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Old 06-24-2012, 02:17 AM  
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Default defrost problems

Hi, We built a new house 5 years ago and furnished it with 10 new appliances, all GE Profile, based upon Consumer Reports high ratings. While the rest of our appliances have been great, we have had nothing but problems with our "French door" refrigerator. The problem is that the refrigerator portion will not keep it's cool. 

We have now learned that the "valve" between the bottom freezer and the fridge (that opens up to allow the cold air from the freezer to enter into the fridge) "frosts up" and will not open to allow the cold freezer air into the fridge. Therefore the fridge slowly warms up. 

it has taken us three repairmen visits to learn this (and considerable money) and finally the third repairman simply instructed us to shut off the power to the fridge, unload the contents of our fridge into our $100.00 old garage fridge (now 25 years old and working fine) and leave our fridge doors open. After about 12 hours, the ice on this valve melts; allowing the valve to operate normally at which time we then reload our fridge once again, eagerly anticipating the next failure. THIS IS A MONTHLY OCCURENCE FOR US!!!!!! We are extremely careful not to open the fridge or freezer for more than a few seconds at a time, as this seems to help delay the problem. Gone are the days of standing there with an open fridge door deciding on what's for supper. 

In fairness to GE, I contacted them the first time that I required a repairman to attend, and GE did step up to the plate and assist us financially with a portion of the repair bill. I think I dealt with "Cindy". She was actually real good to deal with. However, as the GE repairman is usually so booked up I have to wait days and days for him to attend. Therefore, the last time I used a local repairman, who was the one who informed me how to fix this problem without the need for another expensive service call (plus mileage). We live in the country, so getting a repair man out here is a big problem. 

If anyone reading this from GE wishes to comment on this issue, I'd be happy to hear from them. I can also be reached by anyone requiring more information at


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Old 06-25-2012, 10:47 AM  
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The evaporator coil behind the cover on the back wall inside the freezer will ice up under normal conditions. Every 8 to 10 hours for around 20 minutes the defrost timer (or in most newer models the electronic adaptive defrost control) will turn the defrost heater on to melt the built up ice. There is a defrost thermostat which prevents the heater from overheating the freezer by breaking the heater circuit when the temp reaches close to 32 degrees F. The entire cooling system shuts off during the defrost cycle and starts back when the timer advances through the cycle.

If this ice is not melted it will continue to build up until the air can’t flow over the coil to circulate the cold air through the freezer and into the fridge. The temperature change in the fridge is usually noticed first followed by the freezer.

If the defrost thermostat is bad, it can prevent the heater from coming on OR it won’t turn the heater off when it gets too warm. It is clamped to the evaporator coil at the top to sense the temp. If it appears to be misshapen it is bad.
With an ohm meter it should show continuity when cold and none when warm.
You can also bypass(disconnect the two wires plugged into it and twist them together) the thermostat to see if the heater comes on then. If it does then you know the thermostat is bad and needs replaced.

The defrost heater is located on the evaporator. It is in a tube which is at the bottom and can also go up the sides of the evaporator. On some types you can see a burnt spot if it’s bad. With an ohm meter it should show continuity from end to end when disconnected from the wiring in the freezer. You can also test the wiring for voltage when it’s in the defrost mode.

If you have a defrost timer you can test it. It can be located under the fridge behind the kick panel on the front. Some are in the fridge with the controls at the top. You can turn the defrost timer till it clicks and everything shuts down. The heater should now come on. If it does, replace the timer because that means the timer is not running. If it doesn't, check the heater and defrost thermostat. Turn the timer again till everything starts back up to end the defrost cycle.

If you have an adaptive defrost control instead of a timer, replace it if the heater and thermostat test good. It is located in the fridge with the controls in some models and on the back in others. You can post your model number into one of several appliance parts sites on the internet and search for defrost components to find your parts.

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Old 06-25-2012, 02:16 PM  
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we have had nothing but problems with our "French door" refrigerator.
A lot ( most? ) of these are not GE and are built by someone else for GE. Some model# helps.

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Old 06-25-2012, 09:35 PM  
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Woodchuck, thank you for your detailed reply. I even understood most of it ... lol. When I get some time, I will try the steps you so kindly suggested. Thanks again.

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