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Frigidaire Cooling/Freezing Mystery?!?


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#1 dazedandconfused

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 12:54 PM

Hi,

  Have a 23-year old Canadian Frigidaire refrigerator (Model #TD173CRD3) that really hasn't given me much trouble over the years - defrost drain has been plugged for 3 or 4 years (water runs down inside back and we 'mop up' every 3 or 4 days - couldn't figure out how to remove bottom of freezer to unclog); replaced defrost timer about a year ago. About 3 weeks ago, noticed fridge and freezer both warmer than normal. checked around and 'discovered' that the cooling control in the fridge was set at the lowest setting of '1' (don't really know what it was before but am guessing that someone inadvertently changed/lowered setting while placing stacked yogourt containers adjacent to the control wheel). Raised it to mid-range ('5') and found that that cooled down the fridge section further. Temperature in freezer didn't seem to get colder (cold control was always set at 7 (max is '9'). Over the past 2 weeks or so, have been adjusting the cold control (7 -> 8 -> 9) and fridge setting (1 -> 3.5 -> 4.5 -> 5 -> 5.5 -> 6 -> 6.5 -> 7). After this made things somewhat better (ice cubes freezing somewhat faster but not all items in freezer frozen) but still didn't get me back to where I wanted to be.

I pulled the fridge out from the wall, vacuumed the condenser (no fan) and felt the compressor (it seemed quite hot to the touch). No ice build-up on filter-dryer. Evaporator fan runs all the time except when the defrost cycle is on (its definitely running and not iced up but could it be running slower than normal?). There are some 'vents' in the floor of the freezer at the front that have various foodstuff bits fallen into them over the years although they are NOT plugged (I would clean out but same reason as with the plugged drain).
Defrost cycle drain water is still accumulating in bottom of fridge (perhaps somewhat more slowly). Am now finding water (<1/2 thimblefull) on fridge door top (just below the freezer door) at non-hinge side and water on floor below hinge (<1 thimblefull). Can't really figure this one out. The fridge/freezer is 'sort-of working' ('cool' instead of 'cold') seemingly indicating that no component has failed but the things that would seem to determine the level of performance (condenser cleanliness, control settings, door seals) appear 'normal'. Please help.

 



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#2 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 01:54 PM

Couple of things... Need to see a picture of your evap frost pattern especially since your evap is hot to the touch. And set all temp settings to recommended settings to eliminate any out of balance  air problems....check for lights not going out when doors are closed 

 

I've had a hard time finding your model number but I did see where you posted here (appliangeguru.com back in the day) regarding the water leak. Not sure but maybe this an help you with that.... Be right back, gotta get to my laptop....  okay...from reading your post on appliance Guru it may be possible your water issue is related to or can be fixed by http://appliantology...5/?fromsearch=1 since frigidaire said you needed a part. Just a stab in the dark without knowing what your fridge looks like

 

But first we have to determine if you have a sealed system problem as that takes precedent over any other problem. 


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#3 Bobice

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:15 PM

The drain is clogged causing water to build up. Also sounds like the evaporator is not fully defrosted restricting air flow in freezer.
You can install a "tip" heater for the drain
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#4 dazedandconfused

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:27 PM

Need to see a picture of your evap frost pattern especially since your evap is hot to the touch.

And set all temp settings to recommended settings to eliminate any out of balance  air problems....

check for lights not going out when doors are closed 

 

I've had a hard time finding your model number but I did see where you posted here (appliangeguru.com back in the day) regarding the water leak.

 

Not sure but maybe this an help you with that.... Be right back, gotta get to my laptop....  okay...from reading your post on appliance Guru it may be possible your water issue is related to or can be fixed by http://appliantology...5/?fromsearch=1 since frigidaire said you needed a part. Just a stab in the dark without knowing what your fridge looks like

 

But first we have to determine if you have a sealed system problem as that takes precedent over any other problem. 

Thanks for the quick reply.

 

Just to clarify, it is the compressor that is hot to the touch, not the evaporator (which is producing cold air, just not enough of it, it would appear) and which I have not yet exposed.

 

I know that the cold control has 'always' been set at '7' but I a not sure exactly where the fridge damper control has been set for the past umpteen years (I will check the manual to see if it provides any recommended settings - "midway" - '4' or '5' for cold control, '5' for fridge).

 

Yep, light goes out when the door closes (checked via the door switch).

 

As I wrote, refrigerator model is Canadian - that may be why you don't get a 'hit' on it!

 

As far as the drain goes, I think the 'plumbing' is fine except that it is plugged just below the freezer and I can't figure out how to get to it. I can see the 'drain cup' just below the freezer and that is the area from where the water begins its journey down the back wall to under the crispers but I can't figure out how to take out the plastic bottom of the freezer and remove the debris and any ice build-up so, for the sake of my sanity, I have gone to Plan 'B' (mopping up every 3 or 4 days).

 

Fridge is pretty conventional (for that era) ~18 cu. ft. with top freezer, meat drawer, butter softener and 2 crispers at bottom.

 

O.K., so how do we "determine if [I] have a sealed system problem"? I'm all ears!



#5 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:37 PM

The drain is clogged causing water to build up. Also sounds like the evaporator is not fully defrosted restricting air flow in freezer.
You can install a "tip" heater for the drain

 not a run of the mill clogged drain that's for sure....here is dazed's post from 2008
 
Well, after monitoring this excellent site for a number of months, I feel like I am starting to get real close to the ultimatesolution to my 'water dripping and accumulating' problem with my refrigerator (Frigidaire - Canadian Model TD173CRD3/S.N. 881017123).Over that length of time, I have perused many websites, contacted Frigidaire directly and pondered this problem at length but I still have water dripping down the back of my fridge and under the crispers.

The problem first occurred about 4 years ago and I did the logical and easy thing and pulled out the fridge and cleaned out the drain hose (it wasn't all that dirty except at the very end where it connects to the drain pan at kind of a nipple). That worked for about 2 years when, all of a sudden, the problem returned (or so I thought). I figured that the tube has just 'gummed' up again and so, once again, I pulled out the fridge. However, this time, the drain hose was not even clogged at the bottom and the pan was almost empty of water. Thinking that the plug must be somewhere in the connector coming out the back of the fridge just below the freezer compartment, I took a piece of copper wire and twisted it around in there and in and out. After giving it a good 'go' (but not really seeing any gunk on the wire), I reconnected the drain hose and pushed the fridge back into place. Unfortunately, this time, the problem did not go away.

Subsequently, I started 'Googling' but came up with no definite solution to my specific problem. Finally, after much searching, I came across the following promising statement on the Frigidaire.com website:

"IMPORTANT: IF water is dripping onto the top shelf or running down the back of the refrigerator and collecting underneath the crispers ---SCHEDULE A SERVICE CALL. This condition requires a new part to be installed to correct the moisture problem."

Aha, I thought, all I need to do is call the Frigidaire Customer Service number and they will tell me what part it is I need to buy to solve this vexing problem. WRONG! They insisted on holding me to their recommendation - SCHEDULE A SERVICE CALL. Even after repeated 'dancing around', they said that, in spite of what it says about a new part in their recommendation, they couldn't tell me what that part was - only an appliance service person could do that. GRRRR! Being a logical person, I was/am assuming that they know darn well which part it is and just want to 'Cover Their Arses' (and cost me about $65 in the process). Since then, I have also verified that the water is coming out of the drain cup in the top back of the refrigerator and flowing down the back of the fridge where it then accumulates under the crispers.

So, here I am today - still got water under the crispers (about 4-5 cups after 3-4 days, depending on the outside temperature/humidity). This thread is getting awful close to my problem (don't know who made the Kenmore fridge under discussion but mine is about twice its age, 20 years). Hopefully, somebody out there can 'drill in' on this problem for me, offer clear directions on how to solve it (I'm a pretty handy guy) and we can all get onto something else that is much more fun. TIA          see  
http://applianceguru...m1/16753-2.html for thread
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
 btw  yeah I meant compressor too hot to touch.   Post a pic of your evap and we can tell you if you have a sealed system problem   also btw does your drain cup have a Styrofoam seal around it? Sometimes a gap in the seal between the cup and the air vent can lead to your problem....i usually fix this with some silicone.


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#6 Bobice

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:46 PM

When the water does not drain it tends to back up on the evaporator. The fan causes it to spray and form "ice droplets" or Snow in the freezer.
Stated could not remove freezer bottom therefore not sure if all ice removed by defrost
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#7 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 03:53 PM

I was understanding that the water is leaking from the cup inside the fridge, not sure if a heat tip cures this as the tube is plastic...now I am assuming this fridge has the standard frigidiare controls with the cup and plastic tube orifice in the back of the ff section. But certainly the back up could cause evap to be covered with ice. It is possible that the back up is in the freezer and the water is flowing into the air vent making it appear as though it is coming from the cup.


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#8 BrntToast

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:00 PM

water dripping from the frigidaire fridge doors is kinda common, i have seen it before

they have poor insulation, the cold freezer temperature migrates through the insulation in the door, where it meets the warm exterior panel, this causes some icing in the insulation

so long as the fridge remains cold you never notice, but once the internal temperature of the fridge raises, this ice inside the door melts and drips out of the holes for the hinges

 

given enough time, your cabinet will also start to drip from the bottom corners as the ice inside the cabinet melts

 

i recomend waiting till it stops dripping before the fridge is put back into service cooling

 

as for the plugged drain, best thing i have found for the friggy fridges is...  a spedometer cable, its flexable and long enough that you can run it up the drain line from the back of the fridge, push back/forth and twist it just like a plumbing snake and eventually it should pop out the fridge section,  if it doesn't the drain line is colapsed inside the fridge walls and you need the part others have posted

 

for the sealed system problem, remove the back wall of the freezer, make sure fridge has been running for a while and post us up a picture of the evaporator


The only stupid question is the one not asked

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#9 dazedandconfused

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 11:59 AM

as for the plugged drain, best thing i have found for the friggy fridges is...  a spedometer cable, its flexable and long enough that you can run it up the drain line from the back of the fridge, push back/forth and twist it just like a plumbing snake and eventually it should pop out the fridge section,  if it doesn't the drain line is colapsed inside the fridge walls and you need the part others have posted

 

for the sealed system problem, remove the back wall of the freezer, make sure fridge has been running for a while and post us up a picture of the evaporator

 

Thanks for the feedback/suggestions so far. I have now exposed the evaporator and, after having the fridge turned OFF for about a half hour (while dissassembling), the evaporator is totally devoid of frost/ice. There were a few bent cooling fins which I carefuly straightened out. I was also able to see the drain, which was totally free from ice. I tried a few different cables/stiff wires from inside the freezer and was able to get down to the drain cup but no further - could feel like styrofoam down there but I couldn't see down the hole, can't see through the opaque plastic of the cup shell inside the fridge and don't have an exploded diagram of the cup internals.

After coaxing the evaporator cover back into the freezer and turning the fridge back on and leaving it running for about 2 hours, I notice that the piping leading to the evaporator now has a layer of frost on it and the first/top two 'loops' (out of 5 total) also have frost on them. Nothing on the rest and they are only cool to the touch. This probably explains why the freezer is not freezing as hard as it was but as to what is causing the limited evaporator frosting/reduced cooling, well, hopefully you guys will be able to help me with that! I can supply 'off' and 'on' pictures but they really don't show much more than what I have described here.



#10 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 02:35 PM

... running for about 2 hours, I notice that the piping leading to the evaporator now has a layer of frost

...  first/top two 'loops' (out of 5 total) also have frost on them. Nothing on the rest

:boohoo: may have a Sealed System leak ...


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#11 dazedandconfused

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 06:44 PM

:boohoo: may have a Sealed System leak ...

I gather from the little guy playing the violin that this would NOT be a good thing!

I don't quite undertand how a leak could have started over a month ago and the fridge is still hanging in there [not great but it is generally keeping the fridge cold enough (the freezer 'not so much')] i.e., it doesn't appear to have gotten any worse so what are the chances that the leak has then stopped on its own?

What would be involved in the repair, how much would it cost and is it worth doing for a 23 yr old fridge?

Any other educated guesses/ideas?!?



#12 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 07:18 PM

may be slooooooow leak ..
may take a few more months to seem to get worse

Won't get better, nor stop ..

may cost a few hundred $$ to find / fix the leak

could be a leak in an un-accessible location (wall)

and / or a bad Compressor.

the Evaporator frost pattern pictures is usually a tell-tale sign


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#13 DurhamAppliance

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 08:35 PM



 

After coaxing the evaporator cover back into the freezer and turning the fridge back on and leaving it running for about 2 hours, I notice that the piping leading to the evaporator now has a layer of frost on it and the first/top two 'loops' (out of 5 total) also have frost on them. Nothing on the rest and they are only cool to the touch. This probably explains why the freezer is not freezing as hard as it was but as to what is causing the limited evaporator frosting/reduced cooling, well, hopefully you guys will be able to help me with that! I can supply 'off' and 'on' pictures but they really don't show much more than what I have described here.

 

 

sealed system...if all the lines are not frosting then you may be able to freeze ice as you indicated earlier. Ice freezes at 32f degrees but your freezer needs to at 0-11 f to freeze meat and to assist in cooling the fridge.  Could be a line blockage but in any event, your fridge will run trying to  satisfy the cold control and all but the last two lines may get overly frosted.  Pictures would be very helpful but if those two lines never get frosty, then your old buddy has finally given up the ghost...23 years....can't ask for much more than that....putting more money in it is certainly a gamble which gives us a chance to do one of our favorite things....sing along with Kenny! (not that we relish in your problem, we just love to sing the song)

 


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#14 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 12 April 2013 - 09:07 PM

... sing along with Kenny!

:thumbsup:

 

ALSO:


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#15 dazedandconfused

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:05 PM

O.K>

 


the Evaporator frost pattern pictures is usually a tell-tale sign

O.K., after multiple requests and so without any further ado, here is the picture of the evaporator about 2 hours after turning the Cold Control back 'on' (after having it 'off' for about half an hour).  If no image is visible, then I may need a short tutorial on how to include a picture (on other applications, selecting 'insert image' usually results in a request for the filename of the image but, here, it appears to want a URL - I tried the path to the filename). Don't want to make this any more complicated than necessary (Gallery?)

 

 

Question: Can anyone tell me what kind of refrigerant is in my 23-yr old Canadian Frigidaire fridge?



#16 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 13 April 2013 - 07:36 PM

... Can anyone tell me what kind of refrigerant is in my 23-yr old Canadian Frigidaire fridge?

may be indicated on Fridge model / serial number plate
OR on the Compressor model / serial number plate
 
posting pictures ...
notice the options at the bottom of the text-reply box:

Attach Files
Browse (your computer)  

may be limited to 200k file size
OR upload pictures to some photo-file hosting site,
then post links here ...


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#17 dazedandconfused

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:34 PM

What a royal pain having to resize a photo just so that it can be attached here. Obviously wanting the biggest size/highest resolution and still stay within the 500 KB limit. After a good hour of effort, I gave up and am sending this one (211.36 KB, so definitely could have been better). However, I think it shows the relevant information, with the entry piping and first two loops and fins with frost on them and nothing below that.

Does this confirm the diagnosis and leaving no other possibly (except for maybe a small plug)?

Attached Files



#18 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:39 PM

... What a royal pain having to resize a photo ...

... After a good hour of effort, I gave up and am sending this one .

... Does this confirm the diagnosis and leaving no other possibly (except for maybe a small plug)?

1) OR upload pictures to some photo-file hosting site, then post links here.

2) OR MS Paint > Menu> Re-size > xx% > Save

3) Yes

 

 


 

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#19 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 16 April 2013 - 02:41 PM

 (Gallery?)

 

 

Yep, that's what it's here for...

 



#20 dazedandconfused

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Posted 21 April 2013 - 01:27 PM

O.K., thanks for the knowledgeable input. According to the fridge number plate, it contains R-12 refrigerant, which I gather makes things somewhat more complicated :sad: . Just to cover off what has gone before - since this appears to have started with an inadvertent downwards adjustment to the fridge compartment controls (approx. 5 --> 1), that doesn't point to some other cause of the reduced cooling in the freezer/fridge? Also, the fact that the compressor is "quite"/very hot to the touch, doesn't point to any other cause? If it is a line blockage, would turning the fridge OFF for several hours and then back ON likely have any beneficial effect on clearing the blockage?

Assuming your answers to the above tow questions is 'No', am I correct that, in order to ensure a 'full charge' of refrigerant, we would have to get our hands on R-12 or a suitable replacement (R420a?), find the leak, repair it, install a piercing valve, either add more R-12 (if available) or remove the R-12 and then fill the system with the replacement refrigerant? Sounds like it could get expensive!!

Thanks in advance for your continued assistance.






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