My GE GDS20SBSASS developed the "click of death" on a Sunday and was dead by Monday
Thanks to this thread it is now fixed
I am *not* a pro at this, a real amateur in fact, so I would encourage anyone with enough time and patience to try to fix this on their own instead of give one more red cent to GE!
Although this information is already in this thread, I thought I'd detail my fix too.
I'm located in Canada and when I phoned GE about the problem they stated that there was no free fix for this, i.e., they would not pay for repairs or send me a new board. I referenced the service bulletin referenced on various sites on the Internet and they claimed to have no knowledge of it.
I phoned a local appliance repair place and they quoted $400 for parts and labour.
Then I came across this thread. So I just decided to fix it myself. Price: 44 cents to replace two failed capacitors. Well, I actually spent about $11 because I replaced two capacitors that were on the verge of failing, although it seems I might be the first one in this thread to have these particular caps start to swell/fail.
The "click of death" was found to be coming from the panel on the back of my fridge. Unplugging the fridge and opening up the panel showed that the two small capacitors next to the top-most heatsink were swelled up and had obviously failed . However, I also saw that the two large capacitors next to the bottom-most heatsink were also swelled up. I've marked the 4 capacitors in question with red dots in this image (the two small capacitors are unfortunately covered up by the green tag).
Here are some detailed photos of the failed capacitors. Note that the small capacitors don’t appear to be all that bad looking – but if you look closely the tops are indeed not flat but rather a bit ballooned/swelled up. This means they have failed.
The original specifications of the capacitors are as follows:
Small: 470uF / 25V / 105 degrees Celsius
Large: 47uF / 400V / 85 degrees Celsius
I went to a local electronics store that sells capacitors (no radio shack here). This store did not have direct replacements for these caps but had ones that were higher quality. Apparently the only thing that really matters is that the microfarads (uF) rating is the same. So I walked out with the following caps:
Small: 470uF / 35V / 105 Celsius
Large: 47uF / 450V / 105 Celsius
The small ones were $0.22 each and the large ones were $5 each. The fact that the original 400V caps were rated at 85 Celsius (and placed right next to a heatsink) is probably what caused them to start swelling. The new ones are rated at 105 Celsius so this is definitely an improvement.
Next, I viewed this helpful video on desoldering and resoldering capacitors:
Installation and Removal of Capacitors - YouTube
Note that the caps on my board were glued down. I discovered that the bond could be broken by applying sideways pressure on the caps. Don’t be afraid of breaking them – they’re already broken!
Small caps removed:
New small caps:
Small caps soldered back on (before cutting the excess wire):
After desoldering and replacing the small caps only, I plugged the board back into my fridge and it came to life. This confirmed that the large 400V caps on my board were still good...for now. I debated whether I should fix something that wasn’t (yet) broken, but took courage from my success so far and decided to replace the large caps also. Also, the replacement (450V) caps that I purchased were somewhat taller than the originals, and this was likely to cause a problem with the access panel closing correctly. This photo shows the size difference:
I decided to proceed anyway. Here is a photo of the result once installed in the fridge:
As you can see, the access panel will no longer fit correctly. The top two screws of the access panel can be installed, but the bottom one cannot. This means my access panel has a gap at the bottom where it is not completely closed. Is this a problem? I’m not sure, but I don’t think it will be. Feel free to tell me if I’m insane and this is actually going to burn my house down and kill my family and neighbours. Incidentally, the metal access panel is now touching the tops of the capacitors and acting as a heatsink. I assume since the tops of the capacitors are insulated that this is a good thing rather than a liability? Any pros out there feel free to comment.
Sorry for the long post, but I thought I’d show my gratitude to the other contributors in this thread by being thorough.
BTW, I found this interesting – possibly related to our GE fridge problems?
Capacitor plague - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
And am I the only one that thinks that placing capacitors immediately next to heat sinks is a design flaw that any thinking electrical engineer would be aware of? Is this “design flaw” actually just an example of planned obsolescence?
Planned obsolescence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia