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dvanallen

GE Monogram ZFSB23DRGSS condensation build-up on side wall and bottom of refrigerator

25 posts in this topic

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Water accumulates inside the refrigerator compartment and pools mostly under the crisper drawers. The water starts building up beginning from the lower half of the shared wall. It's a side-by-side refrigerator. Any ideas?


Correction -- the condensation covers the whole wall, top to bottom. (Where's the edit button!?)

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I've already replaced a temperature sensor and the evaporator fan motor assembly. The sensor was replaced probably a year ago because the plastic clips broke and it wouldn't say in the wall. The evaporator motor assembly was replaced this week because the styrofoam was covered in black mildew and impregnated with ice.


Oh, one more detail -- the drip pan seems to be dry. When I first took the evaporator motor and housing off, I noticed that the white paint that covered the drip pan was peeling, and so I scraped it off. Now, the rust shows on most of it (instead of the paint bubbling up).

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This condensation issue has been around for months . . .just getting sick of soaking up the pool of water at the bottom of the fridge. Thanks for pointing me towards these resources. Unfortunately, I couldn't access the bulletin since I'm no longer an Apprentice. At one point, I passed the Appliantologist Merit exam and earned Apprentice status. It looks like this has been revoked . . .not sure why?!

 

The temperature in the freezer (0F) has held steady. The refrigerator is typically between 37 and 40. It's reading warmer now, around 40F, probably because I just installed the new evaporator motor. 

 

When I first checked the fresh food evaporator motor (prior to replacing), it did have some built up frost, but it didn't seem excessive. Also, there is some ice buildup around the evaporator passage through the mullion that apparently is causing moisture to accumulate in the area to the left of the evaporator motor and drip pan. The passage is padded with white insulating pipe foam, and the entry area has styrofoam surrounding it. The full section, about 6 inches in length, both have ice build up inside of them. This isn't visible when looking at the photo in the first post.

 

Regarding the temperature sensor replacement, I double checked my records and found that I replaced the WR02X10668 Shunt Sensor and Grille Sensor back 9 months ago. Both of these are on the refrigerator side (vs. the freezer).

 

It sounds like you're recommending I install the AC De-Ice Ball kit. I assume I'll need the 120V kit because it runs on US household current. Should I also replace the freezer sensor/thermistor while I'm at it? From what I could see, there are only 2 sensors -- one in the refrigerator and one in the freezer.

 

Thanks!

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One final question before I head off to RepairClinic.com to order my parts. It seems like it would be worth trying to seal gaps with a $10 tube of RTV and some aluminum tape before dropping $175 for the kit. 

 

As shown in the photo above, I don't have an ice ball but instead have lots of condensation. What are the chances that the RTV silicone will fix the problem?


The foam insulation seems like it would come off easy -- I think it's just held on with some zip ties. Does the styrofoam block come off easily as well? I assume I'd need to silicone behind (or at least around) it also.

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I also emailed a question to a Ge trainer regarding these problematic dual evaps and their slight rise in temps in the ff section. He indicated that there have been problems with the ff evap fan motor and the sealing of the evap cover. He said to replace them both and that they came together as a kit. I could not find a part number for the kit and never did a follow-up. Maybe replacing both, kit or not, is a way to proceed. I have yet to find someone to try it and report.

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Durham, thx for the reply. I should have been more clear in post #3. I replaced the evaporator fan motor assembly about 18 hours ago. The part # is WR17X11844. The styrofoam was covered in black mildew and impregnated with ice. I just checked and the refrigerator still has condensation issues along the entire mullion/parting wall and the refrigerator is running around 40F (which is probably typical).

 

I have aluminum tape and white tape -- and RTV silicone is pretty cheap. Might just go ahead with attempting to patch the problem before I drop the big bucks on the de-ice ball kit.

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You most likely have a pin hole in that drain pain under the evaporator.  They fail... a lot.  Look closely at it and make sure the drain tube is clear.  Test with water.

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Samanera, thanks for your feedback. I don't think the pin hole is the problem.

 

The refrigerator has continued to run at 40F even though it's set at 37F. Also, the shared wall w/ the freezer continues to show condensation over the full length of the wall. I've ordered the de-ice ball kit and will report back on whether this resolves the issue.

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Samanera, thanks for your feedback. I don't think the pin hole is the problem.

Make certain of this as Brother Level2learning is the trainer I referenced.

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Unfortunately, the de ice ball kit didn't work. It's now a few weeks post-install and my freezer is running at 0 F and my refrigerator is running at 40 F (even though it's set to 37 F). I still have lots of condensation coming off of the shared wall and water pooling under the fresh veggie drawer.
 
13+-+4 13+-+1
 
While the top edge is caulked, the bottom edge is open. I've noticed that ice is still forming under where the heater was installed. Should this be? It takes a few days for the water to build up enough to make it to the front of the refrigerator.
 
13+-+3
 
Checking for the pin hole in the drip pan, I dumped a turkey baster full of water into the drip pan. It didn't empty into the bottom of the fridge, but instead filled the funnel. Shouldn't it drain into the pan under the refrigerator?
 
13+-+2
 
If that's not the problem, would it be worth trying to replace the thermistor/temperature sensors? Any ideas? Thanks!

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Here's a photo of the de ice ball kit installed: photo.JPG

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Just about everything has been thrown at this problem and it is a common problem with this and similar GE models. Even though none of the solutions has worked, you have tried more things than most, so we can add this info to our collective knowledge and we've ruled out one more possibility (too bad it's at your expense)... Okay, lets try looking at this from a different angle..

Condensation... we condensation can be caused by external air entering the fridge and by a heat source. So, you have checked your gaskets? Checked for light bulb. staying on? Checked for "express thaw" feature staying on?

Thermistor... did you properly replace the shunt sensor and did you use any type of sealant on the thermistor before putting it in the shunt? Standard rtv silicone is not advisable. Did you get a resistance reading of the ff evap thermistor? Maybe it is too close to a coolingsource causing it to trigger ff defrost too often. It would be interesting to see it's resistance thereby letting us know the temperature it is sensing

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Durham, thanks for your quick reply. Express Thaw was not running and the gaskets are sealed. The light bulbs turn off when the fridge is closed. If I feel them first thing in the morning, they are not hot to the touch.

 

I'll take some readings with my multi-meter from the thermistors tomorrow or the next day. In the mean time, I'll watch the temperature readings to see if it drops below 40 F just by clearing the clogged drain line. 

 

About the drain line . . .realizing that the funnel leading from the drip pan shouldn't be full, I pulled the back of the fridge off and dislodged some brown, dirt-like gunk from the drain line. It's now clear and the funnel is empty. I didn't take a picture of the hose, but it's S-shaped and located on the left side (looking from behind). Future readers won't miss it.

 

Thanks again. I'll post an update later in the week!

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OK, so I'm back. My refrigerator has been running around 39-40 F and the freezer between -1 and 0 F. It's set at 37 F and 0 F, respectively. After clearing out the drain line, the refrigerator seems to be running slightly cooler. I also haven't had to clean up the pooling water yet, but it is beginning to pool. I can still see ice building up under where the de ice ball kit was installed.

 

I tested the thermistors in the parting wall using my multimeter. When switched to measure Ohms, I didn't get a reading. For the freezer it read 3.3 VDC/6.7 VAC. The refrigerator read 2.3 VDC/4.3VAC.

 

My question is . . .shouldn't I be measuring resistance (i.e., in Ohms)? The fact that I got readings at all should show that current is flowing through them and that they're working, right? Thanks!

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Did you actually install the ice ball kit? You made it sound like you were trying to do your own version. The actual kit comes with a heater that goes over the hump on the left and you drill a hole to run the wires to tie into the compressor area. Plus it comes with all new foam n stuff. That being said I've ran into a few of these and the ice ball kit didn't work for the side wall moisture. As many techs know ge has had issues with the foam failing in freezer doors. It could be a possibility that the foam has degraded betweeen the walls, and the coldness from the freezer side is causing it to sweat. No way to fix if that is the case. I don't know if that is truly the problem. Is the freezer temp normal?

OK, so I'm back. My refrigerator has been running around 39-40 F and the freezer between -1 and 0 F. It's set at 37 F and 0 F, respectively. After clearing out the drain line, the refrigerator seems to be running slightly cooler. I also haven't had to clean up the pooling water yet, but it is beginning to pool. I can still see ice building up under where the de ice ball kit was installed.

I tested the thermistors in the parting wall using my multimeter. When switched to measure Ohms, I didn't get a reading. For the freezer it read 3.3 VDC/6.7 VAC. The refrigerator read 2.3 VDC/4.3VAC.

My question is . . .shouldn't I be measuring resistance (i.e., in Ohms)? The fact that I got readings at all should show that current is flowing through them and that they're working, right? Thanks!

Oops I missed your freezer temp post. I don't believe GE has a vdc to temp chart. You should be checking those sensors with the power off to ohm them out.

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ohm testing of sensors is certainly better than voltage testing. However, with a problem this persistent, I would change all fridge thermistors anyway.

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BryanS, I think you nailed it. When I first replaced the evaporator fan motor assembly and then the de ice ball kit, I noticed that the stryofoam I removed/replaced was saturated with ice/water. Btw, yes, I did buy the kit. It was a bit more expensive, but I didn't have the mental energy to drive to Lowes and spend $2. I'm pitiful, I know!

 

When you say that the foam can fail, I think that's exactly what happened. So what are my options? Write a complaint letter to GE?! So frustrating . . .the problem could definitely be worse, but my refrigerator isn't exactly a cheapo model!

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Somehow I missed that pic you posted with the heater installed. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do in that case. If it isn't under a warranty I don't think you have many options. I only ran into the sweating a couple times and Sears tech support told me to install that ice ball kit. Did it fix it every time? Nope. It usually fixed the icing problem but not everyone had that sweating issue. So many of us techs got each others calls back so I can't say what became of those calls. Others have pointed out sweating can come from outside air leaks too. I would also check around the floor where the water lines, wires, and defrost drain come up and check for gaps. Maybe rtv around them just in case. Check both door seals n such. I take a heat gun or a blow dryer to some older stiffer seals to soften them up a little. Don't heat one spot to long or it will melt. I'm glad you found the defrost drain issue too. As I was reading I figured that was an issue, and farther down I see you found it :)

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Sweating is definitely a problem but more importantly, are you still running at 40f in the fridge? If so, are the problems related? Determining how they can be related may help us shed some light on this strange, seemingly unsolvable, yet common problem that has vexed me for quite a long time.

okay, let's assume the problem is lack of insulation in the left wall of the ff section. Would it not be logical to then assume your temps in the ff should drop instead of rise? Right now and based on the info you and Brother Bryan provided, I think we can say the lack of insulation is probably a fact. And your temp rise in the ff section is a fact. Then assuming these facts are related, the only way to reconcile them would be to postulate that the cold air, which must emanate from the lack of insulation, is biasing a nearby thermistor thus fooling the fridge into thinking it's colder than it is.

The above, however, presents its own set of problems. If the fresh food thermistor that regulates temp in the ff section is being biased, wouldn't it show its actual temp on the user interface, and you would then see a lower instead of higher temp?

This now leads me to several conclusions. 1) the thermistor that provides temp info to the user is a different thermistor than the thermistor that regulates those temps 2) the fridge cannot get cold despite trying or 3) the fridges cooling protocol is being overridden.

1) take thermistor resistance readings of thermistors 1 and 2 and compare it to the resistance-temperature conversion chart. If either one of them reflects the true fridge temp while the other reflects the target temp then we may have an answer: moving a thermistor

2) Sealed system issue: When I have faced this problem the systems used a three way switch. Make sure it is switching properly... you can simply touch it to feel it move.. Check manual for procedure. Also check freezer evap pattern as it may also reveal refrigerant issues despite this being a dual evap system.

3 ff evap defrosting too often... take a reading of the ff evap thermistor...has it been. replaced? Is this thermistor inside a metal heat sink looking device and strapped behind the evap at the bottom? If so, try raising it up higher on the evap and make sure it is still inside that block with the proper sealant designed for such use.

whew! my brain hurts when I try and pretend to be smart... Now I need to go lie down and leave this smart stuff to others.

Edited by DurhamAppliance

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Durham & BryanS, thanks for your replies. Here's what I checked:

  1. The seals on the refrigerator fresh food side. They don't appear to be the problem.
  2. Temps:
    1. The freezer shows its running between -1 and 1 F with the built-in thermostat control set at 0 F. An analog thermostat shows its actually running between 0 and -15 F, depending on the location. The top reads -15 F, the middle at 0 F and the bottom at -5 F.
    2. The refrigerator readings show its running between 39 and 41 F and the built-in thermostat control is set at 37 F. An analog thermostat confirms this range.
  3. I haven't really paid much attention to it, but it does seem that the compressor runs continuously. Maybe it's supposed to because it's a variable model (right?). As Durham pointed out, the compressor really should be running less. Otherwise, this would seem to point back to a problem with the thermistors.

In preparing to troubleshoot the thermistors. Appliantology resources share that there might be as many as five. How many does my refrigerator have? Where might the other 2 thermistors be located on the diagram? What are the ID #s? I've located 3 of them so far:

  1. freezer parting wall (freezer ID# 233) -- new style
  2. evaporator coil (freezer ID# 241)  -- need to verify which style this one is, old vs. new
  3. fresh food parting wall (fresh food ID# 237)  -- new style

Should I also be looking:

  1. up high in the fresh food section near the damper?
  2. in the bottom of the fridge inside the custom cool? 

Now that I've documented my current thinking, I'll share the results of some additional searching:

  1. A nice fellow provided me with a thorough explanation of his situation and included this YouTube video (5m 50sec) describing steps to troubleshoot the heater, thermostat, thermistors and main board. (Contents: 1-2.5 mins, heater troubleshooting via main board; 2:30-4 mins, thermistor troubleshooting; 4- mins, direct heater troubleshooting; 5:15-5:50 mins, thermostat testing.) Wow, what a life saver this was!
  2. Here's a thread at another just answer website that had a similar problem that recommended troubleshooting the heater. 
  3. Here's another thread on appliantology.org troubleshooting the same problem. There, they also recommended checking the thermistors and heater.

So after all of this, my next steps will be to:

  1. Use my multimeter to test the heater, thermostat, thermistors and main board as described in the video.
  2. Pull the back of the freezer off and perform a visual/physical inspection of the:
    1. thermistor (old vs. new), also take readings
    2. evaporator (defrosting correctly, evenly covered in frost?)
    3. heater (fresh ID #230, WR51X10055), clear vs. black, filled with water, etc., also take continuity/resistance readings
  3. heater thaw inside the custom cool, also look for a thermistor. There was ice build-up under here as shown in the 3rd (blurry) picture in post #12. Could there be problems with the heater thaw (custom cool ID# 930, WR51X10081)? Just a wild guess . . .not sure if it's worth checking!

I'll be testing Can I test the thermistors by taking them out and immersing them in ice water. They should read around 16.6 kohms. That sounds easy enough . . .is it really that simple?

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The info you posted is a great primer but we assumed you already had that knowledge due to the repairs you previously attempted and thought you have already done the first step of testing your sensors. Our suggestions were based on this, and therefore did not include the obvious.

Since that is not the case, I suggest the following..

1) ignore information regarding heater testing as your fresh food evap does not use a heater for defrosting. Remember, you have a dual evap fridge and much of the info you found in those links do not apply. The thermistor info, however, is good.

2) replace the ff evap thermistor... your fridge may be defrosting the ff evap too often or is in what is called "extended defrost mode" due to a bad evap thermistor (see my previous post for location and other advice regarding this thermistor if problem continues) Replace this thermistor regardless of testing results.

3) replacing all ff thermistors regardless of testing results is highly recommended. Your fridge is only a few degrees off. Finding a thermistor out of calibration by such a small yet enormously important amount can easily be missed when doing a resistance test. btw, when you replaced the ff sensor before, did you connect it properly with a water tight connection such as using bell connectors with sealant or water tight butt connectors?

Screenshot_2013-12-23-09-00-55_zps9e7xov

ps don't forget your ff evap thermistor may be inside a thermal block.

Edited by DurhamAppliance

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Thank you for the picture from post #24. It helped greatly with locating the thermistors! Unfortunately, replacing #s 1-3 didn't help move the temps down. While I was there, I used a hair dryer to remove the light defrosting that was present.

 

Thanks also for your tip on the thermal block. It wasn't too difficult to handle, but did help to have some additional, more detailed instructions. Marcone also has a 1 hour webinar on the topic of dual evaporator refrigerators. Though it was a bit more than what I needed here, watching the first 20 minutes or so was helpful.

 

Replacing #s 4-5 is what fixed the problem. It's now 24 hours later and the fresh food side is running at 36 degrees (set at 37) and the frozen side at 0 (set at 0). Very good!

 

Thanks to the forum for all of your help and support through this process!

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