Help me avoid having to buy a new 'fridge
July 14, 2018 5:19 PM   Subscribe

The evaporator fan in my refrigerator keeps failing. I don't know why. I can't afford to buy a new refrigerator.

I have a 15-year-old General Electric refrigerator, model GTS18HCMERWW. About two weeks ago, I noticed that the refrigerator and the freezer were both too warm. There was still some cooling going on, but not enough.

I eventually traced the problem to a bad evaporator fan, located in the back of the freezer compartment. I replaced the fan, and everything was good again. But only for about a week.

Now the new fan has failed, as well. So I'm thinking that there is something else going on. I'd really like to avoid having to buy a new refrigerator. I don't have a multimeter, although I might be able to borrow one, if necessary.
posted by alex1965 to Home & Garden (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you have any kind of budget for an appliance repair person? I couldn't afford a new fridge when mine stopped cooling, but got a repair guy to do an inspection and a circuit board repair for about 1/3 to 1/4 the cost of the cheapest new fridge...
posted by TwoStride at 8:53 PM on July 14, 2018

You might find a free or very inexpensive fridge that is used.
posted by cacao at 2:02 AM on July 15, 2018

Usually motors of this type have one of two failure modes- the bearings wear out or seize, or the windings in the coil open. How did the old fan fail? Has the new fan failed in the same way? The new part might just be a dud (any warranty on it?) or your original diagnosis might have been incorrect and the fridge beginning to work again after changing the fan might have been coincidental. (or related- say that the wiring harness running to the fan has a bad crimp connector or something and by disturbing it by plugging and unplugging the fan, you got it to temporarily make contact.) You should be able to test the motor by directly applying 120V to it using a line cord. (This is assuming that it's a normal, 120V AC motor.) I suppose there's a small possibility that whatever controls the evap fan ( a relay, controller board triac or switch) has failed in such a way that spiky, intermittent voltage is going to the fan motor, which might take out a thermal fuse in the windings. You could test the voltage going to the motor by connecting a bulb of the same (or somewhat lower) wattage as the motor to the wires feeding the motor. It should light up bright and steady.
posted by Larry David Syndrome at 9:35 AM on July 15, 2018

Larry David Syndrome gave some reasonable advice, but I gave up after replacing the defrost thermostat -- to no effect. I decided to get a new refrigerator, after all. I'm working two jobs and just don't have the time to mess with this thing anymore. And the 'fridge is 15 years old, anyway.
posted by alex1965 at 6:07 PM on July 19, 2018

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