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the_turtle

Kenmore compact chest freezer

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I've got a Kenmore 8.8cuft chest freezer, a model they still currently sell (253.16949102), that for the last few weeks has been acting flaky.  I can get the compressor to start if I open up the panel that contains both the cooling vents for the compressor and the thermostat, and basically tapping the face of the starter relay and jiggling the wiring harness a bit, but not to the point where I've been able to identify a loose or intermittent connection in any of the connnections.  I've unplugged and replugged the Molex connector, the connections on the starter relay, and the capacitor, as well as checking to make sure both ground connections are tight.  The problem has gotten progressively worse.

 

It started out that the unit would run until it got down to its assigned temperature, and then refuse to restart on the next cycle.  Now it's to where the thing will spin up, run and cool for maybe 10-15 seconds, then click off.  Sometimes it won't respond at all.

 

I have a new cap and a new starter relay on the way, but it doesn't appear to actually have a separate overload relay.  Is that plausible?  Is the overload integrated into the starter relay on the newer units?  The compressor is a Panasonic, no guess who actually manufactured the unit for Sears.  I cannot find any mention of a separate overload/cutoff relay on Sears' own parts diagrams.

 

If swapping out the starter relay and cap doesn't fix it, I'm hosed and will probably junk it and replace it.

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The overload is built into the start device.  This unit was manufactured by Frigidaire for Sears.  Replacing the start device should cure all.  Once it is replaced allow the unit to run for 24 hours and inspect the rear freezer wall towards the top.  Look for any ice ball forming.  That would indicate a sealed system problem and in many cases with the chest freezer would be non-repairable.

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OK, cool.  The unit is maybe four years old, no prior issues with sealing.  When (if) the compressor starts, it cools rapidly.  Let's see if the new relay and cap get this thing going.

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Sounds to me like a bad t-stat/cold-control.  The bumping around with wiring then starting and the starting and cooling good then not restarting after it shuts down and starts calling for cooling again - all sounds like t-stat issue.

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 I can get the compressor to start if I open up the panel that contains both the cooling vents for the compressor and the thermostat, and basically tapping the face of the starter relay and jiggling the wiring harness a bit, but not to the point where I've been able to identify a loose or intermittent connection in any of the connnections.  I've unplugged and replugged the Molex connector, the connections on the starter relay, and the capacitor, as well as checking to make sure both ground connections are tight.  The problem has gotten progressively worse.

 

 

 

Sounds to me like a bad t-stat/cold-control.  The bumping around with wiring then starting and the starting and cooling good then not restarting after it shuts down and starts calling for cooling again - all sounds like t-stat issue.

 

 

He was wiggling and bumping right at the start relay.  Seems like a straightforward case of either a problem with the start relay or a sloppy connection at the molex connector on the relay.  

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He was wiggling and bumping right at the start relay.  Seems like a straightforward case of either a problem with the start relay or a sloppy connection at the molex connector on the relay.  

UPDATE: killed the power, pulled the start relay and capacitor (I had both new components, figured I'd just stick them all in and see what happened rather than trying to triage it down any further). Put the new cap and relay in place, restored the connector to the relay, freezer fired right up and worked solid for the two hours I cared to sit there and keep an eye on it.  Looks like the relay probably nailed it.  Have not yet dissected the old start/overload relay assembly, but I did shake it and nothing loose rattled around inside.  Will pick it apart in my abundant spare time.  Intend to check the unit tomorrow when I go out to the barn, but I expect it'll be fine.  Sure wish Sears had maybe put a piezo buzzer on the thing for temp alarm instead of just a little orange light by the handle, as the compressor is normally quiet enough you have to really listen to hear if it's running or not.  Thanks to all for input and advice.

 

Side note: in my house, I have a 1953 International Harvester chest freezer which has been in continuous and perfect service for sixty years now, and the only casualty seems to be the light over at the side of the inside chamber.  This thing still has the original "Irma Harding" instruction sticker under the lid.  The only reason that freezer is still there is that when I bought the house seventeen years ago, the walk-out basement door had been remodeled in the early 1960s and was now to narrow to let the freezer out.  Whoever takes it out of there, when and if it ever fails, will have to cut it up with a Sawzall.  I guess the Home Appliance division of the International Harvester Corporation did its job too well back in 1953.

 

Looks like this, only in my basement, and perfect:

 

100_1081.jpg

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Yeah, there's my girl Irma:

 

irmaharding_4c_bustlogo.png

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He was wiggling and bumping right at the start relay.  Seems like a straightforward case of either a problem with the start relay or a sloppy connection at the molex connector on the relay.  

 

Small chest freezer, cold control usually in same and only area of any access, compressor area, (in this case attached directly to the compressor compartment panel that would have to be open and laying down while accessing start pak.

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Perhaps The Turtle can post a photo of the tapped component and resolve this mystery once and for all!

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Yeah, let me get a picture of it tomorrow.

 

Oddly, I'm having some trouble regulating the thermostat since the new relay and cap.  I've had the thing cranked up to max cold for years, but now I find that if I leave it cranked, eventually all the tubes to and from the compressor get very hot (almost too hot to touch), the temperature alarm light comes on, even though the unit freezes stuff solid and keeps it frozen.  I backed the thermostat off to "3" instead of "9" and I can hear the thing cycle as needed, but the output tube doesn't necessarily always feel cold when the compressor is running.

 

Another odd observation:  once the temp alarm light pops on, the compressor seems to run continuously, even if the contents are frozen, until I unplug the whole unit and replug it.  Almost like there's some nonexistent circuit somewhere that latches the compressor on if the temperature alarm light is lit (I am 99% sure it has no such circuit).

 

Any chance the temp light would be triggered if the unit gets too COLD?

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The temp alarm appears to operate thru a separate set of mechanical contact points in the cold control/t-stat that close when the temp raises above a specified temp point.

 

It also looks like your unit should have a piezo buzzer that comes on at the same time as the overtemp indicator, (should be a switch recessed in a cutout area on back of lid to turn buzzer on/off).

 

This is a pretty basic system, no electronic computer controls, all mechanical cold control/t-stat.

 

This should be your wiring diagram - all things shown may not be on our freezer, (IE. I don't find anything like the defrost switch or valve in the parts list for your unit).

 

ChestFreezer297010501.pdf

Edited by Budget Appliance Repair
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Tried to view the PDF of the schematic, and...

Busted!

 

Sorry, you don't have permission for that!

Never heard a piezo alarm, but if there's a true on-off switch to disable the buzzer, I'd have never thought to look for it or expect a buzzer at all.  Bought the unit nearly-new-but-used.  Will look around the lid.  Doesn't help that the unit is black, so stuff in the back isn't really easy to see.

 

Thanks for posting.

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