Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Whirlpool Refrigerator Runs Constantly and Not Defrosting - How To Fix

Recently I discovered my refrigerator had been running constantly.  In the past it would turn on for a while and then go off for a while, so I figured something was not right.  Upon reading the manual, it mentioned that refrigerators do tend to run more in hot weather.  It is summer so I thought this might have something to do with it.  It also said that there could be a leak in the door seal or the temperature is turned up too high.  I checked the doors and they had good seals.  I also made sure the thermostat settings were turned down low.  Still the refrigerator continued to run 24/7.

Not only that, frost was starting to accumulate in the freezer.  It has a built in defroster so this is suppose to melt automatically.  I scraped off the ice hoping that would help.  It didn't.  A week later there was more frost again.  I thought there might be ice blocking the vents so I decided to turn it off and remove the back panel of the freezer to check it out.

When I took off the back panel of the freezer, the whole condenser coil was covered in ice and frost.  The vents were also blocked with ice.  I knew this was definitely a problem and likely what was causing the air not to circulate in turn causing the thermostat to not get cold enough and ultimately making the refrigerator run constantly. 

So with all my frozen foods removed, I started chipping away at the ice.  It took a long time, but after a couple hours, I got all of it removed or melted.  I reassembled the panels and put everything back in.  I started it up and waited a couple hours for it to get back to cold temperature.  Sure enough, it worked and the refrigerator went back to the schedule of going on for a while and going off for a while.

I was very relieved because the constant running refrigerator was taking its toll on my electric bill.  My bill was the highest it has been in years and I'm sure it was because of the fridge. 

Here's the thing, I don't know if it is fixed 100% yet.  There still could be a problem with it not defrosting properly.  I don't know if the coils were frozen over a long period of time or if it just happened recently.  I will have to keep an eye on it over the next few weeks to see if it stays free of ice.  If not, there is a problem with the defrost system and I will probably have to replace a part or 2.  I will update this entry if that is the case.

UPDATE 10-10-13
So I waited a couple weeks after the manual defrost and opened up the freezer panel again.  Unfortunately ice had started building up on the coils again so this meant there was indeed a defrost problem.  Since I couldn't test the parts myself, I had to have a repair specialist come by to check it out.  They said that the defrost timer was bad and needed to be replaced and also recommended replacing the defrost thermostat at the same time.  I asked if I could do it myself to save on the cost and they said yes and told me which parts I would need and how to do it.

So first I ordered the defrost timer and replaced it.  This was not too easy because even though the part is made for the refrigerator, it was a little different than the original part and had an extra wire that needed to be hooked up to the right terminal.  The instructions for this were not clear either so it took a couple tries to get it right.  I hoped this would fix the problem.  So I waited a couple weeks and checked the coils again.  Still ice!  Great, so apparently there was still something wrong.  The repair guy mentioned I should probably replace the defrost thermostat, so that is what I decided to do next. 

I ordered the part and went to install it.  This one was even more tricky because it did not plug in.  You actually have to cut the wires and then reconnect them with wire connectors.  I managed to do it and get it all put back together. Crossing my fingers, I hoped this would finally fix it.

Next morning I hear a familiar dripping noise from the fridge. It was the noise it makes when the ice is melting down to the drip pan.  I run over to it, open it up and feel the back panel.  Sure enough, heat!  It worked!  So replacing the defrost thermostat and the timer solved the problem.  I ended up saving about $130 in labor and parts cost.  I also learned a lot about refrigerators! 

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