Troubleshooting an Iced Up Fridge Freezer.

My fridge recently stopped keeping the bottom section cold and there was zero airflow from the vents. Topside in the freezer there was ice build up which is a bad sign in my auto-defrost fridge. I have this fridge for 11 years and I want to keep it a couple more years to come so I went about finding to reason for its lack of cooling.

Mind you this instructable is lacking certain details since I did the repair job at midnight and I was extremely sleep too. Think of it as the Dr. Who's Shada episode. You know, that horribly put together episode series where Tom Baker narrates all of the episodes because they never completed the filming. It was cheesy and extremely minimal effort so much so I wanted to pan my brain pan. Anyhoo, consider this instructable the Shada of all instructables.

The first step is to empty the freezer of food, remove the shelf, the base cover then the Air Duct cover. All of this is quite easy but I didn't take pics. Sorry. The light fixture has to come off as shown.

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Step 1: Removing the Rear Cover Panel.

Just a single screw for my fridge and the rear panel came out by pulling the left side of it forward. Also the left shelf support needed to be popped out.

Step 2: Inspection.

The root of the problem! Ice build up. This happened because the electronic defrost time I had set to save energy and not defrost often enough. I fixed that afterwards by making it defrost for 30mins every 10hours.

Step 3: More Checks.

By disconnecting the heater I tested the resistance and got 49ohms, which is good. The thermostat leads I did the same and got continuity, also good. I powered up the fridge, forced a defrost cycle, used my Kill-A-Watt meter and thermal camera to verify proper operation. Sorry for no pics there but remember that Dr. Who episode.

Step 4: Checking the Drain Line and Air Duct.

The drain line i poured some water into it and saw it discharge into the pan above the compressor. No clogged drain! Hooray! The Air Duct was clear and good for service. I put back all the panels, light fixture, shelf and food. Now the fridge works perfect again.

This instructables seems rushed and ill prepared right? Yes it is! Just like that Dr. Who Shada series.

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    8 Discussions


    3 years ago

    I just defrosted my frost free freezer. There was a layer of ice on the bottom under a tray that is from what I can tell raised slightly to allow for air circulation. The repair technicians said that compressor noise last year was the result of leaving the door open. Condensation settles in a puddle of water underneath the tray and freezes.

    What I understood to be a drain is actually the air hole/duct from the fridge below. Or is it. I will have to check.

    Fast forward a year, and once again there was ice build up and accompanying vibrating noisy compressor. It's a Rocker because it Shakes, Rattles and Rolls. I think I just gave my age away. The ice hasn't returned and there is no food in the freezer. The noise is horrendous.

    Electric defrost timer. I am unfamiliar with that but I will search for a manual and go through the steps discussed here between you and Joe.

    I am really hoping that it isn't refrigerant as the fridge is an older model and I am not sure if the coolant can be used anymore.

    Thank you for your post. My basic knowledge is about to increase. Let's hope for a it is an adjustment or a bad thermo-sensor.

    3 replies

    Hey glad I provided some information to you. From the symptoms described I think your compressor needs replacement since it makes heavy noise and vibration while operational. Perhaps you have a few more years service out of it but a proper compressor won't behave that way.


    Thanks for the feedback. Looks like a new fridge or maybe a freon refill, but I am not sure that can be done where I live as the government has slowly changed to more environmentally safe products


    Hmm, as far as I know the R143a refrigerant is not being banned in any country. I don't think any manufactured fridges for residential use contains any other refrigerant.


    3 years ago

    It would be good and fair to issue a caveat to this repair though. Not every ice-up problem is human induced - in this case by shortening or turning off the defrost cycle.

    Many time I've been asked to repair a unit that has had a bad thermo-sensor (bulb or thermocouple types) and that fixed it.

    Other times it was a loss of refrigeration gas that if slight, causes the unit to run colder until the charge drops below a certain pressure threshold. (Overcharge = hotter system temps usually; less gas charge = colder - but only down to a point!)

    Not just a few times, it is a bad, burnt out fan or a fan that has had some sort of food product get into the blades - not too possible in latter designs that are more human-proof. Fans can and do fail for all their own reasons though - bearings, bad design, moisture, etc.

    Plastic wrap in the unit has happened a couple of times - cutting off air flow from the freezer to the refrigerator and then the fun begins!

    Compressor problems, from what I've seen, seem to be getting fewer and fewer though.

    So I'd say this OP was fortunate - even in a sleepy state - to find this problem.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    it was my fault the defrost timer was set badly. everything else is in perfect working order.


    3 years ago

    this is a good example of proper deduction to find the root of the problem which in this case was self inflicted ice. (improper operation) EXCELLENT work for a sleepy individual. And you saved the envireoment by not sending a working device to the landfill, when all it needed was to be thawed.

    Anyone else would have unplugged, mopped up the water in the morning after they made the trip out to purchase a new unit. Well done. (except for the images, ha)

    1 reply