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FIXED Kenmore Refrigerator 363.9502714 Intermittent Electrical Smoke Smell When Doors are Open

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jchewie

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
30
Location
MI
Model Number
363.9502714
Brand
Sears Kenmore
Age
More than 10 years
I have this ancient refrigerator, works great (except for the ice maker), freezer and fridge are cold, etc.
Electrical smell is occasionally present, but only when a door or both doors are open, and then only intermittently.
It does not seem to be present *in* either fridge or freezer side, but rather is present near edges. More pronounced towards the top, but present at bottom.
We vacuumed coils, pulled fridge out and vacuumed and cleaned underneath and behind (usually do this every 6 months or so anyway), and left it pulled out overnight.
Close the door, electrical smoke smell dissipates and goes away.
The smell is never present with the doors closed.



Any tips are appreciated.
 
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Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
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Messages
123,976
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
That's very odd, I've run into that before. Hopefully another tech or member that has can shed some light on it for us.

But you need to watch your refrigerator carefully, we wouldn't want it to catch on fire when your not home.

You may want to start to go refrigerator shopping, better to be safe than sorry.

Jake
 

jchewie

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
30
Location
MI
We got it pinpointed this afternoon. Wife saw a couple arcs while digging out chicken thighs for dinner from the freezer. I had left the kickplate cover off and it could be seen.

Also had a suggestion from Robert4 by PM to take a look at door switches and related lighting circuits, thank you!

Will be digging in to the problem and further assessing this evening. Thankfully we have a deep freeze and I can put the freezer stuff in there. Couple of coolers for the dairy stuff if needed.

Fridge is dated 04/90, very likely original to the house that I think the original family moved into back in 1991. We have been here since 2013.
 

Robert4

Premium Member
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Jun 5, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Houston, TX
Sounds pretty scary.

That's the only thing I could think of that would correlate to the smell being present when the door is open.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
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jchewie

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
30
Location
MI
I thought it was a shot in the dark. :)
Thanks guys, I got it pulled apart tonight. Wires and connectors are in great shape right up to the end where the plug meets the switch. The switch appeared to be arcing to the refrigerator frame from the low terminal and down it's side. A little goo right there, not sure if something spilled long ago and finally charred enough to conduct or if it is plastic that the arc melted.

Anyway, I taped the terminal ends up to prevent accidental contact, plugged the fridge back in, and ordered a switch.

I'm thinking the smoke smell was stronger at the sides because the cold convective air flow spilling out the freezer was enough to disrupt it and mask it's source.

I'm glad it's a $20 repair and not a new fridge.
 

Robert4

Premium Member
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Jun 5, 2021
Messages
182
Location
Houston, TX
I really didn't have much confidence in that guess!

Now if only I could be that good with guessing lottery numbers....
 

Jake

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Location
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Excellent @jchewie , sounds like that was the problem.(y)

Robert you were right. LOL

That's why its always best to post what you think in the thread so others following the thread can know as well, we all help each other in public here, that's how we help each other fix their own appliances.:)

Jake
 

jchewie

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2006
Messages
30
Location
MI
Switch arrived today, plugged back in, wrapped with a couple turns of electrical tape, and placed back in refrigerator frame. All working, thanks!
Again, very happy to have a fix for a few dollars instead of a new refrigerator!
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
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Messages
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Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Excellent @jchewie glad to hear the door light switch fixed it.(y)

Thanks for the update!

Thanks again Robert for catching that! That door light switch slipped my mind as the culprit.

Jake
 
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