Refrigerator Compressor and evaporator fan do not run

Aug 25, 2019
Westerville, Ohio
Power runs through the cold control than through the evaporator fan motor through the defrost thermostat if closed which it is not because it is not cold enough than through the defrost heater which also has to be good to complete the circuit. So if compressor not coming on Defrost thermostat not cold enough to make evaporator fan work.

Mr. Buck, this caught my eye during a rather intense learning/DIY session diagnosing a late 1980's GE side-by-side. I've never really had to dive deep into a refrigerator. But, I fix everything else via DIY encompassing intense automotive and structural home repairs. So, I figured I'd have a go at tackling the current cooling issue.

This was a large learn-more-as-I-go-deeper endeavor. On the way down I probable detoured on a few uninformed and unnecessary avenues. But, I'm now mostly there... However, I'd like to know *exactly* the what's, how's, and why's.

First, I thought it was the defrost timer. So, I ordered a new one (has not arrived yet). I took the old one apart to have a gander at the issue. Nothing popped out at me. The timer an old unit with a stand-alone clock motor. I removed the motor and hooked it up to mains power all on its own. Seemed to work just fine. The electrical spring contacts inside also seemed to work just fine. A multimeter and some alligator clips backed up the visual inspection of the timer. No biggy, the refrigerator is 40 year old. Spending $10.00 on a defrost timer ain't gonna kill me. But, while waiting on the delivery of the ancient component, I figured I'd set the timer (with the clock motor removed) on "run" and verify everything else was good.

Things seemed to work. Although, there were a couple of times the condenser fan was not moving while the compressor was running. I checked the two-wire leads to the condenser fan and saw 120 volts AC as clear as day. Hmmmm.

Okay, so maybe, my cooling issue wasn't the simultaneous running of the compressor and defrost cycles. Remember, I'm learnin' and turnin' a wrench all at the same time. I figured while I was in this deep, might as well go all in. I figured replacing the defrost timer, the condenser fan motor, and the start/relay would be wise on such an old beast.

This morning, I wired everything in with soldered spade connectors and plenty of heat shrink tubing. The compressor fired right up. But, the new condenser fan remained motionless. Hmmm, again...

Well, the condenser motor is fed right from compressor power via a red wire. I checked it again with the multimeter. Yep, the fan is being presented 120 volts AC. Okay, let's just see if the new fan still works after my installation effort? Out of the fan, I alligator clip to chassis ground. The fan starts a runnin' just perfectly. So, for my testing-of-the-moment, I steal the neutral wire from the vacant ice machine pigtail. The refrigerator is humming along just fine. It will probably have my test cup of water frozen with the hour.

Now, I'm curious about the neutral side of the condenser fan circuit... As stated earlier, the hot feed for the fan comes directly from the compressor power feed upstream of the starter/relay. The wire feeding the compressor fan is red. Red is also the color of the neutral side of the condenser power combination. This red "neutral" wire then continues to the front of the refrigerator via the many-wire harness.

So, after that long winded journey, where is the neutral side of the condenser fan circuit going and why?
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