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Why is my fridge/freezer not reaching target temperatures?

Hi, I have a Kenmore Elite french door fridge with bottom drawer freezer, model # 795.71036.010. On Friday, we found water dripping from the water/ice dispenser; it turned out that the ice was melting. Opened freezer up and found that the items in the freezer were melting. After emptying fridge and freezer, I placed a thermometer in each. Fridge temp was 56 F (set for 40 F), and freezer was 41 F (set for 0 F). I opened back panel and checked condenser coils; they were not dirty, but I vacuumed them anyway. Also verified that condenser fan was running. I pulled back panel out of freezer and inspected evaporator coils; they appeared to be in good condition. I also verified that both evaporator fans were running. I believe the compressor was running because I felt slight vibration when I put my hand on it. At this point, I am running out of ideas. Any help would be appreciated.


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Update: Checked capacitor and temperature sensors, both were good.

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Solución Elegida

Hi @timc24601 ,

Presumably the evaporators were not icy cold to the touch and also that the compressor was not too hot to touch?

Check for oily residues below the compressor or on the condenser coils. If there are any it may indicate a refrigerant leak. There is a lubricating oil in with the refrigerant that is used to lubricate the compressor and if there is a leak in the sealed system, the refrigerant will escape to the air unnoticed but the oil leaves a trace.

You may have to get the high/low pressures in the sealed system tested, to find out what and where the problem is. It could be a blockage or a lack of refrigerant or even a faulty compressor.

I say “may have to get” because depending on your location, due to environmental regulations regarding the handling of refrigerant gases you need a licenced repairer to test the sealed system.

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Thanks Jayeff. No, the evaporators were not icy cold, but the compressor was pretty hot; probably too hot to hold my hand against for more than a few seconds. I don't think I can do the sealed system test. What about the defrost timer on the control board? Do you think this is a viable cause of the issue? I can replace the board.

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I wouldn't think so.

If the compressor is too hot to touch then there is a problem with the sealed system somewhere. Too little refrigerant due to a leak, a blockage in the sealed system or a faulty compressor.

Compressor are designed to run for hours at a time if necessary and not get that hot. You should be able to leave your hand on it

The evaporator should be icy cold (0 deg.F) if the correct amount of refrigerant was being pumped through the sealed system OK.

Also the condenser coils should be warm as they release the heat absorbed by the refrigerant gas as it passes through the evap. unit.

The control board determines when the defrost cycles occurs and then in conjunction with the defrost sensor for how long.

Normally the defrost cycle occurs once every 8-11 hours (depends on manufacturer) and during this time the compressor and the evaporator fan are both switched off. This allows the temp in the freezer compartment to rise to ~32 deg. F. to melt the accumulated ice build up on the evap unit. Having too much ice decreases the efficiency of the cooling process and also may end up icing over the evap fan and stopping it which usually means that the refrigerator temp will be too warm and the freezer temp will be OK. The evap unit is located in the freezer compartment so it will always be cold even without the fan running but the refrigerator compartment needs the cold air being blown into it by the evap fan in the freezer compartment

The defrost heater under the evap unit is also turned on to speed up the process as you don't want the food to even begin to thaw. When the freezer temp reaches ~32F the heater is turned off andthe compressor and evap fan are both turned on again (defrost thermostat operates) to drive the compartments back down to the set temps (0 F freezer ~37 F refrigerator)

The whole process takes ~15-25 minutes and then is repeated 8-11 hours later.

This is how refrigerators work. heat transfer by the evap. unit.

Icy cold (0 deg.F) refrigerant gas in evap unit absorbs heat from compartments which lowers temp in compartments. (air being dragged across icy cold evap unit and being blown into the compartments by the evap fan)

Heat released to the outside air by refrigerant condensing from a gas to a liquid flowing through the outside condenser coils and the cycle continues. Compressor pumps cooler liquid refrigerant which turns to gas to pass through evap unit etc.

Apologies for the long explanation but I find that understanding how it works helps to see what may be wrong when it doesn't

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