Field Notes: Maytag Side-by-Side Refrigerator Warming Up

by Samurai Appliance Repair Man on June 22, 2005

in Refrigerator Repair

I’m starting to see problems with the Maytag-built (includes Jenn Air) side-by-side refrigerators where the beer compartment gets warm, but the ice cream compartment stays very cold. (Home refrigerators have two compartments, the colder one for ice cream and the warmer one for beer. Many folks store frozen food in the ice cream compartment and fresh food in the beer compartment.) This differs from the typical defrost failure complaint which, in these fridges, is usually a bad Adaptive Defrost Control (ADC) board because 1) there’s no fuzzy ice built up on the back, inside wall of the freezer and 2) the freezer temp is good (around 0°F).

Having established that the sealed system is intact (evidenced by the cold freezer) and that the defrost system is working, this means the problem is in the air distribution system. “Uh, say what?” Awwite, grab ‘hold of those two large lumps at the base of your spine and read this post for some background scoop on how the cold air is distributed around your fridge.

So, applying my keen, razor-sharp powers of Samurai deduction, my katana-like mind sliced through the fog and concluded that I need to check for air flow into the beer compartment. In these refrigerators, incoming cold air is ported in at the top left-hand side of the beer compartment. I felt no air coming in. Then I opened the freezer door and the cold air started gushing in! Therefore, the problem had to be with the return air vent inside the beer compartment. How did I know there was a return air vent? Because fans don’t suck; they blow. (As a side note, pumps are the opposite because they suck. Take your mind outta the gutter for five minutes in your decadent life, ok? In fact, pumps are sized according to Net Positive Suction Head (NPSH). Fun fact to know and tell.)

I pulled the crisper drawers out to inspect the return air vent. Sho’ ’nuff, it was sealed tight by a curtain of frozen condensate. I busted it open and the cold air started gushing in. Here’s the return air vent, click it for a larger view:


The return air port in a Maytag side by side refrigerator located behind the crisper drawers in the beer compartment. Condensation can freeze in a sheet over this port blocking the return air flow, creating warm beer.

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