Kenmore SxS cooling poorly

king10208

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My brother's side by side recently (and suddenly) stopped cooling well. The compressor is humming away in the back. I removed the starting relay device and while there does seem to be a small rattle when shaking it and its camel-backed capacitor, it seems to successfully start the compressor, which as I said hums away and is warm-to-hot to the touch. Fans are blowing cool air in the freezer compartment, but not cold enough to freeze. He is pretty much using the freezer compartment as a refrigerator presently.

He called a tech out who diagnosed "bad compressor" by glancing and listening. He took no measurements and removed no parts. Could that really be true in an 18-month-old device? Of course it is out of its very limited (and irresponsibly short, in my admittedly biased opinion) warranty. We have heard some say the hermetically sealed system is covered by a separate 5yr warranty, but Sears/Kenmore (seemingly inseparable entities) denies this.

I would appreciate any guidance this group could offer. It seems silly to toss a $1200 appliance after 18 months, but at an estimated repair cost of $600, he's not in a position to repair it either due to this lovely economy of ours.

Thank you all very much in advance for your expertise and time.
 

Jake

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I'd check for frost build-up on the back panel inside the freezer, take the food out of the freezer and check that first, better yet, remove the back panel itself and look at your evaporator coils, normal frost pattern would be just a thin layer of frost on ALL the coils.

Just take your freezer shelves out then remove the air duct#4 here:
http://c.searspartsdirect.com/lis_png/PLDM/K0901015-00009.png
The air duct just unsnaps/pulls off, then take the screws#15 out from your lower back panel#14.

Jake <!-- / message --><!-- sig -->
 

king10208

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We have heard some say the hermetically sealed system is covered by a separate 5yr warranty, but Sears/Kenmore (seemingly inseparable entities) denies this.
Jake, could you weigh in on the above?
My brother and I are having a very difficult time finding an authoritative answer about that...

I'm heading over there right now to do the inspection you recommended with screw #15 and such.
 

king10208

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Well, I opened up the back of the fridge and all looks pretty bare and dry back there. Besides a couple of bent fins, all seemed normal. When I arrived, the thermal overload seemed to have kicked off the compressor. I unplugged the machine while I disassembled the back and took the attached photo, and when I reattached everything and plugged it back in - the compressor fired right up and both the compressor and condensor fans started blowing. The refrigerator is still not very cold, though, sadly...

Again, thanks for your time Jake and anyone else that can help. This is a terrific forum.

 

Jake

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Yes, I checked your model#, and unfortunately you don't have a 5 yr. warranty on the compressor.

It sounds like you may have bad compressor, I'd go to the Sears store where your Brother bought it at and talk to the store manager and see if they can cover this, since its still fairly new.

Jake
 

king10208

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How frustrating. He is at Sears presently trying to work out a deal of some sort. He remembers being told about the five year compressor deal, so maybe a manager will have some mercy on him. Any tips for him in his bargaining?

If not, would you recommend he go ahead with a repair or just purchase a new unit? They mentioned some $251 1yr starts-now warranty option covering repairs up to $500 or some such thing. Is this something you're familiar with? My fear is he goes that way, ends up facing an inflated repair bill of $750 instead of ~$600 as we were otherwise quoted, and then all of a sudden a year and a day later the damn thing burns out again...

If only we could tell the future, I suppose. It's difficult to choose whether to advise him to have this unit with an expired warranty repaired at a significant cost or whether to have him dive back in with a new unit with a better warranty. The $1200 or so he spent on it makes it tough to just throw away 18 months later.
 

Jake

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Any tips for him in his bargaining?
Just be polite and don't yell or make a scene.:)

Sears wants to keep good customer relations.

They mentioned some $251 1yr starts-now warranty option covering repairs up to $500 or some such thing. Is this something you're familiar with?
Yes, I'm very familiar with that program, its very good, and no inflated repair.

I would go that route, but I'm sure the store manager will resolve this, they don't want bad word of mouth about buying appliances at Sears.

Jake
 

king10208

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Well, he ended up not being able to make it during the day so I joined him in the evening. We spoke with the appliance manager and were pretty disappointed to hear how limited the options were. That guy didn't even know about the $251 warranty option and seemed fairly content to just let us twist in the wind. After some persuasion he said he would speak with the store manager today to see if they couldn't get the service department (yet another separate entity that seems to be in NO way bound by the will of Sears/Kenmore) to accommodate us somehow.

I really can't imagine ever buying another appliance at Sears after this ordeal. I imagine Whirlpool and the other manufacturers are really to blame for the 12 month warranty, but still - shoot the messenger and all of that...

I will update the thread after the appliance manager speaks to the store manager, the store manager speaks to the service department, and one of the three then contacts my brother. He has a service appointment scheduled for tomorrow morning, so hopefully this will all resolve by then.

Stay tuned, I suppose. :)
 

Jake

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Ok, yes, always speak to the store manager only, if the store manager isn't in, find out when hes next in and he/she will see you.

Yes, keep us posted.

Jake
 

king10208

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So, Sears will never get another appliance dollar from myself, my brother, my parents, my fiancee, or anyone else who we can influence.

After learning that the estimate under the $252 plan would have landed between $800-$900 for a compressor and evaporator replacement, really meaning that my brother's total cost would have been the original $252 plus the difference of the ~$850 estimate and the $500 coverage ceiling totaling $850-$500+$252 = ~$600, we give up. We have thrown in the towel, canceled the $252 silliness, and vowed to shop elsewhere. The appliance manager and the store manager for Sears / Kenmore at the local level offered no recourse besides what amounts to an expensive coupon to insufficiently service an 18-month old relatively high-end appliance that is obviously a lemon. The best way I can describe this whole experience is to call it a $1200 warning never to buy another appliance from Sears. The levels of difficulty they have put into place in terms of customer service are formidable at best. They really keep you from talking with anyone with any power whatsoever, which is pretty clever and likely very profitable for them. The "Appliance Manager" and the "Store Manager" appear to be unable to apply any discretion on a case-by-case basis. This is not so good for the consumer, of course, but I doubt that is any of their concern. I have seen some Google results mentioning the "Sears Cares Escalation Team", but good luck finding any contact information for them.

Frankly, I caution all of you reading this note to either shop somewhere else or to at least go ahead and factor in the "5 year maintenance agreement" into the price of any appliance purchased at Sears, as apparently they are either poorly made or at least poorly quality-controlled. Of course, you could always budget for a repair that costs 75% of the retail price of the unit after 18 months. Your pick.

The only value I see left in this hunk of crap is as parts to sell on eBay. Anyone need a shelf, light switch, drawer, door hinge, etc?

*sigh*

Thank you for your help, though, Jake. I wish anyone at Sears had been more like you and less like them.

In summary, screw Sears / Kenmore and every appliance with their name on it, and buyer beware. Local appliance store, here we come. It's funny, I did this with their automotive service over a decade ago - I guess I should have learned then...
 

Jake

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king10208

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Thank you for putting this on the Wall of Shame, Jake. I certainly feel like it belongs here. The non-functioning Kenmore unit is now sitting in my brother's garage. We were able to locate a pre-owned similar Samsung SxS for a cost considerably under the quoted repair price of the Kenmore. Oh, and the Samsung still has the majority of its sealed system's 5 year warranty remaining. What a waste of $1200 that Kenmore was; Thanks for nothing, Sears. For less money, we got a better warranty and more trustworthy unit. How about that.

What I will suggest to any appliance shopper I meet is "avoid Kenmore, buy Samsung" at this point. Or at a minimum, avoid Kenmore and be sure to get that five year sealed system warranty.

Thanks one last time on this issue for hosting this forum, Jake. I know I'll be back again!
 

Jake

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Thanks for the update.

Sorry again it didn't turn out well with Sears.

Jake
 
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