One of the most common problems with side by side units is the failure of the auto defrost system. When the auto defrost system fails the cooling coils will frost over preventing air from flowing through them to cool the unit. Following these instructions you can trouble shoot and repair the auto defrost system. Parts will cost between 50 and 75 dollars with shipping.
How to Check for Malfunctioning Auto Defrost System
1. Remove all food items from the refrigerator/ freezer and store them in coolers for an over night stay.
2. Turn off or unplug the unit, then leaving both doors open let the unit set over night to give time for the cooling coils to defrost.
3. In the morning close the doors, turn the unit on and give it 4-5 hours running time. If at the end of this running time the unit is cooling properly this simple test has proven that the auto defrost system is not working. You will need to replace the defroster heating coil and the defroster thermostat.
Purchasing a New Defrost Heater and Thermostat
The easiest method to find and purchase parts is to shop online. In your search engine type in the brand name and type of your appliance and the word “parts”, Example; “GE refrigerator parts”. You may get lucky and find a local dealer that has what you need in stock. If no local dealers have the parts you need, order the parts from an out of area dealer.
Replacing the Defrost Heating Coil and Thermostat
1. Unplug your side by side for safety; you will be wiring in the new heater and thermostat.
2. Remove the shelves from the freezer section of your side by side, then remove the panel in the back to expose the cooling coils and defrost heater, usually 4 screws hold this horizontal panel in place.
3. The defroster heating coil will be located below the cooling coils. Remove the screws holding the heating coil in place and unplug the wires. Install the new heater by plugging the wires into it and using the original screws mount it in the brackets.
4. The defroster thermostat is usually found above the cooling coils clipped to the suction line. To remove the thermostat from the suction line, just pull it off. The clip will open to allow it to be removed. If the wires are plugged into the thermostat they can be unplugged and the new thermostat reattached in the reverse order of removal. If there are no plugs on the wires they will have to be cut with side cutters and the new thermostat’s wires attached with wire nuts or inline crimp splices.
5. With the new heater and thermostat installed replace the cooling coil cover and shelves. Power up the unit and let it run for 4-5 hours to insure proper operation.
If you can use a screw driver you can make this repair and save yourself a hefty repair bill. Always remember that safety comes first! Disconnect the power before performing maintenance on any appliance.