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Maytag Refrigerator PBF1951KEW not cooling well

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
Model Number
PBF1951KE
Brand
Maytag
Age
More than 10 years
I bought my fridge with my house a little over a year ago, and it was working fine when I moved in so I never changed the temp setting. This morning I noticed things in the fridge weren’t as cool as usual, so I checked the freezer and the contents were still cold but not frozen. I could feel cool air blowing into both the fridge and freezer compartments.

As suggested in another post on this topic, I cranked down the temp (from setting 3 to about 5). I moved the fridge away from the wall, and removed the back access panel. The fan and compressor were running; the air the fan was blowing was cool, and the compressor was warm, but not hot. After a while, the compressor became noticeably hotter, and the air the fan was blowing warmer, I assume in response to the changed temperature setting).

There was a ton of pet hair compacted in around one side of the compressor, and I immediately removed as much as I could with the fan running (pictures of before I pulled it out, and the grocery bag full of stuff I removed attached). A few hours later, I unplugged the fridge for about half an hour to vacuum out some more stuff, and in that time the fridge got up to 50 degrees (according to a probe thermometer; I’m keeping the doors shut as much as possible), but has since cooled back down to about 42.

Since the fan and compressor seem to be cycling on and off, and the fridge is clearly cooling some, it seems like the compressor relay is ok. What I still don‘t know is why the fridge and freezer suddenly weren’t cooling as well as they had been, or what to do about it, aside from cranking down the temperature setting. What should I check, and what else can I try? Thanks!
 

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phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
Update: yesterday evening, the fridge was nice and cool, so I decided to change the temp setting from the coldest to one notch less cold. A couple of hours later, the temp in the fridge was back up to ~50 (according to my probe thermometer; I'm keeping the door shut as much as possible), and neither the fan nor compressor were running. I tried unplugging the fridge for a while (15-20 min?), plugged it back in and waited at least 10 min, and neither the fan nor the compressor kicked back on (and the condenser was cool to the touch). I turned the temp back down to the coldest setting, still nothing from the fan or condenser, and when I went to bed the temp in the fridge was 53 degrees.

When I woke up this morning, the probe thermometer said the temp in the fridge was ~32-34 degrees, though I didn't see/hear the condenser or fan running at all before I left for work, though the compressor was slightly warm to the touch. I could still feel cool air blowing into the fridge compartment, and the food in the freezer seemed mostly frozen again.

So it seems like everything is working, but only intermittently. Any ideas about what the problem might be?
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
135,824
Location
Vicksburg Junction, Arizona
Put a freezer thermometer inside the freezer and tell us what it reads after 2 hours with the door closed.

Any frost build up on the back panel inside the freezer?

Jake
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
There is no frost buildup on the back panel in the freezer.

As far as I can tell (from checking the readout of my probe thermometer every time I walk past the fridge, it seems to have been holding temp since my last update yesterday morning.

I got a wireless freezer thermometer, and the temp has been dropping steadily over the past 2 hours and has reached -16 F, and I’m pretty sure it’s not done going down yet. (This must be due to the thermometer, not the actual cooling time, as the readings from the fridge sensor took at least half an hour to go down from room temp to the temp indicated by the probe thermometer, which I haven’t yet removed from the fridge.)

i tried replacing the compressor start relay and it’s capacitor, since that seemed like an easy thing to try. Sadly, according to the multimeter, both of the parts I replaced were fine. There was some more of the pet hair or whatever that stuff was tucked in pretty tightly behind the start relay, and it looked like there might even have been a bit between it and the compressor right next to the three pins that connect them, but I’m not convinced it was enough to have been causing serious problems.
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
The freezer got down to -18 F before I sent to bed last night. The overnight temp in the freezer had a high of +7 degrees F, and a low of -20; however, this morning, it's rising again, and is currently up to +20 F. The temp in the fridge was 36-48 overnight, and is currently 41.

It has been on the coldest setting for the last couple of days.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
135,824
Location
Vicksburg Junction, Arizona
however, this morning, it's rising again, and is currently up to +20 F.
When it gets to +20 F is the compressor and fans still running? Or is the entire refrigerator dead silent?

Jake
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
The compressor and fans are still cycling on and off; I can’t remember if they were running at the exact time I noticed it had hit +20, but that was the max temp for that day and it started coming down again shortly after that. Yesterday morning the overnight temp range was -18 to 28, which doesn’t seem great, but at least it keeps getting back down to a reasonable temp, it’s just not holding very well.

Last night I decided to change the temp setting so it wasn’t quite on the lowest setting, and since then it’s stayed between -18 and +8. It’s currently +8 and the compressor isn’t running at the moment, but was recently. It’s a bit warm to the touch, but I haven’t noticed it getting particularly hot (though I only check a few times a day).

Ok, the compressor just cycled on for part of a second, then I heard some dripping/gurgling liquid noise, and the compressor stopped again. The fan next to the compressor started though, and after the compressor stopped I did hear a click. The compressor just came on for a moment again, then stopped, then another click.
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
And maybe 30 seconds later, the compressor started running again, and hasn't stopped.

I have noticed something like this a few times, where the compressor starts but doesn’t stay on a few times, and then seems to run normally for a while, though I haven’t stayed in the kitchen long enough to know precisely how long it runs before cycling back off again.
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
Last night the freezer temp was between -12 and +30 F. Could this be a defrost issue?

Also, I should have mentioned yesterday that I don’t have the water line to the ice maker hooked up, so whatever the liquid noises are, it’s definitely not that. I replaced the fridge and freezer gaskets last year and adjusted the leveling so both doors close and seal well on their own (so they can’t get left partially open by mistake).
 
Last edited:

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
135,824
Location
Vicksburg Junction, Arizona
Ok, the compressor just cycled on for part of a second, then I heard some dripping/gurgling liquid noise, and the compressor stopped again. The fan next to the compressor started though, and after the compressor stopped I did hear a click. The compressor just came on for a moment again, then stopped, then another click.
And maybe 30 seconds later, the compressor started running again, and hasn't stopped.

I have noticed something like this a few times, where the compressor starts but doesn’t stay on a few times, and then seems to run normally for a while, though I haven’t stayed in the kitchen long enough to know precisely how long it runs before cycling back off again.
Last night the freezer temp was between -12 and +30 F. Could this be a defrost issue?
The compressor shuts off for about 30 minutes when it goes into the defrost cycle. If it was a defrost problem your entire evaporator coil in the freezer would be totally caked up with frost as well, it would not cool to -12.

Take a photo of your evaporator coil in the freezer and upload the photo here so we can see the frost pattern.

Jake
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
Thanks! And I should’ve been more clear; I was wondering if the problem might be the defrost heater staying on too long, thus causing things to heat up too far. But maybe that’s not consistent with what‘s happening. I will work on getting the back panel off the freezer compartment so I can take and post a picture of the evaporator coils.
 

phosphorelated

Premium Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2022
Messages
9
Location
Georgia
There is a bit of ice on a few coils at the bottom, but not a ton. Hope that’s helpful! And again, thank you for your help. Much appreciated.
 

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Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
135,824
Location
Vicksburg Junction, Arizona
I was wondering if the problem might be the defrost heater staying on too long, thus causing things to heat up too far.
Nope, that's not it.

There is a bit of ice on a few coils at the bottom, but not a ton.
You have what looks like a sealed system problem.

Your evaporator coil should look like the bottom photo below that says NORMAL FROST PATTERN:

Frost Patterns.jpg
 
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