Freezer cold, fridge warm, unit constantly running


Refrigerator & Freezer Repair

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Hi All, I have a 10-11 year old side-by-side Maytag refrigerator (MSD2656DEB) that is exhibiting some problems recently. Here are

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Old 05-30-2011, 09:14 PM
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Default Freezer cold, fridge warm, unit constantly running
Model Number: MSD2656DEB   Brand: Maytag   Age: More than 10 years   

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Hi All,

I have a 10-11 year old side-by-side Maytag refrigerator (MSD2656DEB) that is exhibiting some problems recently. Here are my observations:
1. Fridge is warm.
2. Cold air is no longer felt coming from the vent on the control shroud at the top of the fridge compartment.
3. Freezer is very cold (ice cream is solid).
4. Condensation is accumulating on the fridge compartment walls.
5. Refrigerator unit runs constantly (unless turned off).

As an aside, I'll note that there is sometimes water coming from underneath the unit several times a year. (I suspect either the drip pan overflowing or a water leak?)

So far, I've read various posts here and they seem to point towards a faulty defrost timer. Is my understanding of the issue correct:
1. Defrost heating element is not being turned on
2. Frost is built up on the evaporator coils
3. Airflow is almost completely impeded by the frost build-up
4. Fridge no longer receives cold air.

But why is the compressor constantly running? Does the thermostat come into the picture?

I will have to check the evaporator coils, but there's no where to put the food (second fridge is full) and it's hot over here. For now I have only removed the control shroud.

I will wait for advice before taking any further action. Thanks!

(I just read the sticky and will try to attempt the troubleshooting steps soon. But if anyone has comments, please post!)

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Last edited by mista_eng : 05-30-2011 at 09:21 PM.
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 05-31-2011, 02:45 AM
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Here are your parts
Replacement parts for MAYTAG MSD2656DEB REF - SXS/I&W | AppliancePartsPros.com

Here is a manual which should help. It does not specifically list yout unit but it should be close.
16010154 Maytag Refrigerator Service Manual - ApplianceDigest.com
You have to join the site to download the manual but it is free and this is a very good site for manuals and other info for the appliance repair DIYer.

But why is the compressor constantly running?
Since the fan cannot pull air through the evaporator coils so the air does not cool properly so the unit runs all the time trying to get the freezer down to set point. Basically the unit is now a freezer with a large ice cube in it (iced up evaporator).

First remove the evaporator cover in the freezer so you can see the coils.
Do not let them de-ice.
If they are heavily iced/frosted over you have a defrost problem.

If yes.
Manually force a defrost cycle (see the manual) (Item 13 in Section 2) when the fans and compressor turn off, you are in defrost.
Now check the defrost heater to see if it is on.
Be careful you do not want to burn your fingers.
If the heater is on then the defrost board needs replacing.

If not on.
Unplug the unit.
Remove the wire for one side of the heating element/thermostat combo (Item 12 in Section 4) from the wiring and measure it for continuity, usually around 20 ohms or so. The thermostat is wired in series with the heating element. It shuts the element off once all the ice has melted off the evaporator coils.
Note that the defrost thermostat opens just above freezing so must be frozen to check the assembly. Also inspect it, if it is bulged at all replace it even if it measures OK.

If both the above are OK then odds are the defrost board is toast.
Best way to test this is a live test to see if you have 120 volts across the heater/defrost thermostat combo.

If you do not own a meter, I would suggest you purchase a one. You can get a decent digital multimeter for under $20.00. You do not need fancy though it is nice if the leads are a couple feet long.
If it saves ordering one unnecessary part it has paid for itself and you end up owning a useful tool.
Most places will not let you return electrical parts so if you order it, you own it.
A couple things to watch when measuring ohms and continuity
1. Always remove power from the machine otherwise you could blow your meter.
2. Always disconnect at least one side of any device you are checking. This eliminates the possibility of measuring an alternate/parallel circuit path.
3. When checking for closed contacts and continuity use the lowest scale (Usually 200 ohms). Then try higher scales. This scale is 0 to 200 ohms so if the device you are measuring is 300 ohms this scale would show an open circuit which it is not, you are just measuring outside the scale's dynamic range.

There is a good STICKY at the start of this forum about it's use.
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for the reply denman. I am trying to follow your instructions as best I can, but thought I would report in with what I have seen so far.

I moved my food around and managed to remove the evaporator cover and fridge control shroud. Turns out that there is minimal frost and ice. Here is a picture of the evaporator coils. The fan above the coils does work when the unit is turned on.

There was no way to manually advance the defrost timer either, unless I am looking at the wrong part. I did reference the diagram and the parts did correspond. Here is a picture of it, located on the right side of the control housing. But I guess since there is no ice, the defrost unit isn't the problem right now.

I will try to get a meter tonight. If there are any other ideas or comments please let me know, thanks a lot!

Last edited by mista_eng : 05-31-2011 at 02:58 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 05:35 PM
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I believe the lead you use is Test.

But that does not really matter as defrost is not your problem.
If defrost was the problem the coils would be iced/frosted up to the point where the fan cannot pull air through them.

I could not see any frost on the coils but it could be the unit just completed a defrost cycle so the coils are clear.
Let the unit run for a couple hours and check the coils for frost,
They should be fairly evenly coated.

If there is just frost where the freon enters the coils you are low on freon.

If there is no frost then you are out of freon, there is a blockage in the sealed system or the compressor is toast.

The above assumes that the compressor is running all the time.

Both the above will be expensive repairs as you need a pro.
Often it is better to put those dollars into a new unit.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:17 PM
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I've left the refrigerator running for about two hours now, and there is visible frost on the coils.

Frost on coils
Closeup of top

Sorry about the rotation on some of these. For some reason, imgur undoes my rotate in mspaint.

My thermometer in the fridge compartment now reads ~40*F. I can feel a cool air current from the fridge duct in the top left (where the control shroud should be), and the temperature there was about 20*F.


Last edited by mista_eng : 05-31-2011 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 06:37 PM
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Looks pretty good to me.
The frost is pretty heavy but then you have had the doors open for a long time so all the moisture in the warm air will condense on the evaporator coils.

Have you checked the door seals.
take a 2 inch stip of paper and put it between the door seal and the frame.
Then pull it out to see if you have a decent seal.
Do this on both doors but the one I suspect is the fresh food door.

Also sometimes the seal on the hinge side can grab and not seal properly.
Often a light coating of white lithium grease, vaseline etc. will fix this.

Above is a long shot as the unit now seems to work OK.

Last edited by denman : 05-31-2011 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 05-31-2011, 07:29 PM
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Yep, both door seals are intact and clean. We try to use our appliances with care.

I've set the thermostat control to "9 - coldest" for both freezer and fridge for about two hours now, but the fridge temperature never dropped below ~40-42*F at the top shelf. Left an ice cream container in the freezer but it still seems soft. I've left the thermometer in the freezer this time (I've only one). Will check on it in the morning, right now it's at 30*F at the freezer's bottom .

Something still seems to be awry, the unit sounds as if it is running but it doesn't appear to be getting as cold as I would expect it to. I think I used to hear a slight mechanical rattling sound, when the unit turned on but I haven't heard it in a while.

I didn't have time to try the multimeter tests today, but will try to do so tomorrow.

Last edited by mista_eng : 05-31-2011 at 09:35 PM.
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Old 06-01-2011, 01:34 AM
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Check to see that the evaporator fan is running OK.

Your evaporator coils look good so if the freezer is not getting cold enough all I can think of is that the air is not circulating enough.
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Old 06-09-2011, 05:33 PM
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Hi Denman,

Never did get around to continuity tests, but I did order a defrost timer and now the refrigerator does go through defrost cycles (coil becomes red-hot). Or perhaps that part always worked haha. I cleaned the condenser coils while I was at it.

Well, the temps seem to be ok with the freezer at 5-10F and the fridge at 38-40F. But the unit is constantly running despite setting the temperature controls (levers) very low, close to "off". Is there a thermostat-like component to replace as well?
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Old 06-10-2011, 12:46 AM
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Fresh food temperature looks OK but the freezer temperature still seems a little high but this is probably due to the thermostat setting you are using.
Should be 0 to 5 degrees F.

Yes there is a thermostat, Item 3 in Section 2 of the parts.
But it controls just the freezer temperature.
The problem here is that the unit is trying to reach a set point but cannot for some reason so the unit runs all the time.
So I doubt this is your problem.

Now that the condenser coils are clean, check that the condenser fan is running.

If it is remove the cover from inside the freezer and inspect the evaporator coils. If the frost is only in one area or blotchy then you are probably low on freon.
This will be an expensive repair as you will need a pror.
Often it makes more sense to put those dollars towards a new unit.

Here is a good link
Cneck out #20 and then the 3 example pictures part way down the page.
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