Frigidaire Refrigerator not Cooling

Todays blog post is going to be on a service call that I performed today.  It was on a Frigidaire Side by Side refrigerator.  The problem the customer was having was that most of the food in the freezer had thawed and nothing in the refrigerator side was cool.

They had been away for a couple days and they had family coming over and checking on the pets at the house.  Their dad had notice that there was water on the floor in front of the fridge during one of the visits.  So the father opened up the freezer door and notice all the ice had melted from the ice bin, but the food in the bottom of the freezer was still frozen.  When he opened up the refrigerator door the temperature display was reading 65 degrees for both freezer and refrigerator side.  The water dispenser was also not working.

OK, so now that we know what was going on with the machine we can move on to diagnostics.  Because I have been repairing appliances for so long I already knew what was wrong with the machine, or at least what wasn't working.  So what I'm going to do is try my best to explain the basic operation of the fridge and how I determined where to start digging into the machine.

On most side by side refrigerators the evaporator coils are located in the freezer behind the rear panel toward the bottom half of the back wall.  The evaporator fan sits above that.  That fan blows the cold air from the evaporator coils to the top of the freezer compartment behind the back wall.  From there the air is divided.  Most of the air blows into the top of the freezer and creates a circular pattern of air movement.  Some of the air is pushed into the refrigerator compartment through what is called the damper.  Its basically a little door that opens and closes controlling the air flow into the fridge side of your machine.  That air starts at the top, moves down over the shelves and returns to the freezer through another damper at the bottom of the compartment.  OK, moving on.

I'm going to spoil the suspense and tell you that the fan was not working on this refrigerator.  I didn't say the fan was bad, I said not working.  There is a difference.  If the fan was bad, it would have been getting the proper voltage and not moving.  If the fan is not getting the correct voltage to operate then something else is bad and the fan is not working.  Anyway, moving on....the frost build up from the defrost issue was what was causing the fan to not be able to rotate.

What was happening with their fridge was the all the cold air being produce by the evaporator coils was not being moved around in that circular of air motion that I was talking about earlier.  The coldest air will always settle at the bottom of the fridge and of course the warmer air is going to stay at the top.  Now that we know this it makes sense that if the fan was not moving air to the top of the freezer, the ice will melt.  It will run out of the bucket, through the shoot on the door and right onto the floor.  Because the compressor is still running and producing cold air in the freezer, things at the very bottom of the freezer remained frozen.

Lets talk about why the temperature was reading almost room temperature.  The thermistors that read the temperature are located on the back wall in both compartments about 3/4 of the way up.  Now we know that warmer air is higher up, I shouldn't really have to explain any further.  Do I?  YES, thats why its frozen at the bottom and still reading a high temperature!

Why did the water stop working on the dispenser?  Well, this one is easy enough now that we know the frozen air rests at the bottom.  There is a water tank the rests behind crisper drawers of the refrigerator compartment.  That is why the water is always nice and cool when it comes out of the dispenser, when its working of course.  But that's in the refrigerator side?  Yes, because air from the freezer is going into the fridge compartment through the lower damper (that's always open), so everything at the bottom of the fresh food side of the refrigerator is also frozen when the fan stops moving the air.  That includes the water in the tank.  So when its frozen, it doesn't flow.

Here is a post with a Frigidaire Refrigerator being used a test machine to help you troubleshoot a little better.

Refrigerator Not Getting Cold

Here is a Website for Troubleshooting Frigidaire Refrigerators - Step by Step

Do you have any questions?  If so just leave them in the comment section below.  I will do my best to follow up and pass on some knowledge.