Why does my refrigerator hate me and freeze up?

Two weeks ago we found that the vent from the freezer part to the fridge part had frost all over it blocking the air flow and causing the fridge to warm up. (Two garbage bags of spoiled food = gross. I swear the paint was about to peel). We took everything out and used a hairdryer to melt all the ice and frost so that the vent wasn’t blocked anymore.

That was fine and dandy for about a week, but now the frost has built up again and the fridge is getting warm. I’m already pissed today because I didn’t get my breakfast due to the chunky milk.

We’ve messed with the temperature controls. We’ve moved things around in the freezer. We make sure the doors are closed tight. Is there something simple we are missing, or is it time to call a repairman? (If it’s important the freezer is on the bottom).

It could be the defrost timer, the defrost heater, or the thermostat itself, in order of likelihood. The same thing happened to me a month or so ago. I ended up just getting a new fridge.

Is the cost and hassle of finding and/or fixing those more than a new fridge? Do you know/think that’s a DIY project?

Have you ever cleaned underneath? Dirt is often the cause of freeze-ups on cooling systems. It’s the simplest and cheapest first-fix to try.

You can DIY it. The defrost heater should be pretty easy thing to replace–I don’t know about the defrost heater. I just googled around and decided I was in the market for a new fridge anyway (the old one was almost eight years old).

Ah, yes, that was step 1 in diagnosing my fridge. There was an amazing amount of gunk underneath. Unfortunately, not the source of my problems.

I had a similar problem with a piece of junk GE. I took the bottom of the top freezer apart, and verified that the timer and heater elements were working, but the runoff had no place to go! I unclogged the drain hose, and then the runoff had a place to go. Then, a month later: same problem. At least in my case, the circulating fan would start rubbing on the ice making a loud noise long enough prior to coming to a complete stop, so I never lost any food. Remodeled the kitchen, got rid of all the stainless, and got a new French door model instead. What a pain that was!

Yes, I’ve had 2 fridges with the timer problem. If it’s old enough to have a problem, it’s probably old enough to have a mechanical timer. It’s a gizmo about the size of your fist, with a few wires coming out. Get the model of your fridge, and go to the local applianec repair shop and buy a replacement.

Essentially it’s a mechanical clock, and every few days it converts from “cold” to a timed burst of heat that melts the frost buildup, which then drains down the back of the fridge (tiny hose on back) into an evaporation pan underneath. If the timer stops timing, then it never defrosts. (If it sticks in heat mode, then your paint will peel! Seen that once with a friend’s fridge!)

One or two screws, a couple of slide-on electrical contacts, and presto, the fridge is back to normal.

If the hose is plugged, usually from crap spilled in the freezer washing into the frost drainage system, then more likely you get water buildup in the bottom of the fridge under the evggie drawers. I’ve seen that too. While you have the bottom out of your freezer compartment doing defrost, you can pull the hose off the back and see if a pipe cleaner will go through. SOmetimes it won’t because just ice is blocking it… Sometimes it’s onion skins and dust bunnies and such.

Same thing happened to me with my POS GE. The defrost heater had burned out. It’s a DIY repair if you’re comfortable working with 110 V wiring.

Google your make, model and the words ‘defrost heater’ to get started.