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GE-Top Freezer on Fridge not getting cold.

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Noticed the other day the freezer section was up to ~30 degrees. The fresh food section was a little warmer,

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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 08-29-2013, 08:18 AM
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Default GE-Top Freezer on Fridge not getting cold.
Model Number: GTH21KCXABB   Brand: GE   Age: 1 - 5 years   

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Noticed the other day the freezer section was up to ~30 degrees. The fresh food section was a little warmer, but it's still working own. The fan seems to be running OK and it's blowing refrigerated air into the freezer section (not quite cold enough).

I'm guessing the thermostat control is the problem or a stuck damper if there is one in this unit. I hope it's not the main board as no one seems to carry the part.

Anything else I should look at?


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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 08-29-2013, 09:22 AM
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I hope it's not the main board as no one seems to carry the part.
Not sure that I have the correct unit as I do not see a control board in this unit.


The fan seems to be running OK and it's blowing refrigerated air into the freezer section (not quite cold enough).

This may just be semantics but the evaporator/freezer fan blows cold air from the freezer into the fresh food section.

I'm guessing the thermostat control is the problem or a stuck damper if there is one in this unit.

The damper should not effect the freezer temperature.
Could be a control thermostat problem.

Is the compressor running. You can usually hear it but should also be able to feel it vibrating.
Also is it cycling or always on?

Is the condenser/compressor fan running?

If the compressor is running all the time other than when the unit goes into a defrost cycle then it probably is not a thermostat problem.
The thermostat is telling the unit that it is not cold enough but for some reason the compressor cannot get it down to the set point temperature.

If it and it's fan are on continuously then remove the rear panel in the freezer so you can inspect the evaporator coils.

If they are heavily iced/frosted over, you have a defrost problem.

If there is no frost or just frost in one area (usually where the freon enters the coils), you have a sealed system problem. This will be an expensive repair as you need a pro.
Be sure that the compressor has run forat least an hour. If you check the coils during or shortly after a defrost cyc;le then you could end up with the wrong diagnosis.

If it is a sealed system problem check your warranty. The sealed system often has a longer warranty though sometimes it is just for parts.
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Old 08-29-2013, 09:41 AM
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Thanks so much for the reply! I talked with a local parts place tech and he pretty much mirrored what you said.

The compressor/fan does indeed run constantly. I'll remove the back panel and check to coils for ice build up. If ice build up is present, I'll check heater continuity and try to check the defrost switch for "closed". If those check out I could still be looking at a main board, right?

If uneven frost forms after a manual defrost I'll check the warranty, but I'm pretty sure it's done at 5 years.

Thanks again, now I know where to start!
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Old 08-29-2013, 10:53 AM
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If those check out I could still be looking at a main board, right?
I do not have access to GE wiring diagrams but I cannot find a control board in this units parts. looks to me that it is just controlled by an analogue thermostat (item 113 in the Fresh Food Section Parts).

If the evaporator coils are heavily iced/frosted over then it is a defrost problem.
Do not let them de-ice.

If yes.
Manually force a defrost cycle by turning the defrost timer cam (Item 121 in the Fresh Food Section Parts ) till the fans and compressor turn off.
There is usually a hole in the cover to let you do this without taking anything apart.
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 timer needs replacing, re: it is probably stalling during it's rotation so is never getting into a defrost cycle.

If not on.
Unplug the unit.
Remove the wire for one side of the heating element (Item 58/59 in Freezer Section Parts) (not sure on the item number, there seems to be a labeling error here just looking at the prices) from the wiring and measure it for continuity, usually around 20 ohms or so. Again not 100% sure on the resistance value but it should be less than 100 ohms.

If the heater is OK
Remove one wire to the defrost thermostat (Item 56 in Freezer Section Parts) and measure it, should be 0 ohms when frozen. Note that it opens just above freezing so must be frozen to check it. 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 timer contacts are toast.
Best way to test this is a live test to see if you have 120 volts across the heater/defrost thermostat combo.
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Old 08-30-2013, 06:45 AM
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I inspected the evap coils last night and was shocked to see that only the bottom coil was frosting. I definitely have a sealed system issue. The defrost works fine when triggered. We have had temperature fluctuation issues with this unit for a long time, almost since it was new just never this bad.

I expected to get more than 5 years out of this GE refrigerator. Any recommendations for replacement? Samsung seem to be regarded well.

Thanks for all the help! I really appreciate the knowledge offered. It made my diagnosis fast and without question.
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