Mailbag: Fridge Still Warm After Replacing a Bunch of Parts

Judy Haughney wrote:

We own a Hotpoint side-by side refrigerator. We have been having problems with the refrigerator and freezer not stying cold. Currently both are only cold on the bottom???? We have already replaced the heater coils, thermostat, defrost timer. What else could be wrong? We cannot turn on the water to the icemaker/water as the inside of the freezer freezes up. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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In the Shotgun School of Appliance Repair, students are taught to change parts because they might be bad, not because they are proven to be bad.

Now compare this to the enlightened teachings of the Samurai School of Appliantology where students are taught the cardinal rule of appliance repair: never change a part unless you can prove that the part is bad.

Let’s take a look at Judy’s refrigerator repair challenge. I’ll bet you a six pack of Bud Light that she didn’t use her ohm meter and do a continuity test on the defrost heater (what she’s calling the “heater coils”). Same bet with the cold control (what Judy is calling the “thermostat”) and the defrost timer. All these parts were probably never bad to begin with!

So what’s the problem with Judy’s fridge? The clue lies in her statement that both the freezer and fresh food compartments “are only cold at the bottom.” This tells me the air is not getting blown around. First thing I’d look for in this fridge is a bad evaporator fan motor (that’s the one in the freezer). Could even be a bad door switch preventing the fan motor from running. Judy should check this and verify the bad component with her meter before buying new parts here.

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