Defrosting your Frost Free Fridge

Becoming a home owner means learning to be handy, whether you like it or not. Sure, you could just hire out all your home repair needs, if you have the money or don’t mind paying the price. Yesterday I saved myself a couple hundred dollars by defrosting my frost free fridge.

Why would I have to defrost a frost free fridge?

I have a Kenmore Elite unit with the freezer drawer on the bottom and the refrigerator on top. My fridge was warm but my freezer was working. I turned down the temperature in the fridge. Didn’t work. I Googled the problem and found several sites with how-to and DIY information. I found the best advice from PJ’s Appliance & Mattress Factory.

Clean Condenser Coils

If your condenser coils are dirty, the cooling process is limited. Refer to your manual to determine the location of your condenser coils. Clean the coils and proper cooling should resume.

I wish the appliance salesperson at Sears would’ve told me how to properly care for my refrigerator. If you have a fridge like mine, the condenser coils are located under the appliance. These coils attract hair and dust.

We have hard flooring throughout our house and therefore most dust and debris makes its way to the perimeters. As such I was always diligent with cleaning the front and back venting panels on our fridge for fear of dust clogging the fans and coils. I learned this basic maintenance was not enough. When I removed the front and back access panels from the bottom of the fridge I found a thick layer of dust that looked like a blanket of dryer lint.

Cleaning the coils didn’t solve the problem. Back to Google. I had to check the back wall of the fridge for frost. Sometimes, if the freezer is left opened for an extended period of time or if the freezer is opened frequently, the unit can freeze up. Sure enough, the back wall of the fridge near the bottom was frosted up. When I opened the freezer door, there was frost inside the back venting as well.

Defrosting a Frost Free Fridge and Freezer

  1. Remove everything from both the refrigerator and freezer. Hopefully you have a back up unit or helpful neighbor or your food will spoil.
  2. Unplug the appliance and pull it away from the wall. When the appliance defrosts water leaks onto the floor.
  3. Open the fridge door(s) and freezer door/drawer for at least 8 hours. Defrosting is complete when all the bottoms and walls of the appliance are warm to the touch.
  4. Clean up the water inside the fridge and freezer and on the floor. Also, there will be water in the bottom tray with the cooling devices under the appliance. Do you best to sop it up with towels and then run a fan at it until all the water has evaporated.
  5. Plug in the fridge and within 30 minutes it should be back to normal.

If the problem returns, there could be something wrong with the frost free system. In that case, call a repair person.


The Beginning
About James Hudyma

Dad. Husband. Teacher. Canadian. Guitar Picker. Songwriter.

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  1. Robert says:

    Man… It sounds like you got into some unwanted fixings. That’s homeownership though, I love if but I hate it all at the same time.

    But I promise you this, I bet I go home today and check to see if there are coils, and dog hair under my fridge! Haha.


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