I've been noticing for over a year that the sides around both doors of
the refrigerator (top freezer, kitchen-aid, circa 1994) have at times
been hot to the touch. I also notice that both doors don't close well
on their own. They need some help to make sure they are sealed closed
and even then sometimes I can feel some cool air escaping.
So I decided to get someone to look at it and called out a repair
service. The guy immediately took off the bottom panel on the back
and showed me that the fan wasn't turning. Now looking up what it is
I see that it is called the condensor fan. He said that needed to be
replaced and quoted me $100+ in labor and $100+ for parts.
So I got down and took a look and saw that there is a piece of thick
flexible cardboard that was buckled up and interfering with the fan.
So I pushed the cardboard back to where it should be and now the fan
is working. He says that isn't going to fix the problem. But his
english was pretty bad and he wasn't able to explain why that wouldn't
fix it. I think he was trying to say that the compressor was damaged
too, pointing out that it was extremely hot to the touch, although
that would have meant that I would have been paying more than the $200
he had just mentioned. As I can't speak Azerbijianie and couldn't
follow his logic I gave up on him and paid the minimum for the
service call and will try to figure this out on my own.
So if the condensor fan was not working because it was stuck and now
it is unstuck, is it possible that I will have fixed my overheating
problem? It's only been less than an hour since I got the fan turning
but the compressor still feels quite hot, but the refrigerator is
working and the sides feel okay, but that might be just because I made
sure they were closed well. Should I feel the compressor get cooler
and if not do I need a new compressor that might have been damaged
from having a condensor fan?
Make sure the refrigerator is leveled so that the door closes by
gravity until the magnetic gasket contacts. Check the inside for
shelves/drawers that obstruct the door.
If it has an "Energy Saver" switch, this heats the outside of the
cabinet so that it does not sweat in hot weather. This may be what you
feel. I keep mine "Off".
Have seen several bad fans that did not hurt the compressor. Run it.
It probably isn't hurt.
Some dust accumulation in the condenser coils may be impeding the
cooling. Blow/vacuum CAREFULLY to remove all the dust you can but do
not flex or spread the coils. The cardboard on the rear has to be
there to direct the air flow properly.
I decided to uplug the refrigerator for a couple hours, keeping the
ref and freezer doors closed, to see if I could lower the temp of the
compressor. The compressor cooled to warm and then I plugged it back
in. Now after an hour or so it is hot to the touch. Not so hot that I
can't touch it but hot enough so that I can't leave my hand on it.
I'm going to assume that's okay.
So when the condensor fan was stuck why was that causing the elements
in the walls of the machine to run hot and the compressor to run even
hotter than it is now running?
The design of your fridge probably has the condenser lines routed around the
door seal area to eliminate condensation. If the fan was stuck, heat wasn't
removed efficiently causing a temperature rise. The fan blows across the
rest condenser part of the circuit to remove the heat.
I had the exact same problem with a 1993 KitchenAid refrigerator. It first
occurred about a year ago. I opened it up and found the fan blades were
covered with dust and it wasn't turning. I removed the fan, cleaned off all
the dust, and then decided to try putting it back and see if it would run.
It started up, didn't seem to have a lot of power, but still got the job
done, and the compressor spent enough time cycled off to convince me that
everything was going well, so I just left it there.
Then a couple weeks ago, I was having breakfast and noticed that my orange
juice didn't seem to taste as cold as it should. This time I knew right
where to look. There was a little bit of dust on the fan, so I removed that
and put a couple drops of oil on it. When the refrigerator started, the fan
didn't. I found that I could give it a nudge and get it started, but it
wouldn't start on its own. So I looked online, ordered a new one for $36,
and trained my family to shine a flashlight under the refrigerator, see if
the fan is turning, and poke at it with a stick if it isn't. I selected the
cheapest option for shipping (5-7 business days, I think) but it arrived the
next day. It wasn't the exact same model; it had a higher wattage and more
RPM. It puts out a good strong airflow and now everything is working fine.
Just to keep me on my toes, my old refrigerator in the basement has now
decided to start tormenting me. I went downstairs this morning, flipped the
light switch, and the lights didn't come on. It seems the circuit breaker
blew sometime during the night. I turned the breaker back on, and everything
seemed to be OK. The refrigerator wasn't running, but it was still very cold
inside. It started up later on. The refrigerator is the only thing on that
breaker that draws any significant power. My guess is that it's waiting for
the July 4 weekend to go into total failure. But that's OT for this thread.
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