Keeping an old fridge running

I am moving into a house that was empty for over a year. The refrigerator must be at least 20 years old, a side-by-side 18 c.f. When I cleaned it out and plugged it in, it worked fine. After a few weeks, it got very warm. I emptied it out and left the doors open. A few days later, just out of curiosity, I plugged it in again. It worked right away, and got plenty cold in both sections - then failed again after a couple of days. The compressor anfd fan are one, and I noticed that the door was warm.
I'd replace it immediately, but it's an odd size and I haven't found a new one to fit. I'm pretty handy with tools. Is there any chance that it's the thermostat, defrost control or something else I can easily replace? Even a few hours' work would beat tearing out cabinets to fit a new one.
Thanks-
Theo
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From what i've heard, it's a losing battle fixing old fridges... the payback period for a new one is usually fairly short, considering how inefficient the old one likely is.
If it's an odd size, perhaps you can buy a smaller one and be handy making shelves (for say cookbooks or such) or just a faceplate to fill the gap.
Good luck.
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this is Turtle.
You sound to have a Defrost System Failure. This is not a big fix but can get a little tricky and you might call a refrigerator repair service to have them look at it. If not some of the posters here have some website that trouble shoot the refrigerator yourself. I think it's Jeff or Dan-o and they maybe posting here too. For a starter here. Most of the time it is the ''' defrost timer ''' that goes out when you set a box up for a long time and have this problem.
TURTLE
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out
cold
compressor
Easiest thing to do here, is replace the tank. Its 20 years old for cryin out loud.
What has probably failed, is the defrost timer, or the elements...and depending on the unit, you might find a new fridge is about as cheap.
I dont get that comment about the compressor and the fan being one....being one what? They are not one unit...
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refrigerator
I
new
the
a
one....being
It may be as simple as the defrost thermostat..We have a frigidaire that was doing the exact same thing..It would ice up every two or three days, then I would defrost it and it would work for a while longer..the timer was working but it would not allow the elements to turn on..Replaced it for about 12.00 and it fixed it..The thermostat is usually attached directly to the evaporator coil... John
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one....being
Errp - sorry! I meant to write "on" - i.e., both are running.

was
I
working
12.00
Though I haven't fixed a lot of fridges, I'm pretty sure it's something like that. Thanks for the support - I'm going to go ahead and open up the control box. Can't break it any worse!
And to other comments: I'd love to just replace the box, but any modern unit would force me to cut out some built-in cabinets that I value and would stick out into a key passageway. Also, money is tight at the moment.
Thanks-
Theo
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then
like
control
unit
You'll save money in the long run by getting a newer, more efficient 'fridge.
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try disconecting the defrost timer mine went bad locking into defrost, you did say your door was warm.
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It it is 20 years old, chuck it. If you have been to 6 or more appliance stores and can't find a new refrigerator the same size, chances are they don't make one that size any more. Just buy a new refrigerator that will fit and worry about filling the space later. It is simply not worth the aggravation of fiddling with a 20 year old refrigerator that is not working properly. Des

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Hi,
Some common trouble makers..... http://www.applianceaid.com/frig_notcold.html

Make sure the condensor ( hot tubing ) is clean and not overly covered with dust and if used on your rerigerator....that the condensor fan motor is running ok.
jeff. Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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refrigerator

out
I
cold
compressor
Could be a couple of thing, but the fact that it started to work OK after sitting, leads me to believe the evaporator coil is freezing over. One possible cause is the fan between the freezer and fridge compartments. If it stops, it will not circulate the cold air. It will also allow the evap coil to freeze. Sitting allowed it to defrost and start the cycle over again.
I'd at least check that out. You may have to do some digging behind panels to find the location of the fan. Ed
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If you're sure both compressor and fans were still running at the times of failure, I agree that your symptom could be caused by a problem in the defrost system. You can read about how that works at the following link:
How does a frost free refrigerator's defrost system work? http://ng.appliance411.com/links/jump.cgi?IDe8
If that's the cause it would likely be well worth it to fix until the time you can find an appropriate replacement and/or do remodeling to accept a currently available model.
It the compressor happened to stop and cause the warming, it could have just overheated until it had a chance to cool down again.

The front perimeter of the fridge is suppose to be warm to prevent condensation from forming there. It may be exasperated (get hotter than normal) by a plugged condenser (which should be thoroughly cleaned) or feel hotter because the fridge's cold couldn't offset that area's heat.
JMO
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=+refrigerator
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