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Pop Quiz: What's Wrong with this Freezer?


Son of Samurai

1,742 views

You're investigating a refrigerator that's not cooling properly, and you see the following bits of evidence:

8D87B59A-FA7F-4668-9686-B25F4EAB2E5B.jpeg.bba53b1a46cc6a3899260f42bd3919a3.jpeg

5ADCA7F8-C66F-48E7-95F7-BD51F67AC41D.jpeg.653046998a33aabeb434657cd000e666.jpeg

76445A48-536E-4A76-BFB7-3251682C72F5.jpeg.2820e04777c81644a675235070576f02.jpeg

Two questions for you to answer:

  1. What (if anything) does the rime ice on the evaporator tell you?
  2. The source of the problem with this refrigerator is present in one of these photos. What is it?

Let us know your answers in the comments, and we'll let you know if you're right!

Want to troubleshoot refrigeration problems like this (and much more complicated ones) with complete confidence? Click here to check out the Refrigeration course over at the Master Samurai Tech Academy.

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29 Comments


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So the rime ice indicates that some external air is entering the refrigerator.

And most likely the air is coming through the door seal due to the misaligned hinge on the door.

  • Like 5
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def air leak past the door seal 


Is the centre door hinge falling off ?

the frost in the centre at the top is a little light as well 

  • Like 2
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Appliance Angels

Posted

Its hard to follow another tech after they disturbed the scene but the evaporator fan motor could cause that.

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  • Team Samurai
Son of Samurai

Posted

@Slavand @J5*, both of you are right on!

@Appliance Angels, excessive frosting is almost always going to be one of two things: an air leak, or a failed defrost system. And while this appliance has obviously been disturbed already, the cause of the problem is visible in one of the pictures, as I stated in the post. Take another look...

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5 hours ago, J5* said:

the frost in the centre at the top is a little light as well

That's probably because the air-leak is on the FF side, so the majority of the moist air is entering the freezer from the bottom, and creating a thicker layer on the lower side. And I think that can actually be misdiagnosed as a Defrost Problem.

  • Like 1
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3 hours ago, Slav said:

That's probably because the air-leak is on the FF side, so the majority of the moist air is entering the freezer from the bottom, and creating a thicker layer on the lower side. And I think that can actually be misdiagnosed as a Defrost Problem.

On first glance it looks like a defrost issue

first thing i would have done there would be measure the defrost circuit  and then force defrost 

not sure why you would pull the evap out last thing i wouldnt be doing unless needed to change the defrost out 

  • Like 2
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vee8power

Posted

13 hours ago, J5* said:

not sure why you would pull the evap out 

to give us another picture to guess the cause

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
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Just curious about the minor details that are different in "no defrost" vs "moist air intrusion". I notice the side tubes on both sides are heavily frosted, while the center top isn't. What is happening with moist air entering, is the fan circulates it behind the panel, blowing it up the sides where the tubes frost up.  My question is, do the side tubes get THAT frosted in "no defrost" situations? Would that be the determining factor? I had a Frigidiare call with the FF icemaker that has the small evap behind it. Icemaker was frozen solid as it does on these, I told them to call Frigidaire first because of the known icemaker problem with the ice coming through the back wall etc. But I defrosted the main freezer evaporator completely. They called me a week later that their fridge is warm and I found the main evap was heavily frosted again. Drain only had a thin crust both times. Normally with faulty defrost, the evap would take longer to get this frosted I would think. Defrost tested ok manually. Now with the icemaker having a frozen solid drain, I wondered if some warm air from the fridge/icemaker would travel down to the freezer. The side tubes were really frosted on both sides on that evap. In fact, here is a picture that week later. I couldn't decide if the board isn't turning on defrost automatically or if there is a warm air leak from FF or both.

872426390_20210612_2015551.jpg

  • Haha 1
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43 minutes ago, igloo said:

Just curious about the minor details that are different in "no defrost" vs "moist air intrusion". I notice the side tubes on both sides are heavily frosted, while the center top isn't. What is happening with moist air entering, is the fan circulates it behind the panel, blowing it up the sides where the tubes frost up.  My question is, do the side tubes get THAT frosted in "no defrost" situations? Would that be the determining factor? I had a Frigidiare call with the FF icemaker that has the small evap behind it. Icemaker was frozen solid as it does on these, I told them to call Frigidaire first because of the known icemaker problem with the ice coming through the back wall etc. But I defrosted the main freezer evaporator completely. They called me a week later that their fridge is warm and I found the main evap was heavily frosted again. Drain only had a thin crust both times. Normally with faulty defrost, the evap would take longer to get this frosted I would think. Defrost tested ok manually. Now with the icemaker having a frozen solid drain, I wondered if some warm air from the fridge/icemaker would travel down to the freezer. The side tubes were really frosted on both sides on that evap. In fact, here is a picture that week later. I couldn't decide if the board isn't turning on defrost automatically or if there is a warm air leak from FF or both.

872426390_20210612_2015551.jpg

While this seems like a rime ice due to an air leak, the blue top of the defrost thermostat looks popped open. So probably an incomplete defrost issue.

  • Like 7
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3 minutes ago, Slav said:

While this seems like a rime ice due to an air leak, the blue top of the defrost thermostat looks popped open. So probably an incomplete defrost issue.

Didn't noticed that before. But I have pics from the 1st repair and it looks the same there too. I did have the heater on during my first defrosting of the evaporator to help my steamer along. I turned it on at least 3 times while defrosting it and it stayed on for a while each time. On my second visit I turned the defrost on and could hear the heater too. Forgot to mention, on the first visit, there was a 12" icicle in the left corner of the evap where the tube from the icemaker is.

  • Like 1
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Denver Todd

Posted

Is the supply vent and return air vent clogged to ff compartment?

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mefixit

Posted

HEATER IS WORKING CAUSE I SEE ICE ON THE DRAIN PAN. DRAIN IS PLUGGED PLUS AIR LEAK IS MY GUESS.

  • Like 2
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JohnnyCage

Posted

On 6/22/2021 at 10:12 PM, igloo said:

Just curious about the minor details that are different in "no defrost" vs "moist air intrusion". I notice the side tubes on both sides are heavily frosted, while the center top isn't. What is happening with moist air entering, is the fan circulates it behind the panel, blowing it up the sides where the tubes frost up.  My question is, do the side tubes get THAT frosted in "no defrost" situations? Would that be the determining factor? I had a Frigidiare call with the FF icemaker that has the small evap behind it. Icemaker was frozen solid as it does on these, I told them to call Frigidaire first because of the known icemaker problem with the ice coming through the back wall etc. But I defrosted the main freezer evaporator completely. They called me a week later that their fridge is warm and I found the main evap was heavily frosted again. Drain only had a thin crust both times. Normally with faulty defrost, the evap would take longer to get this frosted I would think. Defrost tested ok manually. Now with the icemaker having a frozen solid drain, I wondered if some warm air from the fridge/icemaker would travel down to the freezer. The side tubes were really frosted on both sides on that evap. In fact, here is a picture that week later. I couldn't decide if the board isn't turning on defrost automatically or if there is a warm air leak from FF or both.

872426390_20210612_2015551.jpg

Igloo you know that defrost heater will never kick on as long as it has the exploded bimetal in place, right?

  • Like 1
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SinanjuTech

Posted

Answer to question 1: Rime Ice on Evap coils indicates that hot/warm air is leaking into the compartment, which condenses and produces the resultant ice formation. 
To question 2: The second pic shows the defective (warped) door Gasket.

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SinanjuTech

Posted

PS. I have never seen Rime Ice cause an Evap to NOT have any frost, as with the top of this coil. In cases like these, without performing any other tests but the visual, I’d diagnose a restriction. 
But, you asked 2 specific questions, neither of which addressed the lack of frost at top of coils.
An explanation of this phenomenon would be greatly appreciated.

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Littletexan

Posted

The condensate from the clogged drain will eventually cover the return air vents causing the freezer fan to pull warm air from the room rather than the refrigerator.   

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On 6/22/2021 at 10:12 PM, igloo said:

Just curi

Did you notice the Bimetal is bad? Swelling out the back.

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Thomas McHale

Posted

My guess is incomplete defrost -defrost thermistor?

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Gnominator77

Posted

One quick question. Would you see a lot of rime ice/frost on freezer contents? Like ice cream containers.... etc... when the air intrusion is coming from the freezer door/drawer area? And condensation forming on contents of the fridge section with warm air intrusion from the fridge door/s? 

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28 minutes ago, Gnominator77 said:

One quick question. Would you see a lot of rime ice/frost on freezer contents? Like ice cream containers.... etc... when the air intrusion is coming from the freezer door/drawer area? And condensation forming on contents of the fridge section with warm air intrusion from the fridge door/s? 

Yes 

and normally with freezers it will be a lot more visible on the cabinet and products closest to the leak 

  • Like 1
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WalTech

Posted

Air leak from FF gasket/door and the hand in the first picture is covering the evap drain which could be clogged.  

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fillthebarman

Posted

Obviously the door seal problem would have to be fixed that is why it is frosting up so quick.  Defrost may be working fine but not for long.  Clogged drain issue also. 

Super Appliance Man to the rescue!!

  • Like 1
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darren412

Posted (edited)

From what I am gathering in the picture , I observed 3 things. First, It looks like 2 issues going on at the same time that may have contributed to the symptoms on that first evaporator picture.  1) bad room temperature air leak with the freezer door Gasket eventually causing the frosted up evaporator problem ? then   2) It looks like the drain was also getting blocked up and eventually clogged and not draining properly any more after the evaporator started frosting up and that may have contributed to eventually causing the clogged drain issue if it is indeed blocked up ?  the 3rd thing I noticed which has nothing to do with the evaporator and drain problem That I commented on was that the tech had decided that it was a good idea to prop up the evaporator coil with the screw driver's handle right up against the glass tubed heating element. In my opinion that is not something I would do. Theres  a good chance of breaking the glass tube on the heating element propping up against it with a hand tool !!  now your into it for a whole new issue should that fragile glass tube crack and break for some reason while the evaporator is being diagnosed.   Prep work during a repair is just as important if not more important than the actual repairs themselves. that is what seperates you from a profitable repair to a non profitable repair.  

 

Edited by darren412
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malcolmjamal

Posted

1st picture is definitely air leak into freezer, what would have also helped is if you would have taken pictures of the entire freezer, normally when there is an air leak in the freezer it's followed by frost bite, icecicles & frozen water droplets, it would look like a snow flurry in the freezer. Second scenario, my friend you have a bad defrost bi-metal, freezer won't go into defrost as long as that part is bad.

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