Our Haier is hot is it a lost cause or can it be fixed?
June 8, 2012 7:57 PM   Subscribe

My fridge is hot, not just not cold but actually hot. Can I fix this or am I shopping for a new fridge?

My Haier ( model HBQ18JACLSS) which conveyed with our house has been acting up. A few days ago I came home to find it was not cooling at all. We bought coolers and ice and got a repair guy out. He told us the fan that blows the air into the fridge had come loose and that he put it back in place, secure it and things should be fine. Their work comes with a 90 day callback.

Just now my husband opened the fridge and it smelled like something electrical was burning and the fridge wasn't cold. Not only that but on the inside back wall, there is a box a vent on it and a light on either side of the vent and it was hot to the touch. Like, uncomfortably warm. We unplugged it and didn't find any obvious clogs, dirt, or frost. We plugged it back in and the vent inside the fridge and freezer are currently blowing cold air.

I did double check to make sure the lights are going off when the button on the door is compressed and it is.

Obviously we're calling the repair guy back UNLESS you can help or convince me it is a lost cause and any more money should be spent toward a new fridge (which we really can't afford right now).

Just in case, I am off to buy ice but will check in shortly as naturally we JUST bought a ton of groceries yesterday afternoon.
posted by Saminal to Home & Garden (10 answers total)
Feel free to call me unreasonable, but I'd be afraid of my house burning down. If it comes down to it, you could look at a new fridge as cheap insurance.
posted by Chutzler at 8:26 PM on June 8, 2012 [2 favorites]

The electrical burning smell is concerning, but it is a new appliance, so you never know. There are a lot of oils and such used in manufacturing that volatilize, not to mention the plastics offgassing.

Frostless freezers do actually heat up regularly. Just enough to melt the accumulating frost, but not enough to defrost the food. It's how they keep things frostless. Maybe you caught it during one of those cycles?
posted by sanka at 8:46 PM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh. I missed new to you, not new. I'm more concerned now. Not that you'll die in a fire, a fire in a fridge will go out quickly from lack of oxygen (I've actually tested this, it does), but that your fridge may be on the outs. You'll have to wait and see unfortunately.
posted by sanka at 8:49 PM on June 8, 2012

Has it worked at all since the repair?
posted by goshling at 9:02 PM on June 8, 2012

Best answer: Feel free to call me unreasonable, but I'd be afraid of my house burning down."

I'm not a fire investigator but I am/was a major appliance technician and in over a decade of working on fridges I've seen plenty of electrical light shows and aftermaths but I've never seen the inside of a fridge catch fire. The risk here, if it exists at all, is very very small.

Back to your problem:
I'm guessing, not having a wiring diagram handy, that your fridge uses the limit thermostat (not the cold control) in the freezing compartment to advance the defrost cycle and either the thermostat has failed or the defrost cycle mechanism has failed. Interrupting the power to the fridge advanced the cycle so you'll be good until the fridge calls for defrost again (in 8-~24 hours depending on the exact logic of your fridge).

I'm not sure what a 90 day call back is but if it means the technician comes back for free or without charging a service call I'd call them back. Defrost problems are almost always cost effective repairs. Especially in the case of more expensive brands or as in your case a bottom freezer, stainless front.
posted by Mitheral at 10:56 PM on June 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Check that the freezer unit hasn't iced up.

We have newish fridge, then it stopped working a couple of years after we bought it. Fridge guy cam over, checked it and told us there was a massing chunk of ice behind the freezer that was stopping the fan. Says this is really common.
posted by the noob at 11:39 PM on June 8, 2012

Yes, what the noob says. If you leave it powered off for 6-8 hours and there's an accumulated ice mass - which can happen if the airflow vent gets clogged up with stuff, especially when you've moved the appliance/have a cat and sweep things toward the fridge/etc. - it'll melt during that time and problem solved. Some repair guys/sites call this a "hard reset."

Basically, do exactly what it says on the "best answer" on this page - I did and it fixed mine years back when I had the same problem.

In the meantime, maybe you can save the cold stuff in coolers/with ice? I put all my perishables in a portable wine cooler type thing and just ate the frozen stuff quickly - hopefully you can do something similar!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:35 AM on June 9, 2012

Based on what Mitheral and Noob say, you should be fine.

IF you can't get it fixed cheaply, do you know anyone that owns or manages apartment buildings?

There are great people out there who repair and sell second-hand fridges, freezers, washers, dryers, and stoves. I had a guy in NYC, and I made sure to find one in LA when I moved here. Apartment people have these types of folks on speed dial and can give you a recommendation. My guy has a 90 warranty on everything he repairs or sells - never had a problem. Tell him what you want, and he sources it.

Craigslist works, too. But I really LOVE my independent repair guy for when appliances break. So inexpensive! So knowledgeable! So reliable!!
posted by jbenben at 1:37 AM on June 9, 2012

PLEASE unplug the fridge and turn off its circuit in the fuse box until the repair guy comes back.
posted by brujita at 2:09 AM on June 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. The fridge is unplugged, stuff is in ice chests and the repair guy will be back Monday. I'll update if we find out what the problem was.

I couldn't find any ice anywhere but the fan that was broken (it had actually thrown off a blade) was the one in the freezer that pushes some air into the freezer and some up into the fridge. It seems to me that monkeying around with that part has caused some sort of short in the upper fan that blows cold air into the fridge. Maybe.
posted by Saminal at 1:52 PM on June 9, 2012

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