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Tyler Z.
Tyler Z., Appliance Doc
Category: Appliance
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Experience:  9+ years being an appliance technician with factory training.
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This question refers to a Kitchenaid KSRS25K68T01 side by side

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This question refers to a Kitchenaid KSRS25K68T01 side by side refrigerator that was purchased in 1998. We do not have an ice machine installed inside the freezer.

In recent months, we found the vegatables in the crisper were alternately freezing or spoiling. This weekend, we found the freezer had warmed to point that the ice and ice cream had melted. The refrigerator was also quite warm.

We transferred the food to ice chests and began to look for a new fridge. But then, the temperature returned to normal freezing / cold levels. We now need to know if there is a reliable fix that will stop this abnormal warming / cooling behavior.

For a moment, while looking through the back bottom opening, I saw a stream of water flowing through a small hose into a plastic tray insert. Then, silence: no fan or compressor sound for many minutes. Now, 20 minutes later, the unit is humming and the fan is moving.

On our last service call, the compressor was working fine but the fan that cooled it had stopped running. Now I can see the fan running normally. It is normal to feel the air in front at the bottom. The compressor is quite hot to the touch.

A few months ago, I blasted the coils with compressed air -- cleared them but didn't help the dust situation in the rest of the house! I will get a brush today and clean the coils manually. The build up is not anywhere what it was previously.

Is the cause of the alternating warm / cold condition likely to be an electrical component going bad? If so, which one(s)? Will it pay to have it fixed? Alternatively, is there a simple mechanical fix, such as adjusting internal settings? As a last resort, we would buy a new fridge if you indicate that a reliable repair could be quite costly. What would you do?

Many thanks.
Hello, and thank you for using this service. I'll be helping you with your problem today.

So the key to figuring out what is causing the issue is to catch the unit while it's not cooling properly. WHen it's too warm, you need to see if the fans back by the compressor and inside the freezer are running. If everything is running and it's not cooling, you're looking at a possible bad compressor that is possibly overloading. Pull the refrigerator forward and unplug the refrigerator.  Remove the lower back access panel and locate your large black round compressor.  There is a small plastic box attached to the side of the compressor with several wires going into it.  This is your overload relay.  Pull the overload relay off the compressor and shake it.  If it rattles, then it needs to be replaced.  If it doesn't rattle, then you likely have a bad compressor and you'll need to call a technician in order to replace the compressor.

Now if no fans are running and the unit is silent, then the unit could be stuck in defrost or the thermostat isn't kicking anything back on like it should. This is hard to test for since the issue is sporadic, but the defrost timer doesn't normally stick sporadically---I would replace the refrigerator thermostat.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We need your advice about whether it pays to make these repairs. Are we throwing good money after bad or are they sensible? For example, can you give us a ballpark sense for the cost of replacing the thermostat -- part cost and labor time? Can you do the same for replacing the compressor? Would there be any other component needing replacement in the normal equipment lifetime? So all in, how much would we spend to give the fridge a makeover instead of replacing it? We travel on business and can't always be on hand to save food if the fridge goes bad, so the solution needs to be complete and reliable. We would greatly appreciate your advice.

A thermostat is about $70 for the part and labor and trip would be another $120 or so for a total of $190. A new overload relay if you needed one would be about $175 with parts and labor. Now the compressor is where it may not be worth fixing. A new compressor is about $550 to have replaced and it'se definitely not something you can do yourself. It's less than a new unit so if you wanted to fix the refrigerator it's not a terrible decision, but it's really expensive. I would fix anything as long as it's not the compressor myself. If it need a compressor I would not fix the unit.

As for guessing which other parts may fail.. that's impossible to say. But usually refrigerators last about 10-12 years without problem and after that, every 3-5 years you may have a small or large failure.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

If the relay is OK, and the inside temperatures are as expected (at least for now), can we judge the compressor as probably good and focus on the thermostat? Or will we need a tech on site to determine which is bad? That's the last question...many thanks.

No, you can not judge the compressor as good. But you really need to know if everything is running even though the unit is warming up or if everything is completely silent. That will give you an idea of whether you have a compressor issue or a thermostat issue.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Confirming: Silence = thermostat issue; sound + no cooling = compressor issue? Correct?