FIXED GE Monogram Side by side ZISS480DRISS Cold Freezer Warm Refrigerator

czub

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Model Number
ZISS480DRISS
Brand
GE
Age
More than 10 years
I have a ~13 year old GE Monogram side by side that we inherited with the house. I replaced one inverter board 5 years ago and again within the last 12 months but other than that had no major issues with it. It is set to 0F freezer / 38F fresh food. Yesterday I noticed that refrigerator is warmer @ 42 while the freezer is slightly cooler at -2. Toward the end of the day it settled at -6F and 44F. I shut it down for the night and 12 hours later the temps went up to 8F / 47F. After running most of the day it's back to -3F/45F. Freezer is about 90% full while fresh food is around 70%. Nothing major has been added/taken out/moved in at least a week.

There does not seem to be much airflow in the fresh food section. There is also a fair amount of condensation on the top where there usually isn't any (see picture).

Based on some preliminary research, I see that this can be due to several different things but would really like to narrow it down.
I ran the following diagnostic codes:
02 - P
06 - all LED illuminated, had to power cycle afterwards
07 - all 6 P
10 - damper made noise though i can't tell for sure if it opened/closed.

Thanks!
 

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rickgburton

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Check the dampers at the board. If you use test 10 you don't need to open them halfway
43538
 

czub

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Thank you! Will do when I get home this evening. It was at -5F/45F this morning.
So do you think it's not the evap fan but damper and/or main control board?

How do I open the damper manually to buy me some time before I fix it properly?

Another tidbit is that even before this, compressor had been consistently running hot. I think compressor heat is the reason inverter boards keep failing yet the condenser fan is running intermittently, and oftentimes at what seems like low speed (now it's on all the time at full speed). I found an unused 3 prong connector with 12V DC and rigged up a computer fan with a shroud to get the hot air out from the compressor area but didn't get a chance to install it yet.
 

rickgburton

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czub said:
...compressor had been consistently running hot. I think compressor heat is the reason inverter boards keep failing...
OK, for now, forget about the fans and dampers. Inverter compressor operation is extremely smooth and cool. The compressor exterior may be slightly higher than room temperature while operating; therefore, it may be difficult to detect a running unit. This is how it works;
When checking inverter voltage output, connect the test-meter leads to any 2 of the 3 compressor lead wires at the inverter plug (plug should be connected). The same reading should be measured between any 2 of the 3 wires. The inverter controls compressor speed by frequency variation and by Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). Changing frequency and PWM will cause an effective voltage between 80 and 230 VAC to be received at the compressor.
The inverter receives commands from the main control board. The main control board will send a PWM run signal from the J15 connector of between 4-6 VDC effective voltage to the inverter (all wires must be connected). The inverter will select compressor speed (voltage output) based on this signal.
The main control board will only send a run signal to the inverter when the compressor should be on.
Note: When measuring signal voltage (from the main control board) at the inverter, a reading of 4-6 VDC will be measured with all wires connected.
The inverter will monitor compressor operation and if the compressor fails to start or excessive current draw (4 amps maximum) is detected, the inverter will briefly stop voltage output. The inverter will then make 12 consecutive compressor start attempts (once every 12 seconds). After 12 attempts, if the compressor has not started, an 8-minute count will initiate. After the 8-minute count, the inverter will attempt to start the compressor again. If the compressor starts, normal operation will resume. If the compressor fails to start, this process will be repeated. Removing power to the unit will reset the inverter count. When power is restored, the inverter will attempt to start the compressor within 8 seconds.
That is, assuming all the panels and covers are installed. Poor airflow or a defrost problem can cause a compressor to run hot. Check the frost pattern on the evaporator in the freezer compartment while the machine is running. There should be a very light coat of frost (no ice or snow) on all the coils top to bottom and side to side. Everything can be checked at the board.

GEMB-15 WR55X10956.jpgGEMB-17 WR55X10956.jpg
 

czub

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I tested J3 damper voltage while in diagnostic 10 mode. All 4 briefly went up to 6-6.5V.

The compressor is typically running around 120F, now after having both doors open for a while I'm measuring 135F.
J15 at the board was 5.6V.

Evaporator fan is running. How do I get to the evaporator?

Thank you!
 
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rickgburton

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Take the shelves out and remove the back wall. Is the condensor fan working ok.
 

czub

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Isn't it at the top of the freezer compartment on this model? The condenser fan is running.
 

rickgburton

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Oops, my bad. Force of habit I guess. On yours, remove the ice maker and ice bin. Remove 4 screws and slide the auger motor assembly forward. Disconnect the wiring connector and remove the assembly.

43552


Remove 2 screws and the wiring cover
43553


Remove 6 screws and evaporator fan cover.
43554


Disconnect the evaporator fan wiring connector. Remove 2 screws from the fan mounting bracket and remove the fan.
43555


Remove 8 screws and freezer ceiling panel. Remove Styrofoam insulation from the bottom of the evaporator drain pan. The evaporator is right above the drain pan.
43556
43557
 

czub

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Thank you for providing the instructions above and the detailed explanation. I haven't gotten to the evaporator fan assembly just yet as my fridge is 85% full and we are trying to go through at least some food before I start taking it apart. In the meantime, I have been unplugging the fridge overnight and noticed something interesting. If I leave it running for several days, the temperatures stay in the general -5/45 range. If I unplug it overnight and turn it back on in the morning, the temperature in the morning is around 7/48 and then drops to 0/36, where it's set, within the next 8 hours or so. That temperature range lasts about a day, and then the temps go back to cold freezer/warm fresh food. This overnight unplugging has worked about 4 times so far, but I obviously need to find a permanent solution. This leads me to believe the fans/dampers are probably OK but do these symptoms sound like it could be a defrost heater assembly or temp sensor?
 

rickgburton

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czub said:
fans/dampers are probably OK ...... do these symptoms sound like it could be a defrost heater assembly or temp sensor?
I'm looking for a clue that will lead me to the problem. It's not always obvious. In my first post I explained how the inverter works because you said you had to replace it once before. The three diagrams of the main board I posted show you how to check the thermistors, dampers, fans, inverter voltage, communication voltage, water valve, auger motor, custom cool and defrost heater and thermostat. You can check the defrost heater and thermostat for continuity at the board. Or you can supply the defrost heater with 120 VAC at the board and see if it turns on. The freezer evaporator thermistor (J1-4) is the only thermistor used in the defrost system. It's used to terminate the defrost cycle. That can be checked at the board also.

Here's why I wanted you to check the evaporator frost pattern: The evaporator fan motor pulls the air across the evap coils. (The temperature of the evaporator is -20° to -40°) It then moves the air through the damper into the fresh food compartment and back into the freezer compartment. If there's 13 VDC evaporator fan voltage at the board and the fan is not working, bad fan motor. If the fan should be working and there's is no supply voltage, bad board.

When there's a defrost problem the coils become packed with frost. Now there's no airflow across the coils. The fan is blowing only the air in front of the blocked coils back into the freezer compartment and fresh food compartment and because frost and ice is a good insulator, that temperature is around 30°. The thermistors aren't satisfied and that information is sent to the main board. The main board is telling the compressor to keep running. If the compressor is running 100% of the time it could cause the compressor to run above a normal temperature. See if this sounds familiar; When there's a defrost issue and the evaporator coils are packed with frost, unplugging the machine overnight (6-8 hours) is long enough to defrost only a portion of the evaporator, maybe just the outside coils while the inner coils remain packed with frost. When power is restored the fan is now able to get a little airflow across some of the coils but without a defrost cycle it doesn't take long to build frost.

Those symptoms are almost identical to your symptoms and might lead you to believe there's a defrost problem. I don't think you have a defrost problem. Remember I said ice and frost is a good insulator? The airflow is only across the front of the evaporator. It's like a fan blowing across a block of ice so the best you can do for a temperature is maybe 25°. Your temperature in the freezer is falling below the set point temperature. Once you can check the frost pattern on the evaporator coils and describe it to me I'll probably be able to tell what the problem is.
 

czub

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It took me a little while but I finally took it apart (mostly). I actually took it apart few days ago but due to the ice buildup covering most of the inside of the auger motor cover it took me a lot longer than expected, so I put the freezer ceiling panel back and plugged the evaporator fan back in. By that time the temps were 36/48. Over the next 24 hours the temps dropped to 0/37. Yesterday FZ started creeping down and FF going up again. Today it was -6/46. I could not remove the styrofoam cover without destroying as it seems to be attached to the drain pain with sealant but I bent it down on one side to take these pictures. This is with compressor running, 3 minutes after opening FZ and -6/46 temps:

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rickgburton

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OK that looks like a good frost pattern. The fans and dampers checked good and at one point the temperatures were correct (0/37) so I would say the problem is with the board. I've replaced many GE boards and one common complaint was the freezer freezing and defrosting.
 

czub

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Thanks. I was afraid you'd say something like that because it doesn't leave many options.
When my inverter board went out last time, I thought I should get a new inverter and main control boards while it's not an emergency just to have spares on hand. I have not picked up the inverter yet but I did get up a new main board and swapped it in last week and it made no difference.
MCB.jpg
 

rickgburton

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czub said:
damper made noise though i can't tell for sure if it opened/closed.
Maybe you better find out. I gave you all the pinouts to check everything. I explained how the inverter works and how to check it. The compressor should have 6Ω to 10Ω between any two pins. If it's not the board then you're missing something because that's everything. Might be time to call in a professional.
 

czub

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-6/45 this morning.
It is an airflow issue - I can't feel any air going into the FF with FF door open, FF door switch depressed and evap fan running.
The damper opened and closed while I had the evap motor cover off. Of course I don't know if it's still doing that now after running for a while. I think my next step is removing the light assembly in the FF section to get to the damper to see whether it stays open.

20190626_213914.jpg
 

czub

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Two week update:

So it looks like I finally got it working it and it's been stable for the last two weeks. I adjusted the evap fan, put the evap fan cover back on (other covers and ice making components are still out) and set it to cool to the lower setting, iirc -4/34. It ran for 24 hours, got to the set temperature and turned off. Since then it runs to the set temperature, oftentimes 1 or 2 degrees below, shuts off and restarts when the temps increase. In other words, running as it should. Nice airflow in the FF too.

I can't point to a single point of failure but I've made changes or fixes to three different areas that may have contributed.

1. Evaporator fan. The manual says the placement of the evaporator fan inside the shroud is critical, 5/16 +- 0.03. Mine was more like 1/2 to 3/4. Adjusting it should've improved air flow to FF.

2. Humidity levels in the house. In the week preceding this, I lost both A/C units in the house to different causes (blocked drain line and burned out blower motor) and it took me a week to get going the unit that services the main level where the fridge sits. During this time and for at least another week afterwards humidity levels in the house were elevated. There was a lot of condensation in the fridge, especially top left corner where the light housing covers the damper. Wonder if the damper would shut, freeze up and stay shut until defrosted.

3. New control board. Even though I replaced the board and initially there have been no changes, I can definitely tell things are running differently now. Before all this when the fridge was still keeping good temps, the compressor seemed to be always running (vibration and heat), yet the condenser fan was on infrequently, oftentimes barely turning at like 80 rpm. Now, a good portion of the time the compressor is off, but when it is running, the condenser fan is always spinning fast.

Last week I also picked up a second fridge for the basement from the neighbors that were renovating. It's a newish Samsung french door (RF268ABWP). FF is running strong but FZ according to them was very weak and my IR thermometer seems to confirm. When set to 0/38 and maintaining those temps per fridge readout, I measure 12/36 inside. Hopefully it's just a temperature sensor or something simple like that.
 

rickgburton

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czub said:
yet the condenser fan was on infrequently, oftentimes barely turning at like 80 rpm...
That's a symptom of a bad board. The condensor fan should be running whenever the compressor is running. Thanks for the update! We appreciate it. Good luck with your next project.
 
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