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kgphoto 06-22-2008 12:40 PM

Freezer on top, not freezing any more.
I have a very old refrigerator freezer, the type with the freezer compartment on top. It has worked for years with no problems other than rough kids and the occasional door being left open by misplaced containers inside.

The freezer section is not longer able to freeze a bottle of water, but can hold ice cubes in shape. Ice cream gets mushy.

There is a dial to set "amount of freezing" on the inside roof of the refrigerator section. I have tried all the settings and it doesn't help. In th epast, I have found someone had accidentally changed the settings and putting it back fixed it fine.

This control unit also houses the light bulb for the freezer and it is mounted by a slide bracket. It has fallen off a few times recently, so perhaps a wire is loose. I am going to go take it apart and check for that, but I wondered if there was anything else you could recommend I check.

Do these types of appliances have refrigerant (freon) that needs to be topped off or replaced?

Nestor_Kelebay 06-22-2008 02:35 PM

Defrost the freezer compartment and then observe the frost formation during the first hours and days after the fridge is put back into operation.

If frost forms uniformly over the entire freezer compartment surface, then it means that the freon charge is fine, and the fridge is not low of freon.

However, if frost only forms near where the freon comes into the freezer cabinet (say on only 1/2 the cabinet closest to where the freon comes into it), then that indicates either a weak freon charge or a weak compressor. Unfortunately, the cost of evacuating the system, finding out where the freon may have leaked out, repairing the leak(s) or replacing the compressor and recharging the system is likely to make buying a new fridge a more economically attractive option.

If you only see frost developing on part of the freezer cabinet, I wouldn't try changing the thermostat. The freon charge or compressor is weak, and fixing either problem will cost more than a new fridge. Your fridge is dying a natural death.

Recharging the fridge would definitely correct the problem, but stiff government regulations prohibit a service technician from doing that until he's identified the leakage site and fixed it. I really don't know why old fridges lose their refrigerant change when there's no apparant leaks in them. Maybe in those cases, the compressor has simply worn out. Jeff1 is an appliance repair tech; maybe he can provide more insight.

kgphoto 06-22-2008 03:13 PM

I will clean it out and do as you say, but there is no frost at all in the freezer compartment, nor has there been any for as long as I have owned it under normal conditions.

The only time it ever happened was when the door was held ajar by misplaced food overnight.

Nestor_Kelebay 06-23-2008 01:28 AM

A good door seal will minimize and slow frost formation on the freezer compartment, but every time you open the door to get something in that fridge, moisture goes in with the air that enters the fridge.

That moisture ends up forming frost on your evaporator cabinet.

Put a PLASTIC glass of water in your freezer after it's been cleaned (so you don't break a real glass). If you don't see any frost formation on the freezer, it could be that it's not getting cold enough to even freeze water.

Unless you have a frost free fridge (with a separate door for the freezer), then it's perfectly normal for frost to form on the freezer compartment walls.

kgphoto 06-23-2008 10:37 AM


re: If you don't see any frost formation on the freezer, it could be that it's not getting cold enough to even freeze water."

Please see post #1:)

I do believe it is a frost free refrigerator.

Nestor_Kelebay 06-23-2008 10:54 AM

When you hear the fridge running, do you also feel a light breeze in the freezer compartment?

If you can't really feel anything, maybe light a cotton string and wait until it's burning under it's own steam, blow out the flame so it smolders and use it as a smoke pencil to check for a good air flow through the air vents at the back of the freezer compartment.

kgphoto 06-23-2008 05:31 PM

Yes there is air movement.

Nestor_Kelebay 06-23-2008 10:00 PM

OK, then the evaporator fan is working.

You should see a removable cover inside your freezer compartment held on with a few screws. The evaporator is behind that cover. It will look like an aluminum coil with all kinds of fins sticking out of it. Be careful around it because the aluminum fins are soft and weak and easily damaged. Take that cover in your freezer off and see if there's uniform frost formation over the entire length of the evaporator coil.

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