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GE Freezer and refrigerator warm, frost on coils-what should an amateur change first?

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Hello, new poster to forum; amateur homeowner doing own repair. I have a side by side TFX 20JR BWW GE

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Old 10-02-2013, 08:55 PM
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Default GE Freezer and refrigerator warm, frost on coils-what should an amateur change first?
Model Number: TFX 20JR BWW   Brand: GE   Age: More than 10 years   

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Hello, new poster to forum; amateur homeowner doing own repair.
I have a side by side TFX 20JR BWW GE refrigerator and freezer. The freezer is slightly cold, but not freezing. Refrigerator is slightly cold, too, but not enough.

TONS of frost build up on coils in freezer. It is not airflow (I don't think)--we didn't have too much in there. Door gaskets and seals seem fine, and the light is not staying on. I have already vacuumed the condenser and coils underneath fridge. The condenser fan works, as does the fan in the freezer--in fact, I think they stay on all day it seems. Also, the ice maker doesn't make ice, but I'm guessing that's because it's not cold enough in there.

So from my research it seems most people suggest it is the defrost timer, the temperature control, or the thermostat. I need to check the timer, but I need the right tool to get access to it.

My question is (are, actually): if I stick the screwdriver in the defrost timer, turn it, should the fridge then turn off? If so, then I suppose I just change the timer (is that correct?). What else would you all recommend? Thank you in advance! BTW I think this fridge came with the house, perhaps 12 years old.


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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 10-04-2013, 04:25 AM
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Here are your parts, I think.
I cannot find info on the given model number but the below is for a BAWW not a BWW. I am assuming you just missed the A.
Parts for GE TFX20JRBAWW Refrigerator - AppliancePartsPros.com

It is not airflow (I don't think)--we didn't have too much in there.
A defrost problem is actually an airflow problem. The evaporator fan cannot pull air through the coils so the air does not cool correctly. Also it screws up the amount of air that is pushed into the fresh food section.

--in fact, I think they stay on all day it seems.
The compressor and fans running all the time is one symptom of a defrost problem so I think you are on the right track.

Also, the ice maker doesn't make ice, but I'm guessing that's because it's not cold enough in there.
Also correct.

So from my research it seems most people suggest it is the defrost timer, the temperature control, or the thermostat.
Possible causes of a defrost problem is the defrost timer, the defrost thermostat or the defrost heater.

My question is (are, actually): if I stick the screwdriver in the defrost timer, turn it, should the fridge then turn off?
Correct.
The compressor and fans should shut off, the defrsot heater should come on.

If so, then I suppose I just change the timer (is that correct?).
Sort of correct. If the defrost heater comes on then you problem is the timer.

What else would you all recommend?
Below is my standard blurb ob troubleshooting defrost problems, I just added info on the parts.


First remove the evaporator cover in the freezer so you can see the coils.
If they 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 257 in Section 07) 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 230 in Section 04) from the wiring and measure it for continuity, usually around 20 ohms or so.

If the heater is OK
Remove one wire to the defrost thermostat (Item 240 in Section 04) 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 10-04-2013, 05:51 PM
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Default Almost have this diagnosed

Hi Denman, thank you so much for your help. I think with your help this will be diagnosed.

So I stuck a screwdriver in the manual timer control, and turned it. It made a bunch of little clicks, and then a bigger click. Right then, the fridge power dimmed a bit, but that's all--everything continued as before: the compressor fan was on, the freezer fan kept spinning. Most importantly, I put my finger directly on the defrost heater element (the metal tube with a wire on each side, part 257, at the bottom of the freezer coils that are all frosted over) and it never got hot.

So I was unsure about how to check continuity from what you described. I unplugged one wire and put the voltmeter probe on it, and then put the other voltmeter lead on the heater lead, put it on low ohms, and the needle didn't move it all (and I did check the voltmeter by touching the probes, and the needle spiked). So then I removed the heater completely and put the probes on both leads of it, and still the needle didn't move at all. If the part is busted, shouldn't it spike? Maybe if it's busted it just stays there. I certainly didn't get 20 ohms. I'm attaching a picture of how I tested it.

So I'm thinking either I did something wrong, or that heater is broken.

Your thoughts?
thank you in advance!




Quote:
Originally Posted by denman View Post
Here are your parts, I think.
I cannot find info on the given model number but the below is for a BAWW not a BWW. I am assuming you just missed the A.
Parts for GE TFX20JRBAWW Refrigerator - AppliancePartsPros.com

It is not airflow (I don't think)--we didn't have too much in there.
A defrost problem is actually an airflow problem. The evaporator fan cannot pull air through the coils so the air does not cool correctly. Also it screws up the amount of air that is pushed into the fresh food section.

--in fact, I think they stay on all day it seems.
The compressor and fans running all the time is one symptom of a defrost problem so I think you are on the right track.

Also, the ice maker doesn't make ice, but I'm guessing that's because it's not cold enough in there.
Also correct.

So from my research it seems most people suggest it is the defrost timer, the temperature control, or the thermostat.
Possible causes of a defrost problem is the defrost timer, the defrost thermostat or the defrost heater.

My question is (are, actually): if I stick the screwdriver in the defrost timer, turn it, should the fridge then turn off?
Correct.
The compressor and fans should shut off, the defrsot heater should come on.

If so, then I suppose I just change the timer (is that correct?).
Sort of correct. If the defrost heater comes on then you problem is the timer.

What else would you all recommend?
Below is my standard blurb ob troubleshooting defrost problems, I just added info on the parts.


First remove the evaporator cover in the freezer so you can see the coils.
If they 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 257 in Section 07) 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 230 in Section 04) from the wiring and measure it for continuity, usually around 20 ohms or so.

If the heater is OK
Remove one wire to the defrost thermostat (Item 240 in Section 04) 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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File Type: jpg 2013-10-04 16.39.22.jpg (87.4 KB, 16 views)
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Old 10-05-2013, 06:09 AM
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the fridge power dimmed a bit, but that's all--everything continued as before: the compressor fan was on, the freezer fan kept spinning.
There is a problem here.
If the timer cam be turned through 360 degrees and the unit does not go into a defrost cycle then the timer needs replacing.
For it to be in defrost the fans and compressor must be off.

If the part is busted, shouldn't it spike?
No.
If the heater is open/busted the meter needle will not move re: infinite resistance.
Your testing method seems OK.
You could try a higher meter setting but I think you may have two problems.
The defrosts timer and the defrost heater are toast.

I wou;ld aso check the defrost thermostat just in case it also has a problem.
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Old 10-05-2013, 11:48 AM
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Default Thermostat seems bad

So I tested the thermostat. It was hard because the 2 wires come to a harness where they are sealed with 2 other wires (including one going down to the defrost heater) into a 3 prong male adapter. But I put one lead across the prong that was right above the 2 thermostat wires, and one prong across center wire, and the needle spiked. See pic--I think you can see . Nothing happened with any other combination (I tried them all).

Regarding the defrost timer: I discovered that turning it does nothing other than a quick power dim, but everything stays on. But if I unplug the fridge and leave it off for a while, then plug it back in and turn it, I can get everything to shot off. But, if I go just ONE more click (not a full spin), then everything comes back on.

So I'm thinking the timer is bad AND the thermostat. But I'm not sure about the defrost heater--and that's the expensive one, too--but I don't want to do a half job. Your thoughts?
Thanks again
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File Type: jpg 2013-10-05 13.38.56.jpg (99.3 KB, 15 views)
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:13 PM
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I have not used an analogue meter in over twenty years so do not take what I say as gospel.

I agree that the timer is bad.

I also think that the defrost heater is bad.
No needle movement means no continuity so the heater is open (blown).

I am not sure about the defrost thermostat.
I do not have and cannot get a wiring diagram for this unit. GE likes to keep everything a big secret.
If you trace the two wires going to the defrost thermostat back to the plug and they measure 0 ohms on the meter when the defrost thermostat is frozen then it is OK. 0 ohms is the same as when you short the two meter leads together.

Note that the defrost thermostat opens just above freezing so it must be frozen to see the 0 ohms. If the evaporator coils in the unit have no frost/ice on them then hold the face of the defrost thermostat onto an ice cube.
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Old 10-05-2013, 12:39 PM
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Default Going to replace all 3

Hi Denman, thank you for your help. I'm going to replace the defrost timer and heater, and if need be, the thermostat; appliancepartspros has a really nice return policy, so I ordered all 3. Thank you so much for your help, in a few days my family should have our refrigerator back!
blessings
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Old 10-10-2013, 04:29 PM
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Hello Denman, unfortunately, things aren't fixed. I must have done something wrong, or there's something else broken.
So I replaced the defrost timer first, nothing changed, though now I can use the screwdriver to turn off the refrigerator--so I presume my old one was bad.

I installed a new defrost heater, and it came with a new thermostat, which I installed. Unfortunately, when I use the manual defrost with the screwdriver, the heater does not turn on. Frost is starting to form in the freezer (I had thawed it).

I think everything is installed correctly. Presuming my replacement parts were fine, any thoughts what could be the problem? Thank you.
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Old 10-10-2013, 05:12 PM
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By the way, I tested the new defrost heater--26 ohms! I think that is good. I tested the thermostat--30 ohms, and I think that's good, too. I tried to "live test" on the harness that comes from the defrost timer, and I could not get any sort of reading. I tried both AC and DC volts just for kicks. But I would guess the defrost timer is at least partially functional, since I can turn on and off the compressor and freezer fan with a screwdriver.
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