually increased so that they are nearly normal today.

I must retract my somewhat negative comments about that expert site that I got signed up for via the Sear's repair . Although I got that vague general non-helpful response initiallly, I finally did get contact with an expert. He did suggest that I try shutting power off for a minute but since we were leaving for that dinner that night and I had scheduled a repair visit for the next day, I decided not to do anything fearing that if it succeeded while we were gone, I might come back to a flood in the kitchen. Instead we got the surprise remission.

I debated cancelling the tech visit but decided to go through w/ it for some hand holding and to utilize his experience. I think for me it was worth it.
He said if it were under warranty, he would change the circuit board but since I was on my own, it would be worth the experiment to see what happened. He also told and showed me that the dispenser and icemaker would work w/o the filter in place. The housing somehow detects the filter is missing and uses a bypass path instead so it was better to remove the filter than to leave it in place esp since the water inside was thawing now.

I decided to wait a week for the "in the mail" $35 Amazon filter rather than the instant Sears $60 one. The tech also told me that the circuit board was easy to change and gave me a rough idea where/how to do it. That would have been another $200 for labor and $30 markup on the $70 part.
The online tech also told me the circuit board was a DIY feasible project.
The visiting tech also told me that besides the "remove the power" trick I could also try the "tap the stuck relay" trick. Funny how those things remind me of old computer/cars and I never thought about doing them.

I asked the online tech how long I should hold my breath. He told me a couple of days. Today is the third and although I don't like living w/ unknown root causes, this isn't like a car that's going to strand you in a bad neighborhood on a dark night. We've learned to defrost in the microwave and that the trick in eating frozen apples is to treat them as a popsicle and eat them before they get melted and mushy.

I don't walk under ladders so I debated about posting on the post-mortem
but since Nords asked, I decided to risk it for the grander purpose of educating mankind. Since I was hesitating about the service call on the morning of the scheduled visit, they offered a $25 discount off the usual $75 price and although the service tech said it was only good for "real" service and not a service call and I now need to take it as a Sears gift card,
even the Pake in me says it was worthwhile to pamper myself with the tech visit. Only time will tell what happens w/ the refrig but it's a good way to start the new year.
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Old 01-01-2012, 10:03 AM   #13
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wanted to add a few things to remind me in the future:

ERD50.....I'm highlighting your comments about blocked vents. I have to admit ,based on my comments, that I probably didn't take that as a serious
suspect this time. However the tech who came out said the same thing and pointed out the vents to be careful about. If I knew at one time where they where, I had forgotten by now since they're almost always hidden by stuff.
Looking back at my data in the initial days, I see that the top shelf under the
water filter was colder (and below freezing) than the lower shelves. This is very different than normal when the top is usually the warmest. Wondering now if the vents got blocked, the water filter got cracked by the freezing temps and later the blockage got removed and the "spontaneous" remission occurred.

I guess I'd almost rather that be the cause than intermittent hardware. At least there might be some hope of being in control even if I have to rely on 2 mortals to be careful.

to Johnnie36........your refrig might be different (brand different than mine) but the tech did say the filter light was simply a 6 mo timer. When we bought it 6 yrs ago, it also was a 2K buy but it's probably cheaper today.
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Old 01-01-2012, 11:10 AM   #14
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wanted to add a few things to remind me in the future:

ERD50.....I'm highlighting your comments about blocked vents. I have to admit ,based on my comments, that I probably didn't take that as a serious
suspect this time. However the tech who came out said the same thing and pointed out the vents to be careful about. If I knew at one time where they where, I had forgotten by now since they're almost always hidden by stuff.
When our new fridge was acting up, still under warranty, I also called a tech out to look (though it also 'healed' itself in the couple days waiting for the service call). The tech did a pretty detailed look-thru of all the vents. He explained that he often found a slice of cheese or salami down there blocking the vent. He showed me where the thermocouple is, so now I'm careful to not block that or the vents, and things seem better.

I wonder why they use these small vents, since that provides a concentrated high-speed blast of 0F cold air from the freezer? Anything in that path could (and does) get frozen pretty easily. Why wouldn't they have something more like a shallow grill all along the back of the fridge for each level? That would give a less concentrated blast, and it would be unlikely to get blocked.


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Old 01-01-2012, 02:50 PM   #15
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Thanks for the update!

That's interesting about the filter. I'll have to remove ours to see if we get another 0.05 cu ft of storage.

Luck is always better than having to replace dampers-- or circuit boards. But I hate it when I'm wrestling with a self-healing appliance and I can't figure out how it broke or how it fixed itself.

Your tuition was a small price to pay in exchange for the tech making you even more dangerous with your knowledge...
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:09 PM   #16
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OK....another race for you genii vs the experts on the Sears forum.
I received the replacement water filter yesterday. I have replaced it at least twice before. Each time I was impressed by how well designed it was. Just get the initial alignment in the ballpark w/ "handle" vertical, insert and turn and 1/4 turn later, it was seated. It didn't seem to be very fussy.

Today, however, doing the same thing, I can only turn it 1/4 of what is required....that is, 1/4 of the required 1/4 turn. I tried a little
"muscle" but not much but the resistance felt pretty solid so I didn't push much. The tech removed the old filter when he was here and didn't make any comment about anything unusual and he said the housing was ok and not broken. Another mystery of life...........
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