Category Archives: Refrigerator Repair

Why does a refrigerator sometimes freeze milk and water in the fresh food compartment?

Your Name: Kerrie

Type of Appliance: Refrigerator

Brand: don’t remember 🙂

Model Number:

Your Precious Words:
I’ve notice that on the top shelf of my somewhat older model fridge, the water and milk every now and then freeze a bit. It will happen regularly for a week, then not at all for a few weeks, then start up again. I’m not changing any of the settings on the fridge or freezer. Your thoughts, Samurai?

Click the play button in the player below to hear my answer:

Why does an icemaker fill tube keep plugging up with ice?

Your Name: VICKI
Type of Appliance: Refrigerator
Brand: Frigidaire
Model Number: FRS22ZRF
Your Precious Words:
We have replaced the ice maker. Tried tapeing to insulate the tube for the water, and it still will not make ice. Tube keeps freezing in freezer. We have also turned down the freezer. I have to keep mopping water up in front of the frig too, because, my husband says he thinks thats from the insde hose being blown off when it freezes up. We need to know why it freezes. Thank yo so much, Vicki

Icemaker fill valves for all brands and models ==>

Click the play button in the audio player below to listen to my reply.

Seeking the ever-elusive GE muthaboard concession list of affected refrigerator model numbers

Roger wrote:

There is a PDF associated with message # 11 – GE_Refrig_Board.pdf

I would like to get a copy but it’s not found on appliantology board. I have a GE Refridgerator with a problem. I want to see if the model # is on this list.

Forum Message Title:
GE Profile Refrigerator PDS22SBSBLSS Fan/Display – Started by sooty, Sep 03 2007 04:03 AM



Greetings Roger,

Another pilgrim seeks the mythical and fabled list of refrigerator model numbers included in GE’s muthaboard concession (or “motherboard” for those of you who are humor-impaired).

Sounds like you searched the Appliantology forums but did you know that my blog over at is also a veritable geyser just gushing with appliantological wisdom? Oui, oui, mon petite shoo-shoo, ’tis twoo, ’tis twoo!

In fact, the information you seek is in this post at my Appliantology blog:

Is there a problem with using GFCI outlet with a refrigerator, freezer, or ice machine?

Randall writes:

Upright Freezer kept indoors since 1993. Moved freezer to garage and plugged it into GFCI outlet. The GFCI keeps tripping. The drain was plugged and I cleared it of all ice and debris. Plugged freezer in, compressor came on, temp. got cold then tripped GFCI again sometime during the night. Your diagnosis Samurai is?

To learn more about your refrigerator, or to order parts, click here.

Why does the gasket on the refrigerator and freezer door get very hot and what does it take to fix this problem?

Robert writes:

The gasket on the refrigerator and the freezer get very hot. What causes this problem and what does it take to fix this problem?

Refrigerator and freezer condenser coil cleaning brush with instructions. (Also works great for dryer lint) ==>

Refrigerator condenser fan motor (and lots of other refrigerator parts, too) ==>

You can see an interactive diagram showing the locations of various parts in your refrigerator here ==>

Another post on this problem that you might like ==>

How to troubleshoot a Whirlpool refrigerator that keeps icing up the coil in the freezer

Ron wrote:

Hi. I have a 20-year old Whirlpool Fridge; top freezer model # ET18ZKXXW00. I love the fridge, but…about 6 months ago i replaced the defrost timer on the advice of an appliance parts store. Fridge was always running, freezer was full of ice and fridge unit was warm.

i took the back off and it too was covered in ice. I defrosted everything, replaced the timer and the unit is still constantly running.

Last week i unplugged it for a couple of hours to melt some of the ice in the freezer, took the back off and melted the ice that was encasing the coils.

what could the issue be?

Two problems right off the bat:

1. You replaced the defrost timer without knowing or proving that it was the real problem or bad to begin with.

2. You didn’t buy your parts thru! 🙁 Fun fact to know and tell: if you had purchased the defrost timer thru this site and it didn’t fix the problem, you could have returned it for a refund! Can you do that at your parts store? No? So… Why do you buy there?

Okay, enough scolding. Let’s get your fridge fixed!

The defrost system consists of three components: the defrost timer, the defrost thermostat, and the defrost heater. If any one of these three components goes bad, then the refrigerator will not defrost and ice will accumulate on the evaporator coil as you are seeing. Since you have already replaced the defrost timer, that only leaves the other two components as possible suspects.

Both the defrost heater and the defrost thermostat are easy to test with a multimeter. For the defrost heater, measure the resistance through the heater with your meter. The resistance should be something in the low ohms; the exact ohm reading is not important as long as it is something low. High resistance in the kilo-ohms or mega-ohms range or open is a bad defrost heater and it should be replaced.

To test the defrost thermostat, remove the thermostat from the evaporator by unclipping it and place it into a glass of ice water. Let the defrost thermostat sit in the ice water for about five or ten minutes and then measure the continuity through the defrost thermostat. Again, if it reads open or very high resistance, then the defrost thermostat is bad and must be replaced.

Not surprisingly, you can buy the new defrost heater or new defrost thermostat right here through this website! 8) Just enter your model number here ==>

If you need more help troubleshooting and repairing your refrigerator, come start a new topic in the Kitchen Forum at the Appliantology Academy and we’ll step you thru it for free ==>

New LG tech training info on their new washers and refrigerators

One of the fine Master Appliantologists at the Appliantology Academy, Grand Master Funk, recently attended an LG tech training session on their new model front-load washers and bottom-mount and top-mount refrigerators. He was gracious enough to take photos of the training handouts and send them to me. I’ve uploaded them to a couple new albums in the Gallery at the Academy and briefly explain them in a short screencast posted at my blog there. Check it out:

GE Refrigerator Appliantology: Dampers and Thermistors

This is the next in a series of posts I’m doing about the technology used in GE refrigerators. Understanding the basics of how these refrigerators work will give you a lot of troubleshooting insight when you’re trying to track down a problem.

For the previous post in this series on controlling and operating the fan motors in GE refrigerators, see this page.

This post gives useful tips and Fun Facts to Know and Tell for diagnosing the Damper Door and Thermistors.

Damper Door

The Damper Assembly has two motors: one to open the Damper Door and another to close it.

The Damper Door should always be either fully open or fully closed; if you ever see it in a halfway state, there’s a problem. Check it in diagnostic/self-test mode where you can run a test to open and close the damper door.


Thermistors are basically variable resistors whose resistance changes with temperature. They come in two flavors: Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) and Negative Temperature (NTC). In the PTC thermistors, the resistance increases with increasing temperature whereas in NTC thermistors, the resistance decreases as the temperature increases. All thermistors used in GE refrigerators are NTC.

Most of the side-by-side units will have four thermistors:
– attached to the evaporator coil
– freezer space
– beer section space
– damper

You can see a diagram showing thermistor locations in side-by-side units here ==> LINK

Units with the Custom Cool feature will have a fifth thermistor for the Custom Cool compartment. Lower end units will just have three thermistors.

In all units, the thermistor attached to the evaporator coil is the most troublesome.

There was a rash of problems with one of GE’s old thermistor suppliers a while back where they weren’t sealed properly so moisture got into ’em and knocked ’em out of calibration. More about that here ==> LINK

The refrigerator control has a self test for the thermistors, but it only tests if they’re open or closed. In real life, the thermistors rarely fail that way– usually they simply go out of calibration resulting in poor temperature control.

To learn more about your refrigerator, or to order parts, click here.

GE Refrigerator Appliantology: Fans, Evaporator and Condenser

This is the first in a series of posts I’m going to do about the technology used in GE refrigerators. Understanding the basics of how these refrigerators work will give you a lot of troubleshooting insight when you’re trying to track down a problem. This post explains how the fans in GE refrigerators are controlled and operated.

Like most other refrigerators, GE refrigerators have at least two fans:
– the evaporator (freezer) fan
– the condenser fan (the hot coil in the back, underneath the refrigerator)

Some up-line GE models may have an additional fan:
– in the beer section if it’s a dual evaporator unit
– in the Custom Cool® compartment, if so equipped

All fan motors used in current model GE refrigerators (includes Hotpoint brand) operate on 12 vdc. The motor speed is controlled using a technology called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Simple explanation of PWM: take a square wave and vary the width of the upper side of the pulses according to how fast you want the motor to turn- the longer the pulse, the faster the speed. For details on how PWM technology works, see this page ==> LINK

Currently, the condenser fan is single speed (although that’s gonna change in upcoming models) and the evaporator fan is multispeed.

Fan Wire Harness Color Code

– Yellow: PWM signal (input)
– Blue: Tachometer (output from motor)
– Red: +12 vdc supply (input)
– White: Common Ground! Can I hears an “A-freakin-men?”

The PWM wire on the fan motor harness is always the yellow wire– this is the wire that carries the signal telling the fan how fast to spin. Don’t bother trying to measure the voltage on the yellow wire with a conventional meter because the results will be meaningless.

Quick n’ Sleazy Fan Test

– White wire to the negative battery terminal
– Connect BOTH the Red and Yellow wires to the positive battery terminal.
Do not reverse the leads or you’ll blow out the sensitive electronics built into the motor assembly!

Quick Fan Diagnostic Test

– you should never hear the the fan making speed varying sounds in side-by-side units
– on top-mount units, you can sometimes hear the fan making pulsing noises

Fan Circuit on the Muthaboard

Some of the Muthaboards used in these boxes have resistors in the power circuit for the fans. These will be two resistors coming off the J2 plug on the board. If you’re looking straight at the board, the top resistor is for the evaporator fan and the bottom one for the condenser fan. They’re designed to burn out in case one of the fan motors shorts out. If this happens, you’ll need to replace BOTH the affected fan motor as well as the Muthaboard.

Part Links for Your Shopping Pleasure 😉

Evaporator and Condenser Fans ==> LINK

Muthaboard ==> LINK

To learn more about your refrigerator, or to order parts, click here.

How to handle and store food safely during power outages

With Hurricane Irene and earthquakes cranking up along the East Coast and the ensuing power outages that are sure to follow, here’s some timely info on safely storing and handling food during weather emergencies and power outages.

We practice basic safe food handling in our daily lives, but obtaining and storing food safely becomes more challenging during a power outage or natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

Steps to Follow to Prepare for a Possible Weather Emergency:

Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. An appliance thermometer will indicate the temperature in the refrigerator and freezer in case of a power outage and help determine the safety of the food.

Make sure the freezer is at 0 °F (Fahrenheit) or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.

Freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold in the freezer, refrigerator, or coolers after the power is out.

Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately-this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.

Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.

Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.

Group food together in the freezer—this helps the food stay cold longer.

Steps to Follow During and After the Weather Emergency:

Never taste a food to determine its safety!

Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.

The refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened. A full freezer will hold the temperature for approximately 48 hours (24 hours if it is half full and the door remains closed).

Food may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.

Obtain block ice or dry ice to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.

If the power has been out for several days, then check the temperature of the freezer with an appliance thermometer or food thermometer. If the food still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below, the food is safe.

If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.

Discard refrigerated perishable food such as meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items after 4 hours without power.

When in Doubt, Throw it Out!


Misdiagnosing a cooling problem in a GE refrigerator: A hack job case study

dsiebler wrote:

Hello Samurai! I have a GE side x side fridge that is driving me crazy. Started not cooling correctly, nothing freezing on the freezer side. Repair guy replaced main board. He said the coils were only icing up to about the 3rd coil. Main board didn’t fix the problem, he came back out and charged the system with freon. That seemed to work for a week but the defrost cycle would still cause all ice in freezer to melt. But at least I was still happy that fridge was getting cold. Then, freezer stopped getting cold again. I changed the 2 thermistors in the freezer last night, pulled plug and let sit for 15 minutes. Turned back on and same thing. The first 2 or 3 coils start getting iced up and then defrost comes on and melts. Even if the defrost doesn’t come on it seems like the coils will not ice up. Any ideas on this one?

The appliance parts changing monkey who hacked on your refrigerator is exactly the kind of butcher who gives the venerable appliance repair trade a bad name. Let’s parse out the butcher’s blunders:

Repair guy replaced main board. He said the coils were only icing up to about the 3rd coil. Main board didn’t fix the problem…

If the evaporator coils– the coils in the freezer behind the inside back panel– were only partially frosted as you describe, this is a clear indication of a sealed system problem.

Early Stage Refrigerator Evaporator Leak

Most commonly, either some of the refrigerant has leaked out or the compressor has become weak. This has nothing to do with the muthaboard as both you and the parts changing monkey found out. Further testing would need to be done to determine what the exact problem is in the sealed system. But for most home refrigerators, sealed system work usually doesn’t make sense to do because of the expense involved in doing it right. Which brings me to the next piece of butchery:

…he came back out and charged the system with freon. That seemed to work for a week…

If the unit was really low on refrigerant, which seems like it may have been the case based on the short-lived improved temperatures, then it would have gotten that way due to a leak in the refrigerant tubing somewhere. So, simply adding more refrigerant is not repairing the problem at all and, in fact, is illegal under EPA regulations.

It is illegal to simply add refrigerant to a refrigeration system that has leaked without locating and repairing the source of the leak because the refrigerant will simply leak back out into the environment.

The correct procedure would have been to locate the source of the leak using various techniques, repair the leak, pull a deep vacuum on the system and then recharge it with the correct refrigerant in the amount specified on the model number tag.

Now you see why I said that the expense of doing sealed system work correctly (and legally) usually doesn’t make sense for most home refrigerators unless it’s a built-in unit, like a Sub-Zero, where you paid so much that you’re married to it. For most other types of home refrigerators, if there’s a sealed system problem, that’s usually a terminal event and it’s time to go shopping.

If a real Master Appliantologist were on the job and saw the deficient frost pattern on the evaporator coils, he would first verify that the condenser fan was running at full speed and that the condenser was clean. If both of those things were true, he would have recommended that you junk that box and go buy a new one, no muthaboard, no “recharge.” The only expense would have been the basic service call fee.

To learn more about your refrigerator, or to order parts, click here.

Burning smell in a new refrigerator: is this normal?

Baldemar wrote:

Hi Samurai,

Three days ago, my 4 month old Frigidaire side-by-side started emitting a strange smell. A bit like a melting candle, with a strong plastic smell mixed in. Investigation found the odor strongest in the freezer department. It’s strong enough to easily ruin the ice in the ice maker, but it has not affected food items. Odor is still there today. Other than this, the fridge continues to function completely as normal.

Repairman was out today and claimed that he had the exact complaint on another similarly-aged Frigidaire yesterday. Complete teardown of that unit revealed no sources of the odor. He claims a call to Electrolux lead to advise that this is normal, and relates somehow to the fridge’s defrost cycles. Their only remedy is that I need to buy and use some type of wipes to clean everything inside to remove the smell, every time it occurs.

How does this sound to you? Have you run across anything similar in your appliance repair adventures?

Any info you can provide is appreciated.

Not heard of this but then this is a fairly new fridge. I’m thinking the odor is related to the defrost cycle because of the heater used then. The manufacturer may have used a different formulation of foam in the cabinet insulation that has the unintended consequence of off-gassing from the heat of the defrost heater, causing the odor. These vapors can contain carcinogens like formaldehydes and other noxious products called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

I would call Electrolux and insist that they either correct the problem or replace the refrigerator. Living with exposure to these VOCs and even having stinky ice is simply unacceptable in a new refrigerator and is not an option. I actually would be very surprised if Electrolux takes this position; I think it’s more likely that the servicer was “ad libbing.” But let me know what they say and I’ll do an update to this post.

To learn more about your refrigerator, or to order parts, click here.

Samurai Appliance Repair Man –
The Samurai School of Appliantology –
Find and Buy Appliance Parts –

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

How to test the ice maker and optics sytem in a Whirlpool / Kitchenaid Optical-Controlled In-Door Ice (IDI) system

First, some pearls of wisdom from Sublime Master Kurtiusinterupptus in the Samurai School of Appliantology:

1. Remove receiver board (right side) and insert wire into plug in black/black-white wire locations . This effectively bypasses the optics for test purposes. if you have no black/blk-white wires in the plug don’t panic, just chose the two wires beside the blank hole, not on the end.

2. test for voltage at the 4 wire harness plug, black to white and black to green…should have 120vac in both places. if not, inline fuse is open or wire is broken or separated in the liner. very bad and prolly not repairable (the broken wire not the fuse).

3. if voltage is present, hookup i/m and test at the points on the motor module head previously noted L and N…should have 120vac.

4. if voltage is present, install jumper between test points T and H…this should start the icemaker on a rotation if all the above outlined conditions are true. if it doesn’t, the motor on the module is bad. if it does start, reinstall i/m and wait till it fills and parks. remove jumpers and reinstall optics receiver. icemaker should work…if not, we have proven the icemaker assembly is good and the optics must be at fault, regardless of whether the light flashes are checking good or not.

And this enhancement from Grand Master

The optics jumper wire cam remain until the cycle has completed.

The T & H jumper must be removed from the module once the cycle has started
if you listen closely at the beginning of the cycle you will hear the contacts in the module
“click” at about the 10 sec. mark its ok to remove the jumper at this point. I usually just
count to 12 and pull it out and the module should continue the harvest.

If you do not remove the T & H jumper and the cycle completes it will either blow
the new harness fuse or the module….

Manually Starting the Harvest Cycle in the Whirlpool-Built Modular Icemaker
(click for larger view)

Also, see this illustrative wiring diagram…

To learn more about your ice maker, or to order parts, click here.