FIXED 253.9280412 Kenmore upright suddenly kicking GFCI, when I was trying to fix a defrost system problem

AUricle

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
5
Location
IL
Model Number
253.9280412
Brand
Sears Kenmore
Age
More than 10 years
I've been putting up with ice on the floor of my upright (1998) freezer (and water on Laundry room floor) for some time now.
Having done a repair of a similar problem a while ago on my top-freezer fridge, I thought I pretty much knew the cause. After getting in and seeing the evap. coils iced over and the drain hole solid with ice, I thawed the whole mess and began going through the possible offending parts.
To make a long story short, the defrost timer, thermostat, and def.heater ALL passed tests on my multi-meter. (Yes, I'm aware of the "cold" requirement for correctly testing the thermostat and had put it in my fridge freezer to get it to temp before testing)
Ok, so I left the cabinet back panel off, put everything else back together, and put it through a test cycle.
I'd advanced the timer so that it only took about 2.5 hours to get around the the defrost "click".
As soon as the timer clicked, there was another loud click and the freezer shut off completely. No power. I reset the GFCI and advanced the timer manually a couple clicks to the "cool cycle". As soon as I heard that "click" it was again followed by a second click as the GFCI tripped again.
I can handle the mechanical side of all this, but have limited electrical knowledge? Could something be going wrong inside the timer? Or......???
Also I noticed when advancing the timer, some of the copper condenser lines had frosted over and with the unit off were thawing and dripping a small quantity of water onto the tile floor Is that normal?
Any help would be much appreciated!
 
Last edited:

jackofalltrades

Appliance Tech
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
907
Location
NY
Also I noticed when advancing the timer, some of the copper condenser lines had frosted over and with the unit off were thawing and dripping a small quantity of water onto the tile floor Is that normal?
Can you explain where this line is located that is frosting over? Is it by the compressor? If so that would be the suction line and yes it can ice over if you are running the refrigerator with the evaporator cover panel removed.

You need to clear the drain line so the refrigerator can drain properly during the defrost cycle. If it can't drain properly the water that spills over can come in contact with electrical components and cause the GFCI to trip. After clearing the drain line I would suggest leaving the refrigerator unplugged for 24 hours so any moisture can dry out.

As for the iced over evaporator, if you truly have an issue with the defrost system then change the timer. Timers will pass the continuity check 99.9 percent of the time. Timers get stuck in certain positions then will not advance anymore unless you advance the timer manually. This is mostly due to bad gears inside the timer. Once you advance the timer it will advance normally until it hangs up again on the bad gear. Sometimes it may not hang up again for days or even weeks.

Here is the defrost timer for your model:
5304518034 Timer


Finally if the GFCI continues to trip, replace it.
 

AUricle

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
5
Location
IL
Thanks for the reply, jackofalltrades!

"Can you explain where this line is located that is frosting over? Is it by the compressor? If so that would be the suction line and yes it can ice over if you are running the refrigerator with the evaporator cover panel removed"
Yes it is coming from compressor. Only noticed it when I got down there to advance the timer. I'll keep an eye on it when I button that panel back up. Thanks for the tip.

"You need to clear the drain line so the refrigerator can drain properly during the defrost cycle. If it can't drain properly the water that spills over can come in contact with electrical components and cause the GFCI to trip."
Ok. As it's an upright freezer (no fridge) all the system is near the bottom so the drain line is very short and I cleared it first thing after thawing. Ran a bit of water through to test it and it's A-Ok. However I did notice water leaked from the drip pan which is puttied(?) to the compressor. The location of the leak allowed the water to drip onto the terminal attached to the compressor. Could that be causing the GFCI problem? I used Flex-Seal spray on the corroded spot on the drip pan since it's not removable without considerable force/time to break the putty seal all around. Unit has sat for over 24 hrs now powered off. so it should be dry.
"Timers get stuck in certain positions then will not advance anymore unless you advance the timer manually. This is mostly due to bad gears inside the timer. Once you advance the timer it will advance normally until it hangs up again on the bad gear. Sometimes it may not hang up again for days or even weeks."
I actually already had ordered the timer....should be here today along with a heat strap to conduct heat from the heater element down into the drain hole to keep it from icing over again. I think that what you describe is whats been happening. Intermittent failing of the timer to advance as it hit the defrost ON. When it worked, more water/Ice would form on the floor of the freezer, and water would leak out from the bottom of the door onto the floor. But it happened infrequently, so I'm betting you're right on the nature of the timer glitch. Thanks again for the tip on the timer continuity testing.
If I get it back together, and it still throws the GFCI I'll replace it. The sudden nature of it it threw me for a loop.
I'll come back with results ASAP.
 

jackofalltrades

Appliance Tech
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
907
Location
NY
Water on the floor is never a defrost issue. It's a drain line issue. I mentioned the timer because you said the evaporator was iced over so I assumed you have a dual issue. The iced over evaporator drip pan is a clear indication the drain is clogged. Since you already ordered the timer go ahead and install it. Keep us posted.
 

AUricle

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2018
Messages
5
Location
IL
Water on the floor is never a defrost issue. It's a drain line issue. I mentioned the timer because you said the evaporator was iced over so I assumed you have a dual issue."
Understood. Yes there are two issues here.
I suddenly was unable to reset the GFCI at all. So before replacing any parts I did another cycle test run with the freezer plugged into a different outlet. It cycled without incident with a force advanced defrost/run after letting the unit run for a couple hours to make sure the thermostat was good and cold. When the defrost clicked ON the heater slowly warmed up so that proved the heater was good, and also the GFCI bad. Then I let the unit run through a full cycle without forcing it to go into the defrost. Unfortunately I had to leave this morning and I think I narrowly missed the def/run events so the timer seems to work at least sometimes. Nonetheless, since I have a new one now, I'm going to change it out. So after that and a new GFCI, I should have this one whipped.
Thanks again for the tips. If I have any more problems wrapping this up, I'll let you know.
 
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