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Question DetailsAsked on 8/24/2017

7 yr. old Frigidaire side/side: if compressor is not working would one side work when other side quits

the freezer is working well maintaining temperature at 0. Fridge side doesn't cool when food placed inside when empty maintains temperature. We moved everything from the vents and it keeps it's temp with items on the door and a few items on the shelves. Repairman said its the compressor (says it's running intermittently) and it would be cheaper to replace the fridge.

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2 Answers

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Hello Botanian,


Thank you for reaching out. I am happy you found a provider to review your situation. You may always search our list for another provider to get a second opinion. We always appreciate feedback regarding providers as well. If you have a moment please visit www.angieslist.com to leave the provider a review.


Best,


Iann M

Answered 1 year ago by Member Services

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Sorry - I am not a reefer repairman but have fixed my share for family and friends - but what he says does not make sense to me. Assuming - and this is an assumption which you would have to confirm in your owner's manual or a parts list on the web - almost all residential reefers use one compressor which cools the freezer side to typically 0-10 degrees. There is then a fan in the back wall of the freezer compartment (behind a screwed-on cover trough or panel which usually bulges out in the back) which blows the cold freezer air into the reefer side to cool it. The compressor kicks on and off to keep the freezer side at the selected temperature for the freezer - kicking on and off as needed to keep it at proper temp, so if for instance you leave the reefer door open or put in a lot of warm food at one time the fan will blow air from the freezer to the reefer side to cool it, warming the freezer with the return air from the reefer side, so the compressor will run more to recool the freezer side.


As far as the reefer side (though there are a few larger expensive models which have cooling coils from the compressor in the reefer part too, so in that case each side operates independently), usually it is cooled only by the cold air blowing from the freezer side. The thermostat in the reefer side will control the fan (on for more cooling, otherwise off) - some makes/models have a solenoid or stepping motor controlled baffle plate in the airway from the freezer, which is opened the the solenoid when the reefer thermostat is demanding more cooling, closes when the thermostat is happy.


This flow of cold air through the airway from the freezer can therefore be obstructed (so not provide the necessary cooling to the reefer side) in several ways:


1) the airway can be blocked by stored food, especially plastic bags, against the inlet for the circulating fan, partially or completely stopping the cold air from moving to the reefer side


2) the fan died so all you are getting is gravity airflow - either due to foreign matter like a piece of ice or plastic jamming the blades (which may or may not burn out the motor, depending on make), the motor died, the fan is iced up because the freezer is not defrosting properly, the airway is iced up (either the airway itself is blocked with ice or the baffle is frozen shut), or the baffle is jammed or the solenoid or reefer thermostat died.


3) return vent is frozen solid - usually slots or opening slot across back or in bottom of reefer compartment, near back in some, or under bottom tray in others - where air from the reefer comes back into the freezer from the reefer when the fan is running.


4) reefer thermostat has failed or connection has gone bad, or if electronic controlled the control board is shot. Could be cold air leakage from freezer is enough to keep empty reefer cool enough but is not enough to cool mass of food without cold airflow from the freezer.


5) this last one is pretty common - reefer is getting cold air but it is leaking out because the door mounting screws came loose so door is not closing all around, door seal is shot, or something is blocking the door so it does not close completely. Run hand all around door seal to feel for cold air. Use piece of paper in the door seal with reefer door closed, working your way around the seal - should pull out hard or tear if seal is closing right - if it freely slips out door alingment is off or seal is overly compressed. Also check all around to be sure seal is not pulled free or split.


6) If the compressor were not running right, I would not expect the freezer side to be getting down to zero - or if the unit was low on refrigerant maybe it would but the compressor would be running a lot more frequently (maybe continuously till it trips out from overheating, which in some units requires a new thermal breaker to get working again, in some resets after unit cools off). Since the compressor seems to be working well, I would not expect the repair to be anywhere in the range of a new side-by-side (assuming this is around 18-20 cf or larger, not one of the apartment-sized baby side-by-side reefers). And certainly a 7-year old reefer is nowhere its usual life - especially with a Frigidaire, which commonly run 50 years or so (maybe 15-20 or a bit more for electronic units until the electronics start costing more to repair than it is worth). Even if the compressor were running intermittently, it evidently is working correctly (cooling to zero in the freezer) so the problem would likely be either overheating of the compressor due to dust buildup, low gas level, or a faulty starting solenoid - each of which costs in the few hundred range max - not the $1000-3000 for a new side-by-side.


Make sure your coils are clean and the cooling fan in the back which runs air over the coils (fan usually at bottom of reefer in back, OUTSIDE the cooled space - accessed through back cover panel - beware exposed wires in there) is running when the compressor is. Usually you can remove front kick panel grillage and look in with flashlight (sometimes coils are exposed vertically on back instead) and see if the coils are clean or dust/hair covered and if fan and its motor housing is relatively dust free - if dust bunnied up they might be preventing the refrigerant from cooling properly so it can just keep up with the freezer but not hanbdle new items being put in reefer or reefer being opened a lot - but with the freezer getting to zero I doubt that is the problem. IF you have to clean, also dust off (with power cord to reefer unplugged whenever back panel is off) the compressor - soccer ball sized canister with copper tubing coming out of it, usually at bottom of reefer at the back behind same access panel. Compressed air works best for cleaning reefer, with shop vac in front catching the dust - but dusting brush or swifter or reefer coil brush will work - just be gently with the coils so you don't bend or break any, and that you don't bend fan blades.


I would open the reefer door, try setting the reefer thermostat setting to colder (to make the system immediately try to cool it more) and feel if you are getting good airflow from the air inlet - typically near top, corner or centered on back wall or ceiling of the reefer compartment, will have a grill or grating over it or be a scoop-shaped housing with a probably 1-2 x 3-6 inch opening into the reefer side. If you are not getting the fan running in the freezer (give it 30 seconds or so to kick on, and make sure you are hearing a fam in the freezer, not the one at the lower back of reefer which cools the coils and typically blows out at the front bottom of reefer through a grillage) then reefer thermostat is shot or the fan is blocked or shot, or wiring problem in between. If fan is running but no good airflow into the reefer, get a mirror and flashlight and see if you can see up into the outlet (some have a bend so this does not work on them without removing housing cover) to see if it is iced up or if the flapper is failing to open.


Unfortunately, unless an above average DIY'er finding the problem may not help you other than to know it is likely something other than the compressor. The fan in the freezer is usually not hard to change out (be careful not to drop parts down the airway), sometimes the wiring is short and needs crimp connectors or soldering rather than having snap connectors. Testing/replacing thermostat or the airway damper is beyond the normal DIY'er's confidence level, even though not real too hard to do - though testing requires a volt-ohm meter to determine if a thermostat, wiring, or component failure.


If you find something else wrong than the compressor you could talk to the manager at the appliance repair place you used and ask them to send another tech who can repair it right - and credit you for the first diagnosis when it turns out he misdiagnosed it. (I would not want the same tech fixing it - in my mind he has exhausted his competence level). Otherwise, though you are probably talking another $75-150 service call charge, try another well-rated and reviewed Appliance Repair - Large (your Search the List category) vendor to diagnose and repair it.


BTW - on the reefer cooling OK with nothing much in it, but not with a lot of food - how much food is in it should have no effect (as long as most of the food is not touching the sides) EXCEPT during the initial cool-down of the presumably warmer food items - so when you put them in it should run for some time (commonly about 10-15 minutes initially) to cool the air and external surfaces of the items down in the reefer after it being open to load, then more frequently than usual (say every 5 minutes or so) for an hour or few till all the food is cooled down to stable temp - then after that back to its probably about every 20-60 minute cooling cycle when the door is not being opened at all.


But my call - from a few thousand miles away - if compressor is cooling the freezer to zero I would say repairing the reefer is well worth the cost - just be sure after diagnosis he gives you a firm repair cost before going ahead.

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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