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Tyler Z.
Tyler Z., Appliance Doc
Category: Appliance
Satisfied Customers: 81103
Experience:  9+ years being an appliance technician with factory training.
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Thanks for your help on the dishwasher. I took it apart following

This answer was rated:

Thanks for your help on the dishwasher. I took it apart following the video, cleaned it out thoroughly, and now it works fine!

Problem Number two:

I have a 17-year old Kenmore refrigerator with a bottom freezer.
Model 596 77275790.
Over the past 90 days, the temperature has been creeping up, and for the last 6 weeks it has not kept ice cream solid in the freezer.
Now, on the coldest setting, the temperature in the top over night is over 60 degrees, and the freezer does not get below 30 degrees.

I have vacuumed the coils from the from and the back. Cold air blows out of the vent openings in both the top and bottom. There is a little frost buildup in the freezer, but the opening seems free. The circulation fan is blowing steadily.

I need you to help me determine if it's worth fixing again. We replaced the defrost unit for $250 about 9 years ago.
Hello, and thank you for using this service. I'll be helping you with your problem today.

So the first thing you'll need to do is pull everything out of the freezer and remove the back panel inside the freezer to look at the silver coils. Are you able to do this? If so, then what does the frost on the coils look like? Are the coils packed with frost? Lightly frosted from top to bottom? Some frost on top but not on bottom? etc..

Also, is the fan above the silver coils running?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK. This will take a few minutes.


Of course. Just let me know when you're ready.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

OK Got the panel off. All the coils are blocked with frost top to bottom.

OK so that's a problem. It means that your freezer isn't defrosting anymore which prevents the air from circulating properly up to the refrigerator and around the freezer. Now there is a 1" round device clipped onto the top of the silver coils with 2 wires going to it. This is your defrost thermostat. Check continuity through this part and if it doesn't have continuity, you need to replace it. In the mean time, use a hair dryer and thaw all the frost out. The unit will work for about a week or so until you get the replacement part.

CLICK HERE for defrost thermostat

Please remember to rate my service before you leave. If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. You can continue asking follow-up questions until you have all the information you need even after rating my service. Thank you!

Tyler Z. and other Appliance Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We're doin' great. Thank you. So I have the thermostat out. I'm gonna have to go over to a friend's tomorrow to have him check it out for continuity.

In the meantime, once all the frost is gone, can I just put back in the panel and start 'er up again? What do I do with the wires that went to the thermostat?

So this should work a few days while I get a new thermostat if this one is bad, right?


It was completely buried in frost, and just kind-of lyin' there. Isn't it supposed to be clipped onto some tubing or something? Just so I know when I put the new one back in.


I'll look at your response, then get back to you tomorrow.


Thanks again!





You can just tape off the wires that went to the thermostat with electrical tape. But you go to test for continuity, stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes because you need to test it when it's cold.

As for the thermostat, yes it should be clipped onto the top of the evaporator coil where all that frost is located (on the copper tube).

Other than that, it should be good for a few days while you wait for the thermostat.

Tyler Z. and other Appliance Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, the refrigerator I asked about 3 weeks ago worked until now, but then it stopped cooling altogether. No frost this time, but no cooling at all. Both circulation fans run and turn on and off cyclically.
How can I test if its just the mechanism that turns the compressor and pump on and off, or the whole compression system?

Can you explain what you mean by "Both circulation fans run and turn on and off cyclically. "?

Also, if you pull the refrigerator forward and touch the compressor---is it hot, warm, or room temperature?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well, the two fans, one in the freezer, and the other one in the back of the fridge, both turn on for a while, then turn off for a while, then turn back on.

The compressor is room temperature, so is not turning on at all. But remember the fridge has not been cooling for several days. So if the compressor got hot and blew up, it has cooled down since. I don't know .. . it just stopped cooling all of a sudden after working fine for about three weeks after I changed the defrost thermostat.

How long would you say that the fans are turning on for? 2 minutes? 5 hours? etc..
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Seems like a couple of hours on. Certainly not just a few minutes. I'll start timing it.

Hmm, it's OK. So most likely the fan is just turning off due to the defrost timer telling it to g into defrost. So if the compressor is room temperature, it sounds like you have a problem with the compressor itself this time. Test power at the compressor and make sure you're getting 120 volts. If so, then you have a bad compressor or that plastic device attached to the side of the compressor called the "overload relay" has failed and isn't allowing the compressor to get power. You'll want to replace the overload relay if you're definitely getting 120 volts to the unit and see what happens. If the overload relay doesn't fix the issue, you'd need a new compressor which is about $550 to have replaced so it's not a cheap repair at all and not something you can do yourself.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That's what I feared. Is it worth buying a relay and installing it, just to find out I have to buy a new fridge anyway?


The fridge is pretty old.

I would think so since you can do the work yourself. The relay is only $50 or so and a new compressor is a lot more expensive of course.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How do I check if the compressor is getting 120 volts?

You would need a multimeter. Just test each wire going to the compressor compared to ground and if one of them has 120 volts, then it's getting power.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I'll check this out. Get back to you tomorrow. Thanks.

ok sounds good. Just let me know if there is anything else I can help with.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK I'm back. I've checked voltage on what I think is the overload switch/relay.

It's a plastic thing about 1" cubed with several wires connected mounted on the left side of the compressor. I had to pull a moulded plastic cover off of it to uncover the connections. One wire on the top is the black power cable. That cable also goes over to the circulation fan (which works fine).


Then below the place power cord connection, there are two wires. The one on the right is yellow, the one on the left is green with a stripe . . . the green wire is connected to the chassis, so it's a ground.



Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have made the following tests:

Connect positive multi-meter lead to terminal on switch with black power wire and I get voltage (don't know how to read the multimeter, but I can tell there is AC 100 or 200 somethings on the dial.

Connect the multimeter to the terminal on the left, and I get the same reading.

Connect the multimeter to the connection on the right, with the yellow wires, and I get NO VOLTAGE.

Circulation fan is running all the time.

What does this tell me?

So that is testing for voltage the way you tested. You need to test for continuity or resistance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

How do I do that? What is continuity?


You need to do the same test only setting the multimeter to resistance or "ohms".
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I need to put a battery in the multimeter to do this test, right?


My multimeter has all the scales together. If I follow the reading I talked about earlier, the resistance scale read about 10,000 ohms. But there was no battery in the device.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK I will check for continuity and get back to you.

Ok sounds good. But yes, you need a battery in the multimeter to test continuity unlike voltage.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. I'm back. I am getting ready to check for continuity on the overload relay.

I have a terminal on the top of the relay with a black power wire connected.

Below that I have a terminal with a green striped on the left. The connection goes to the fridge chassis.

On the right I have the third terminal on the right with yellow wires attached.

Battery is installed in the multimeter.

Now, some questions:

Do I plug in the refrigerator?

Do I connect one multimeter lead to one of the terminals above and the other lead to the chassis, or do I connect the other lead to another terminal?

Lets call them green, black and yellow terminals on the relay, and the + and - leads on the multimeter.

Please ell me how to proceed so I can perform the test.


You can't test the relay. There is no way to test and know 100% which part is bad. But you can test the compressor and see how that comes out. If it tests good, then it really tells you nothing. If it tests bad then you definitely need a new compressor.

To test the compressor, remove the overload relay from the compressor and you'll see 3 prongs. Test any combination of the prongs for resistance. + on one prong and - on another prong. Write down that resistance. Do this for all 3 possibilities. The lower 2 resistances should add up to the highest combination. If not, then you need a new compressor. If so, then replace the overload relay because you can't do any more testing and you either have a bad compressor or a bad overload relay.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So do I plug the refrigerator in to power for this test?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks. just a minute while a test the three terminals.

ok gook luck.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. So I finally got the multimeter to give readings.

Between some terminal connections I get a reading of 1900 ohms


Between others . . . no reading.


From each terminal to the other two, one reading is 1900 ohms and the other is no reading.

Yeah, unfortunately I have no way of knowing if you testing it properly or not. I would probably just replace the overload relay since it's much cheaper than a compressor and it will give you the same answer as to whether the relay was the problem or you need a new compressor.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So is my 1900 ohm reading not logical?


not even close. It should be below 20 ohms.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Well maybe I'm reading the scale wrong. Maybe it's 19 ohms. I just moved the decimal because the words "k ohms" is above the scale.

I don't think so, but it still doesn't make sense. I'm sorry but it really sounds like you don't know how to use the meter and without being there and seeing the meter you're using, I couldn't say what is going wrong with your tests.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. Now for parts . . . there are two parts that stick on to the 3 prongs on the compressor.

One of them fits on to two of the prongs.

The other fits on to the other prong.


Do I need both parts?

Yes, those are your "overload" and "relay". Below is a link to the start device kit with both the overload and relay you'd need for your model.


Customer: replied 3 years ago.

That doesn't look anything like what I am looking at here.


I got part numbers from SEARS.


These are more like it on Amazon:

Whirlpool Part Number 10097202: START-DEV

(this looks like one of the parts I took off)

the relay says

Whirlpool Part Number 4344040: OVERLOAD

no picture.

What about the cap that goes over the whole schebang? should I replace that too?

I'm not sure what to say. The overload relay that I looked up was what came up when looking up your part number. You can call and they can look up the part for you to be certain.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Shouldn't I go with replacement parts that look like the parts I am replacing?



You should go with whatever part your model number calls far.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


I'll try to figure this out with Sears.



ok good luck.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So tell me this. On a "fixya" site it says that I should be getting readings of zero ohms when I test between the three terminals on the compressor. Let's assume I have lucked into setting my multimeter right, and my reading of 19 ohms is correct. What does this mean . . . the compressor is good or bad?


Or is it so illogical that my testing procedure must be suspect?

Please help me think this through.

It would mean your compressor is bad. But I've never got reading like that before so I highly doublt you're making a valid test.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is there any definitive way to tell if the compressor is bad?

no there is not.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

OK. Thanks for sticking me for all my questions.

I'll but the $50 worth of parts and see if it fixes the problem.

Couldn't live with myself if I didn't TRYto save $1200 for a new fridge, right?


Thanks again I will give you a positive review.


Signing off.



Not a problem, I do wish you the best and hopefully you just need the overload relay because the cost of a new compressor is about $550 and a new refrigerator is $1000+ as you said.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Tyler

I'm back. I have installed the relay and overload switch. Plugged in refrig.

Fans whirl just fine, but no compressor engagement after 20 min.

What's next?


The compressor itself would need to be replaced unfortunately so it's not a cheap fix at all as I mentioned before.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Just as I feared. Thanks for your help.


signing off.



Alright, I'm really sorry about the bad news.