Introduction: Repairing the Girlfriend's Mini Fridge/Freezer
My girlfriend owns the same mini fridge/freezer I own. Except only her freezer gets cold and hers is a brand name and mine is a lesser known brand.
Funny, all of the part numbers are identical -- except for the price number. I paid at least $90 less than her and have had no problems with mine in the two years I've owned it. Her fridge stopped getting cold after about a year of use. If she had this problem, someone else might too.
Notice the gray tubing. I believe that is a heating element as part of the "auto defrost" feature. Well, according to the owner's manual -- it automatically activates the auto defroster (I guess that wiring is for a temp sensor).
So, ice builds up. Heating element kicks on. Ice Melts. Water collects at bottom of the freezer (in a channel with no drain). Compressor kicks back on and water freezes. Repeat. Slowly build up ice and block off refrigerator vents. I'd call that a design flaw.
Step 1: Clear Out the Freezer and Fridge and Remove Fridge Electronics
The console in the fridge comes out by unscrewing the four visible screws.
Then, lower about an inch and disconnect the thermostat cable and the light cable. The come off by squeezing the base of the connector and gently pulling straight out.
Oh, you did remember to unplug the beast first right?
Step 2: Check for Ice
The freezer will block up in the lower vent panel. At least that is where this one was clogged. Put a towel down and let it defrost. Or apply some heat from a blow drier.
If the ice is really bad (like this one here) -- you will have ice blocking the two fridge ducts. Visually inspect for ice -- or be stupid like me and reach in before looking. I startled myself because I wasn't expecting ice...
Step 3: So It Turns Out - It Is Not Glued in Place
When I first dived into the project, I tried removing the back freezer panel (there's only one screw behind a screw cap). I thought it was glued in place after much pulling (and near breaking). However, the next day I tried one last time. The panel came out with ease. As it turns out, the whole back panel was a large frozen block of ice - so bad that it was encroaching on the circulation fan (which was making a grinding sound).
The very bottom of the inner workings was filled with water. A lake of water. And, without a drain hole of any kind that lake wasn't going anywhere. The vents to the fridge were above the water line too. So, as soon as the freezer got cold again, this would become a problem.
Remove this water - I used a turkey baster and a towel. Allow to completely air dry - otherwise, frozen water will become a seed for faster ice growth.
Step 4: Reassemble and Enjoy
Reassemble. 4 Screws and two connectors for the fridge console and one screw/cover for the freezer panel (which is pushed into place).
Enjoy lower power bills and be sure not to overload the freezer ;)
For the curious - here's how the console vents work. Ducts A and B from the freezer dump into the console. Inside the console are several molded foam pieces that direct cold air in several directions.
Separated from the direct flow of cold air is the thermostat and temperature selector.