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mickyfinn

Defrost timer question, GE GDS18SCPARSS

28 posts in this topic

Hey All,

 

Still have the wonderful GE fridge you guys helped me diagnose and repair years ago.  In a nutshell, bottom drawer freezer appliance, the unit was not defrosting properly so ice would build up under the coils, block off the drain and eventually (takes about a month...) builds up to a point that the fan gets stuck in it and the top fridge warms up.  The freezer stays ice cold.  You gave me the diagnostic procedures and I determined it was the defrost timer.  That was the first time.  The timer lasts anywhere from 9 to 15 months or so and then fails again.  Once it actually turned out to be the thermostat about 3 years ago. 

 

So, I end up once a year taking this thing apart, melting the ice so it drains (never has had a blocked drain, just covered over with ice), replacing the timer and restarting the countdown.  As I'm doing this again and shopping for a timer, I came across a few others that got me thinking.  This unit calls for a WR9X483 10hr/35min timer,  what are your thoughts on a different timer, like a WR9X480 which is a 6hr/30 min?  I have no idea why the timers keep failing.  I've tried genuine GE and aftermarket.  My thoughts are, outside of crappy, under-rated design, that I have the fridge in a tight alcove with very little room to breath so maybe it's affected?? Or, now I'm thinking that it isn't melting all the way so maybe changing the timer timing might help??  The only other thing, which baffled a local tech when I needed a timer quickly and bought it locally, is that the thermostat isn't clipped to the coils, but onto a distinct mount on the pan under the coils.  I always though that was odd, but it is definitely how it came from the factory (took photos when I first took it apart...). 

 

So, any thoughts on why this is a recurring problem, and do you think that a different defrost cycle or changing the clip to the coils would help, or make any difference at all??  Or do I just keep repairing it until I can afford to take a sledge hammer to it and replace it??

 

I defer to your collective wisdom...

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Need appliance parts? Call 877-803-7957 now!

is the defrost limit (thermostat) close to the defrost heater?

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If memory serves, the heater runs between the two coils, the limit is clipped to the pan towards the front edge of the front coil.  I'd guess @ 4-5 inches away from the heater and @ an inch from the coil.

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If you're seeing ice pooling in the bottom under the coils and the coils are clean (no heavy frost build up) I think your timer and everything in the defrost system is fine. I've ran in to a few of these doing this and the problem has always been a drain line freezing up. There can be several causes of that but the common thing is something restricting the drain line. Like a ball of dust at the end of the line, or the stryafoam under the evaporator coil breaking down and stryafoam crumbs are going down the drain and blocking it.

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thatnis a strange place to put a defrost limit.

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Does it have a defrost hole heater? That's that fat aluminum wire wrapped around the defrost heater and shoved down the hole. Not all models of GE have them but they should. I've made them from 10 gauge solid copper once or twice.

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frozen drains are usually caused by something blocking it up

 

or door not closing/sealing letting air in

 

you could try a shorter defrost timer which could be an answer for a high use fridge

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Thanks for the input, gives me a few things to try.  I'll snake the drain, but I tried that early on to no different result.  As is, I can pour water through it pretty freely but I'll do it again.  There is a fair amount of frost on the coils when I take it apart, but I would agree that it looks like a frozen drain.  Odd that the new timers installed seem to do the job for almost a year before it clogs again too, but maybe there's something nasty growing in the tube that gets flushed out with the hot water when I melt it and it takes that long to grow back??  I'm curious about the defrost hole heater wire.  I'd like to try that.  I have some aluminum wire, @ 8 gauge, and some copper too.  How far into the hole do you put it? And how many wraps roughly around the heater tube would you think?  Already ordered the called for timer, but if the wire doesn't work, I'll try the shorter one next time.  Any thoughts on just clipping the limit onto the coil instead of the pan? Odd that it's made that way.

 

Thanks again for the advice.  It may be a while before I know if any of this made a difference, but I'll try to remember an update!

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You really couldn't use the conductive heater with this refrigerator. The heater is too far away from the drain and there is too much stuff in the path between there and the heater to work a copper line around it. I've never used one with a glass tube heater either. I'm not sure if that would work.

 

This heater would be a better choice if you need one

http://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/Drain-Heater/SH250/965757

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Several things you've mentioned suggests incomplete defrosting. Primarily, you stated the drain tray is iced over but the tube is clear.

What is happening is ice is forming on the left or right of the pan then slowly growing and covering the drain hole. Sometimes even a heat probe can't stop this unless you zig zag the copper line inside the pan connecting the wire ends to the heater on the left and right. However, based on the location and type of heater this may not be practical in your freezer.

GE has experienced this problem in some of their SxS fridges and they rectified the problem by replacing the single glass tube heater with a double heater effectively increasing the temps of the defrost heater and eliminating the problem.

This has not been done for your model so instead of increasing the temp, you may need to increase the duration and frequency of the defrost cycle.

1) increase duration: This may be possible if your defrost cycle is being interrupted by the limit as oppose to being shut off by the timer. One way to test this to check current draw using a meter or better yet, a Killowatt meter.

Have the freezer at normal conditions (including reassembling evap cover etc) Plug the fridge into the Killowatt meter and sdt it to "Amps." Advance the timer into defrost. You should see the heater's amp draw on the Killowatt. Time how long the heater runs.

If the heater shuts off very early in the 20 minute defrost cycle I believe your timer has, then your limit may be causing the problem. It may be opening too early because it is bad or in a bad location. I would change the limit and move it farther from the heater. I believe your limit is used is a safety device in this fridge and not used as a defrost terminator so moving it will not cause a problem.

2)Increase frequency : If the heater runs for much of the defrost cycle then the problem is more than likely defrost frequency and a 6 hour timer may be the remedy.

3) Also check your drainage pan to see if all water flows to the drain hole. Sometimes an unleveled fridge can cause some water to stand and become seed ice. Your fridge should be level left to right and slightly leaning back.

Edited by DurhamAppliance

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I've dealt with several of these. What finally worked for me was to fish out the metal drain trough that leads from the evaporator tray to the drain. Then I stick one of these heaters to the underside of the trough 

http://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/Defrost-Heater-Assembly/SH221/965750

This heater is more suited for the application than the SH250 and the wire are more manageable too. Then put a layer or two of foil tape over the heater. Don't spoil the surface where the water runs. Use the foil tape on any broken corners of styrofoam. Wire the heater in parallel to the defrost heater but before the defrost thermostat, so the drain heater will be on for the entire defrost cycle of the timer. Don't forget to use bell connectors filled with silicone for the connections.

In addition to that, you could even wire an additional defrost thermostat in series with the fan to delay the starting of the fan, and tilting the whole unit back a bit more for better draining

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Thanks! That, I believe, sums it up best and was along the lines of where I was coming from.  I don't have a killiwatt meter, but I think I will order the shorter timer and see how that goes.  I'll also check the level, it's always a challenge in my old house.  I appreciate all the help here, you guys are great!

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Just caught your post vee8 when posting mine.  That sounds like an interesting workaround.  I'll try the timer first and consider the tray heater my next move.  Thanks for the installation instructions!

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years ago ge had a service flash as I recall, it was to install a second defrost bimetal(not a hi limit) in parallel with the first one. This was to address the ice balling on the stupid coil type evaporators. Anybody remember those? I would be inclined to change the location of the defrost bimetal(terminator) and start with a new one, 45 degrees or so. 

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I think that service bulletin was for the vertical mounted evaporators,this is a horizontal evaporator. It is possible the foam under the pan could be saturated or breaking down contributing to the problem.

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I use that little mullion heater, it works great.  Hook it up to the heaters direct to come on when ever it defrosts. Stick it right down in the hole.  I also learned on this forum about spraying a bleach solution on the tray and down the drain which helps prevent that horible gookkus from growing down  in that drain tube.  Once I started doing this I haven't had any call backs.  Works great.

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Update on my wonderful fridge.  I got and installed the six hour timer and a new limit switch (I've been keeping spares around...) and tilted the fridge back more.  The drain is completely free flowing but no matter what I do the trough still has a small, several drop amount of water that stays on the end and won't fall off into the drain.  That was two weeks ago, I just threw away another $50 worth of food that warmed up when I didn't catch it.  I'm guessing that slight amount of water is freezing, then building each time until it blocks the drain and eventually stops the fan.  I can't lean the fridge back anymore, already have 1/2" pieces of wood under the front after adjusting them all the way up.  The way I see it, I have to install the secondary heater under the trough or take a sledge hammer to it and buy a new fridge.  For now, I installed a new 10hr timer and reset the ticking clock to freeze up time.

 

I looked at removing the trough like vee8 mentioned.  Maybe you can give me more insight on how to get that out because it doesn't look like it's going to. It looks like it's attached to the drain tray somehow, and I can't imagine removing it without damaging it enough to interfere with the water flow.  Also, is there any fear of issue/fire/damage from installing that under the trough?  I suppose the foil tape protects the foam, but just curious. 

 

Quite honestly, I'm so sick and tired of this POS that I'd love to replace it.  The problem is I have tight spacing issues, 31 1/2" width (unless I start ripping out walls...) and idealy counter depth or close to it, so that I'm limited to very few options that aren't wire shelved, rental apartment fridges.  I also am fond of the bottom freezer, but understand that it greatly increases the likelyhood of issues.  I've found a few Whirlpools, a Frigidaire, and a Maytag that will work, also a Kenmore bottom freezer that I believe is made by LG.  Any thoughts from the guys out there fixing them on which brand is more reliable, and are bottom freezers more trouble than they're worth? 

 

Thanks again for the professional perspective!!

 

ps~ any thoughts on who makes a reliable mid-price gas range.  The GE Profile that I got with the fridge has been minorly troublesome over it's life and is now getting worse.  Thinking of changing both at the same time.

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What about spraying bleach in the hole and then putting a mullion heater that is wired to the heater and stuck down the drain.  You could use that heater shown above with the tin foil on it.  Take off the foil and stick it in the drain.  This is what I do and it is easy and it works.

 

Doc

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That's what I'm thinking Doc, and crossing my fingers.  So I take it that the heater doen't get hot enough to melt the plastic drain, but it's hot enough to melt the little bit of ice in the trough.  Do you lay it right along the bottom of the trough, it seem like it would block some of the water from flowing.  Also, to wire it in, just cut one of the wires leading to/from the heating element and put it in line or do I splice it in to each wire?  And you just fill the wire nuts with regular silicone caulking or do you use something like dielectric grease?

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Take the tin foil off the heater.  Put the wire down the drain hole a couple inches.  Doesn't get hot enough to do any damage.  One wire goes to common heater wire, one goes to hot heater wire.  Wire nuts put on and turned with the top up and covered with electrical tape works good.  Use a wire tie to keep it all tight.  This Will solve your problem!

 

 

 

Doc

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Thanks Doc!  I'll give it a try and let you know!!

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Update: I installed the wire heater in the trough and down the drain and flushed with bleach. It bought me an extra week or two (about 5 weeks this time)but still froze up like before. I wired it into the lead for the defrost heater. I just thawed the damn thing out again and figuring I don't have much to lose tried something a little different. I just spliced the wire heater into a constant hot wire so it will stay on all the time now. I put it back into the trough and the drain line and covered the trough with a 1/4" thick piece of styrofoam that I lined with foil tape. It gives a clear path along the trough that's now heated by the wire and separated from the cold air blown by the fan. Taped it all into place with more foil tape and still had plenty of clearance from the fan, and then put it back together. Any thoughts on this?? I'll report back with results!

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Does the drain have a duck bill like end on it restricting the water flow?  Or does it drain good.  I like your idea but I'm not sure about having it on all the time, then again maybe it's only on when the compressor is running, could work.  Keep in touchl, thanks for the follow up;.

 

Doc

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Not sure about the shape but it's always drained well. I think the ice builds up on the trough and continues to build every defrost cycle until it blocks the drain and stops the fan. If this last bit of work pays out I'll be pleasantly surprised and grateful! I'll report!

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