Refrigerator Problem - Loses Cool GE TFX24S

I am guessing this thing is past its 'Best By" date, but…

This thing is developing an annoying habit of simply ceasing to run. The lights come on in both sides, but the ice cube tray (a test dummy) is completely thawed, as was my frozen dinner.

Unplugging and re-plugging does not trip the cycle.

I know these are self-defrosting and that means raising temp a bit above freezing.

I can turn the adjusting knobs to “Full Cold” and still the compressor will not cycle.
Is there a simple part to check? Do wires come loose?

Am I better off just replacing the thing, or should I at least have a technician look at it?

I’ve never had a fridge die - let alone run fine for a month, then thaw both sides.

I need more information. When you say that the compressor will not cycle, do you mean that it doesn’t turn on?
In the title, you say that it ‘loses cool’ but you say that your frozen stuff is totally thawed. I’m assuming that both the compressor isn’t turning on AND the fridge and freezer are room warm.
Also, by warm, I mean, room temp or slightly above to account for fans and door heaters. If it’s hot inside, that’s different. By hot, I mean, if it’s like over 100 degrees in there, then it’s stuck in a defrost cycle and that’s usually a very easy and (relatively) cheap fix as long as it’s controlled by a typically timer and not part of a motherboard (if your fridge has a motherboard).

Next up, you say that it’s developed a habit of ceasing to run. Could you explain that further? Do you mean that it used to shut down for 10 or 15 minutes and got longer each time? Again, that could point to a bad defrost timer.

Do you hear any fans running if you open the door and push the buttons in (so it thinks the doors are closed? If you don’t, that would also point to a defrost issue as the defrost cycle, if it uses heat, should cut evaporator fans (the ones inside).

As long as it’s not working, you might as well go ahead and leave it unplugged overnight, especially if you’re not going to poke around at it for a while, however, keep in mind that a defrost timer won’t advance while it’s unplugged so if it’s in a defrost cycle now (be it stuck or moving thought it very slowly), it’ll still be there when you plug it back in.
Oh, and do you have a meter or voltage tester and are you up for pulling the fridge out and poking around under it? The next thing to do is to see if the compressor is getting power. If it is, that’s bad. If it’s not, follow the wires back, they’ll probably go to the defrost timer. My WAG is the defrost timer has power going in but not coming out. If that’s the case, that’s what needs to be replaced.

One more thing, open one of the doors, push the button and make sure the light turns off. Close the door, open the other door and do the same thing (and the 3rd door if this has three doors). If any of the door switches don’t work and the fridge thinks a door is always open, the compressor will never turn on. That too could account for it getting wonkier over time.

The interior on both sides is right at room temp.
I cannot get even a fan to turn on.

Opening the doors causes the lights to come on, otherwise it shows no sign of life.

I am handy with tools and have a cheap meter - which panels do what? I do not have any documents for it - no user, no service.

I replaced the board in the furnace, so am not afraid to open this up.

I sleep late. My roomie reported puddles in front of the unit a few months back. I have just recently seen the failure first hand.

So - there is a physical timer on the compressor? I will drag the thing out from the wall and start removing covers.
I pulled the bottom panel and found the dissecitant bag - and the framework blocked sight behind the front.

Lights cycle with the door switches on both sides.

There is a long, narrow cover up the back of the freezer side. Otherwise, only the bottom has a removable cover.

One odd thing - there is a large, recessed hex plug glued in the center of the back - it doesn’t look like it will want to come off - any idea what this (approx. 2 to 21/2" across plug/cover conceals? it doesn’t look like is can do anything but cover a hole.

Still hasn’t turned on either compressor.

Why would a malfunction in the freezer cycle take out the chiller side?

Even with the puddles, by the time I was up (mid-afternoon) both sides had restored function.
I put an ice cube tray in the freezer and placed coins on top of the ice, figuring if I found the coins at the bottom of the ice, it meant the ice had thawed.
That was early Oct.
This is the first failure since then.

I’m not sure if you model number is complete, but the defrost timer should look like this, or something similar. Typically, it’s some kind of small module located near the compressor, but it could be anywhere under there and in some cases even inside the case (but I doubt it).
As for testing it, you’ll have to figure that out when you see it. Without seeing what’s going on myself, I’d probably verify that the compressor isn’t getting power (and you’ll probably also note that it’s cold to the touch), then check that the timer IS getting power.

If the timer has a screw on it, you can probably rotate it to force it out of defrost and get running again.

Finally, if you can diagnose the timer as being the culprit you can, if your comfortable doing it, you could jump it until the new part arrives. Running it without a timer for a few days, especially in dry weather, shouldn’t be a big deal.

There’s only one compressor. It handles both the fridge and freezer.

I’ve never heard of that trick,what we’ve always done, albeit messier, is to leave a cup of water (well, ice) upside down and check it from time to time.

Anyways, there could be a million reasons for it to be on the fritz, for the moment, I’m just running with a defrost timer that was slowing down and has now died (or slowed down so much that maybe the fridge will fire back up in the morning).
If there’s power to the compressor or no power to the defrost timer, we can rule out the timer. But in it’s current state, as I understand it, it’s an easy one to diagnose, probably the cheapest part to buy and a quick fix. If there’s no power to the timer, we have to work our way backwards and see where the power shows up and go from there.

Maybe an Aha! moment - I was fiddling with the chiller dial again when it started to make noise.

I’m 96% certain the noise is a compressor - is there more than one compressor?
If just one, how do the "“independent” thermometer dials control the chiller vs freezer?

What kind of noise? Did it turn on and start running or did it just go “click”. If it started running that’s good, could just be a t-stat issue. If it just went ‘click’ all that meant is that it’s calling for the compressor to turn on.

Different models have different methods, mine has a fan that moves cool air up from the freezer to the fridge.
But there really is only one compressor.


I’m going to leave it alone for now - will remove the skinny cover tomorrow and see what it is - guessing it has something to do with the ice maker.
It was the ice melting which caused the puddles. I turned off the water and dumped most of the ice.
Only a tiny puddle this time.

So the defrost cycle uses a mechanical timer to tun the compressor back on, and if the timer slows, the compressor may never return?

This is a side-by-side from Salvation Army. “Suspect” does not begin to describe it.
It is a compressor running.
I’m calling it a night - I have another refer and have transferred all frozen stuff to it.

But now I know where the appliance parts store is…

The defrost timer is a mechanical timer, yes. Electricity runs through it, to the compressor. A few times a day, it kills power to the compressor. If you have a heated defrost cycle, it also energizes the heaters and shuts off the evap fans. If it gets stuck in the defrost cycle, the compressor never turns back on.
However, there’s also a t-stat wired in the heaters so they shut off if/when it gets too hot back there. It’s designed, at least in part to save electricity, so the heaters shut down when the ice is melted, but if your stuck in defrost mode, it’ll also make sure you don’t start melting things or cooking your food.

It’s a small motor driving a bunch of plastic gears. I’ve replaced many of them over the years.

Sounds good. For the record, this is still just my guess. Also, as long as the important stuff matches (voltage, amps, what it turns on and off) any timer will work and I’m willing to bet that’s a pretty generic timer so you probably don’t have to kill yourself to get an OEM timer if you do decide that the timer is the problem. But I can vouch for repairclinic, I’ve purchased plenty of parts from them.

Does the thermostat replace from the front?

Would I be out of line to just replace both of them and not worry about them next time?

Thanks again.

good night

Maybe. If you open the door and manually move a dial back and forth on an inner panel, the t-stat is probably located right behind that panel. You might be able to peak behind it. The next question is, where is the wiring harness? If it’s right there, you’re golden, you can just disconnect and decide how to go about testing it.

However, the wires may go though the insulation and run down and behind/under the fridge or the entire t-stat may be back there with just a remote bulb inside the box. It just depends on how it’s all set up.

Hard to say. In all likelihood you only have one broken part. Personally, unless you’re really stumped or don’t want to spend the time isolating it, I’d rather not start replacing good parts. You can certainly replace both of them if you want, but if you’re willing to do that, you might as well just start with one and if it doesn’t do it, then do the other. However, before you do any of that, the next time it shuts itself off for a significant length of time (more than an hour or two), see if the compressor is getting power. If it’s getting power and not running, it’s probably shot. Futhermore, if it doesn’t have external starting components and it’s a cheap unit, you’re probably better off getting rid of it.

There are two dials - the cooler side has a ‘volume’ type knob; the freezer has a horizontal disc which extends a bit through the fascia panel.
I never paid attention to it but it is a large box extending about 3’ from the back and has the lamp in the bottom.
I’m guessing it means the wiring is inside the protruding box.
Since I can’t reproduce the problem at will, I’m leaving it until the next time.

I am, however, leaving it out where I can easily get to the back.
The one panel which comes of easily does just contain the water line - I guess it allows post-purchase install of ice maker

The fiberboard cover at the bottom of the rear side looks like it has been opened a couple of times.

I have a curious cat, so it is going to remain closed.

While you’re here - it is still forbidden to lay a refer down? My guess is the refrigerant would flow out of the compressor and get into the evap coil - still a huge problem or has the tech eliminated that bugaboo?

(spell check knows “bugaboo” - I’m impressed.)


Found the bar code sticker. It shows TFX24SLJ
The box containing the light bulb socket and thermostat contains the timer.

Timer has “12908 AL00” stenciled on it. It has a standard Ampex doghouse 4 wire connector. (same as hard drive leads on AT and ATX PC power supplies).
The wire colors are:
Red (now looks orange)
Purple (or brown).

The red is connected (cheap and crappy wiring) to the red on the light bulb holder
The purple (maybe brown?) connects to thermostat.

To which does the power connect first - timer or t’stat? IOW - which way does the power go on the wire between t’stat and timer?

I cleaned what I could from the rear (fiberboard covered).
I found and kinda cleaned:
Radiator assembly
Compressor (I’m impressed: it is a steel ball slightly smaller than a soccer ball)
Solenoid for water line. It is on a steel bracket with what I thought was a transformer. Then I realized that the bracket was for (optional) water-handling devices* and there had to be a valve to direct water to either the through-the-door dispenser or the ice maker. Device is probably that valve.

    • Not a good place for a power transformer.

No sign of a circuit board

All indications are that it runs 120 VAC throughout.

The chiller thermostat is the only thermostat. The freezer control simply adjusts a plastic vane serving as a variable vent to send cold air from chiller into freezer.

The compressor (could not find a part number) has a square box approx. 3x3" and about 2" high on its side.
There is a cover which looks like it is designed to be opened easily - retained by a 1/4" steel strap hooked into holes on the side. I’m guessing it contains a capacitor, maybe something else.
I see no motor, so I can only guess what the steel ball contains.
I did not find the power leads to it.
I haven’t checked prices on the two bits which seem to be the only things that could control power to the compressor:
Defrost timer
(Chiller) Thermostat

Joey P - Thank you again.
If you know off the top of your head, what are the wires on the timer? I’m guessing two power its motor, the other are power in and power out.

Does the timer power the t’stat or vice versa?

With the full model number, I should be able to find the parts easily (relatively speaking)

I hope the wiring connectors to the t’stat and bulb holder just pull off. They are not ones I’ve seen before.

Thanks to all who are following this gripping saga… :wink:

The little box on the side of the compressor is (more than likely) a relay (sometimes called a contactor). While your compressor probably has a cap, it’s probably inside and not replaceable (because you have a sealed system). The relay, however, is, and it’s pretty easy. OTOH, testing to see if it’s the culprit is going to take you down the same path as testing to see if the defrost timer is bad. Test for power at the compressor. If you don’t have power there, you move back to the next thing. If you do, it’s something going on with the compressor and you can look into the relay. Often, it’s as simple as removing the cover and pushing the relay closed with something non-conductive.

As for testing the timer, based on a (random) diagram I found: White=common, Blue=Hot, Yellow=Defrost heaters, Orange=Compressor.
Based on that:
Compressor running normally:110v White to Blue; 110v White to Orange

Defrost mode, 110v White to Blue, 110v White to Yellow.

Now, when it’s not working and hasn’t been for hours and hours you need to check a few things:
White to Blue, 110 means the timer is getting power.
110 on White to Yellow means it’s stuck in defrost (most likely, could be something else and it just happens to be in defrost right now, you can always recheck in half hour or so)
110 on White to Orange means the timer is telling the compressor to turn on, but the compressor won’t.

As for the t-stat, I need to see if I can dig up a diagram. It could come before or after the the timer, but my guess would be before. IME, in residential units, the timer is the last thing before the compressor.
Again, you really need to wait until it’s not working and check the to see if the compressor is getting power and check to see if the timer is sending power. That’s probably going to tell you what’s going on, or at least point you in the right direction.

One last thing, now that I think about it. I’m going to guess that the timer sends power directly to the compressor and the t-stat flips the relay on and off. That’s the ‘clicking’ you hear when you move it back and forth.

ETA, we can test the t-stat, but I’m guessing it’s not going to be the problem.