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WRX998SIBM01 -- Back/inside of freezer frosting up, food is thawing

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
Model Number
WRX988SIBM01
Brand
Whirlpool
Age
1-5 years
Door seal is confirmed air-tight. Shut off the freezer and manually defrosted w/ blow dryers a couple weeks back -- frost has returned and food is thawing again. Service Test 6 for the defrost heater indicates it is ON (code 01), but putting it in Forced Defrost Mode (Service Test 38, long mode) doesn't melt the frost. Any insight/help here? Any other service tests likely to give me more insights?
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
125,656
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Service Test - 6: Defrost Heater/Bi-metal
NOTE: If bi-metal is open, it will need to be bypassed for heater to operate.
Heater should be on. Display will be blank until a valid reading is displayed
(01 = bi-metal closed, 02 = bi-metal open).

F(freezer)C(compartment) defrost heater output, bi-metal bypass. Service Test 6. 115 VAC, if bi-metal closed.

On your main control board in the back of your refrigerator put your meter probes on P2-3 and P1-2--->When running SERVICE TEST 6 and see if you get 115 Volts AC.

The bi-metal must be closed(covered in frost), or bypassed.

#10 is your defrost heater and defrost thermostat(bi-metal) here:

Jake
 

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
Thank you! But before I do that -- I apparently spoke too soon. How does the following change your advice?

I re-checked the vanes at aft/interior of the freezer about one hour after Service Test 38 -- forced defrost, long version -- and they were completely clear of frost/ice. So the heater must be functional after all. To my way of thinking, however, a frostless freezer shouldn't require me to research double-secret defrosting methods -- it should happen automatically. After my blow-dryer "manual" defrost two weeks ago, it's clearly frosting over to the point of non-functionality fairly quickly -- with a heater that works! Are there adjustments to defrosting modes I could make, perhaps?
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
125,656
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Ok Tim what I do while frost is still on the evaporator coil is run that test, then touch or feel near the heating element and see if its hot.

If the defrost heater is hot then we know the defrost thermostat and defrost heater are both good, so that just leaves the main control board as the bad part.

Control board is in stock here:

Are there adjustments to defrosting modes I could make, perhaps?
Unfortunately not.

Jake
 

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
Again, thank you for the insight, Jake!

So, 24 hours after successfully melting all the frost/ice off the coils -- in only an hour activating the forced-defrost Test 38 -- I can (just now) see it already beginning to frost-up again. (It's gotta' be getting hot to melt all that ice/frost in only one hour, right?)

Now here's the rub in my mind, Jake -- if we've isolated the board as the problem, I've gotta' ask -- aren't I successfully executing a forced-defrost (Test 38) through/by the same control board? If its a bad board that can't defrost the freezer as designed/programmed, why does it defrost the freezer successfully on Test 38? Or are those Service Tests done through another board?

One other malady that cropped up: "sections" of interior lights stopped working several months back -- first, all the lights on the upper-right interior of the fridge, then all the lights in the freezer compartment a few months later. It can't be individual light fixtures -- the odds of them all failing at the same time are too long. Might the same control board be responsible for that problem too?

Finally -- before I plunk down $300 to replace a control board that is only ~3 years old -- can you offer any tips to get more longevity out of a new board? Any user-behaviors that might suck the life out of the board prematurely? Perhaps some kind of industrial-strength surge-protector would help? Or did I unwitting buy a piece-of-junk fridge/freezer? 'Always thought Whirlpool's were higher-end.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
125,656
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
When you say frost up, how much? Take a photo of the evaporator coil as frosted, because normal would be a thin layer of frost on all the coils.

Also make sure you put the cover back over your evaporator coil, leaving that off makes frost build-up too much. Make sure the evaporator fan is running at all times while the compressor is running.

Look at these photos below:

Frost Patterns.jpg
 

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
I'm looking at the evaporator coil through a plastic grate at the lower-back-interior of the freezer -- and it definitely does not look like the normal frost pattern you've sent. From the photos, I would guess I'm looking at the bottom row of evaporator coil vanes through the plastic grate. Within 24-48 hours of a forced defrost, there is enough frost re-accumulated to close the gaps between the vanes. Not too much longer after that, the growing ice formations begin to "overflow" through the plastic grate and block it off, obstructing cold air flow and causing frozen food to go soft. I did another forced defrost last night which got rid of it all -- I'll attach a photo once it frosts-up again.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
125,656
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
Take the evaporator cover completely off, then take the photo.

I need to see the entire coil.

Jake
 

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
OK -- again, I really appreciate your assistance. I think I know how to get the freezer drawer front face off -- and the lower drawer out after that -- but it's these maddening plastic retainer caps that seem to prevent removal of the upper two drawers -- and I'm guessing they need to come out too in order to get the evaporator cover off. A few amateur YouTube videos depicting owners trying to remove these upper drawers seems to always result in their breaking them. Any help/video you can point me to -- to get the evaporator cover off without breakage? Not much frost has returned this evening, so it seems I've got some time to learn how to do this.
 

Jake

Appliance Tech - Admin
Staff member
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
125,656
Location
McMullen Valley, Arizona
This video will give you the general idea:
Removing the evaporator cover starts at about the 10:30 mark of the video.

Jake
 

Tim McDonald

Premium Member
Joined
May 20, 2020
Messages
6
Location
CA
Hi Jake,

You've put your finger on my precise problem: the Repair Clinic video you sent is for a completely different model Whirlpool. It looks the same on the outside, but the interior drawer configuration is much different: 1)the main drawer doesn't just lift out; you have to remove the entire drawer front face 2) the smaller upper drawers cannot be slid out simply by depressing tabs along the drawer rails: plastic retainers prevent removal for the middle drawer -- and the upper drawer is in a different configuration even from this -- which I haven't sorted out yet. Its almost as if they designed to prevent amateurs from fixing their own poorly-built freezers. I've attached a photo of the plastic tabs that prevent drawer removal. In the amateur videos I've seen, any effort to remove these tabs results in breakage.
 

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