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Freezer Producing Frost, running constantly...

danosphere

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2013
Messages
4
Location
United States
Model Number
ET8RHMXKQ01
Brand
Whirlpool
Age
1-5 years
Just recently (~a week ago) I started noticing frost buildup in the freezer compartment of my fridge/freezer combo (freezer on top). I thought nothing of it until last weekend when I opened the fridge and it was notably warmer than usual. I opened up the freezer and there was a lot more frost buildup; about an inch thick built up on the very back wall of the fridge.

So I turned the fridge off, pulled all the panels out of the freezer (and the icemaker) and the entire freezer-cooling-coil was encased in some serious ice/frost. I melted all the ice and frost off of the unit (lots!), cleaned the interior of the freezer and then re-assembled and turned everything back on. Things seemed fine over the weekend- no visible frost and the freezer was finally turning OFF as it reached temp.

Today I poked my head in the freezer and the damn frost is starting to form on the back wall again! I haven't pulled the rear panel to see the condition of the coil yet. I'm also pretty sure that the re-appearance of frost is also coupled with the freezer now NOT getting to temperature; every time I open the door I can hear the cooling unit/fan running. Just after defrosting the unit was definitely getting to temp and the fan and such was turning off as expected.

I am a complete novice when it comes to this stuff so I'm not sure what the best plan of action is here, looking for some sage advice. Is this the type of issue that can be repaired? The unit is supposed to be frost-free, and has been for years up until last week. I'm guessing there is some kinda of relay/element/sensor that has failed and needs maintenance or replacement... please help, this thing is running up my electricity bill like no other!

Thanks for taking the time to help!
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
44,797
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
You have a defrost component that has failed. I need your complete model number to look it up. Don't read it from any manuals or door stickers. Read it from the tag on the machine. Click here: Appliance Parts at RepairClinic. 125 Brands. 365 Day Returns. then follow the link “Help me find my model number”.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
44,797
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
OK, the defrost system consists of a defrost timer, a defrost heater and a defrost thermostat. The easiest way to determine which part has failed is to start by checking the timer, the most common part to fail. The machine must be running (compressor running). Use a flat blade screwdriver just behind the controls in the fresh food section to access the timer dial and slowly turn the timer one click at a time until the refrigerator turns off. You are in defrost mode. Remove the evaporator cover and by then you'll be able to tell if the heater is on. If the defrost heater is on, the heater and thermostat are good. Replace the timer. If the heater is not on (cold), check the defrost thermostat and heater for continuity. Check the defrost thermostat while it's frosty. It needs to be below 40*F to show continuity. If both heater and thermostat check good for continuity, replace the timer.
Defrost Timer 482493 Order now for same day shipping. 365 day return policy. RepairClinic.com
Defrost-Timer-482493-00928705.jpg
Defrost Thermostat 4387503 Order now for same day shipping. 365 day return policy. RepairClinic.com
Defrost-Thermostat-4387503-00558465.jpg

Defrost Heater Assembly 2315531 Order now for same day shipping. 365 day return policy. RepairClinic.com
Defrost-Heater-Assembly-2315531-01015717.jpg
[video=youtube;311BiD76iYg]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=311BiD76iYg[/video]
 

danosphere

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2013
Messages
4
Location
United States
Here's what she looks like in defrost mode:
photo.jpg

The heater is ice cold- definitely either broken or not getting current due to an upstream failure in the thermo or timer. I'll grab a multimeter tomorrow and test the heater and thermo then purchase the required part to repair this. I'll report back with my findings in case it helps others!

Thanks again
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
44,797
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
It's more common for the defrost thermostat to fail than the defrost heater. Keep us posted.
 

danosphere

Premium Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2013
Messages
4
Location
United States
Alrighty I got in there today with a multimeter and I tested some things. This was my procedure:

1. Turn screw in refrigerator until the unit shut off (this also stops the freezer fan).
2. Pulled all the inner panels of the freezer.
3. Tested heater in 2 places- showed continuity; the multimeter went from "OPEN" to "SHRT" when I connected the probes.
4. Tested the thermo while cold - showed continuity (was still cold); multimeter went from "OPEN" to "SHRT" again when I connected the probes.

Here are pics of the freezer, and the points I tested at:
Freezer_Full_Fig1.jpgFreezer_Heater_Fig2.jpgFreezer_Thermo_Fig3.jpg

Now, I'm a total n00b at using the multimeter but I watched the video and used the "audible" mode on my multimeter as instructed for continuity; If I performed the test wrong please let me know. I also try to test the heater and thermo for voltage, but only got very low negative numbers like "-0.025" and it wasn't consistent, aside from being a fluctuating low-negative.

Multimeter in "continuity check" mode:
multi-continuity.JPG

Multimeter in "voltage check" mode, when checking voltage on heater I put the black probe on the black wire feeding into the harness for the heater, and the red probe on the white wires feeding into the heater harness. For the thermo I put red probe to the pinkish wire and black probe to the other, negative numbers in both cases:
multi-volts.JPG

*both multimeter pics shown with probes NOT touching anything.
-----

So does this mean the timer is toast? Or did I test something wrong and need to retest? Cross up the probes maybe?

Thanks again so much for all your help and patience,
Dan
 
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