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Kenmore Refrigerator Not Cooling Well, Freezer is Fine


Premium Member
Feb 23, 2011
Model Number
I have a 9 year old Kenmore Elite side by side. The refrigerator will not get any colder than 40F, with the fridge temp setting at "7" (the coldest setting). The freezer works great and holds at -5F, with the freezer temp setting at "4".

Last week, I noticed the condenser fan was running constantly and I could hear the starter relay click every few minutes, but the compressor would only start intermittently. The compressor was really hot, and I discovered the condenser coils were completely covered in dust. I cleaned the coils thoroughly, but the compressor still wouldn't start reliably and I noticed the fridge and freezer weren't cooling well. I pulled the starter device off the compressor and sure enough, the relay sounded like a baby rattle when I shook it, not to mention it looked like it had taken a lot of heat. The only other odd thing of note is I haven't heard the familiar dripping sounds of a self defrost cycle for a couple of weeks now, and the drip pan has been bone dry.

Two days ago, I replaced the starter device with the updated parts kit (PTC relay + overload module). Now the compressor starts and cycles as normal, and the condenser fan and evap fan both start and run as normal. However, 30 hours later, the fridge still will not get any colder than 40F, even though the freezer maintains -5F. I checked that the air damper is wide open, with freezer air blowing into the fridge side, and the return air grille is free of obstruction. On board diagnostics check ok. I forced the defrost heater to operate (using fridge's internal diagnostics test). It start melting what little frost was on the evaporator coils within about 30 seconds. After defrost, and resuming normal operation, I watched a very thin layer of frost form evenly on all of the evap coils.

Now I'm not sure what else to check (or replace) :confused:. Any help would be greatly appreciated! If I had $1000 just laying around, I would toss this beast and just go get a new fridge, but... well, you know. On the other hand, expensive parts would just be the last nail in this sucker's coffin. Sorry this is so lengthy...
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Did you put your back freezer panel ON when you took it off to check the evaporator coils and freezer fan?

You MUST put your back panel back in place for it to cool properly in the refrigerator section.:)

Yes. I put everything back the way it was. Is the evap fan a variable speed unit? Is it possible the fan could be weak? It sounds the same as it has for the last 9 years...
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Thats odd, then I'm stumped, give it overnight and let us know in the morning.

Just verified this morning (with two different thermometers), fridge temp at 40F on coldest setting, freezer temp at -5F on normal setting ("4"). Checked the air damper, and the dumb thing was closed. Grabbed a screwdriver and started taking the cover off the damper, and I heard it start to open. Now it's wide open again. What the ???
Ready to chain this POS to the back bumper of a garbage truck!
Freezer just now started auto defrost cycle, so we know that function is working like it should. Just for grins, I adjusted fridge temp setting to "4" to see what happens when defrost cycle is complete...
Yes, this is very odd, you'll likely need to get Sears to come out to see whats going on.

Oh really? I worked at Sears, believe me its much cheaper, new refrigerators average about $500-$1500.

A service call to have Sears come out I believe is $129 which includes the labor if he needs a part.

OK Jake you have a lot going on there if he is getting minus -5 from freezer then we have problems possibly with the emitter board and air damper. I have a copy of the Whirlpool version of the Tech Sheet and wiring diagram. Also much can go wrong if you guys follow/look over the Tech Sheet very close. I am going to give the tech sheet link first=> http://appliance911seabreeze.com/2216443_tech_sheet_whirlpool_kenmore_ 106.52692100 .pdf_ Sears wants an arm and leg for that Microcomputer in the control panel I can get that for a good bit less if needed. My thoughts are the air damper is going crazy or something we don't see is happening to keep the fresh food compartment too warm. If you see where I may have made a mistake please let me know and I will return later, Thanks, Sea Breeze

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