Unplugging my refrigerator for 24 hours fixed it. Will the fix last?
June 28, 2010 10:33 AM   Subscribe

My side by side refrigerator/freezer stopped cooling, so we unplugged it and went to buy a new one. On a lark I plugged it back in 24 hours later, and now it functions perfectly. Anyone know if the problem is likely to return (or what the problem might be?) I vacuumed the back-bottom compartment where the compressor is located, but there wasn't much dust there so I doubt dust was the problem.
posted by djedery to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My freezer once stopped working because the freezer auto defrost drain was plugged. This led to the entire back of the freezer icing up and stopping it from cooling. All I had to do was manually defrost the freezer, the drain let loose, and all was well again.
posted by sanka at 10:43 AM on June 28, 2010


Defrost timer .
posted by hortense at 10:45 AM on June 28, 2010


I freaked out about this same issue with my older side-by-side last year. It was just on a defrost cycle.
posted by carsonb at 10:47 AM on June 28, 2010


I should clarify one thing: the problem gradually worsened over a couple days. First we noticed that the refrigerator was running all the time and not doing a great job of cooling, then eventually it just stopped working. Not sure if that changes anyone's assessment or if is still seems highly likely that the drain or timer were the problem.
posted by djedery at 10:49 AM on June 28, 2010


Also related to defrosting...

At the back top left inside the refrigerator compartment on my side by side, there is a plastic cover over a device which (I was told) controls the transfer of the cooling from the freezer side into the refrigerator side. Take off the cover and see if there is ice covering a louvered vent. That is what caused my refrigerator to stop cooling. If you can defrost it to get that ice off, it may work again, but in my case we couldn't do anything to prevent it from happening again. We spent a few months with a screwdriver stuck into the louvers to prop it open, but it didn't really work and we just bought a new refrigerator. The tech said that it was getting frozen because it was too humid in our house?? and that water from the air would get into a space it was not designed to be and then freeze up the mechanism.
posted by CathyG at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2010


Classic defrost cycle problem. Your fridge should slowly stop working again in the next 2-4 weeks from a frost or ice build up on the evaporator (the part of the fridge that gets cold).

There are five components in the defrost system that can cause this symptom: pan heater, defrost timer, limit switch, coil heater, and clogged drain. You'll have to wait for it to stop working again before the problem can be diagnosed easily.

The good news is it is relatively cheap to fix.
posted by Mitheral at 10:50 AM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


After transporting a refrigerator, you're supposed to let it sit for a while so that the refrigerant loop doesn't get vapor-locked by bubbles formed as the fridge was being shaken about. I guess it's possible that a stray bubble could form spontaneously and vapor-lock a running fridge.

If it starts happening more and more often, there is probably a slow refrigerant leak.
posted by flabdablet at 10:51 AM on June 28, 2010


Oh I should mention that there is a very slight (maybe 1 in a 1000) chance that your problem is a refrigerant leak or weak compressor.
posted by Mitheral at 10:53 AM on June 28, 2010


flabdablet writes "After transporting a refrigerator, you're supposed to let it sit for a while so that the refrigerant loop doesn't get vapor-locked by bubbles formed as the fridge was being shaken about. I guess it's possible that a stray bubble could form spontaneously and vapor-lock a running fridge."

The reason you should let a domestic fridge sit for a bit after transport is to allow oil to drain back into the oil reservoir of the compressor. The single loop pressurized system has both vacuum and pressure generated by the compressor (with a differential of up to a couple hundred PSI) that can quickly clear any potential vapour lock but running the compressor without oil is very hard on it. With proper technique and if one can avoid any extreme manoeuvres during transport you can pretty well plug your fridge in right after moving it. However it's better to be safe and let it wait a few minutes.
posted by Mitheral at 11:02 AM on June 28, 2010


//The good news is it is relatively cheap to fix.//

Not necessarily. On newer digitally controlled units the defrost timer is a chip on the main circuit board, and the only fix is to simply replace the whole damn board. $250 for the board on my GE, 5 minutes of labor to pop out the old one and replace it.
posted by COD at 11:32 AM on June 28, 2010


This is exactly what happened to us last week. The entire circuit board had to be replaced on ours as well. It's a defrost problem.
posted by kyleg at 11:39 AM on June 28, 2010


When I had a board on a dishwasher fail, they sent me a new board for whatever price and when I returned the old one they sent me a "core deposit" refund back. So if you order a new part, find out about that.
posted by Doohickie at 7:57 PM on June 28, 2010


The reason you should let a domestic fridge sit for a bit after transport is to allow oil to drain back into the oil reservoir of the compressor.

Ah!

Thanks for clearing that up. One more misconception to add to the discards pile!
posted by flabdablet at 1:26 AM on June 29, 2010


The problem was, in fact, a defrost cycle problem. $300 for a repairman to fix. Most certainly cheaper than a new fridge!
posted by djedery at 12:30 AM on July 1, 2010


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