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Kenmore Elite 253.44303400 at 3 - 8 degrees, rarely reaches 0

burner

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2017
Messages
10
Location
New Rochelle, NY
Model Number
253.44303400
Brand
Sears Kenmore
Age
More than 10 years
I have a Kenmore Elite side-by-side refrigerator that as far as I can tell is a rebranded Frigidaire SxS. I monitor the fridge/freezer temps using separate thermostats (ie not the temps shown in the fridge) and I've noticed since the start of July that the freezer has trouble keeping temp at 0. I live in NY and it is has been hot and humid since the start of July, so that may have made the issue more apparent. I've checked that the vents in the freezer are not blocked, the evaporator fan works on low (door open) and high (door closed), the doors seal and the ice maker chute flap on the freezer door fully closes.

The scheduled defrost mode appears to work at least somewhat, because twice a day I can watch the freezer temp going up and coming back down but never to 0. At the beginning of the month after a defrost it would drop back to 2 or 3. Then a few days later after a defrost it started dropping back to 4. Now this week it's dropping back to 6 or 7.

In 2018 I replaced the defrost heater element and its thermostat because the fridge couldn't hold temp. To test if this is the problem again I waited until after a scheduled defrost cycle and subsequent temp drop down (ie fridge/freezer 37/7) and then tried manual defrost mode, but it did not defrost at all. In the display it shows a tiny uppercase E next to the -d and -F. Normally when a defrost is manually requested it does not show the E. I have no idea what it means and I can't find it in the Frigidaire SxS service manual, but I assume some type of error. A picture is attached.

Here are some temp logs for the last few days. Note these are from the more accurate external thermostats I put in the fridge and freezer and not what is on the fridge display. The fridge display compensates for freezer variances by showing 0 over a wider range (like it will say 0 degrees when it's really 4 degrees or something).


7/7/2022 (Room temp 80 degrees, 52% Humidity, Freezer Alarm set at 10 degrees)
--------
6:53a - 40/10 - Alarm
6:58a - 37/9
7:04a - 37/7
7:08a - 37/5
7:13a - 37/4
7:18a - 37/3
7:23a - 37/2
** at this point it just stayed at 37/2 or 37/3 for the next 30 minutes I monitored it and compressor remained on

7/10/2022 (Room temp 76 degrees, 42% Humidity, Freezer Alarm set at 10 degrees)
--------
8:24a - 40/10 - Alarm
8:29a - 39/8
8:34a - 37/6
8:39a - 37/4
8:44a - 37/3
8:49a - 37/3
** at this point it just stayed at 37/3 or 38/3 for the next 20 minutes I monitored it and compressor remained on

7/14/2022 (Room temp 81 degrees, 56% Humidity, Freezer Alarm set at 10 degrees)
--------
10:33a - 40/10 - Alarm
10:38a - 40/11
10:43a - 41/9
10:48a - 40/8
10:53a - 38/6
-- someone put groceries in the fridge and freezer and used the ice maker at this point
-- i confirmed the seals and ice maker flap are again fully closed
10:58a - 39/6
11:03a - 39/7
11:08a - 38/9
11:13a - 38/10
11:18a - 38/10
11:25a - 37/10
11:28a - 37/9
11:33a - 37/9
11:38a - 37/9
11:43a - 37/8
11:48a - 37/8
11:53a - 37/8
11:58a - 37/7
12:03p - 37/7
12:08p - 37/7
** at this point it just stayed at 37/7 for however long I monitored it and compressor remained on


A few notable things:

1. The compressor is on all the time unless the freezer is in a defrost cycle. That may be normal since it's an inverter compressor but I think it's on trying to reach 0.

2. When in a defrost cycle the temperature really doesn't rise as high as it used to. I have my Sep 2018 notes that say the freezer temperature would rise to the 20s during defrost.

3. Immediately after a defrost cycle the compressor can drop the temperature down about 1 degree every 5 minutes for about 30 minutes until it reaches some low point like 5 degrees.

4. If the fridge or freezer is opened after that 30 minute window and the temperature rises, the compressor can drop the temperature down about 0.3 degrees every 5 minutes back down to the same low point, but no further. (For example see 7/14 where it takes 30 minutes to get from 9 degrees to 7 degrees then it can't go further).

5. There were one or two random times over the 2 weeks where I was passing by the thermometer and did see the refrigerator at 37/0, but it never lasted.


To check the evaporator coil for a frost pattern would require a lot of work which is why I haven't done it yet. I'd have to remove all the food, the shelving and the back panel. I'm wondering if this is enough information that any of you can tell what is wrong. I'm attaching the Service Data Sheet 241582302 from my model. (The sears parts website lists different service data sheet numbers 241582300 and 218769500 for 253.44303400, but sheet 241582302 is the one that came with the refrigerator.)
 

Attachments

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  • Kenmore Service Data Sheet 241582302.pdf
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Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
132,675
Location
Redmond, Oregon
Have you cleaned the condenser coil? If that's clogged up with lint or pet hair that can cause this problem too.

The condenser coil is black and located in the back of the refrigerator behind the lower back access panel, its #1 here:
(click to enlarge)
Screenshot 2022-07-15 06.38.53.png

Pull your refrigerator out from the wall, then unplug it, then remove the lower back access panel and you can clean it with a vacuum or condenser brush, but Compressed air works the best.

Condenser Coil Brush


If the condenser coil is clean and clear, it seems to be a sealed system problem, thus its not staying at 0 degrees F constantly anymore.

Jake
 

burner

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2017
Messages
10
Location
New Rochelle, NY
Thanks Jake. I did clean the coil last September. I usually clean it every few years, as it is not bad enough that it needs to be cleaned every year. This fridge is located across from a counter and requires removing both doors and most of what's in it in order to be able to roll it out and then push it to the side without hitting the counter. So it is a lot of work to get to behind it.

I plan to transfer the freezer contents into a separate freezer, take out the shelving and back panel inside the freezer, and then I will be able to observe the evaporator coil for a few days and see if that gives any clues.
 
Last edited:

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
132,675
Location
Redmond, Oregon
I plan to transfer the freezer contents into a separate freezer, take out the shelving and back panel inside the freezer, and then I will be able to observe the evaporator coil for a few days and see if that gives any clues.
Yes, that would be good to do. Also if you can take a photo of the evaporator coil and upload it here, so we could see the frost pattern of it.

Look at these photos below, the very bottom photo is a normal frost pattern.

Frost Patterns.jpg
 
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