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Switches

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Evaporators

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Heat Exchangers

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Compressors

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Call an Independent Service Company that has been doing Appliance repairs for many years!
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Maintenance Tips for your Refrigeration Products:

Maintenance Tips for Refrigerators & Freezers:

Cleaning the condenser coils
Keeping the Drain Pan Clean
Refrigerator Door Gasket
Refrigerator Temperature Setting
Troubleshooting Refrigerators
Refrigerator isn't running, no sound can be heard and the light is out
Refrigerator isn't running, the light is on and you hear occasional clicking
Refrigerator constantly cycles on and off
Refrigerator doesn't cool well or runs all the time
Frost forms rapidly or the unit does not defrost at all
Refrigerator makes an unusual noise
Refrigerator smells unusual
Water is leaking underneath or inside the unit

Doing conscientious routine maintenance, a refrigerator will usually perform its tasks for years with minimal problems. Refrigerators are categorized according to the way frost is removed from them.

Standard Refrigerators & Freezers:

  • Cycle-Defrost Model - Defrosts when the Refrigerator compressor cycles off and the frost on the refrigerator evaporator melts on it's own, and the melted frost now in the form of water, drips into the drain trough below the evaporator, down the drain tube, intro the drain pan underneath the unit, where it evaporates, from the heat of a condensate heater, or the heat from the condensing line, that runs through the drain pan.
  • Frost-Free Model - Frost on the evaporator, in the freezer compartment is periodically melted away by a defrost heater that turns on for 20-30 minutes, every 6, 8, or 12 hours. Clearly, this type of refrigerator offers the ultimate in convenience, though it's somewhat more prone to problems and is considered less energy-efficient.

Cleaning the condenser coils:


Grill, Screw locations indicated above by red arrows

  • Top Mount Compressor Models(Most have top mount today) - The condenser coils need to be cleaned periodically, every few months, or at least once a year, to make sure that the refrigeration unit stays cool and efficient. If the condenser coils get dirty, they will cause the compressor to run too hot, and the condenser coils get hot as well, because air cannot flow through them properly, anymore, if it gets dirty, and covered with dog hair, cat hair, and dust, which does migrate up to the condenser coils, and sucked into the coils, due to the condenser fan motor moving air through the condenser coils constantly. To access the condenser coils, you must remove the Grill that is located on the top, front of the unit, by removing the screws that screw into it, from below. To see the screws, you must open the refrigerator and/or freezer doors, and they will be visible, at the top of the cabinet frame, under the grill. They screw in from below, up into the grill. Remove these 3 screws, and you will be able to pull the grill outward, from the bottom, and you will feel tension at the top of the grill, because there are springs attached to the grill towards the center of the grill, to hold the top portion of the grill in place. Pull outward from the bottom of the grill and rotate the grill upward, and you will be able to see the springs, with hooks on them, holding them to the grill. Unhook the springs from the grill, and set the grill aside. On the right side of the upper compartment, behind where the grill was located, are the condenser coils. In the center you will see the compressors behind the metal panel, that is mounted in the front, center. Get a step stool, to be able to clean the condenser coils, on the very right side of the upper compartment. If you look from the very right most you can be, inside the upper compartment, you will see the fins of the condenser, and they usually will have dust and dirt covering the surface of them. If you do not see silver fins, but it looks all brown, then they are completely covered up with dirt, and are in serious need of being cleaned, before you overheat the compressor so much it damages it, or it locks up.

    Refrigerator Bottle Brush:

    The best way to clean the coils is to use a refrigerator bottle brush, and a vacuum. Take the long refrigerator bottle brush and lay it flat lengthwise across the coils, from front to back, starting at the top of the coils and gently brush downward, across the surface of the coil fins. This will remove the dirt off the surface of the fins of the coils, which is usually the largest amount of dirt that clogs up the coils, on the surface of the fins. Vacuum off the bottle brush several times, as you brush downward across the fins, to get the dirt and dust off the fins. Then you will take the brush attachment for the vacuum and do the same thing, brushing downward on the coils, from the back to the front, to suck out any residual dirt from between the fins. When you have gone over the entire surface of the coil fins, you should now be clean enough for the air to flow through the coils again, and cool the compressors. When the coils are clean, reattach the grill by positioning the grill at an angle, so you can hook the springs back up, on the left and right, and rotate it so the top sits against the cabinet first, and then position the bottom of the grill over top of where the screws comes through, and screw all 3 screws back into place, firmly, not too tight, or you will strip the soft metal of the grill the screws screw into.

  • Bottom Mount Compressor Models - The condenser coils need to be cleaned periodically, every few months, or at least once a year, to make sure that the refrigeration unit stays cool and efficient. If the condenser coils get dirty, they will cause the compressor to run too hot, and the condenser coils get hot as well, because air cannot flow through them properly, anymore, if it gets dirty, and covered with dog hair, cat hair, and dust, which does migrate up to the condenser coils, and sucked into the coils, due to the condenser fan motor moving air through the condenser coils constantly. To access the condenser coils, you must remove the Grill that is located on the bottom, front of the unit, by removing the screws that screw into it, in front, on the left and right sides. Set the grill aside. On the right side of the bottom compartment, behind where the grill was located, are the condenser coils. On the left you will see the compressor. If you look from the very right, inside the bottom compartment, you will see the fins of the condenser, and they usually will have dust and dirt covering the surface of them. If you do not see silver fins, but it looks all brown, then they are completely covered up with dirt, and are in serious need of being cleaned, before you overheat the compressor so much it damages it, or it locks up.

    Refrigerator Bottle Brush:

    The best way to clean the coils is to use a refrigerator bottle brush, and a vacuum. Take the long refrigerator bottle brush and lay it flat lengthwise across the coils, from front to back, starting at the top of the coils and gently brush downward, across the surface of the coil fins. This will remove the dirt off the surface of the fins of the coils, which is usually the largest amount of dirt that clogs up the coils, on the surface of the fins. Vacuum off the bottle brush several times, as you brush downward across the fins, to get the dirt and dust off the fins. Then you will take the brush attachment for the vacuum and do the same thing, brushing downward on the coils, from the back to the front, to suck out any residual dirt from between the fins. When you have gone over the entire surface of the coil fins, you should now be clean enough for the air to flow through the coils again, and cool the compressors. When the coils are clean, reattach the grill by putting the screws back in, on the left and right, firmly, not too tight, or you will strip the soft metal of the grill the screws screw into.

Keeping the Drain Pan Clean

In automatic defrost models, water from the melting frost flows out a drain tube, through the floor of the refrigerator and into a drain pan, under the unit, where it evaporates. Food particles can be carried along, clogging the drain and causing odors. Clean the drain regularly by following these steps:

  • Pour about 2 cups of Hot water into the drain trough, below the refrigerator evaporator, so it goes down the drain tube, and into the drain pan below the unit.
  • Use a pipe cleaner or similar device to push any accumulations in the drain tube, down through the drain tube, and into the drain pan below.
  • Empty the drain pan and wash it, if possible to remove. Most are not removable.

Refrigerator Door Gasket

The door gasket, if washed often with soapy water, will usually last as long as the refrigerator. Check to see if it is sealing well by closing a dollar bill under the gasket, when you close the door. If you feel a resistance when you pull it out, the gasket is sealing. Repeat the test in several places. If your gasket does not pass this test, it may need to be replaced, or the door may be warped, and need to be re-warped by loosening the gasket retainer screws, slightly warping the door at the top of bottom, to insure the gasket surface is flat to the cabinet, all the way from top to bottom, when the door is closed. Most larger units do not require this to be done, they do not warp.

Refrigerator Temperature Settings

Temperature settings for refrigerator and freezer compartments are given arbitrary numbers for example (1 through 9, warmest to coldest) by manufacturers, but generally 37-38 degrees F is ideal for the refrigerator compartment and 0 degrees F for the freezer. If you suspect a problem, test the temperatures with a refrigerator or outdoor thermometer.

Troubleshooting Refrigerators

The refrigerator has stopped running. No sound can be heard and the light is out.

Check for:

  • No power at the outlet.
  • Damaged power cord.
  • Circuit breaker tripped
  • GFI Tripped(Refrigerators should never be on a GFI, but some people will install them, thinking they are doiong something to help the refrigerator, and when the compressor starts, it pulls more amps, and can trip GFI outlets!)

Remedies:

  • Check the fuse box/circuit breaker.
  • Check the outlet with a VOM or lamp tester.
  • If refrigerator blows fuses, put it on its own circuit.
  • Replace the cord.

The refrigerator has stopped running, the light is on and you hear occasional clicking.

Check for:

  • Dirty condenser coils.
  • Defective condenser fan. (frost-free types)
  • Incorrect or No voltage reaching the unit.
  • Defective thermostat.
  • Defective compressor.

Remedies:

  • Clean the condenser coils, with a refrigerator bottle brush.
  • Check the condenser fan for operation.
  • Test the thermostat and replace if necessary.
  • Call a Qualified Independent Service Company.

The refrigerator constantly cycles on and off.

Check for:

  • Wrong voltage reaching the unit.
  • Defective compressor.
  • Leaking refrigerant.
  • Dirty condenser coils.

Remedies:

  • Run the unit its own circuit and check the voltage at the outlet.
  • Call a Qualified Independent Service Company.
  • Clean the condenser coils.

The refrigerator doesn't cool well or runs all the time.

Check for:

  • Thermostat on wrong setting.
  • Dirty condenser coils.
  • Damaged door gasket.
  • Sagging door.
  • Heavy frost accumulation.
  • Door is open too much.
  • Hot and humid weather.
  • Inside light on.
  • Wet insulation in the door and sides
  • Room too warm.
  • Damaged evaporator fan.
  • Damaged condenser fan
  • Defective defrost timer.
  • The refrigerant has leaked out.
  • Evaporator is leaking freon(very common on SubZero Refrigerators)

Remedies:

  • Change the thermostat temperature.
  • Clean the condensaer coils.
  • Check the gaskets for leaking air.
  • Straighten the door.
  • Defrost the unit more often.
  • Open the door as little as possible.
  • If the unit runs continuously, but cools well, there is no problem.
  • Check the door light switch operartion.
  • Open the unit on a dry day and let it dry out. Also, repair or replace cracked door jambs and panels.
  • Check the condenser fan for damage.
  • Check the Defrost timer for normal operation.
  • Call a Qualified Independent Service Company, to replace the evaporator and possibly the compressor, depending on how long rthe evaporator has been leaking freeon and oil.

Frost forms rapidly or the unit does not defrost at all.

Check for:

  • Door open too much.
  • Sagging door.
  • Damaged door gasket
  • Uncovered food.
  • Clogged drains.
  • Damaged defrost timer, heater, or thermostat.

Remedies:

  • Open the door as little as possible.
  • Straighten the door.
  • Test the gasket and replace it.
  • Cover or seal all foods, especially liquids.
  • Open and clean all drains.
  • Check the timer, heater and thermostat for defects.

The refrigerator makes an unusual noise.

Check for:

  • Unit is not sitting level.
  • Rattling drain pan.
  • Hard or broken compressor mounts
  • Blocked fan blades.

Remedies:

  • Adjust the position of the unit.
  • Move the pan so it doesn't touch sides of the unit.
  • Replace the mounts.
  • Check the evaporator and compressor fans for obstructions.

The refrigerator smells unusual.

Check for:

  • Clogged drains.
  • Dirty drain pan.

Remedies:

  • Open the drains and flush them.
  • Clean the pan and disinfect it.

Water is leaking underneath or inside the unit.

Check for:

  • Broken drain hose or drain pan.
  • Clogged drains or full pan.

Remedies:

  • Replace the broken parts.
  • Open the drains or empty the drain pan.
   
Maintenance Tips for your Refrigeration Products:

 


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