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Kenmore 596.68952801 Refrigerator Not Cooling, Freezer Fine

nielkfj

Premium Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Calgary, Canada
Model Number
596.68952801
Brand
Sears Kenmore
Age
More than 10 years
The refrigerator compartment in my Kenmore Elite bottom-mount refrigerator is too warm.

A few weeks ago when we had hot weather I noticed a bit of frost build-up inside the freezer drawer. But it went away when the weather cooled off. The weather is hot again, and the frost has re-appeared in the freezer drawer. But now the refrigerator compartment is to warm.

At the back of the freezer drawer is a panel with vent holes along the bottom. As far as I know the evaporator is behind this panel. I see frost through the vent holes, so I believe the evaporator has frozen up with ice which is preventing cold air from circulating to the refrigerator compartment. Here is a photo:
IMG_3443.JPG

There is also some light frost of the surface of the panel which can't be seen in the photo.

My questions are:

Is the frost build-up normal?

If not, is this something that can be fixed without taking anything apart? For example does the refrigerator simply need to be defrosted manually in order to function normally again?

Your help will be appreciated.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
44,221
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
Is the frost build-up normal?
No
is this something that can be fixed without taking anything apart?
No, one of the defrost components is bad. Remove the evaporator cover. The fan grill and thermistor cover unclip with a small screwdriver. Remove the 4 screws, one in each corner, then remove the cover. Use a DMM to check the defrost heater and defrost thermostat for continuity. Check the defrost thermostat while it's covered with frost. It needs to be below 40°F to show continuity. If the heater and thermostat check good, replace the control board.

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Once you determine the failed part, use a hair dryer to defrost all the ice and frost from the evaporator coils. Keep running the hair dryer to dry it out after all the frost is gone. Replace the cover when done or the machine will not cool properly. Your refrigerator should work normally until you replace the failed part. Longer than 10 days you'll probably need to remove the cover and defrost it again.
 
Last edited:

nielkfj

Premium Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Calgary, Canada
Today my refrigerator is working fine for some reason.

Cold air is blowing again from the vent in the refrigerator compartment. I looked in the freezer compartment and the frost that can be seen through the vent holes in the evaporator cover is gone.

I haven't cleaned under the refrigerator in some time and I see a fair amount of dust under there. Do you think that might have something to do with this strange behavior?

Also, the weather cooled off overnight, so maybe that has something to do with it as well.

Thanks for the information about a DIY repair. I might actually attempt it if the problem reappears. I prefer to do things myself if I can, and I have the tools to do it.
 

nielkfj

Premium Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Calgary, Canada
Today my refrigerator is working fine for some reason.

Cold air is blowing again from the vent in the refrigerator compartment. I looked in the freezer compartment and the frost that can be seen through the vent holes in the evaporator cover is gone.

I haven't cleaned under the refrigerator in some time and I see a fair amount of dust under there. Do you think that might have something to do with this strange behavior?

Also, the weather cooled off overnight, so maybe that has something to do with it as well.

Thanks for the information about a DIY repair. I might actually attempt it if the problem reappears. I prefer to do things myself if I can, and I have the tools to do it.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
44,221
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
A blocked condensor can cause poor cooling. I tell everyone to clean the coils one a year or twice a year if you have pets. However, it wouldn't cause the evaporator to frost over. If the evaporator fan wasn't working that might cause some frost build up on the coils. I really can't tell much unless the cover is removed and the frost pattern checked. We're only looking a a fraction of the evaporator through the vent holes. It definitely looks like a defrost problem. It will probably happen again. Some day appliances will be able to fix themselves but we're not there yet. LOL
 

nielkfj

Premium Member
Joined
Jul 16, 2021
Messages
4
Location
Calgary, Canada
There is no problem cooling now. I have both the refrigerator and freezer compartments set at 4 out of a maximum of 7, as they always have been, and it is nice and cold in both compartments. So I guess there is no significant issue with too much dust on the condenser.

When the refrigerator compartment wasn't cooling on Friday I could hear what I believe was the evaporator fan running (I think there is only one fan in this specific model), but there was no cold air coming out of the vent in the refrigerator compartment. So I don't think it is the evaporator fan either.

I guess I'll just keep an eye on it, check for frost on the evaporator coils regularly. I agree that it will probably occur again. It's a machine that is supposed to operate in a certain way. If it doesn't it likely means that a component is failing.
 
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