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Freezer cold, fridge warm...help!
Old 03-25-2010, 08:08 AM   #1
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Freezer cold, fridge warm...help!

I noticed that my son messed with the temp settings on our 7 year old frigidaire fridge/freezer (not a side by side). turned them both all the way down


prior to this, some of the contents of our fridge would freeze


now, with the settings back how they were, everything is warm in the fridge...there is some airflow from up top....but everythings staying warm

i did clean an ENORMOUS amount of dog hair from the external oils on the backside of the fridge...i mean a LOT. if that was the issue however, why would it not have been a gradual progression?


SO i did some research and decided to take off the back panel of the inside of my freezer. The bottom half of the cooling coils are frosted up, as are some lines that run from it up to the top of the fridge.

Am I to assume the heating/auto defrost element is not working? Or that turning everything down to low enabled things to frost up from condensation as the external coils werent working well to dispell heat?

I have no frigging clue about this stuff but dont want to pony up for a repair guy just yet


Jason
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:24 AM   #2
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Quote:
Or that turning everything down to low enabled things to frost up from condensation as the external coils werent working well to dispell heat?
That would be my first guess. I'd get it all defrosted, then try getting it started on more moderate settings.

I would also get a bunch of 'stuff' to the fridge section, like cold pop, and/or put some bags of ice (well sealed so they don't add more moisture and create more condensation/freeze problems). A fridge has to run a lot to get things cold, not so much to maintain things cold.

In fact, that might be the problem right there. It really does take a long time for temperatures to stabilize. If you put warm or room temp stuff in the fridge part, it can take a long time for that to get cold (most seem to just move air from the freezer, I think).

Also, by 'frosted up', do you mean just a little cover of frost, or a build up of solid ice? A little frosting up may be normal, and is removed when it runs the defrost cycle.

-ERD50
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:31 AM   #3
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Well if fiddling with the settings doesn't fix it...

All of the cooling coils are in the freezer part. The only way that the fridge part gets any cold air is by circulation from the freezer. There is a flow control to regulate that which evidently your son played with. The passage can freeze over if the "frost-free" heating coil does not periodically cycle on. if thats' the case then it's either the heating coil itself or the circuit that tells it to go on.

If playing with the settings doesn't fix it then perhaps some professional (appliance repair) help may be in order.

Per the dog hair. If the freezer is freezing properly then it is working just fine but perhaps harder than it need be. Cleaning the dog hair off will make it more efficient but will not fix the problem you described.
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:33 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
That would be my first guess. I'd get it all defrosted, then try getting it started on more moderate settings.

I would also get a bunch of 'stuff' to the fridge section, like cold pop, and/or put some bags of ice (well sealed so they don't add more moisture and create more condensation/freeze problems). A fridge has to run a lot to get things cold, not so much to maintain things cold.

In fact, that might be the problem right there. It really does take a long time for temperatures to stabilize. If you put warm or room temp stuff in the fridge part, it can take a long time for that to get cold (most seem to just move air from the freezer, I think).

Also, by 'frosted up', do you mean just a little cover of frost, or a build up of solid ice? A little frosting up may be normal, and is removed when it runs the defrost cycle.

-ERD50
there's a good 1/2 inch of frost on the lines and the bottom 1/3 of the coils are packed. its frosty...not icy

i'm manually defrosting it right now....and might go grab a block of dry ice ....
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Old 03-25-2010, 08:38 AM   #5
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If you have a problem with the frost-free heating element coming on then by manually defrosting to clear out the air passage into the fridge part it will only be a temporary reprieve.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
If you have a problem with the frost-free heating element coming on then by manually defrosting to clear out the air passage into the fridge part it will only be a temporary reprieve.

well that's why i figure i will clean/defrost all then see what happens. i'm not sure if what i saw frost wise was normal....and maybe only 1/2 hour from kicking into defrost mode or not. i cant find the defrost timer to test it so i'm gonna try this and keep a close eye


i find it odd all was well til my kid messed with the controls....
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:05 AM   #7
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i cant find the defrost timer to test it so i'm gonna try this and keep a close eye
Typically they (the frost-free coil and electronics) reside behind a plastic panel in the freezer compartment. The panel is typically on the roof of the compartment or on the very back of the compartment.
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Old 03-25-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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here are some web links to help you understand how the freezer/refridgerator works and how to identify and fix problems:

How a frost free defrost cycle works and the main parts

refrigerator problems and solutions, not cold enough, frost free repair information
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:41 AM   #9
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Sounds like you need the Samurai Appliance Repair Man:
GE Fridge – Cold Freezer with warm refrigerator – The Kitchen – Appliance Repair Hut – The Samurai Appliance Repair Forums | Refrigerator Repair | Fixitnow.com Samurai Appliance Repair Man
What to Check When Your Refrigerator or Freezer is Warming Up; refrigerator warm; refrigerator repair | Refrigerator Repair | Fixitnow.com Samurai Appliance Repair Man

Those links are for troubleshooting generic fridge components. More specific help (and parts, if necessary) can be found by searching for your fridge's brand & model.

If all the parts appear to be working then it may all sort itself out within the next 24 hours. Unless your kid gets within arm's reach again...
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Old 03-25-2010, 11:46 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by MasterBlaster View Post
Typically they (the frost-free coil and electronics) reside behind a plastic panel in the freezer compartment. The panel is typically on the roof of the compartment or on the very back of the compartment.

yeah i got to the stuff by removing the panel...but there is nothing other than the coil, refrigerant lien, and a very small roundish black box with wires extending to what i assume is the heating coil. i imagine this is a temp or timer control device, but doesnt have a test capability like i read online

currently fridge temp is dropping ...was at 59...now at 49
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:06 PM   #11
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currently fridge temp is dropping ...was at 59...now at 49
These are the best troubleshooting/repair situations-- the ones where you just have to get another frosty beverage every hour or so to check on progress...
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Old 03-25-2010, 05:23 PM   #12
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These are the best troubleshooting/repair situations-- the ones where you just have to get another frosty beverage every hour or so to check on progress...
indeed hahaha


i'm now at 46 and have been around there for a good 2-3 hours...hoping to wake up in the a.m to 38ish!
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Old 03-25-2010, 06:06 PM   #13
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You never get an answer until at least the 48'th beverage.

I know little about refrigerators but this may apply. Out central A/C used to get frost on the coil in the furnace now and again, then it would thaw and dump water all over the furnace room floor. Finally a HVAC tech told DW two things:
  • Limit the difference between outdoor and indoor temp. Should be easy with a fridge.
  • Don't let the heat build up and then try to cool (in this case turn A/C off until you can't stand it and try to bring it down to 65). Pick a temp and stay there. This may be your problem and cooling the fridge may help.

OTOH, I may have read all the other posts wrong and this is just more unworkable advice.
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Old 03-26-2010, 07:04 PM   #14
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replace the defrost timer and you'll be good to go! trust me, long time fixing these things.
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Old 03-26-2010, 09:13 PM   #15
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What Ronin said. That assumes that the little fan that moves cold air down to the frig is working - comes on and blows, fan not blocked or freewheeling. A hair dryer will melt the frost or ice of fast - don't deform the plastic freezer walls. I have to admit, i normally will replace a fan blade or motor but usually get ticked and swap in a new $369 Costco 14.4 cu ft frig if that fix doesn't do it.
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Old 03-27-2010, 05:20 PM   #16
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temps hovering at 36 since the dethaw...frost situation looks okay....


i think it was a combo of my kid turning it to the warmest setting, and the massive amount of fido's hair on the external coils...


a few more weeks should tell the full tale...
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Old 03-28-2010, 11:04 AM   #17
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It's cold because you defrosted it. If the timer is bad, it will gradually build up frost again and start warming up. You'll need to completely defrost it and replace the timer at that time. Settings and hair/lint/dust on the condenser coils won't be the cause of your problem. Your best bet is to change the timer before you lose any more food or sleep over this minor problem. It's a cheap, easy fix.
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Old 03-28-2010, 09:38 PM   #18
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It's cold because you defrosted it. If the timer is bad, it will gradually build up frost again and start warming up. You'll need to completely defrost it and replace the timer at that time. Settings and hair/lint/dust on the condenser coils won't be the cause of your problem. Your best bet is to change the timer before you lose any more food or sleep over this minor problem. It's a cheap, easy fix.

why then has everything been good until he turned it down? just a coincidence?

I havent been able to find where the timer is on this particular fridge...but im keeping an eye on the thermometer to see how it goes...
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Old 03-29-2010, 05:16 PM   #19
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I think it's a coincidence, it takes a while for the ice to build up depending on humidity but maybe you've gotten lucky. If you need to get at it, the timer is likely down on the rear bottom somewhere, near the compressor, or on the bottom in the front behind the kick plate. It's about the size of a pack of cards only a little thicker. There'll probably be a couple of screw holding it in place and you might just see a small round stem sticking out 1/4" from a hole in the sheet metal for manually advancing it. Sometimes they are under a housing just slapped onto the back of the fridge, but you would have prob. seen that by now.
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Old 03-29-2010, 08:06 PM   #20
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I think it's a coincidence, it takes a while for the ice to build up depending on humidity but maybe you've gotten lucky. If you need to get at it, the timer is likely down on the rear bottom somewhere, near the compressor, or on the bottom in the front behind the kick plate. It's about the size of a pack of cards only a little thicker. There'll probably be a couple of screw holding it in place and you might just see a small round stem sticking out 1/4" from a hole in the sheet metal for manually advancing it. Sometimes they are under a housing just slapped onto the back of the fridge, but you would have prob. seen that by now.

i'll have to do some more searching! i was honestly looking more in the freezer behind the panel than down low
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