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Barry G.
Barry G., Home Appliance Technician
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 6823
Experience:  27 years in home appliance repair. EPA refrigerant transition and recovery certification type I & II.
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How can I tell if my refrigerator is dying There seems to

Resolved Question:

How can I tell if my refrigerator is dying? There seems to be an odor and we have been throwing food away thinking it is rotten..but I am beginning to think it is more than that. And is it harmful that we have been eating from it for three days with these concerns?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.

Hello name is XXXXX XXXXX I will be assisting you.

Please look in the fresh food section up near the top for model/serial sticker and post the number. I need the model to be able to see the diagrams.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Model ET18MKXSN03

Serial E73613738

Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
Thank you,

In the freezer section look at the rear wall, is there frost on that wall and is the fan inside operating?

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
No frost at all and the fan is operating.
Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
I understand. There are 2 more parts to check.

Around behind the unit down low is a panel held by 1/4 inch screws. Remove that panel and touch the compressor. Is it hot, warm, or cold and is it operating? There is also a fan back there it should be operating as well.

Let me know,
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
OK..Give me a minute; I just got the thing out from the wall! Be right back.
Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
Please take your time. I will be here at least 12 hours more.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

ha this storm, we're likely to be here for a long time too!


If the compressor is a round item that looks sort of like a motor, I found it and it's warm. There does not seem to be any fan going at the moment and the fan in the freezer that was going is now off...I suppose that could be normal, however.

Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
If the compressor is operating all the fans should be operating as well inside and outside. If you find that to be one is not you have found the area of the problem.

So its storming there, I heard it was coming but it has not reached Tennessee yet.

Edited by Barry G on 2/1/2011 at 12:39 PM EST
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

OK. The fan in the freezer is now on; the fan in the regular area is on now. I have heard these things go on and off a lot so I THINK that is normal..but maybe I'm jaded from the years of living with this thing...


It really has been a good appliance and I know its life is tenuous at best but kinda concerned about eating from it....please advise.


Yes, MA will get whallopped yet again.

Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
If the temperature in the refrigerator is above 40 degrees it is not safe to eat anything in there. It must be below 40 degrees.

The fan should not have gone off and come back on that fast. Sorry to have misled you, yours has no fan in the rear, you have the coils up the back of the unit.

Remove the rear inside freezer panel and see if there is a loose connection to the fan. Be careful, if the compressor is operating there will be electrictiy present. At least it is supposed to be present.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Can I let my husband do that when he gets home in a few hours? I am concerned about the electricity component...


how about I go to work and I'll tell him to look at this when he gets home at noon and he can's 8:00 here now.


We have been moving this thing around a lot lately since we are remodeling our kitchen so a loose wire could certainly be a possibility.


Thanks mightily about the 40 degree thing. I can check that out myself now.

Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
That would be fine. I fully understand. Its always good to be safe. I am on eastern time as well.

Save this page to your favorites so he can return right here and I will be sure I am available at that time.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
ok done. I assume you will leave a space for him to contact you? You have been a pleasure to work with.
Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX nice meeting you as well.

Yes I will be sure to have everyone I am working with cleared and finished by noon.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.

HI Barry,


When I looked at the refrigerator, I noticed that the refirgerator temperature control was set on 2, so I moved it up to 5 and have waited for an hour. During that time the temperature went from 43 down to 41 and seems to be hold up there. Both fans (ref and freezer) are working, therefore I did not take off the back of the freezer compartment. I did have to tap the cover at the temperature control to get the system to start. Early on I turned the control back down to 1 and it shut off. When I turned it up it did not come back on, so instead of hitting it with hammer, I'm a carpenter, i just tapped the housing with my hand and the fans came on.


Let me know what you think,



Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
Hello Dennis, Give me just a minute to look at the drawings again. I have a really good idea whats going on I just need to verify where the parts are in your unit. Thats good info thanks,,,I will not be long.

Expert:  Barry G. replied 6 years ago.
Dennis there are 2 parts in your control panel in the refrigerator that can cause that exact same symptom. The timer (green arrow) and the cold control (red arrow) What you can do is take the panel down and a lot of times if its the timer you can twist the connector and cause the unit to go off. If you find this is the case the part number for the timer is 482493. That is a factory number you can shop anywhere with. I would not buy this part online by HERE is one link. If you look at that you can see it is a subsitute. What you need to do is take it in hand to an appliance parts shop and get it matched up. You do not want a timer like the one on the website, they are a real pain to install.

The other is the cold control. What you may have to do is catch the unit shutting off and lightly tap the part seperately to Identify which is the defective part. As I mentioned above since it is intermittant you are not going to be able to use traditional methods to troubleshoot. The part number for the cold control is(NNN) NNN-NNNN that also is a factory number you can shop anywhere with. It is ONLINE HERE

It will be one of those 2 parts. Please remember electricity will be present in that panel at all times as long as the unit is plugged in. Even when its off.


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Customer: replied 6 years ago.

Barry: Your answers are plausible and we would try them if needed; however once we saw that the control dial had been changed to 2 (likely in all the moving around we've been doing with the kitchen renovation) and XXXXX XXXXXed it to 5, the temp has maintained 34/36 degrees all night.


We threw out all the perishables last night and with it a real culprit, raw chicken, which, when subjected to the high temps did what all good dead chickens do, spoiled. It was the source of the bad smell and after a nice washdown, the refrigerator seems in good condition and will make it for another month while we get ready for the new one.


Your help was great; it got us to thinking and looking and seeing things we had not seen. Thanks for hanging in there with us. I do think we will be OK now.