Are you using a "Green Plug" or "Energy Saver" plug to power this refrigerator?
A "Green Plug" is an electrical box that plugs into your power outlet. The refrigerator is plugged into it, and it can save electric usage by modifying the power coming from your electrical outlet.
In the "old days," refrigerators were overpowered. The electricity could be modified and some energy could be saved.
Since about 1992, because of government "Energy Efficiency" requirements, refrigerators are much more efficient, and they don't use NEAR the energy of older refrigerators. On these newer refrigerators, Green plugs can actually DECREASE the efficiency, or even damage the refrigerator.
If you are using a "Green" plug, disconnect it now, or you may not be able to diagnose your refrigerator problems.
Is there power going to your refrigerator?
Is the light on inside the fridge?
Is the refrigerator plugged in?
Did you check the house breaker?
Door seals are held to the door by screws, which are accessed by lifting the seal away from the door. A magnet "sticks" the seal to the door frame and mullions.
Look for gaps between the seal and the door frame. If you think you see one, make sure there is nothing jammed in the compartment that is preventing the door from fully closing. It seems obvious, but...you'd be surprised.
Slip a dollar bill between the seal and the door frame. If you can slide the bill sideways, (or up and down) then the gap is too wide. It MAY be caused by a damaged seal, or the door may be warped a little. You will need to adjust the gap.
I personally think that door seals are one of the most misunderstood pieces of the refrigerator. Ask a do-it-yourselfer about why his fridge is warm, and the first thing he'll say after "I don't do Freon" is "but let's check the door seals."
Unless the seal is shredded or you can physically see a gap between the seal and the door frame with the door closed, there is no reason to suspect a door seal problem.
Door seals rarely have problems over the life of the fridge. The only ones I've seen go bad are in households that have dogs or cats that like to chew or sharpen their claws on them, or kids that climb or hang on the refrigerator door. A really bad door seal problem is most likely to show up as a defrost problem, due to humid air getting into the fridge.
To replace the seal, you must have a nut driver of the proper size. A power nutdriver is better. A magnetic tip may prevent you from going crazy trying to hold the driver, the screw and the seal at the same time.
There are lot of screws holding the seal on. Remove the screws from NO MORE THAN two sides at a time. One side at a time is better. The idea is to prevent the plastic inner door liner (or shelving) from drifting around — if you have to re-align it, it can be a long, frustrating, trial-and-error process. The new seal will fit in the same way as the old one came out.
You can use a blow-dryer to soften the seal to shape it more easily.
You are much more likely to have a door alignment problem or warping. There's not much you can do with a badly warped door except to try to warp it back into shape, or replace it.
With the door closed, measure the gap around it; top and bottom, left and right. Check if the door edges and refrigerator edges are parallel. If the measurements indicate that the door is badly out of alignment, re-align it be loosening the hinges slightly (one hinge at a time) and shifting the door around. It may take a few tries to get it aligned properly.
Remove anything obstructing the seals. Sometimes the kick plate will get in the way. If it's metal, you may be able to bend it slightly to solve your problem.
On several occasions, I have been called to peoples' homes with the complaint that the food section was cold in the bottom, but felt like a warming oven was on in the top of the compartment.
It turned out in every case that the interior lights were not shutting off. (A light bulb puts out enough heat to actually warm the top of the fridge compartment. Remember, warm air rises.)
There are two things that might cause this.
One is a defective door switch, easily diagnosed and corrected.
The other is if nothing is contacting the door switch. Some units were built with a removable interior shelf that also shut off the light by contacting the door switch. Remove the shelf, and nothing hits the switch; the light doesn't turn off.
The easiest way to diagnose this is to peek into the compartment while slowly closing the door. If the light does not shut off well before the door is fully closed, test the switch and look at its closing mechanism and see what's happening.
Pry out the door switches as shown below.
You can use a voltmeter to check for voltage at the switch leads (with the door switch pressed, of course) or just simply replace the switch...they're pretty cheap.
Next, check your condenser and condenser fan.
The locations of the most common types of condensers are shown below. Any type condenser mount may be used on bottom-freezer, top-freezer or side-by-side units.
A back-mounted condenser has no condenser fan. Air flows over it by convection; the warm air rises and is replaced by cooler air from below. Some of these condensers are covered by a metal plate.
Bottom-mounted condensers come in many configurations. Most look like a radiator or grille beneath the fridge, behind the kickplate. They are accessible for cleaning through the bottom front of the refrigerator. A condenser fan moves air across these condensers.
Another fairly common type of bottom-mount condenser is wrapped in a metal plate and is accessible through the bottom back panel of the refrigerator.
The condenser fan may be mounted in a number of different ways. Usually it is accessed by removing the bottom back panel. The images show the most common arrangement for the condenser fan.
If you have a back-condenser refrigerator, make sure that nothing has fallen behind your fridge that might block the airflow.
If you have a bottom condenser, remove the baseplate (kickplate) from the bottom front of the refrigerator and look beneath it with a powerful flashlight. If you have kids or dogs or if your clothes dryer is installed nearby, you are a prime candidate to have a blocked condenser.
Quite a bit of dust is normal; still, enough may be impacted to block the airflow completely. Feel for a steady flow of warm air from the drain pan side; it should be obvious. Clean your condenser with a condenser brush. (NOTE: Some condensers must be accessed through the back panel.)
CAUTION: When cleaning your condenser, you want to do it thoroughly, but don't be too vigorous about it. You don't want to knock loose any wiring beneath the fridge. Also, you may hit the condenser fan (with a grinding thud) with the brush. Don't worry too much about it; you probably won't hurt the fan or motor, though it is something you want to avoid if possible.
If the airflow improves dramatically, then that may have been your only problem.
After you clean your condenser, pull the lower back panel off the fridge. Make sure that the condenser fan is running and not blocked by any loose insulation or other objects.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU REPLACE THE BACK BOTTOM PANEL!!! If it is missing, fashion one out of a piece out of corrugated cardboard and screw it on using the existing screw holes. It has the very important job of directing airflow beneath the fridge, assuring that the condenser fan is drawing air over the condenser and not just sucking air in through the back of the fridge.
If the condenser fan is stopped and there is nothing blocking it, replace the fan motor. They are sealed units and cannot be rebuilt.
Replacing the condenser fan motor can be dirty and difficult. There are two types of mounts most commonly used; bracket mount (the most common) and pedestal mount.
It is usually easiest to remove the mounting brackets or pedestal from their place in the refrigerator, with the fan motor attached. When installing a new motor with bracket mounts, it may be easier to install the brackets loosely on the motor until you can locate the mounting screws in their holes. The wires can be cut and re-connected with crimp-on butt connectors or wire nuts and electrical tape
Even if you find a dirty condenser or stopped condenser fan, it's a good idea to go through the rest of the tests in this chapter to be certain that you've solved your problem.
Inside either the freezer or refrigerator compartment you will generally find at least two dial-type controls.
One of them, called the COLD CONTROL, is a thermostat...an electric switch that starts and stops the compressor based on the temperature that it senses inside the compartment. If it somehow magically gets turned off (Got Kids Around?) or if the switch fails, the compressor will stop running, and the refrigerator will warm up.
To test the cold control, jumper the two wires leading to it. If you hear the compressor start, then the cold control needs replacement.
The other dial is an AIR DOOR that controls the small amount of air that passes to the food compartment while the evaporator fan is running.
In some refrigerators, the movement of these air doors is not manually controlled. They may be controlled thermo-mechanically, or even electrically, by a computer board such as the ADC (Adaptive Defrost Control.) But there is usually a knob for setting the temperature that you want in each compartment.
Either dial may be marked with different labels: "refrigerator control," "freezer control," "food compartment control," etc. Determining which is which can get a bit confusing. If the knob has an "off" setting which stops the compressor from running, it is the cold control.
If there is no "off" setting, the easiest way to tell them apart is to pull the plastic knob off the control. The cold control will usually have a wide tang and a narrow tang. The air door will usually have a plastic or metal "D"-shaped shaft (a round shaft with a flat) to which it attaches, although this is not always the case.
If one dial is in the freezer section and one is in the food section, the one in the freezer section is the cold control, and the one in the food section is the air door.
If the knobs will not come off with a firm pull, or you are still unsure of which control is which, try putting your hand in front of the air vents in the food compartment and manipulating the controls. Make sure the evap fan is running; you may have to tape the door switch so it stays on. If you are manipulating the air door, there should be a detectable difference in the strength of the air draft from the low setting to the high setting.
Often, the first thing that folks do when their refrigerator starts to feel warm is turn both controls on the coldest settings. This is exactly the WRONG thing to do.
All the cold air is made in the freezer. Just a little bit of it is vented off to the fridge side.
Turning the cold control to the coldest setting will keep the compressor running longer and make lots of cold air.
Note that the air door may be labeled "Freezer Temperature." It's true that if you turn it to its coldest setting, it will keep the freezer colder...by not allowing much cold air into the fridge side. This can cause confusing symptoms; the freezer WILL be colder, but the fridge side will actually get warmer.
If your refrigerator is not as cold as it should be, the thermostat (cold control) switch will be closed, telling the compressor to run constantly. Can you hear your compressor running constantly? If not, the cold control may be bad. Listen for the compressor, and turn the cold control to the off position. You should hear the compressor stop. If not, you need to replace the cold control.
Now set both controls on a mid-range setting for the following tests and produres.
If you have to move your fridge for any reason, you HAVE TO keep it upright.
If you turn it on its back or side, there's a strong probability that the compressor oil will run out of the compressor and into the condenser, and when you start the fridge, the compressor will burn out within a few hours or even minutes, because it's lost its lubrication.
I've heard of people getting lucky and getting away with it; maybe they just happened to lay it on the "lucky" side of the fridge.
It's not worth the risk. If your fridge has been laid on its back or side, stand it upright again but don't plug it in for a day or two.
Then plug it back in and let it run for a few hours. And just hope that either the oil drained back into the compressor, or that it didn't run out in
the first place.
If it gets cold, great. You dodged a bullet.
If it doesn't get cold, the compressor may be dead. We DO have a way to test the compressor.
With the refrigerator door closed, the compressor should turn on, run for a good 10 to 20 minutes, and then shut off for between 20 minutes and several hours.
Does the compressor sound like it might be "short-cycling?" That is, turning on and off every 5 to 20 minutes?
Look at the frost on the back wall or floor of your freezer.
Is there thick, white, snowy-looking frost there?
Or is there a light, thin coating of snowy frost?
Or is there little to no frost at all?
We need to know if power is getting to the compressor.
In addition, if power IS getting to the compressor, then we need to know if it is starting and running.
If the compressor feels warm or hot to the touch, then it is definitely getting power. HOWEVER, getting power does not necessarily mean that the compressor is starting and running.
If the compressor is NOT warm or hot, check for voltage at the compressor leads. The defrost control timer (or ADC) controls when the compressor turns on and off, so the problem is likely there.
Listen carefully to the refrigerator for about 5 minutes. If you hear a "CLICK-BUZZZZZZ-CLICK" (with a buzz of between about 5 and 30 seconds) then you are getting power to the compressor, but it is not starting. There is something wrong with the compressor or compressor starting components.
Some refrigerators are very quiet and smooth when they operate. If you are not SURE you hear your compressor running or feel it vibrating, your compressor may not be working properly, and you must investigate further.
Access the compressor by opening the back bottom panel of your refrigerator.
IT MAY BE HOT, so GENTLY put your hand on the compressor.
If it's too hot to touch, use a screwdriver to feel if it's vibrating.
If you are still unsure, put your ear against the screwdriver. Your ears and facial skin are more sensitive, so if it's running, even if it's quiet, you'll hear or feel it.
Now, still feeling the compressor for vibration, unplug the refrigerator; this will stop the compressor. Do you hear or feel a difference? Did it stop vibrating? If so, the compressor was running.
WAIT AT LEAST 5 MINUTES before turning the compressor back on for your next tests. If you try to restart it too soon, it may not start; you may hear buzzing and clicking noises described above. This is nothing to be alarmed about. Simply remove the power from the compressor for a few more minutes until the compressor will restart. What's happening is that the Freon pressure is still too high within the system.
The compressor can RUN if there's high pressure at it's outlet, but it can't START if there is.
Just give it a few minutes; the Freon pressure will slowly equalize throughout the system, and the compressor will soon be able to restart.
If the condenser doesn't have plenty of air flowing over it, it can't give up heat to the surrounding air like it needs to.
And if it can't give up enough heat to the OUTside of your refrigerator, then it can't absorb much heat from the INside of your refrigerator.
Two things commonly cause this. Either the condenser gets choked up with dust, or the condenser fan stops running.
The locations of the most common types of condensers are shown below. Typically they are found on the back or bottom of the refrigerator.
BACK-MOUNTED A back-mounted condenser has no condenser fan. Air flows over it by convection; the warm air rises and is replaced by cooler air from below. Some of these condensers are covered by a metal plate.
Mini-refrigerators usually DON'T have a condenser fan. But the condenser still needs airflow, so it must be free of dust and other obstructions.
BOTTOM-MOUNTED Bottom-mounted condensers come in many configurations. Most look like a radiator or grille beneath the fridge, behind the kickplate. They are accessible for cleaning through the bottom front of the refrigerator. A condenser fan moves air across these condensers.
FRIGIDAIRE-TYPE Another fairly common type of bottom-mount condenser is wrapped in a metal plate and is accessible through the bottom back panel of the refrigerator.
The condenser fan may be mounted in a number of different ways. Usually it is accessed by removing the bottom back panel. The illustration above shows the most common arrangement for the condenser fan.
DIAGNOSIS AND REPAIR
If you have a back-condenser refrigerator, make sure that nothing has fallen behind your fridge that might block the airflow. Dust and pet hair is the biggest culprit, but I have found all kinds of things behind there...paper and plastic bags, ironing boards, towels and blankets, even kids' toys.
If you have a bottom condenser, remove the baseplate (kickplate) from the bottom front of the refrigerator and look beneath it with a powerful flashlight. If you have kids or dogs or if your clothes dryer is installed nearby, you are a prime candidate to have a condenser blocked by dust or pet hair.
Quite a bit of dust is normal; still, enough may be impacted to block the airflow completely. Feel for a steady flow of warm air from the drain pan side; it should be obvious. Clean your condenser with a condenser brush.
(NOTE: Some condensers must be accessed through the back panel.)
CAUTION: When cleaning your condenser, you want to do it thoroughly, but don't be too vigorous with the brush. You don't want to knock any insulation or wiring loose beneath the fridge.
Also, you may hit the condenser fan with the brush (with a grinding thud.) Don't worry too much about it; you probably won't hurt the fan or motor, though it is something you want to avoid if possible.
Pull the lower back panel off the fridge. Make sure that the condenser fan is running and not blocked by any loose insulation or other objects. I actually found a dead mouse stuck in a condenser fan once; I think the fan must've clocked him in the dark.
MAKE SURE THAT YOU REPLACE THE BACK BOTTOM PANEL!!! If it is missing, fashion one out of a piece out of cardboard and screw it on using the existing screwholes. It has the very important job of directing airflow beneath the fridge, assuring that the condenser fan is drawing air over the condenser and not just sucking air in through the back of the fridge. Even if it was missing when you got there, make one. Don't leave it off.
It is usually easiest to remove the mounting brackets or pedestal from their place in the refrigerator, with the fan motor attached. When installing a new motor with bracket mounts, it may be easier to install the brackets loosely on the motor until you can locate the mounting screws in their holes. The wires can be cut and re-connected with crimp-on butt connectors or wire nuts and electrical tape.
If you don't know how to use butt connectors or wire nuts, CLICK HERE.
If the condenser did not have good airflow, it may be the only thing malfunctioning on your refrigerator. Even so, it's a good idea to check the evaporator fan (at least listen for it) to be certain that you've solved your problem.
Whirlpool made a special machine in the 70's, and a LOT of them are still in service.
The compressor is controlled by the icemaker!
Even if the icemaker is not being used to make ice.
The troubleshooting procedures are different for these machines than for others.
So we need to know if you have one of these machines before we proceed with our diagnosis.
You can recognize this type of machine by the shape of the cube it puts out (or would put out, if it was working).
The hard-tray Whirlpool/ Kenmore produces "half-moon" shaped cubes.It is finished in a dark gray or black color and has rotating fingers that eject the cubes from the unit.
The flex-tray produces "rounded rectangular" cubes.
It has a white plastic, flexible tray that inverts and twists to eject, much the same as a manual ice cube tray would work.
Note that there was a replacement timer made,
with just the timer and not the actual icemaker tray.
If you have what looks like an icemaker head in your freezer,
but there is no icemaker behind it, then you have a Flex-Tray refrigerator.
The hard-tray and separate defrost timer is by far the more common arrangement.
In a Whirlpool flex-tray icemaker, the defrost timer is integrated into the icemaker.
The switches inside the icemaker head are actuated by plastic gears driven by an electric motor. These gears can wear out and fail.
The defrost switch sometimes fails in a "deadbreak" position, in which the icemaker and compressor stop running.
To test for deadbreak, first unplug and remove the icemaker from the freezer compartment.
Look at the timing gear housing on the back of the icemaker head.
You will see a white circle, about 5/8" in diameter.
Examine the circle closely. You will see an arrow molded into the circle.
If this arrow lines up with the arrow molded into the black timing gear housing,
then you might have a deadbreak.
You will need to use an Multimeter to test for resistance.
If you don't have one or don't know how to use one, CLICK HERE
Test for continuity between the BLACK and PINK terminals
and the BLACK and ORANGE terminals of the plug.
One or the other should show no resistance.
If neither does, you have a deadbreak.
If you have a deadbreak, you will need to replace
the icemaker, or the gearset.
If you DON'T have a deadbreak,
install the icemaker back into the freezer.
Replace the Gear Set in the Icemaker Head
The Whirlpool part number for this gearset is 978140. Nobody makes them any more, but you can still find them on EBay for about 10 to 15 USD. They almost always come with instructions, but if you get a set that's missing them,
You also need to replace the drive gears.
There are two sets of gears in this icemaker, the defrost gears on the back of the icemaker head, and the drive gears on the front of the head.
Get a set of drive gears from your appliance parts dealer. When you replace the gear set,
it is also a good idea to replace the defrost switch while you're in there.
For a bit more money, you can just replace the whole icemaker.
Drive Pin Installation
Make sure the spring-loaded drive pin is in place in the cam and retained properly; the cam's spring-retainer should be in the pin's groove.
Aligning the Small Drive Gear
Align the hole in the small drive gear with the alignment hole in the icemaker head and install the gear. Check alignment by inserting a 3/32" rod into the holes. (a drill bit will do) If they do not line up perfectly, momentarily plug the
icemaker in or apply 110 volt power to the two center leads of the plug This will turn the drive motor slightly. Repeat the process until the holes align.
Aligning the Large Drive Gear
Install the large drive gear and align it on the same alignment hole. A second alignment hole is shown below. The large drive gear must line up on both alignment holes and on the large drive cam hole in the center of the
Carefully holding the drive gear in its aligned position, install the drive cam. Line the
drive pin up on its hole on the drive gear. Lift the spring-loaded shut-off arm (ice level sensor) as you install the cam and let it rest in the cam hollow. Be sure that the ice level sensor arm loading spring is in the right place. Install the
leaf switch. Sometimes the stuff in this paragraph takes three hands and your belly, but be persistent. You'll get it together.
Make sure the wiring for the leaf switch and the defrost switch is routed over the post above the drive gear. Carefully install the metal cover plate, making sure the end of the wire shut-off arm (ice level sensor) is in its pivot hole in the
metal cover plate. Install your three screws. The drive pin will pop up through the metal cover plate.
Install the ice tray into the ice maker, and re-assemble your fridge.
The icemaker is now aligned at the beginning of a harvest cycle. When you re-install it, the ice tray will slowly turn one full turn. If the icemaker is being used, the tray will then fill with water. Make sure the icemaker is turned on (ice level sensor arm is down) or it won't make ice.
My compressor works now. Yay!
So we've determined that your compressor is trying to start, but it can't. When the motor tries to start, it draws a LOT of current; so much that if it stays that way too long, wires will start burning. Once the compressor starts, it draws a lot less current, and there is no danger of overheating.
So there is a device called a THERMAL OVERLOAD that cuts power if the current stays too high for too long. The overload will reset itself every few minutes, and try to start the compressor again. So that "click-buzzzz-click" that you may hear is the overload closing, the motor trying to start, and then the overload reopening when the motor doesn't start.
What that means is that either the electrical starting components are getting old and weak, or the compressor wearing or worn out. Let's find out which one is bad.
With modern, solid-state starting components such as those pictured below, you may not hear clicking and buzzing as you do with older machines. If power is getting to the components, but the compressor won't start, either the compressor or starting components are bad. You may need to use a voltmeter to see if voltage is getting to the compressor.
You may be able to test each starting component and replace the bad one. However, I've found that the quickest and easiest way to diagnose this problem is to replace all three with a solid state "3-in-1" unit, or just replace all the components. Neither one is very expensive.
In the parts houses, "3-in-1" units are also known as "hard start" units. They contain circuitry that provides a little extra power to start a hard-starting compressor.
First, remove the old starting components. Note carefully how they came off, in case you need to re-install them. Install the "3-in-1" using the instructions that come with it. You can use jumpers to wire it in temporarily, so you don't have to cut any wires yet. Make sure the "3-in-1" you get is rated for the horsepower of your compressor.
If your refrigerator has solid state starting components, the "3-in-1" may fit onto your fridge directly, or it may not fit at all. If your case is the latter, you will need to get the original equipment replacement relay assembly
for your fridge.
If your compressor doesn't start with the "3-in-1," I'm sorry to say that the compressor's dead. You will hear the overload in the "3-in-1" cycling (CLICK-BUZZZZ-CLICK.) It's time to call a tech for a compressor job, or to think about getting a new fridge. If your refrigerator does start, unplug the refrigerator and wire your "3-in-1"in permanently. Use butt connectors, wire nuts and electrical tape.
Make sure that none of the compressor terminals are touching each other or the metal housing of the compressor. Also make sure you cover the compressor terminals with a shield; usually you can use the old plastic relay cover and just lead the wires into it.
If the cause of your compressor's not starting was bad starting components, it will continue to run indefinitely.
If the cause of it not starting was that the compressor motor is getting worn out, the "3-in-1" will prolong the life of your compressor for somewhere between a few hours and a year or two.
You have no way of knowing which it was, or how long it will last. Count your blessings and start saving up for a new refrigerator, (or a major repair) just in case.
The 3-in-1 did NOT solve the problem.
The 3-in-1 Solved the problem!
In most older refrigerators and some newer ones, a motor-driven timer is used to stop the compressor and turn on the defrost heater. This timer controls how often the cycle occurs, and how long the compressor stays on. With a timer, this is a fixed cycle; for example, the refrigerator might be in the cooling cycle for 10 hours, then spend 20 minutes in the defrost cycle.
In a lot of newer refrigerators, defrost is controlled by an ADC (Adaptive Defrost Control) board. Here's how they work:
If your refrigerator is operating in the tropics, in really warm, humid air, it will need to run a lot and defrost often. And if the door is opening and closing a lot, letting in even MORE warm humid air, it will need to cycle even more often.
In a cold climate, it probably will not need to run nearly as long, or defrost nearly as often.
Compressors and defrost heaters use a lot of energy, so to make refrigerators more efficient, refrigerator designers are mimimizing the total amount of time that they stay energized.
To adapt to these different conditions, designers are using electronics...solid state circuit boards with microprocessor logic. These are called Adaptive Defrost Control, commonly abbreviated as ADC.
To make decisions about how long and often the refrigerator cools and defrosts, the control board must have input about the conditions that the refrigerator is operating under. Each manufacturer uses a different logic scheme and different inputs, not just temperatures, but things like how long the refrigerator door stays open, how long the compressor runs, and the duration of the previous defrost cycle.
For example, door open info is provided to the logic board by the door switch - the same one that controls the refrigerator's internal lights. Even if the light bulb is burnt out, the ADC will still accumulate door open time. However, if the door switch has failed, the next defrost will occur either too quickly or too slowly.
Some designs even have a "vacation mode;" for example, if the door has not been opened in 72 hours, the refrigerator will not defrost as often.
How often defrost occurs may also be shortened under certain circumstances. For example, the ADC is programmed with a maximum amount of time that the heater can stay on; say, for 16 minutes. If the heater stays on for the maximum amount of time, without being stopped by the defrost thermostat, the microprocessor will assume that not all of the frost melted, and it will initiate the next defrost cycle much sooner.
DEFROST TIMER AND ADC BOARD LOCATIONS
Mechanical defrost timers can be a bit difficult to find. They come in many different styles. Often they are mounted under a cover plate or in a bracket that hides all but the advancement pinion. The pictures above show some different styles of timers and what the timer might look like installed, and also some typical mounting locations.
ADC boards are mounted in similar locations to defrost timers. You don't really need to find yours just yet; you only need to be able to initiate a defrost cycle for diagnosing. If, after diagnosis, you need to replace it, then you will need to find it.
How can you tell whether you have an ADC or a defrost timer without searching for it on your refrigerator?
The easiest way that I've found is to go to a website such as PartSelect.com. Type in your refrigerator's model number and search for the words "board" and "timer." They have an exploded parts diagram for most model numbers; this can tell you where to search for the board or timer.
Some ADC and other control boards in the refrigerator control other functions, too, such as icemaking and electrical air damper door opening and closing. The easiest way to tell the difference between the ADC and other boards is that the harness connection is always labeled with the compressor, defrost heater, L1 and L2. Often the leads are labeled for the defrost thermostat, too, and a sometimes even test connections.
INITIATING DEFROST - ADC
What you need to know right now is how to initiate (force) a defrost cycle. If you force a defrost cycle, the defrost heater should start up. After the defrost cycle, defrost will stop and the compressor will start back up. If not, then the ADC board is bad, and you will need to replace it.
Some ADC boards will let you force a run (cooling) cycle. If yours does, force a run cycle and see if the compressor runs. If not, the ADC board is bad.
How you force a defrost (or cooling) cycle depends on the brand. Click on your brand below. The info will pop open in a new tab; it's a good idea to leave the tab open, or bookmark it, for later reference.
If you don't see your brand listed, click this link:
Who made my refrigerator? You may need to dig around a little to find it.
Whirlpool, Kenmore, Thermador, Amana, Roper, and some Maytags and some Jenn-Airs (see Maytag below)
General Electric, Hotpoint, Haier, Cafe, Profile, and Monogram, Fisher & Paykel, and RCA including PROFILE, ETERNA and SELECT models
Frigidaire, Gibson, Tappan, Kelvinator, and White-Westinghouse
Admiral, Magic Chef, some Maytags and some Jenn-Airs
Sub-Zero, Wolf, Cove
OK, I've initiated a run cycle, but the compressor still doesn't start.
OK, the compressor runs now.
What may be happening is that the timer has failed and stalled during a defrost cycle. If the timer was running, it would advance back to a cooling cycle and the compressor would start again.
We are going to advance it manually. If the compressor starts, we know the timer has failed.
Put a broad-tipped screwdriver in the advancement pinion and advance it (clockwise only, or you will break it). Sometimes it takes a pretty firm twist to advance it. You will feel it clicking. At some spot in the cycle, you will hear and feel a loud click; at this time, the compressor should start.
If the compressor starts during this test, then the defrost timer is bad; you will need to replace it
If your refrigerator is cold but not as cold as usual, and you cannot trace it to any of the other problems in this chapter, your cold control may be defective.
The compressor is not staying on for as long as it should. That's why it's only making a very thin coat of frost on the evaporator.
Two things control how long the compressor stays on...the defrost timer, and the cold control.
What is probably happening is that the capillary sensor might have leaked a little. This makes the compressor start at too high a temperature.
If you hear your compressor "short-cycling" (starting and stopping at short intervals) try jumping across the two leads of the cold control with an alligator jumper. If there is a green third lead, ignore it for this test; it is the ground wire. If the fridge starts running constantly, the cold control is bad. Replace it.
To test or change the cold control, first find it as described earlier in this page. Pull the knob off it and remove any plastic cover plate or housing from it.
You will see two wires leading to it. There will also be a thick, stiff CAPILLARY TUBE attached. The capillary tube is the liquid-filled temperature-sensing element of the cold control, and operates in the same manner as a thermometer bulb; in fact, the end of the capillary tube may have a bulb. The tube and bulb may be coiled right next to the cold control, or they may be led away to another part of the compartment.
If you are just testing (electrically) the cold control, you can jumper directly from one wire lead to the other. By doing this, you are closing the switch manually, and assuming the machine is not in the defrost mode, the compressor should start.
If you are replacing the cold control, it will be necessary to trace where the capillary tube goes, and remove the whole tube with the cold control. The new tube is replaced directly. Be careful not to kink the new tube (bend it too sharply) when installing it.
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