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Does this mean my refrigerator is dying?
Old 03-24-2016, 08:29 PM   #1
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Does this mean my refrigerator is dying?

A few weeks back had some water dripping into the refrigerator from the freezer. I fixed the problem - or so I thought - by taking off the back plate of the freezer and removed the ice that had accumulated. Problem happened again about a week ago, , so I fixed it again.
It took a 3rd episode today to see the main problem: not just the visible ice, but the drain tube was frozen. I had not cleared that tube previously, but did so today.
So once again the problem has been rectified. I don't know what causes that to freeze over in the first place. Refrigerator is 10 years old. Is this a classic symptom of it being on its last legs?
We intended to replace the refrigerator some time in the next couple of years to the current rage of stainless steel. So, I won't spend much to pay for a replacement part if one is needed. Does anyone know if my most recent repair will just be a few-weeks respite before it happens again?
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:40 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mystang52 View Post
A few weeks back had some water dripping into the refrigerator from the freezer. I fixed the problem - or so I thought - by taking off the back plate of the freezer and removed the ice that had accumulated. Problem happened again about a week ago, , so I fixed it again.
It took a 3rd episode today to see the main problem: not just the visible ice, but the drain tube was frozen. I had not cleared that tube previously, but did so today.
So once again the problem has been rectified. I don't know what causes that to freeze over in the first place. Refrigerator is 10 years old. Is this a classic symptom of it being on its last legs?
We intended to replace the refrigerator some time in the next couple of years to the current rage of stainless steel. So, I won't spend much to pay for a replacement part if one is needed. Does anyone know if my most recent repair will just be a few-weeks respite before it happens again?
Rough guess, but I'd say the longevity of your repair will depend on how well you were able to get that tube cleaned. That is a common problem around here with our "lime water."
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Old 03-24-2016, 08:48 PM   #3
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Some but not all freezers on refrigerators have defroster function to prevent ice buildup. Its quite possible that is the problem, and can be as simple as a fuse (well not simple, the fuses are soldered in), or could be the timer control that turns the defroster on and off. I don't consider a refrigerator on its last legs until the compressor dies, but I fix my own appliances. There are some online appliance repair forums you can post a few questions and often get good troubleshooting advice so you just don't go replacing parts that may or may not be bad. I don't have a link handy, but not hard to find. Good luck.
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Old 03-24-2016, 09:04 PM   #4
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As long as it keep the cold, it is not dying.

Make sure the drain path is clear. There is a defroster that melts the frost and it drains down the tube into an evaporator pan.

Of your refrigerator might just be too cold. Put a thermometer in it and see what the temperature is.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:11 PM   #5
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10 years is about the average life expectancy for a refrigerator. InterNACHI says 9 to 13 years. It sounds like an issue with the defrost system this time. Could be a fuse, the timer, the defroster itself, etc. Maybe a new refrigerator is the best economic choice.
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Old 03-24-2016, 10:24 PM   #6
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1 Defrost timer , 2 partially plugged defrost drain, 3 defrost termination sensor, 4 drain tube heater, 5 main defrost heat element. In numerical order of likely suspects.

All are inexpensive parts.

Defrost timers can stop intermittently when getting worn ( plastic gears and and bearings)

Some models do not have a drain tube heater.
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Old 03-24-2016, 11:22 PM   #7
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Commonly the drain tube plugs up with mold growth from the water that drains down it, some have bends in the tube making them more prone than others.
Once it can no longer drain, it will spill the water out and everything freezes.


Look up your model in the search term with your symtoms, chances are there is a you-tube video detailing how to fix it.

If you already have access to it, and it sounds like you do, then run a long flexible thing down the tube to push out the blockage, once you get it clear, dribble a little bleach down the tube to kill the mold.
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Old 03-25-2016, 02:08 AM   #8
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Good previous comments. You've solved your problem.

If you haven't watched a youtube video about clearing the drain on your particular refrig, I'm sure there are some good ones.
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Old 03-25-2016, 06:46 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lakewood90712 View Post

Defrost timers can stop intermittently when getting worn ( plastic gears and and bearings)
And amazingly, they can also fail electronically. A while ago I detailed my drain tube cleaning on this board. Well, it turned out the problem was really the defrost timer. I didn't get a chance to detail that follow-up, so here it is.

My Whirlpool is relatively new (4 yrs) and no way was I going to toss it for this problem. A search on-line showed some knowledgeable folks insisted the circuit board for the timer and temperature control could fail -- only on the timer circuit. This bothered me a bit since everything else on the board worked. The repair was simple, but not cheap, about $180, so I wanted to be sure.

Sure enough, it was the board!

Further research showed that the stupid timer circuit used some sort of capacitive discharge or some such to reset the timer. It was basically a cheap analog component acting as an input to the control computer. And it failed.

Really, really, annoying. And very common.

I'm starting to think that capacitors are some sort of global conspiracy to keep the economy going causing obsolescence. Some other smart people on this board have raged about these little devices in other topics such as TV failures and LED bulb failures. We need to start a protest or march or something to demand better capacitors!
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:10 AM   #10
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Once again, this Forum has proven invaluable. Thanks to all for the tips. I'll start with those Youtube searches.
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Old 03-25-2016, 07:42 AM   #11
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Agree. I found the issue online for my old Amana refrigerator and fixed it free. It kept going for ten years after that when my wife ditched it for a prettier Samsung. The Samsung crapped out once and left us in the lurch for 10 days and $300 waiting for a circuit board that didnt exist on the old Amana.
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Old 03-25-2016, 11:58 AM   #12
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At my old house, and old refrig I had this happen two or three times over a 25 year period...

Yes, the first time is 'where is all this water coming from!'..... I found mine when I heard the water hitting the wall when it was supposed to be filling the ice cube tray....

Once cleaned out, I did not have a problem for years... then it happened again...

So, no, it does not mean your refrig is on its last leg....
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:17 PM   #13
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Had the same problem. It's just too much humidity getting into freezer and overloading the defrost cycle.
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:20 PM   #14
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Brief update: I decided to play safe and ordered the "heat probe" for the freezer drain hole. Something like $7, free shipping. That's VERY cheap insurance - and if it doesn't resolve the problem, long term, it was only a pittance spent. Thanks again to everyone.
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Old 03-25-2016, 12:21 PM   #15
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I took my freezer apart finally to deal with water in the bottom of the refrigeration compartment due to what I believe was blocked drainage.

Even with the back taken off, I could not access the drain tube directly. What I did find was huge blocks of ice everywhere.

What I did was just power down the fridge all weekend ie 48-72 hours or so to give all visible ice a chance to melt naturally.

I then poured water over the evaporator and heard it drain to the bottom.

After reassembling, I have not had another problem yet in it is probably close to two months out.

I will also note that I put up with water in the refrig compartment for probably over 5 years before breaking down to deal with this.

Bottom line my recommendation is be sure to give time to do a full natural thaw as opposed to just mechanically removing the ice that you see.

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Old 03-25-2016, 01:15 PM   #16
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gauss, good advice. *careful* use of a hair dryer can speed it up.

The problem with a lot of drain tubes is that they tend to have a restriction somewhere to prevent outside air from backing into the freezer too much.

Combine this with some dirt, and it can clog. "dirt" you say? How do I get "dirt" in my freezer? Well, here's a typical scenario: when you open your fridge door, the air swirls with suction. This can easily carry typical dust and hairs (pet or human) into the compartments. Some of this can find its way into your tube, especially over time. Once the flow slows, it can freeze easier, and suddenly you have a feedback loop that creates blocks of ice on the coils as the defrost cycles.
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Old 03-25-2016, 02:03 PM   #17
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I had the same thing happen to my GE refrigerator . I had the drain cleaned and then it was okay for awhile . Next time it happened I purchased a new LG refrigerator which died at 4 years old . In the meantime the GE is in the garage working away with no more leaking .The GE is 18 years old.
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Old 03-25-2016, 03:30 PM   #18
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Most of the time it is the defrost timer going bad. Also, those defrost timers can be gotten with different cycles. I kept having ice buildup on the coils. I think it was because of opening the door too much letting in humidity. I went from a 12 hour cycle to a 6 hour cycle and that fixed the problem. The freezer defrosted every 6 hours instead of 12 hours. No more ice buildup.
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