• Please note, some of the links on our site are affiliate links (Learn More)

Whirlpool ET1CHMXKB03 Refrigerator Keeps Running

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
Model Number
ET1CHMXKB03
Brand
Whirlpool
Age
More than 10 years
The freezer drain on our Whirlpool ET1CHMXKB03 froze up last week and water started pooling inside the refrigerator. We unplugged the refrigerator for about four hours and with a combination of hot water and a blow dryer we got the drain flowing freely again. Unfortunately, when we plugged the refrigerator back in we noticed it just keeps running. I don't know if it was doing this before the drain froze, we never paid attention.

There was no ice build up inside the freezer, but I replaced the defrost timer and the defrost thermostat anyway. The freezer does go into defrost mode every eight hours now. However, when it's not defrosting, the refrigerator just keeps running. The fans never shut off.

The door seals look good and seem to seal nicely. The evaporator and condenser fans are both working.

I placed a thermometer inside the freezer today and it was only 32 degrees (too warm). The fridge registered 45 degrees (also too warm). Both controls were set at the middle "recommended" range, so I have turned down both controls to see if it will cool further. I'm giving that some time to adjust, but the refrigerator does stop running if I turn the thermostat to the off setting.

Looking at the wiring diagram, it looks like the thermostat is the only thing that turns the fridge on and off. The defrost timer looks like it just selects between defrost or cooling. Correct?

Does this sound like a faulty thermostat?
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
40,687
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
The defrost timer looks like it just selects between defrost or cooling. Correct?
Correct. Make sure the condensor fan is working and make sure the coils under the machine are clean. Feel the compressor. Compressors normally rum warm but not hot. If the machine has been plugged in and running for at least 24 hours, leave it plugged in and running and remove the evaporator cover. Take a picture of the frost pattern on the evaporator and post it here.
 

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
I don't know how well this shows up, but there seems to be a light layer of frost on all the pipes and fins, except maybe for the very top row? (Power was off about 1-2 minutes so I could disconnect the ice maker and pull the cover panel). The pipes seem to be fully coated on the end loops, but not as much on the fins.

The compressor seemed on the warmer side, but I don't know how warm is too warm. I could touch it, but it wasn't comfortable to leave my hand there for long (didn't have a thermometer to check). Like I said, it runs constantly unless it's in defrost mode.

I adjusted the temperature control slightly today, and got the fridge down to 37 and the freezer down under zero. This morning it was 45 in the fridge and 32 in the freezer (on the "recommended" setting 3).

Both fans are working correctly.

If it wasn't running constantly, I would think everything was functioning normally.

2020-11-19 190000.jpg
 

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
Yep, all of the covers are on.

I've been checking the temperatures all day, but am not having much luck. My digital thermometer bottomed out at 32 degrees in the freezer. So I tried an old mercury thermometer which registered -10 in the freezer and in the upper 20's in the freezer. That can't be right or the water bottles in there would be frozen. I'll keep checking, but I don't think either thermometer is going to give me an accurate reading.

Meanwhile the fridge just keeps running... I also think I broke the ice maker. It had just refilled with water before I took it out, and spilled water all over the ice maker. Now it's not refilling or making ice. Least of my problems, I'm more concerned about the fridge running.

Any other ideas?
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
40,687
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
-10 in the freezer and in the upper 20's in the freezer.
That sounds like a refrigerator that runs all the time. I think you need a thermometer that works correctly. I've replaced many cold controls for that exact problem on Whirlpool machines. The contacts stick together sometimes
 

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
Yeah, I think I'll go pick up a new freezer thermometer tomorrow morning. But, it is sounding more like a bad thermostat (cold control).
 

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
I'm back again.... Darn.

I replaced the defrost timer, defrost thermostat, and temperature control. Along the way I somehow broke the ice maker and replaced that as well. I have cleaned all the coils underneath the fridge, and verified both fans are working.

Unfortunately, the fridge still seems to run a lot and we're starting to see water and ice inside the refrigerator compartment again, like we did back before Thanksgiving.

I have an accurate fridge thermometer now. The freezer maintains a temp around 0 degrees, and the fridge stays right around 35 degrees or so.

There's no ice buildup inside the freezer, so I'm assuming the auto defrost is working correctly.

Any ideas? We've considered just replacing the fridge, but the one we would want is out of stock right now. I've already spent a lot trying to fix this one, so I would prefer to keep it going if I can.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
40,687
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
The fridge seems to run all day. It's usually off when I first get up in the morning, and shuts off once or twice a day during the defrost cycle. Otherwise it seems to always run. I don't remember it doing that in the past.

We cleaned the drain line out last month and had it free flowing. I haven't checked it again, but I think it's probably frozen up again. There's ice buildup around the bottom of the back panel, and it's dripping into the refrigerator compartment.

If I have time tomorrow I'll pull the back panel again and try clearing the drain again. I'll probably also check the defrost element for continuity, but wouldn't the freezer ice over and have frost build up if it wasn't working?

How fast is the (condensor?) fan under the fridge supposed to turn? I verified it was running, but it didn't seem like it was turning as fast as I would have guessed it should. But I have nothing to compare it to. The (evaporator?) fan in the freezer turns a lot faster.

We checked the door seals again too. They still look fine.

I turned the fridge and freezer temperature controls down to 2, but the temps in each compartment seem to hold steady at 0 and 35'ish.
 

CamasTony

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2020
Messages
7
Location
Camas, WA
I happened to catch the freezer in defrost mode last night. Ice was melting in the freezer, dripping down into the refrigerator compartment, and I could feel warmth on the back wall of the freezer. So it appears the defrost element is good.

The drain is obviously frozen over again. I'm hoping to try clearing that again today. No problems in 13 years and now it's frozen over twice in a month?
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
40,687
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
How fast is the (condensor?) fan under the fridge supposed to turn?
It runs at a pretty good clip. This fan motor had a lot of problems so it was replaced with an update kit. That would definitely cause it to run a lot. I forgot about that until you mentioned it..lol. Here's the update kit:
whirlpool-condenser-motor-kit-w10124096-ap4318657_01_m.jpg
 
Top