freezer frost build up --> warm fridge

Hi -- I have a 9 yo Kenmore freezer+fridge. It's set up so that the fridge is cooled by siphoning air off the freezer. The problem is that the freezer is building frost, blocking the duct, and thereby warming the fridge. I don't think this is a "frost free" device, so i don't think it's supposed to defrost itself (although how would I know?).
Normally, perhaps this wouldn't be a big issue, except that I've now had to defrost it twice in the space of a few weeks. I've googled around thar intarwebs for advice... here's what I've found:
1) check the seal by closing the door in a dollar bill and seeing if there's tension. it looked like there's tension all around. 2) Defrost for minimum 24 hours. We didn't wait that long before because we didn't know if frost was the problem. This time, I'll wait until tomorrow to plug it in again. But surely that doesn't explain where all the frost is... 3) I don't open the fridge or freezer very often... so I don't believe that's my problem. I'm in California, which is pretty dry, although it has been humid recently. But it's hard for me to believe that's enough to produce all this frost. I've lived here for several years now, and none of the other freezers i've used have had this problem (although maybe they had defrosters). 4) I don't keep a lot of food in my freezer or fridge. Is that a problem? One fix-it guy I know mumbled something about a lower heat capacity, but I don't see why that would mean I'd get more frost. 5) I typically keep 3 ice trays in my freezer, and I refill them often... is it possible that the ice is subliming? Or evaporating? Enough that is to produce perhaps 1 liter of water from frost? 6) Perhaps, sometimes, I (or a guest) isn't closing a door all the way... but that seems unlikely since there's a bit of a magnetic attraction.
Anyway... the point of my post is to see if anybody has any ideas for things I can try to minimize or slow the growth of the frost... how help me figure out what to try to fix it. That same fix-it guy from #4 told me to just buy a new one, but that's not worth it for me because I'm going to (probably) move away this summer.
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Check the fan inside the freezer and see if its working OK.
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That, or defrost problems.
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Christopher A. Young
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A refrigerator only 9 yoa is almost certainly a frost free.
I had a similar problem but it may not be the same. My symptoms were the freezer getting too warm. Repairman had to replace the 'defrost heater' that comes on each defrost cycle. When he pulled the cover off, the interior was a solid block of ice. Watching him, it was not a difficult problem and parts not very expensive. The service call though...
Harry K
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harry k wrote:

I had a similar problem which was caused by failure of the clock timer which turns the defrost cycle on/off.
EJ in NJ
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nitroamos wrote:

Hi, First thing to check is defrost timer.
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Yes, defrost timer and element are the likely suspects. Frost frees are set to run from anywhere from once a day to every couple days. Basicly, it's just a heating element on the freezer coils that heats them up so the ice melts and runs off.
You can find exploded diagrams for your model which will help if you want to work on it yourself at many of the online parts websites.
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ok, i now know that i have a defrost timer, because I found it. :-) I just set it to defrost and plugged it in, so now I wait. I could have tested it without taking off the panel... oh well, now I know.
These are the instructions I'm following: http://www.ehow.com/how_4504020_test-refrigerator-defrost-timer.html although maybe i'm going to have to buy an ohmmeter.
some other notes: i know the fan is working ok, because my fixit friend lubricated it recently when it wasn't working ok.
thanks for the help so far!
this is fun... i'm a fixit kindof person, but only while writing computer software... so far.
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Notes, for you guys, and for future reference:
I tested the defrost timer as prescribed, and the compressor never turned on. I could feel some heat on the "barrier" or "shelf" between the fridge and freezer (where I believe the air ducts are) so something was defrosting, although I don't think the heating element near the freezer coils ever turned on... (I hope it wasn't supposed to).
The Sears website has a nice system for searching your model number (other websites I had tried didn't work), although the model displayed was different from what I have. For example, the model displayed didn't have a defrost timer... No worries, I just looked up the part number for the timer, and they had it. Well, it was a part that had been "upgraded", a favorable signal... perhaps the old part design had problems. Anyway, it was only a 30$ part, but they were going to charge me 10$ for 1 week shipping, or 22$ for 2 day shipping. Well, what a ripoff, and who can wait that long without a fridge these days?? I just called them, and they told me which store in the LA area had it in stock. So 1 hr shipping for free! The guy at the store told me I got the last one...
Anyway, I tested the new timer in the same way as the old one, since obviously if the new unit fails in the same way as the old part, then perhaps I'd done the test wrong, or the new part was broken, or there was some other problem, etc. The new part passed the test. Now I just have to wait for a couple weeks to see if frost builds up because I don't know of any other way to know if I've in fact isolated the problem...
I'll bet I just saved ~100$ (and gained experience) by doing this myself! Or I just saved the cost of a new unit. Thanks guys!
References: http://www.searspartsdirect.com/partsdirect/getModel !retrieve.pd?modelNumber%360132993&pop=flush http://www.searspartsdirect.com/partsdirect/showPart.pd?partNumber !5846606&productGroupId46&supplierId%3
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