Refrigerator not defrosting

I have a Maytag side-by-side refrigerator that is not defrosting. It is 14 years old, and logic would say just buy a new one. But in the next few years I plan to renovate my kitchen, and buying one now may not be what I end up designing into the kitchen.
The unit has two defrost heaters. I can't believe that both went bad simultaneously*. The defrost timer was still moving inside, but for $23 I went ahead and replaced it. That didn't fix the problem. Today I had it apart and tried to pull out a defrost heater to test its resistance. I wasn't sure just how to remove it. I tried tugging on the rubber ends, but it didn't seem to pull off. Maybe the wires are an integral part? Here's a picture:
http://www.panix.com/~donwiss/DefrostHeater.jpg
I'm getting tired of dismantling the back of the freezer compartment to manually defrost every few weeks. And I presume it is even more inefficient with frost on the fins.
* Of course it is possible one was bad for a while and I didn't realize it, and only until the second went out did it cease to function.
Thanks, Don <donwiss at panix.com>.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
How about disconnecting the wire at the other end?
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Amen!
Or you can put on a clamp on ampmeter on the lead going to the heater.
I don't know your model prticulars BUT the heaters usually have a thermostat so that they don't stay on once they have done their job. You should be able to see that heater turn on on the call of the defrost timer and then turn off then the thermostat is happy.
Sometimes there is NOTHING electrically wrong but more ice forms than can be handled by the heater in one cycle. Sometimes just manually advancing the defrost timer to "double up" or "tripple up" the defrost will melt the extra ice.
Oh, and make sure that the drain for the defrost water isn't clogged. If the h umidity of the ice box is too high, it will "ice up" VERY quickly. It may be necesary to turn off the ice maker to "dry out" the box.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The wires are going all over the place and are hard to get to.

When the unit is assembled I can't see anything. I have not run the unti disassembled.

My timer doesn't have that much control.

There is no ice maker. It died when someone else owned the house and has been gutted out.
Don <donwiss at panix.com>.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Good God man...one does not have to go far to see that element is TOAST. see the white discoloration on the inside? (NOT the standoffs) Thats from when it smoked. See the darker discoloration? Thats when it fried. But, you can still check it if you want...just follow the wires back and unplug em where they go in at.

Or one shorted and the other overloaded...happens.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It did look like toast after I looked at the picture I uploaded to the web. Deep inside the freezer compartment I couldn't see anything. The camera flash did make things clearer.

As I noted in my other followup the wires go all over, and one may lead all the way to the timer. I think my next step is to call Maytag and ask exactly how much it will cost to have them replace the two heaters. And to price the heaters on the Net.
Don <donwiss at panix.com>.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

This is Turtle.
I don't need to look at it. Most all side by side refrigerator any brand has 2 screws to hold the element in place by way of a metal shield holding it. You say you have the 2 element type and one may have burned and not the other. Well if one burns the other goes with it. Pull the back plate and look at the top left corner of the coil and you will see a plug in that two wire goes to the two elements below. Un-plug it and talke your ohm meter and see if you can read through it. If you can read through it. You have a Defrost Terminator bad. It will be a smal 1" button type disc that two wires goes through to it. It will be clamped on to the tubing and this is your defrost terminator.
Solution# 1 ---- If elements are still good , Just buy you a defrost terminator . read on the side of the button to get the temperature of the terminator. Most all will be a L-50 , L-55 , or L-60. When in dought just put a L-60. Now if you want to do it right get the right Temperature of the defrost terminator by way of the model number and have them look it up for you. If elements are good just change the defrost terminator and you got it.
Solution # 2 ---- If elements are bad [ if one is bad , both are bad, don't argue just change both] change defrost elements out and they will come with metal hanger for the element with it which attach by 2 screws on each on each side. it will also come with new wires with a plug in to just plug it in at the top of the coil and not splice any wires. Now if you have a bad element YOU CHANGE THE DEFROST TERMINATOR WITH THE NEW ELEMENTS. The reason i say this is more that 50% of the time it was the defrost terminator that burnt the elements up in the beginning. The terminator will also come with a plug in for the wires. I will say use the Maytag original parts and pay just about $10.00 more over all. They will come with shield and plug in to make it easy and personally i think they are a little better parts or material. The choice is yours.
Thought # 1 --- If have change the defost timer already and you change the defrost terminator and defrost elements. there is no other parts that will be need to change for You have changed every part that deals with the defrost system. You've changed them all. If it still fails to defrost. You need to go back and check your work for it will be your problem of not having it right on the installation of the 3 major parts of the defrost system.
TURTLE
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The two heaters are in series. And if you pull the rubber cap off, you break the seal and let moisture in. Sounds like you really need a refrig guy to come out and replace the heaters and the bimetal (which is usually wired in with the heaters). I've done a bunch of them -- it's a pain cause the freezer is narrower than I am. But it can be done.
--

Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Hi,
The quartz heat element is history Hon. About $45 to replace it.
candice
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hi,
The 2 elements are in series and they are replaced together. You can check for continuity where the wire junction block is above the cooling coils, the heaters and defrost stat can be ohm tested for continuity from there. If the element(s) are open ( no continuity ) and with that hot end ( from the picture ) make sure you replace the defrost thermostat ( round disc, 2 wires ) at the same time as the heaters incase it is allowing the heaters to get too hot.
http://www.applianceaid.com/frig_notcold.html#ff Frost free helps. http://www.applianceaid.com/electrical_testing_tips.html Meter testign tips.
jeff.
Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Don Wiss wrote

Not *my* logic!

They both do exactly the same amount of work. Why can't they fail at the same time? But in any case, they are replaced and sold as a *set* so you'll be replacing them both anyway.

You don't want to do that nor even touch the glass (really quartz) part with your bare finger tips as skin oil residue on it will shorten the heater's life span.

They will lead to a junction box somewhere. If it's out of site, the wires may need to be cut.

It is definitely shot just by looking at it.

The heaters are joined in series, when one opens both will fail to operate.
To get the proper replacement heater for it, you'll need to get the model number off the fridge. You can find tips for locating the model and serial number tag on your appliances in the 'Repair Parts' section of my site linked below.
Dan O. - Appliance411.com http://ng.Appliance411.com/?ref411=Maytag+fridge
=~~~~~~
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.