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bigbluediesel

Kitchenaid Fridge - unable to keep fridge side at 40°

35 posts in this topic

This is a Kitchenaid built in model #KSSS36DAW05

 

I try to keep the freezer side at 0° F and the fridge side at 40°.  For the last two weeks, the fridge side has been getting progressively warmer.  Now, with the fridge control set to coldest, it is 45° there, while the freezer is still at 0° F.  The unit does not appear to run for any greater length of time than normal.  There is no excessive activity - it gets opened a half dozen times a day just long enough to grab something.  The coils are cleaned every couple of months.  I can feel airflow in the vent coming from the freezer side to the fridge, but it feels choppy.  I haven't felt for this before, so I don't know if its normal.  The fan doesn't sound different.  I have noticed the fan runs at times even when the compressor isn't running.  Must be on separate circuits.  There is no sweating in either compartment and the "dollar bill" test shows the door seal good all the way around. Any insight would be appreciated.

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Is there frost on the back panel of the freezer?

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sounds like an airflow problem for sure....check damper and air return ports for obstruction.

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Micabay - no frost at all on the back side (or anywhere else)

 

Durham - I made sure there weren't any items anywhere I thought would be in the way.  On this model, the airflow into the freezer is about halfway down the back - the airflow from there is strong and very cold.  The airflow into the fridge side is at the very top - it is flowing air, but doesn't seem to be very strong.

 

Can you (or anyone) tell me how to check the diverter (or whatever its called) that modulates air flow into the fridge.  I take it there is a control board and potentially a thermostat on the fridge side that controls this diverter - I'm getting the feeling it might be stuck in a partially closed mode.

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New information - I pulled the diverter and watched it as I turned the temperature controls.  On "Coldest" the door is wide open and on "Cold" it closes completely.  Guess I need to strip it down to the evaporator fan and make sure its doing its job.

Edited by bigbluediesel

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A picture of the Evaporator would be help greatly...  make sure the compressor has been running for at least 10 mins before you snap the shot! 

keeps us updated.

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While you are at it make sure the light switch is working and turning the light off when the door is closed. Also, your temp control could be intermittent.

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While you are at it make sure the light switch is working and turning the light off when the door is closed.

 

OK, I emptied the entire fridge and took out the shelves - the light goes out when I climb in and shut the door.  (I'm joking, I'm joking - the switch turns the light off.  On the freezer side, there are two switches - one kills the light - not sure what the other does.)

 

I'm going to dig down to the evaporator at some point today.  I hope its a logical assembly - I've seen a few that warrant shooting the designing engineers.  My 65 Pontiac requires taking off the front quarter panel for instance...

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When you remove the evaporator cover check the right side of the evaporator for ice buildup.  The warm air return from the refrigerator section passes through the mullion and enters the freezer section just above the middle right side of evaporator.  Air has to travel down to evaporator bottom and circulate through.  Check foam blocks at top of evaporator and the foam strip separating coil from right side air passage.  Sometimes return air can escape the passage and eventually ice can form at least a partial restriction.  Also check side seals where evaporator cover mounts.  There is a blocking kit available if needed.  P/N 8201798

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Any one else getting a "page not found" to those links?

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Any one else getting a "page not found" to those links?

 

Yep, I did.  No pictures.

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I'm sorry - try again.  I forgot to set the privacy setting to share with the world...

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Looking at picture of evaporator, not much frost on coils, how long had it been running? Defrost heater seems out of place, if heater is not properly located you could be getting incomplete defrost.

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The unit had been running for at least an hour - It took me about 5 minutes to get the cover off with the unit running the whole time.  There is some frost on the right side coils, but no more than you would expect with the door open in our humidity.  No ice formation and no other obstructions that I could find.  I pulled the unit out (weighs a ton) and pulled the top cover off.  It was relatively clean and I confirmed the condenser fan is running full force.  The discharge line from the compressor is too hot to touch.  The suction line really wasn't that cold - definitely not "beer can cold" like you would see on an automotive or HVAC unit. 

 

Is there a possibility the unit could cool enough to maintain the freezer at zero, but not be cold enough to keep the fridge side at 40?  Of course, there are no service valves on this thing, so I have no way of checking pressures.  I don't know if I'm feeling adventurous enough to install service valves myself.  Plus, this thing has got more tubing than a pipe organ...

Edited by bigbluediesel

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Don't like that frost pattern.  Check condition of the condensate heater loop at the drain pan for leak due to corrosion.  It's got that old Matsushita rotary compressor too.  Might be getting tired.  Any excessive compressor run time?  Refrigerator control board does operate evaporator fan motor independently from compressor.  Might check resistance of that f/f thermistor.

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PDuff - I think you are on to something with the compressor.  I've been watching it closely since I started this thread.  I hadn't noticed excessive run times before, but now that I'm paying attention to it, its been running constantly all morning.  I had the door open a grand total of 15 minutes to pull the back panel and shoot the pictures.  It still hasn't recovered - 4 hours running.

 

The compressor seems to be a pretty rare item - are there others that will fit?  RepairClinic doesn't stock this one, and the pricing from other locations is in the $650 range just for parts even if you can find it - most sites show discontinued.  This is the instruction sheet that goes with it - https://secured.whirlpool.com/Service/SrvTechAdm.nsf/2cd44500d572193285256a45004fd9d6/099d128b4fa164b485256ab1004fbbef/$FILE/4387534.pdf

 

Looks like they're substituting a different compressor there.

 

How do I check the thermistor?  Doesn't that supply the refrigerator control side with info to help set the diverter door?  I've already verified that is wide open.  Or will that set the fan to run even when the compressor is off?  I've noticed that happening.

Edited by bigbluediesel

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Most manufacturers have gotten away from this style compressor.  Frost pattern indicates inefficient compressor but your unit has that hot gas condensate loop down in the defrost drain pan behind bottom grille.  Have been finding slow sealed system leaks there.  F/F thermistor most likely ok but can check for continuity.  Tech sheet doesn't show resistance values.

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OK - no buzzing from the trusty leak detector anywhere.  Hopefully that line is ok - looks like it would be more fun that it is worth to replace that line...

 

Could some of you professional techs give me a ballpark estimate on what you would charge to install the kit I referenced above?  It looks like it replaces everything up top - compressor, condenser, all in one package - just have to do a lot of brazing to splice it in.  I've got the R12 and vacuum pump, so it would be easier for me to charge it that way as opposed to the flush technique in the article.  I wish I could find pressure guidelines as opposed to fill weights - these systems are so small, all you have to do is take an extra second to disconnect a line and you lose half your charge... (I do have quick disconnect low loss fitting - just saying...)

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So no one has an idea of a fair cost to replace the compressor and condenser?

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Go big.  Alternative is to replace the refrigerator which will be expensive.  Also be prepared to have issues with heat exchanger and, even through it checks good now, the hot gas loop at drain pan.  Unit has to be pulled for full access to upper unit and if replacing the drain loop will have to be tilted.  May require two techs at that point.  Minimum labor should start at $800-$1000 depending on what all will be replaced.

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OK - so I got the compressor / condenser kit - Sears was the only place that seems to have it in stock and they had a 15% of coupon - got it delivered the day after the order was placed.  The kit weighs 70 pounds... UPS delivery man was not a happy camper.

 

The drain loop (condensing pan heater?) seems to be an unavailable part.  As of right now, it doesn't appear to be leaking.  If, in the future it develops a leak, what would be the harm in bypassing this and running the pressure line straight to the condenser?  That's how most systems are anyway, right?

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Affirmative on the drain pan heater being NLA.  Could bypass if needed.  Only problem would be water overflowing from drain pan without sufficient heat to evaporate.  At least it's not leaking at this point so you should be ok.

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OK - one more question before I jump headfirst into this.  The high side kit has a new Embraco compressor and condenser that replaces the old rotary style compressor.  The compressor has a process stub up front and the suction / discharge in the back.  There are also two oil cooler stubs at the base of the compressor.  These currently have heavy rubber plugs on them.  It is an type F compressor (FGS 80AW)  There is absolutely nothing in the instructions about what to do with these.  Do I leave the plugs on?  Try to braze these shut? I haven't pulled a plug to see what is under there - don't want to create a problem.  There is no external oil cooler either in the kit or on the original setup.  Is there any pressure on these?  Seems a strange setup - don't want to mess this up.

 

Thanks for the help.

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If I remember , you just leave the caps in place...................The new compressor is using R- 134A..?????..............I would flush the system, a sweep or too to clear any lingering R-12 oils..........Connect a process port  ( You can use the rubber mounted temporary ports for this operation )  at both ends of the system that will be left after removing the compressor and condenser......................pull a vacuum from one end and add a bit of r134a at the other end...., remove it from the pump end and pull a vacuum again...most oils will travel with the refrigerant...not all be removed but  you can do a triple sweep with the compressor installed......

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