Refrigerator issues :(

NikeJuly 20, 2004

We recently had nine people move out of the one bedroom apartment next door (don't ask...), and ever since our refrigerator has been acting very oddly. The first night after they left, the refrigerator began to freeze over. In response we lowered the thermostat within (from six to one) and hoped for the best. Ever since then, we have noticed that items in the back and sides still tend to freeze even with the thermostat setting at it's lowest. Is the thermostat broken, do we need a new fridge, or were the neighbors siphoning off of our electricity? Is there even such a thing? Help... :(

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well, at first I thought that perhaps what was going on had to do w/ the concept that the electricity coming to your apt. was finally full strength, and that you didn't need to crank the thermostat so high to get the cooling power you need.

But if it's still freezing stuff w/ the thermostat at its lowest, i'd tell the landlord you've got problems.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 11:08AM
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Sounds like they turned the AC way down next door just before they moved out. I'd report this to your landperson.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 12:15PM
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You have a refrigerator problem. An outside source might cause your refrigerator to quit but to freeze food - nope!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2004 at 4:14PM
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We had this problem with our refrigerator (a relatively new GE model). I can virtually guarantee that the problem lies with your unit's FREEZER thermostat setting. The freezer thermostat setting usually overrides the refrigerator thermostat setting. If you raise the freezer's thermostat temperature because you want a "warmer" freezer, then the refrigerator causes more cold air to be diverted away from the freezer unit. I.e., less cold air = warmer freezer. Since the excess cold, moist air that was diverted from the freezer unit can't be exhausted out into your kitchen, it is instead diverted internally into the refrigerator unit. In other words, if you have a "warm" FREEZER setting, the excess cold air that has been diverted will cause your REFRIGERATOR to be super cold, thereby causing the icing problem.

We quickly solved this problem by setting our freezer temperature to the coldest possible setting and making the refrigerator setting slightly warmer. We haven't had a problem since.

Good luck--

    Bookmark   July 21, 2004 at 7:25PM
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Thanks for everyone's responses. We are actually out of the apartment this week (mini vacation) and will return at the end of the week. We will take a look at it then and update everyone. Any additional advice is always appreciated!

    Bookmark   July 22, 2004 at 2:11AM
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9 people huh? Something tells me they were are friends from below the border that illegally come here and fit 300 in a studio apartment.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2004 at 7:50AM
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As a refrigeration technician i can tell you first hand tht your problem is in no way connected to the neighbors other than being a co-incidence in timing.
In a domestic refrigerator (residential) all cooling takes place in the evaporator coils located either in the back wall or under the floor of the freezer compartment. The freezer temperature control is simply a little damper on a duct to the food compartment. The actual thermostate is in the food compartment. When the temperature rises in the food compartment the thermostat signals the compressor to come on thus starting the refrigeraton cycle. During the refrigeration cycle a portion of the air passing through the evaporator coils is diverted to the food compartment throught the damper/air duct. The system continues to run until enough cold air has been passed to the food compartment side to cool it sufficiently to satisfy the thermostat. Frost free refrigerators have a timer that usually allows the refrigeration to run approximately 8 hours, then it turns the refrigeration off and turns on a heater attached to the freezer coils to melt off any accumulated ice. The timer allows the defrost for 15 or 20 minutes then starts the refrigeration again. There is also a temperature sensor that turns the defrost heater off as soon as the ice is melted then the fridge sits idle until the timer switches from defrost back to refrigeration. If the temperature is erratic there is a couple things you can check. First, there is a fan in the back wall of the freezer compartment. Open the freezer door while the refridgerator is running and feel the air at the discharge port, You should feel a good flow of air and hear the fan motor running. (There may be a pushbutton switch on the door frame that has to be depressed for the fan to run, it will look like the light switch on the food compartment door.) If that fan is not running you need to call for service. About the only user servicable thing on a fridge is cleaning the condenser coils underneath, which should be done at least once every 6 months. To clean the coils, first unplug the fridge to turn the compressor and condensor fan motor off. Some can be accessed through the lower kick plate and some regrigerators you have to open the service panel on the back of the machine at the bottom. The best way to clean the coils is with a refrigerator coil brush(available at all appliance parts stores for about $8. A long handled bottle brush will also work well. Carefully pass the brush through the coils, but do not use a lot of force. The coils are steel and fairly rugged, but it is possible to puncture a coil if you are tooo agressive. Other than adjusting the thermostat and freezer damnper or cleaning the coils there is really little else that can be done unless you are a trained service tech. If you do have a problem and need to call a tech, noting whether both the inside fan motor and the fan motor underneath are running will help the tech anticipate what to look for and possibly bring the correct parts with him reducing the service time and your cost.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2004 at 2:43PM
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Thanks for your great advice! That was very kind of you to break everything down for us step by step. I have your note posted up on our fridge for my boyfriend to see. Thanks again!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2004 at 9:11PM
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