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Strange behavior after defrosting freezer

I have a Kenmore 14 cu ft upright freezer, model 253.28459807, from 2010. For several years the temp would rise to 16F because the coils iced up. Icing was uniform top to bottom, left to right. I would then have to defrost the coils with a hair dryer about twice a year and after that it would work fine. This time, after I defrosted the coils, it only went down to 32F. It slowly rose to 39F over a few days and I thought it was a goner – sealed system problem. Then all of a sudden the temp started to go down, it paused at around 10F for half a day, and then reached 0F where it has stayed for almost a week now. I’d like to understand what was wrong.

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Hi @bostondave ,

The evaporator coils icing up excessively is usually caused by a defrost problem.

According to the parts supplier shown below the part number for the tech sheet for your model freezer is 297246001. It shows that the freezer is auto defrosted for 30 minutes every 12 hours.

During this time the compressor is turned off and the defrost heater is turned on to melt the ice build up. The bi-metal defrost thermostat releases when the temp on the evaporator unit reaches 40°F to signal the end of the defrost cycle by turning off the heater and to restart the compressor to cool things back down again to the set temp. When the temp reaches 25°F the defrost thermostat re-operates in readiness for the next defrost cycle.

Even though the temp gets that high at the end of the cycle the thermostat is close to the evaporator and heater and normally the overall air temp in the cabinet doesn’t go above 32°F as you don’t want the food to start defrosting

Here’s a link to the parts (supplier example only) that may help as it gives a rough idea of where everything is located. If you find a faulty part, there are other suppliers online that may suit you better. Just search for 253.28459807 parts to get results.

Check that the defrost heater (part #14) and the defrost thermostat (part #20) are both OK.

Also check that the drain tube going from under the evap unit to the evaporator pan (part #31A) under the cabinet near the compressor is not blocked preventing the defrost meltwater from draining away.

Here’s a video that shows how to test the bi-metal defrost thermostat that may also help.

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Thanks jayeff, very helpful and instructive. Will do this next time it gets too warm. Just curious if you have any idea why it might have taken like 5 days to recover to 0F? Did I overheat an evaporator coil with the hair dryer and cause a bubble or something like that?

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Was the compressor running continually during this time?

If not it could be a faulty temperature sensor (shown as thermistor on the tech sheet) indicating that the set temp 2°-8°F has been reached when it hadn't and the compressor is therefore turned off until it is restarted at the upper temp limit.

Other things to check would be if the door seals are OK and not letting the cool air escape. place a sheet a paper between the door and the door jamb and withthe door closed, try to pull it out. It will come out with a bit of effort but it shouldn't just fall out by itself. Do this at various places around the door, top, bottom and both sides.

Also check that the light turns off when the door is closed by manually operating the door switch in the door jamb with the door open. This fools the control into thinking that the door is shut and it will turn on the evap fan again. The evap fan is turned off when the door is open as you don't want to blow cold air out the door.

Make sure that the condenser coils on the back of the cabinet are clean and dust free as this can reduce the efficiency of the cooling system if they're clogged and not allowing the heat to easily escape from the refrigerant flowing through them

Lastly it's not good practice to melt the ice build up with a hair dryer on hot as this could damage the evap unit as it is only thin Aluminium. Use it on the coolest setting for only short periods at a time to avoid any problems. Realistically you should never have to do this as the freezer is an auto defrost so there should never be that much ice to worry about unless there is a problem caused by one of the above

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Yes, compressor was running the whole time. I did check the door seals. I can hear the evap fan and it was on too. No condenser coils - built into side wall.

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Apologies about the coils. I was only going on the image as shown by the parts supplier and it shows the condenser mounted on the back of the cabinet

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One other hint I forgot to mention. When the temperature was stuck at 32F for a few days on the way down, after defrosting, the condenser coils on the side wall were not warm. Normally they are warm when functioning properly.

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