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Freezer and Rerigerator too warm in Kenmore Side-by-Side

TwoLooney

Premium Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
10
Location
USA
Model Number
596.95508500
Brand
Sears Kenmore
Age
More than 10 years
I noticed that ice cream seemed soft a few days in a row, so I checked the freezer temperature. I have a little color-coded temp card that sticks to the wall of the fridge/freezer. The fridge was reading about 43 degrees (rather than 36-39) and the freezer is showing about 10 (rather than 0-5).

The compressor is running, the condenser fan is running, the evaporator fan is running. The seal around the freezer seems like it's making good contact and it feels like a good seal when I tug on the door. I checked the controls and they were set where they've been. I do keep my fridge cold, so it's always been adjusted colder than 'default'.

The condenser coils were dusty, but not super-bad because I vacuumed them out a few months ago when I replaced the ice maker. I vacuumed them again (from both in front and behind the fridge)

Any ideas about what might be going on? Is there a most likely cause?

Thanks (in advance)!
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,017
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Take everything out of the freezer including the shelves, then remove the lower back access panel in the freezer and tell us what the frost pattern on your evaporator coils are, normal would be a thin layer of frost on all the coils.

Jake
 

TwoLooney

Premium Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
10
Location
USA
Thanks, Jake.
It looks like there is frost on only about the top third of the coils.
I'm guessing that's bad news.
I think I found that a new evaporator coil is about $200.
Since this is the second problem in 9 months (after the ice maker controller), I'm thinking it's time to retire this beast since it's over 10 years old, I think.
Your thoughts?
 

TwoLooney

Premium Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
10
Location
USA
After doing a little further reading about the problem where the compressor is running but the refrigerator is not cold, it seems like the uneven frost pattern indicates a problem with the refrigerant charge or the compressor.

Since it happened kind of all-of-a-sudden (at least that's the way it seems), I suspect the compressor, which is listed for $230. It's charged with R-134a, but I'm thinking it still wouldn't be worth it to try to re-charge.

I found a used fridge for $500. I might just go that route, even though I'm taking a chance that it will have hard-to-discover problems.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,017
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Yes. its likely a sealed system problem, not worth fixing due to its age.

Don't buy a used refrigerator for $500 are you kidding me?:) You can buy a brand new one for $500.:)

Used refrigerators should cost no more than $250.

Jake
 

TwoLooney

Premium Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
10
Location
USA
Thanks, Jake.

Really? I would LOVE to pay no more than $250 for a fridge that's just a few years old. A quick search of ads for used refrigerators brings up nothing but about 10-year-old models for $250. Which, of course, is how old my current fridge is.

I'm looking for another side-by-side because it works best for me.

It seems like newer models are listed for sale for about $500-$750, especially if they are stainless.

It looks like the least I can get a new side-by-side for is about $800 in black and $900 in stainless.

Of course, I know there's no guarantee that a new model is built better or will last longer. I've heard a few stories in recent years of problems with brand new refrigerators that have problems that are not fixed after repeated repair visits.

It seems, according to Consumer Reports, that there ARE differences between the $1,400 models and the $800 models, mostly in temperature performance and energy efficiency. I'm not sure how important temperature performance is and if it's worth the extra $500+; better energy efficiency only saves $15/year.

Just in case this saves someone else some time pondering the options I've been considering :)
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,017
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona

TwoLooney

Premium Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2011
Messages
10
Location
USA
Thanks! That's the one I had found for $800 (I was adding in tax, which you don't have to bother with in my home state, there :D)

BTW, how urgent is it that I replace the fridge? How likely is it that it will die completely in the next couple of weeks? Or, will it just probably continue to plug along 'not as cold'? If I order a new fridge, it will take 2 weeks to be delivered.

I will have my newly replaced ice maker for sale soon :p
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
111,017
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Its hard to tell how long yours will go. May go two days or two weeks.

Jake
 
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