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The Home Smithy
The Home Smithy, Home Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 9486
Experience:  30 years repairing appliances
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Freezer turns on and off. Fridge still doesnt get any cooler

Customer Question

Freezer turns on and off. Fridge still doesn't get any cooler than 60 degrees. Every thing is spoiling.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
Hi ya dharrington,

Refrigerator or freezer that is cooling, but cooling poorly, may have a problem in one of several areas:
Evaporator coils
Condenser
Poor cooling is often the result of a heavy frost build-up on the evaporator coils or a condenser that is clogged with dust, lint, and dirt.

Evaporator coils
Poor cooling is often the result of a heavy frost build-up on the evaporator coils. You can't see these coils without removing a panel on the inside of your freezer. A sure sign that there is a build-up is the presence of any frost or ice build-up on the inside walls, floor, or ceiling of the freezer. Such a frost build-up usually indicates a problem in the self-defrosting system or damaged door gaskets.
The refrigerator is supposed to self-defrost approximately four times in every 24 hour period. If one of the components in the self-defrosting system fails, the refrigerator continues to try to cool. Eventually, though, so much frost builds up on the evaporator coils that the circulating fan can't draw air over the coils. There may still be a small amount of cooling because the coils are icy, but with no air flow over the coils, cooling in the refrigerator compartment is quite limited.
Here's an inexpensive, though inconvenient, way to determine if the problem is with the self-defrosting system. Remove all of the perishable food from the refrigerator and freezer, turn the thermostat in the refrigerator to Off, and leave the doors open for 24 to 48 hours. (Be sure to have several towels ready in case the melting frost and ice causes the drip pan to overflow). This allows the refrigerator to defrost "manually." When the frost and ice build-up has completely melted away, turn the thermostat back to a normal setting. If the refrigerator then cools properly, it indicates a problem with one of three components in the self-defrosting system:
The defrost timer
The defrost thermostat (also called the bi-metal switch)
The defrost heater
If it still does not cool properly, there may be a problem with the refrigerant level or the compressor. You may need to consult with a qualified appliance repair technician to further diagnose the problem
Condenser
Self-defrosting refrigerators all have a set of coils and a cooling fan, usually under the refrigerator, that need to be cleaned regularly. If these coils get coated with dust, dirt or lint, the refrigerator may not cool properly. The coils may appear to be a thin, black, wide radiator-like device behind the lower kick-panel. To clean them, disconnect the refrigerator from the power source, use a refrigerator condenser brush and your vacuum cleaner to clean the coils of any lint, pet hair, etc. You may not be able to get to all of the condenser from the front, it may be necessary to clean the remainder of the condenser from the rear of the refrigerator.


Edited by I.can on 10/11/2009 at 1:27 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The bottom of the fridge is dry. I turned down the freezer. I've not givien up yet.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
did you check the coils behind the front grill down below if they are covered with dust and lint?
You can get a refrigerater brush for $5.00 at the hardware store or Home Depot to clean the coils off. This problem will cause you fridge and freezer to be warm.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I looked under there.There's a cover hanging down in the way Would a tooth brush work if I could clean between ther cover and what is over it.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Is the large bulb for the freon? The tube is only cold 6 inches down. Does the bulb need more freon.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
No,a tooth brush can not reach all the way inside the distance of 2 1/2 feet to the end of the coil.
They make a special brush, called a refrigerater brush that's long and skinny to get in there and pull out the dust and lint.
You need this and do it right.
Yes you may also need to have the freon level checked and have some added if there is a leak too. Freon can only be bought or handled by a certified tech by law.
You can not get the freon otherwise.
That's because it must be handled properly due to the fact it damages the earths ozone level in the atmosphere.
You will end up needing a hands on tech to do this, if you find the cleaning of the coil does not remedy the problem.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
nly cold half way up. I think I need to recharge it? Is that correct.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
I think this is correct.
You will need a certified tech to do the freon.
You have it now.

Edited by I.can on 10/11/2009 at 2:24 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
So how does that help me. Were do I go for that? What will that cost? I'm in southwest Michigan do you have any suggests? I thought you could help me? Is that bulb suppose to be hot when it"s recharged? I'm sorry I'm a novice.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
Customer

You situation now can only be repaired by a hands on tech .
The thing you need at this point , since we established that you may need freon is to find a refrigeration guy in your are and have him hook up his meters to the freon connection and then he will determine how much freon needs to be replaced and fill id for you.
Give me you zip code and i'll send you info on some one in your are to call.

Edited by I.can on 10/11/2009 at 2:33 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
49004
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.


Best Appliance service
10029 Wildwood Ct
Richland, MI 49083-8532
(269)(NNN) NNN-NNNN/span>‎


Smitty's Refrigeration
3624 E Shore Dr.
Portage, MI 49002(NNN) NNN-NNNNbr />
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
OK I'll try Smitty.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
That's the guy I would use. You will be fine now. Good luck.
And God Bless.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I lost the phone number . One more time and you can go. I'll write it down this time.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
After moving the fridge of the ground and moving the foam toward the front the tube is now cold. I'll get back with you later. Good night. Sorry about the inconvience.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Freon tube cold still only 50 degrees

 

Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
50 is not cold enough.


Best Appliance service
10029 Wildwood Ct
Richland, MI 49083-8532
(269)(NNN) NNN-NNNN/span>‎


Smitty's Refrigeration
3624 E Shore Dr.
Portage, MI 49002(NNN) NNN-NNNNedited>I.can40097.925115081
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I 'm defrosting the fridge now. A little water out of the freezer ran to the bottom off the fridge and very little under the fridge itself. I will let it go for while longer. Talk to you later.
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
Great
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
What should the min. temp acceivable be under normal operation, 34 or 40 degrees?
Expert:  I.can replied 4 years ago.
You want your refrigerator to be cold, but not so cold that it freezes things. The preferred temperature is somewhere between 35 and 38 degrees F (1.7 to 3.3 degrees C). Anything higher and foods will spoil too quickly (it also presents food poisoning problems
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I thought I'd better wait . I still only got 40 degrees . I did recharge my flash light and found much more dirt on the fan blade. No brush so air compressor made a big mesh. Swiffer jet took care of it. Still had water in the trough. Propably from the manual defrost. Thanks again. I'll be in touch. Come on 38 degrees.
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.
HiCustomer
If you are getting a lot of water coming out of the unit into the catch pan below you have a defrost system problem.
Use a hair dryer to help melt the condensate from the evaporater coil. The evap. is located at the back of the freezer behind the cover. Direct the warm air into the louvers or vents and this will help melt off the frozen condensate. You will need to do this for about 1/2 hour.
Please unplug the unit while you do this.
Once you get the evap. coils defrosted good the unit should operate normally untill once again the coil ices over.
To resolve this once and for all you will need a tech to come have a look at your unit.
I am sorry but the testing that needs to be done is not a job for a novice DIYer.
Best, THS
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
The fridge is down to 30 degrees I had to turn it down to 5 from 7. I suppose I should concider paying you. If you didn't keep telling me I need a service technician I wouldn't be so tight with my money. I've heard so many stories that the defrost method with work for a day or two and the prblem will reoccur. How can I be sure I don't need to call somebody and what do I ask for a refrigerator brush or a defrost unit.
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.

Ok, your unit working properly after you have defrosted it is the big clue here. The refrigerator is cooled by a passage between it, and the freezer that a fan blows the cool air through to cool the fridge. If the evap coil is plugged with ice because the defrost system is not doing its job then it blocks the path of the cool air. If the fan can not blow the cool air into the refrigerator section it causes the refer side to warm up. Once you defrost the ice out of the evap coil it unblocks the cool airs path and the fan can once again blow cool air into the refer.

You really should have a tech look at this for you. The testing is pretty technical and it just is not practicle to try and teach you the theory you need to know to properly perform the diagnostics.

FYI the defrost method will work for as long as it takes for the coil to ice over again. This is dependant on th emoisture content of your home, how many times you open the unit etc.

 

Best, THS



Edited by The Home Smithy on 10/13/2009 at 12:49 AM EST
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.

FYI I edited my last post as you weere reading it .

Also the units refrigerant is not low. If it were the unit would exibit other symptoms.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I'm sorry, I hear they want to run a bill up to were you can buy one at Lowes for 400.00 dollars. I'll keep my eye on it for awhile before I call Smitty. I"m sure I'll need a new one soon.
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.

The repair will not cost you more than about $150.00, if even that. It is not an expensive repair. The possible parts are less than $50.00. Not sure what they charge for labor but it cant be more than $80.00 for the service call.

If your Smitty is anything like This Smitty (me) the repair will probably be less than $100.00.

You can always take the hair dryer to it if it ices up again. I know its a pain in the back side but it will keep your food from spoiling till you decide on a new unit or a repair.

Best, THS

FYI I highly recommend that you avoid Lowes, Sears, nd Home Depot. Quality is sub standard!

 



Edited by The Home Smithy on 10/13/2009 at 2:04 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The parts are what 'a defrost unit' I can order that if needed. I only need someone to refill the refrigerant coolant right? Still 30 degrees. I just need to check behind the service panel to make sure that isn't filling up, right? No problem with a pain in the behind, all I'm doing is vacumning my leaves anyway. Michigan unemployed autoworker. oh by the way your doing a good job. I don't know why you'd have the job if you didn't thou.

 

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the compliment.

There is nothing wrong with your refrigerant (coolant) level.

The only problerm you have is with your defrost system. There are multiple componants that comprise the defrost system. Timer, heating element, bimetal switches etc. One of the componants has failed and the system is not defrosting. That is what needs to be tested.

In order that someone be able to properly test the system they first must understand refrigeration theory, electrical theory, and the mechanical aspects of working on your unit. This is something that is beyond the scope of this venue. It requires hands on classroom teaching and cant be done over the internet.

As for being unemployed that is how I ended up here. Im a carpenter/foreman by trade and Im sure you know why Im outa work. Thank goodness for the appliance repairs I do here localy and JA. Id be on the streets without them.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
You ever try HVAC maintenance. Pletty of jobs in appartments complexes. I should know I been filling 3 apps a week for 36 weeks. No reason to reply to this beside my job I lost my companion in the same period.
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.


Sorry to hear about that. Life can slap you pretty hard when it feels like it. At one point in mine I went from prosperous small business owner to the streets in less that 4 weeks. Between a flood (my whole shop is in SF bay somewhere now) and one of those "her" that you never discuss while drinking it was fast and hard.

But I survived 3 years on the streets. We had a saying "You learn to live with, "without".

Rock soup most nights, but everyone got a hot lunch @ Salvation Army 6 days per. Sundays someone always had a pot of beans cooking.

As for HVAC maintenance you need a refrigerant cert. I prefer not to. Too much BS to deal with the EPA and the gas recycleing companies that want to charge you an arm and a leg to take the gas to be recycled (and they make a killing selling it back to you too!). Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX thanks.

Besides I live in a small community and there just isnt that much call for it. Im lucky to get a few appliance repairs a week. The odd home repair and JA keeps us with a roof over our heads.

Life goes on. And so do I.Smile

 

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

up to 32 at least the food won't freeze. Sorry about the slap in the face . At least I can retire after 21 years any time I need the money.

Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.

Great. Sounds like the unit is setteling down nicely. Let me know if you need anything else

Best, THS

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I remember water running down on the floor from the freezer underneath the crisper at one time. I just talked to my sister and she is still having that problem. I stopped that with a folded up paper towel. When I defrosted it manually I still had that problem. Why is that what not going into the bootom trough. The small space between the freezer and the fridge too?
Expert:  The Home Smithy replied 4 years ago.
The drain tube is plugged. You can access (remove the back panel at rear of freezer), and can use a turkey baster to flush it out. Once clear pour some bleach down it too.
The Home Smithy, Home Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 9486
Experience: 30 years repairing appliances
The Home Smithy and 3 other Appliance Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I see you got paid. I'll have to go get me a new turkey baster. The access panel must be inside the freezer compartment then. The neighbor has a fridge brush. I'll run that under the front too.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I asked if the access panel was on the inside of the freezer to clean the drain tube and I was asked to pay another 28 Dollars come on. Why does this got to be a money issue?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Alright the access panel is plugged up again. I asked you how to open that up and I got no answer. You may not get paid if someone doesn't answer this.

 

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