GE Refrigerator Problem

Hi!
I've got a 21 cu. ft. GE frost-free refrigerator in my garage, model TBX21J. It's ten years old. Was working fine in the spring, I went away for two months so unplugged it (took food out first!), when I came back it wasn't working anymore.
I didn't know anything about refrigerators but have done some background research and a little testing. Here's what's going on. The condensor fan and evaporator fan are running pretty much continuously, but no cooling is taking place. It's just circulating warm air. When I turn the temp control off and on the fans go off and on, so it looks like that control is working. When I rotate the defrost timer with a screwdriver, the fans click off for a small part of the cycle and back on for the rest of the cycle, so it looks like that's OK. Also, there's no evidence of burned contacts anywhere, like at the little black box I think is the compressor relay (not sure).
So, am I to the point where it pretty much has to be the compressor (or relay), or is there other stuff to check? Also, if a compressor is needed, any estimates as to repair cost if I do it myself and also if I have a repair person do it?
Thanks in advance!
Tom in PA
So, am I to the point where it pretty much
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Sounds like the compressor isn't coming on. Could be either problems with the electricity (not getting enough) or the start components. Or the comp itself.
How about call a techie and ask him/ her to check the line voltage? And while he's at it install a hard start kit on the comp. Can't hurt.
If I install a hard start kit, it runs about $100. If Sears does it, it runs about $170.
Most refrig aren't worth the money to change out a comp -- unless they are a fancy model. Runs about $300. You need a license from the fed to do that job.
You did a terrific job of diagnosis. And just as good a job of describing the things you tested.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Vmcw) wrote in message

Hello,
Good job checking, next is to confirm if the compressor is getting 110-120 volts AC to it or not. If it is, the windings in the compressor can be teseted with an ohm meter to see if they are open or grounded, if they check ok a new relay and overload should be tried and check the compressor for amp draw.

Too many special tools for you to do this....cost can be anywhere between $300-500 to replace a compressor.
jeff.
Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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TBX21J.
months
and
taking
and
I
small
the
relay),
This is Turtle.
Sounds like you have three thing left to check and you might have to have some tools and a extra hardstart kit to hook up to it.
As of right now we are about 80% sure you have a 120 volt power not getting to the compressor, freon leak , or a bad compressor. Either one freon leak or bad compressor is not worth fooling with but the voltage not getting to the compressor is worth fooling with. You need to ohm out the compressor , put a hard start kit on it , and check for voltage at the compressor.
Your odds now is 1 in 5 of fixing it with reasoniable cost or 4 in 5 of not fixing it reasoniable cost. With this said awwwwwww Is it worth a service call by a local refrigerator man with a second hand hardstart kit to put on it or a A-1 valve to tap it to see. If it out or low of freon or compressor is locked or burnt. Dump it. If not see the cost to fix it. Your odds are againt you now but hey go for it if you feel lucky.
TURTLE
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Hi again!
Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to give me guidance so far. I've dug a little deeper and now know the following:
There's a three prong connector on top of the compressor. I have continuity between each pair of prongs. I do NOT have continuity between any prong and the compressor housing. So, from what I'm reading, that's a good thing. I haven't tried to check to see if the compressor is getting 120 volts. That's kinda scary. (Guidance?)
Is the relay worth looking at or maybe just replacing? I'm looking at a black rectangular thingie about 1"x1"x1-1/2" with two wide prongs at the top. Says things like 22V 12muF 50/60 Hz. Is that my relay? Is it a likely source of the problem? I'm not hearing any clicking noises or any other evidence that something is trying to start, by the way. When I check resistance of the relay with the VOM (set at RX 1K) the needle briefly swings towards zero and then settles back to infinity? Normal? Is this a cheap part (it looks cheap)? Should I just try buying a new one or should I take it somewhere for further testing?
Sorry about all the questions. I'm just trying to fix it or to avoid paying for a service call if the reality is (as TURTLE is suggesting) that I'm gonna end up buying a new unit anyway.
Thanks again!
Tom in PA

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black
Says
of
That's a capacitor. The measurements you describe below

then
tell me the capacitor is good. The relay we're concerned about is attached to the compressor itself.

That's where the relay attaches.
>I have continuity

and
That's what you need to do now.
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That looks to be a capacitor, namely a "run capacitor".

Of the compressor totally not working? No.

Yes.
Don't bother, it is likely Ok.
Someone is going to have to determine if power is getting to the compressor or not. If not, the circuit will need to be traced to see what is stopping it. BTW. The following link about how the defrost cycle works on a frost free fridge might help?
How does a frost free refrigerator's defrost system work? http://ng.appliance411.com/links/jump.cgi?IDe8

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Vmcw) wrote in message
Hi,

The continuity check does sound good :) http://www.applianceaid.com/electrical_testing_tips.html Some meter tips.... Wiring diagram that comes with the unit may help.....EG diagram...
http://www.applianceaid.com/images/sampleSxSdiagram.JPG
On the example 110-120 volts AC would be found across the Black and Orange wires at the compressor.

Overload can be ohm tested as well, usually the relay can be ohm tested for continuity but doesn't always mean it will mechanically work....might be worth try a 3-1 repalcement http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?a-1appliance+tSwkBf+hs410.html

Nope, sounds like a run capacitor.

For a capacitor that is normal.

If you mark the wires, a repair shop -may- be able to test the overlaod and relay for you....probably worth a shot!!
jeff.
Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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