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Whirlpool ET20NK - Freezer cold, Fridge warm


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11 replies to this topic

#1 CraigSu

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:17 PM

Our 13-year old Whirlpool ET20NK with freezer on top has never given us any problems until today.  The spousal unit informs me that the freezer portion is running 4-9 deg F while the fridge portion is running 50-54 deg F.  Freezer control is set at B (like it always has been) but the spousal unit changed the fridge control from 4 to 6 so we'll have to wait 24 hours to see what effect that has.  I also noticed that the Exterior Moisture Control was turned On (we don't know why or for how long) but it is now Off.

The coils were cleaned recently but only from the front side, so I removed the back access panel and proceeded to carefully wipe a reasonable amount of dust off the compressor, off all of the copper tubing, and off the back side of the coils.  The compressor (Matsushita type) and fan usually run quite alot, although the Whirlpool manual says, "Your refrigerator has a high-efficiency compressor and motor.  It will run longer than older designs.  It may even seem to run most of the time."  How quaint...

What else? Oh, door seals are fine, no cold air escaping that shouldn't be other than when the door is opened.  The compressor is very hot to the touch (no more than a One-one-thousand count before withdrawing digits) but, given the current situation that's what I would expect.

Checking the freezer portion, there is a minor amount of ice build-up on the back left side just above where the icemaker would be if we had one.  (Thank goodness we don't after seeing that most of the fridge problems in the forum appear to be icemaker-related.)

Anything I should be on the lookout for?  Defrost timer going bad?  Condensate drain tube blocked?  We'll see how things are tomorrow morning but I just want to be prepared.

Thanks,

Craig

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#2 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 02:55 PM

4-9F in the freezer is on the warm side. A good freezer should able to get down to 0F without even breaking a sweat. Sounds like yours is struggling. I'd use a condenser brush and a crevice attachment on my vacuum to thoroughly clean the condenser. And maker sure that fan down there is running, too.

If that's all good, then we need to talk about your defrost system.

#3 CraigSu

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 03:10 PM

Fans are definitely running (freezer and the one down under).  We'll probably change the freezer setting in the morning from B to C after we check the results of changing the fridge control.

By condensor do you mean the coils themselves?  I've been wondering if condensor and compressor are the same thing when referring to a fridge.  Further enlightenment would be appreciated by this grasshopper.  We don't have a condensor brush, per se, but we do use the crevice tool and have attached a Swiffer duster head to a yardstick to thoroughly get in between the coils.  It works quite well, actually.

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#4 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 12 August 2005 - 03:14 PM

The condenser is the hot, nasty, dirty coil underneath. Vastly different from the compressor. The compressor is the black ball with wires going to it. It is an active component. The condenser has no wires; it is a passive component.

Clean it up and let's talk.

#5 CraigSu

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 09:18 AM

Alright, compressor and condensor are clean.  Compressor has been running constantly for at least 3 days now as far as we can determine.  The freezer is between -3 and +3 F, the fridge has not gotten below 46 F.  The minor ice build-up I mentioned earlier is gone but has been replaced with a lovely coat of frost on the back panel of the freezer.

I going to check the condensate drain first, then proceed to the defrost timer.  On my Whirlpool ET20NK I believe the defrost timer will be behind the back panel of the freezer, yes?

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#6 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 09:43 AM

Ok, since freezer temp is normal and the beer section is still too warm, this means we have an air distribution problem. Make sure the air baffle between the freezer and the fresh food compartment is wide open. Read this article for a good explanation of refrigerator controls:

http://fixitnow.com/...-cold-facts.htm

#7 CraigSu

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 10:14 AM

I read that missive 2 days ago so I'm good on the controls (I think).  Just unplugged the fridge and checked the condensate drain.  Other than some mild gookus easily cleaned out in the sink there is no apparent problem from the fridge side as far as drainage is concerned.  However, when I stuck my finger up the drain hole from the freezer bottom...FROSTY ICE! (Is there any other kind??)

So now I think I need to find the defrost timer and make it click.  Only problem, it's not where I expected it, behind the panel in the freezer.  If it is then it's behind all the frost.  I don't have an explod-o-gram for this model.  The Repair Clinic diagram indicates one in the fridge section for a frezer on top model, so I'll check there again.

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#8 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 10:58 AM

[user=1445]CraigSu[/user] wrote:

Just unplugged the fridge and checked the condensate drain.


This has nothing to do with your temperature problem in the beer section, not sure why you're injecting this into the discussion.

So now I think I need to find the defrost timer and make it click. Only problem, it's not where I expected it, behind the panel in the freezer. If it is then it's behind all the frost. I don't have an explod-o-gram for this model.


Will need a complete model number to help you further. Another missive for you to read:

http://fixitnow.com/...ommandments.htm

#9 CraigSu

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:54 AM

The condensate check was just a precaution in case something else might have been wrong.  Actually, if I hadn't checked the condensate drain I wouldn't have discovered the ice block in the evaporator drain pan.

ET20NKXZW00 is the complete model number.  I actually read the 10 Commandments before I ever posted in the forum, however, this time I relied on the owners manual (which gave the abbreviated model #) instead of getting the complete number from the plate in the fridge.  My bad; lesson learned; won't happen again.

It turns out the defrost timer is located behind the control panel, however, I really didn't need to remove it to test the timer.  It seems the Whirlpool engineers thought someone might have to test it so they placed a hole in the bottom of the control panel and made the timer screw red for easy identification.  Of course, I didn't know this so I took it apart to be certain.

Sooooo, if I read your epistle on Diagnosing Refrigerator Defrosting Problems (http://fixitnow.com/...efrigerator.htm) correctly then I need to replace the defrost timer because it clicked, the defrost mode kicked in and the drain pan started filling up.  It's now on its 3rd (manual) defrost cycle and I've emptied the drain pan twice.  Still a bit more to go before the frost is all gone.

Now that the control panel is reinstalled I've checked the beer side control and the air baffle works freely when the control knob is turned.  Since the freezer side was so full of ice around the evap coils I've surmised it was blocking free airflow to the beer side.  Make sense?

Something else that puzzles me is why the defrost cycle times out and the compressor and evap fan come back on, but the timer then stays stuck in run mode?  Isn't this mechanism just a simple gear operation with 2 posts to trip the defrost cycle on and off?  I should probably just get on with life and not concern myself with how the thing operates but my curiosity is getting the best of me.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

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#10 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:04 PM

[user=1445]CraigSu[/user] wrote:

Sooooo, if I read your epistle on Diagnosing Refrigerator Defrosting Problems (http://fixitnow.com/...efrigerator.htm) correctly then I need to replace the defrost timer because it clicked, the defrost mode kicked in and the drain pan started filling up. It's now on its 3rd (manual) defrost cycle and I've emptied the drain pan twice. Still a bit more to go before the frost is all gone.


You found the problem. :dude:

Since the freezer side was so full of ice around the evap coils I've surmised it was blocking free airflow to the beer side. Make sense?


That's ezzzzzacly what happens. Ya can't pull air through an ice cube! The air has to go around all those tubes and fins with minumim resistance to get chilled in a sufficient volumetric flow rate to cool the beer compartment.

Something else that puzzles me is why the defrost cycle times out and the compressor and evap fan come back on, but the timer then stays stuck in run mode?


Replace the defrost timer and you'll be good to go.

#11 CraigSu

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:13 PM

Couldn't have done it without your help!  A visit to the United Samurai Beer Fund link is forthcoming!

Since it will take a couple of days for the defrost timer kit to arrive should I manually invoke a defrost cycle once or twice per day until the new one is installed?  It's a 10-hour timer so I figure no more than twice per day is good if it's necessary.

I'm hoping the RepairClinic site also has thermometers cause we're definitely gettin' two of 'em.

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#12 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 14 August 2005 - 12:22 PM

[user=1445]CraigSu[/user] wrote:

Couldn't have done it without your help! A visit to the United Samurai Beer Fund link is forthcoming!


Mucho domo's in advance! :pint:

Since it will take a couple of days for the defrost timer kit to arrive should I manually invoke a defrost cycle once or twice per day until the new one is installed?


Once a day should be sufficient to maintain acceptable beer temperatures.

I'm hoping the RepairClinic site also has thermometers cause we're definitely gettin' two of 'em.


Oh yeah, come git you some.




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