Repairing the Girlfriend's Mini Fridge/Freezer




Introduction: Repairing the Girlfriend's Mini Fridge/Freezer

About: Engineer making renewable energy products for African entrepreneurs.

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.



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    11 Discussions

    Is there a way to poke a hole to let the water drain out and prevent this problem? I need detailed instructions with pictures if this is possible (mostly because I don't know what I'm doing without the pictures). Thank you.

    The repairs have to be carried out nicely.

    My parents' mini fridge got really icy and I loosened the ice by using a spatula. It worked real quickly.

    Icing up like that is usually a sign of low coolant levels. I suspect it will repeat until the freezer's recharged.

    6 replies

    Nah in Florida freezing up is usually a natural consequence of our humidity, around here it's so bad that often during the summer you can see fish swimming by as you walk down the street. Question. Why did you not add a drain?

    Yep... stupid humidity... but we never shock ourselves on door knobs during the winter :) I didn't add a drain because the condenser is located on the sidewalls - and I didn't want to risk nicking it. That, and if she ever wants to resell it - its best left unmodified (unfortunately).

    How about putting several large sponges on the bottom? That way when the water collects at the bottom, it'll be drawn into the sponges and be out of the way for a while longer.

    But then the water freezes, pierces the sponge, and then you are back to where you started. And aquarium pump could probably be used when needed AS IT IS DEFROSTING. Or, defrost it yourself! Save the snow and make a snowman!

    It's likely built without a tap. If you can get a supply place to sell it to you, there's a piercing tap you can get to add one to the low pressure side. Then you can attach a gauge to it and recharge as needed.


    11 years ago

    You'd probably end up with a huge mold problems if you used sponges. You guys in florida suck here in Alabama we have super humid summers but the winters are still dry enough for everything to shock the piss outta me.