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samboski  
#1 Posted : Friday, September 15, 2017 5:21:59 AM(UTC)
samboski

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My Whirlpool side by side fridge has been acting up for a couple of weeks. I started noticing my frozen bread wasn't as solid as normal and now it's stopped working. With the power unplugged for a while, once plugged back in it will run and start cooling with normal sounds. It was running when I went to bed last night and I put a glass of water in the freezer, it was still liquid this morning and the fridge not running.

Anyway, I've checked the power source (getting 120 volts) and used my multimeter to check both the thermostat and start relay (both work).

The defrost timer must be built into the control/circuit board on this unit because I am unable to locate a mechanical timer anywhere. I've pulled the circuit board and am wondering if there's a way to test the components with a multi meter?

I'm also totally open to other suggestions/tests I can perform on my own with basic tools and a multimeter.

Thanks for any help - I've attached photos of the board.
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PNWDrew  
#2 Posted : Friday, September 15, 2017 8:05:48 PM(UTC)
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There are no tests you can really do with the board out unless you have a load jig to simulate loads. That is your adaptive defrost control (ADC), it could be sticking in defrost or in the steps of coming out of defrost.

Reassemble the control panel and leave it dangling so you can get to it. If it runs after plugging it back in let it go, when it has stopped running for more than 60 minutes (to allow for the chance of it being in defrost) tap on the ADC with a nonconductive item and see it it restarts. Repeat for thermostat/cold control if not.

That is not a definitive test but a decent one. For more clarity you'll need to do a little testing while energized since you can't reliably test for resistance/continuity while energized you'll be using the AC voltage setting on your meter. When it is warm but should be running test across the thermostat for potential V AC, meaning if it is closed there is 0 potential and if it is open you'd see 120V between the 2 terminals on it. Closed means it is asking for the unit to run, open means temps are low enough for it to be satisfied and no power is sent to the compressor/fans, etc....

Another test for the thermostat is to jump across it with an insulated tool or wire while it isn't running, assuming it isn't in defrost at that moment; the unit should start if the ADC allows it.

Either could be your problem but odds are better that it's the ADC.

The ADC measures compressor run time and possibly door openings to determine when to go into defrost, they can fail to restart the machine after defrost. You description of it running for a while then failing to stay running points towards the ADC also. Unplugging it for a while resets the timer in the ADC so it starts fresh and begins to accumulate time until it wants to defrost again.
samboski  
#3 Posted : Saturday, September 16, 2017 5:29:31 AM(UTC)
samboski

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I reassembled last night and plugged the fridge in with the temp control knob turned to the off position. Everything started right up when I turned the knob to the on position - this was at 8:40pm. By 10pm the freezer was down to 26 degrees and by this morning it was down to 0 degrees and the fridge side was just above freezing so I'm confident the main components of this fridge function properly.

I've left the cover off the evaporator coils inside the freezer compartment to monitor their appearance regarding frost buildup and am waiting for a failure to do the "tap" test and will report back.

If I'm able to repair this fridge, I'd like some advice on where to go next. Part of me (based on what the appliance store and basic internet searches say) wants to go ahead and replace this fridge. It's 13 years old and I'm being told it isn't worth fixing. I'd hate to fix this issue then continue having unexpected problems down the road (near future).

So I see my two options as:
1: fix this fridge and hope it lasts a long time, or
2: fix this fridge, sell it for a couple of hundred dollars to help mitigate the cost of the new $1100 fridge

Thoughts? Advice?
PNWDrew  
#4 Posted : Saturday, September 16, 2017 11:27:13 PM(UTC)
PNWDrew

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If it has developed a full frost pattern on the evap the sealed system is probably fine. That's the big money repair that is not DIY. The defrost thermostat is cheap. The ADC is more but less than a new unit.

Personally I'd keep an older functional unit unless the repair cost is more than 1\2 the cost of a similar new one. Even at that point the quality of new units is low enough that I might still repair an older one, that's what many others in the field say also.
Ultimately it is a gamble, at 13 years old other issues become more likely, however a new one will probably not last that long. My home fridge is 20 years old and I'd trust it more than many new ones.

As for selling it I believe in backup refrigeration if you have space in a garage or other area, it's nice to have extra space and and if the new one fails young you're not without one entirely.
samboski  
#5 Posted : Sunday, September 17, 2017 4:41:55 AM(UTC)
samboski

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That's good advice. Everything is working perfectly on the unit now - still waiting for a failure. The system cycles off/on properly. I see light frost covering the entire evap.

I already have a second fridge downstairs in my finished basement so we're keeping everything down there for now and I'm hoping I can diagnose this main unit soon and repair it.

Again, thanks for the solid advice.
samboski  
#6 Posted : Sunday, September 17, 2017 7:58:19 AM(UTC)
samboski

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So the fridge is still staying cold but I've noticed it runs almost constantly and the fresh food side is right around 32 degrees with the thermostat in it's normal "starting position." With the unit running, I tapped the cold control knob with a screwdriver handle and it cut off immediately. I'm now thinking the issue is as simple as a faulty cold control. Seem reasonable?
PNWDrew  
#7 Posted : Sunday, September 17, 2017 12:33:55 PM(UTC)
PNWDrew

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Yes, that's a quick test that is usually reasonably reliable. Same thing I'd do. If ADC is bad usually you'd have defrost issues in 3-5 days.
samboski  
#8 Posted : Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:53:18 PM(UTC)
samboski

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I installed the new cold control/thermostat 4 nights ago and everything has been running perfectly since. I have a thermometer in both the freezer and fresh foods side and the temps are staying nice and steady.

That's it - just wanted to post up that it's fixed. Thanks for all the help and advice!
PNWDrew  
#9 Posted : Saturday, September 23, 2017 3:55:36 PM(UTC)
PNWDrew

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Good! Glad to be of assistance.
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