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Upright freezer doesn't go below 30F
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kal
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PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 4:29 pm    Post subject: Upright freezer doesn't go below 30F Reply with quote


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EDIT: Turns out that the temperature display issue normal. During the defrost cycle (about 30 mins twice a day) the display shows the SET temperature (0F), not the ACTUAL temperature (31F). So the display is behaving normally. The freezer however is not as it can't get below ~30F anymore.

On the off-chance that someone here's an appliance repair tech, we're having an issue with our upright freezer that seems odd:

We have a Frigidaire GLFH17F8HWL upright freezer that's been running for just over 3 years now (put in service in Nov 2012). It has always been set to the factory default temperature of 0F.

We noticed the "HI TEMP" alarm came on yesterday and was beeping every 5 seconds which is normal if the temp rises above 23F. The display indicated that the freezer was at around 31F like so:



Placing a separate thermometer in the freezer for ~1 hour shows that the temperature inside is indeed at around 30F.
The fan is still running (it runs all the time) and it sounds like the compressor is running as well (hard to tell with the fan noise).

Seems like a fairly typical failure and the HI TEMP alarm is working as it should, except for the following: Sometimes the freezer thinks it's at 0F (which is the set point) as shown in this picture taken 1 hour after the one above:



When the freezer displays 0F on the front panel per the above photo, the separate thermometer we placed inside still shows around 30F.

Again, the two photos were taking ~1 hour apart. It's impossible for the freezer to cool down that fast and the separate thermometer placed inside confirms the freezer is still at ~30F. If we go back a few minutes or hours later, it may again show ~30F or OF. It's random. It doesn't change very often. We don't see it change when we watch it continuously for 10 minutes, but when checking a few times/day we'll notice it toggles between 0F and around 30-31F. I've notice it toggle twice now.

The other odd thing is that when the freezer thinks it's at 0F, the "HI TEMP" alarm is still on (as shown in the second picture). Per the manual it is only supposed to come on if the temperature is above 23F. So the behaviour doesn't seem normal either.

When the problem was first encountered yesterday we tried turning off the circuit breaker, waited 45 minutes, and then turned the power back on. The freezer is then also automatically set to the default 0F set point. The freezer started with the display showing 42F and slowly cooled down to 30F and stayed there, not going any lower. "HI TEMP" was shown on the display the whole time but the corresponding beeping every 5 seconds never started since we turned the power off and back on. This behaviour doesn't seem normal either.

Any hints on what to check? I have a digital multimeter and other tools along with component level electronics experience. Given the weirdness I almost wonder if there are some wires from the display panel that are pinched or short out from time to time (sporadically).

Thanks!

Kal

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Last edited by kal on Sun Jan 10, 2016 3:44 pm; edited 3 times in total
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

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PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmm, based on my limited research, it may be a sealed system problem?

Compressor is running. Compressor case temperature at approx 130F:



The evaporator coils are accessible through the inside near the bottom (at least I think these are the evaporator coils):







Cover removed:



There is nothing on the outside of the freezer at all:



Does that mean the condenser coils (hot side) are in the walls and it's possible that there's a leak inside the walls that can't be fixed?

Kal

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Kazumichan



Joined: 07 May 2014
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Location: Cincinnati Ohio area

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PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your coils are frosting over, so the compressor is working. My fridge was doing something similar. It ended up being the circulation fan would work just when it wanted to. I bet that your fan right above the coils isn't working correctly, if at all.

http://www.appliancepartspros.com/frigidaire-motor-297250000-ap4368950.html

#13 in this view http://www.appliancepartspros.com/cabinet-parts-for-frigidaire-glfh17f8hwl.html
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the input!

Talking to a fridge tech however, it seems to be a sealed system problem based on how the ice forms (near the freon input only). Here's the standard diagnosis he sent:

http://www.applianceblog.com/mainforums/attachment.php?attachmentid=26367&d=1365913742

Here's mine:

http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/images/freezer5.jpg

If the evaporator fan wasn't working it would completely frost over a lot (or so I'm lead to believe). Most of my coil has no frost at all (only at the input) while it should have a light even frost everywhere.

I hear the evaporator fan running all the time. The heater works as well. Most of the coil has no ice on it at all so it should be able to suck heat out of the air in the freezer, no?

Kal

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Kazumichan



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PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Looking at your pictures again, and not being an appliance expert, it might be that it is low on freon (or the other causes in that link), since it is only frosting the first few inches. Does the compressor cycle like it used to, run continuously, or run for a long time with a short off cycle? From what I have been told, if it is the last two symptoms it is most likely low on freon.

When my fridge wasn't cooling back over the summer, I looked into having someone recharge the freon. All the places that I called said that it was cost prohibitive to have them come out and do that. Since they would have to find the leak, install service ports, and then recharge it. It would be just about the same as it would be for me to buy a brand new fridge.
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kazumichan wrote:
Looking at your pictures again, and not being an appliance expert, it might be that it is low on freon (or the other causes in that link), since it is only frosting the first few inches.

But why did it run ok for 3 years?

Quote:
Does the compressor cycle like it used to, run continuously, or run for a long time with a short off cycle?

Runs continuously. Pulling 0.2 amps. The locking rotor amps on the compressor is 10 amps so I know it's not "locked".

Quote:
When my fridge wasn't cooling back over the summer, I looked into having someone recharge the freon. All the places that I called said that it was cost prohibitive to have them come out and do that. Since they would have to find the leak, install service ports, and then recharge it. It would be just about the same as it would be for me to buy a brand new fridge.

Yup. That's my gut feel too. This freezer was $800 three years ago. Kind of pisses me off. ;(

Kal

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Yo_Pauly



Joined: 30 Nov 2014
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Location: New Richmond, WI


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would make sure to completely defrost the freezer and dry it out then try again. Somewhere in there there is a thermistor for temperature feedback. That may be the issue given the fluctuating temperature reading. I suspect it is beneath that ice formation.
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Tennessee



Joined: 04 Apr 2015
Posts: 113
Location: Tennessee


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are the condenser coils clean ?
Is condenser fan working ?
Is the evap fan working ?
Check continuity on defrost heater

Look at these before you consider the control board.

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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yo_Pauly wrote:
I would make sure to completely defrost the freezer and dry it out then try again.

There is nothing to defrost. There's extremely little ice buildup. In fact, most of it is completely clear of frost (see previous pictures). There should be a thin even layer everywhere like in this last picture:

http://www.applianceblog.com/mainforums/attachment.php?attachmentid=26367&d=1365913742

So I confirmed also why the the display is sometimes alternating between actual temperature and setpoint temperature:

It displays the setpoint temp (0F in this case) whenever it's in defrost mode which seems to happen once or twice a day for ~30 minutes. Otherwise the actual temp is displayed (~30F now). The manual isn't clear on any of this.

Normally your setpoint and actual are the same, so I assume they do this to not have people start calling the manufacturer "why is the temp going up?" twice a day when it goes up slightly during defrost mode. So instead they simply show the set temp instead during defrost.

So the temp control works correctly. The freezer is simply unable to go below about 30F. Seems to be going up too. Turning it off for an hour and then back on and it can't get lower than ~32F or so.

Kal

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Last edited by kal on Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:21 am; edited 3 times in total
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tennessee wrote:
Are the condenser coils clean ?
Is condenser fan working ?
Is the evap fan working ?
Check continuity on defrost heater

Yes for all 4.

The condenser grills are in the walls (so there's no fan).
There's nothing underneath other than the compressor. A couple of pics:





Nothing on the sides or back:



Evap fan's running all the time.

Defrost heater works too. I tried the Service Diagnostic Mode :

Quote:
To enter service diagnostics mode, place the control in
the lock mode by pressing and holding Control Lock key
for 5 seconds. Then press and hold the Up and Down
keys simultaneously for 5 seconds. When diagnostics
mode is entered, the following information will be
displayed for two seconds at a time. The system will
then wait for load testing for 10 seconds, exit diagnostic
mode automatically, and assume the default temperature
setting. If load testing is performed, a 10 second wait
cycle is re-established after each key press.


While there it cycles through a bunch of stuff and at the end you do some manual tests:

- Hold down the DOWN key and it displays "HE" and the heater coil around the evaporator came on and heated up (saw some water dripping on to it and sizzling/steaming). So heater looks good.
- Hold down the UP key and it displays "CP" and the compressor kicked on and runs just like it does normally.
- Hold down the Temp Display key and it "LA" and the interior light comes on.

Based on everything I've tried it has to pretty much be a sealed system issue. Either a refrigerant leak, compressor not working right, or a system restriction. None of which are worth getting fixed (assuming you even can - a leak in the condenser grills can't be fixed given that they're in the walls). The silly thing's only 3 years old. $800-900 down the drain. What a piece of junk.

Kal

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Tennessee



Joined: 04 Apr 2015
Posts: 113
Location: Tennessee


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can feel your frustration. I have a True 49F down right now!
I did notice the compressors aren't to pricy. Maybe you could drop
it off at a repair store to do the R&R.

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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 2:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tennessee wrote:
I can feel your frustration. I have a True 49F down right now!
I did notice the compressors aren't to pricy. Maybe you could drop
it off at a repair store to do the R&R.

Doesn't seem to be the compressor.

It's going to have to be moved by someone who knows what they're doing (more capable than me). It's as tall as me and heavier. Wink

I'd feel better paying for servicing on a True (mostly because they can be serviced) and because they're pricey to begin with!

Kal

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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 10:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I talked to a couple of other of the techs that Frigidaire listed as their "service companies" and one of them recommend I call Frigidaire back and ask nicely what they can do for me, given that it's likely a not worth repairing (or irreparable) sealed system issue which they used to warranty for 5+ years (but now is only 1 year).

They're willing to give me 40% off a new unit (of equal or lesser value) as long as I have a tech report from one of their service companies that states it's a sealed system issue. So I'll have to pay about $100 to have someone come out and look at it, to save about $400 on a new unit, bringing the price down to about where it would cost if this sealed system was actually fixable ($500 or so). Seems like the best option. Tech's coming Friday.

I'd say that I shouldn't buy a Frigidaire again, but frankly all the bottom end appliances are built the same way and I don't want to spend 10x the price on a freezer from Thermador, Sub-Zero, or Miele that we hide away in an unfinished area of the basement. (No, we can't finish more of the basement - we need room for our junk). Wink There's also nothing available for slightly more money (or even double the cost) that my appliance dealer, whom I trust, feels is well built.

Thanks again for all the hints everyone.

Kal

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Kazumichan



Joined: 07 May 2014
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Location: Cincinnati Ohio area

Working on: Belgium golden, Dubbel, and imperial red


PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 12:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kal wrote:
They're willing to give me 40% off a new unit (of equal or lesser value) as long as I have a tech report from one of their service companies that states it's a sealed system issue. So I'll have to pay about $100 to have someone come out and look at it, to save about $400 on a new unit,


At least they are willing to make an attempt at making things right, even though it is probably their fault to begin with.
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kal
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PostLink    Posted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup. That's the way I look at it.

A free one one have been better (as would have been the case if they still offered 5 year warranty on the closed system the way most manufacturers used to), but alas, we all like cheaper things and have driven prices down to the point where they can't seem to offer this sort of warranty anymore.

Kal

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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

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PostLink    Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 2:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Had a tech out yesterday. Basically paid him $135 CAD for a piece of paper that confirms it's a sealed system issue so that I could get the manufacturer to give me 40% off a new unit.

Tech indicated that condensation ran down between the insulation and copper line line that feeds the evaporator and caused the line to rust through, releasing the freon. $660-700 CAD to fix ($230 in parts plus labour) so more than a new freezer.

Kal

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Tennessee



Joined: 04 Apr 2015
Posts: 113
Location: Tennessee


PostLink    Posted: Sat Jan 09, 2016 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kal wrote:
Had a tech out yesterday. Basically paid him $135 CAD for a piece of paper that confirms it's a sealed system issue so that I could get the manufacturer to give me 40% off a new unit.

Tech indicated that condensation ran down between the insulation and copper line line that feeds the evaporator and caused the line to rust through, releasing the freon. $660-700 CAD to fix ($230 in parts plus labour) so more than a new freezer.

Kal


That makes the decision process pretty simple. Shocked

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exception13



Joined: 15 Nov 2012
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Location: Orleans, ON

Drinking: Brown Ale

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PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Damn!... We have the same freezer. Around the same age too. No issues yet, but something to keep an eye on.

Chris
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kal
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PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 11, 2016 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm sure it's a one off / luck of the draw. You just don't know.

Kal

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exception13



Joined: 15 Nov 2012
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Location: Orleans, ON

Drinking: Brown Ale

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PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll keep that thought in mind. We got ours on sale for slightly less than your quoted $800 above, but still would be tough to have to deal with a, "it's too expensive to fix so you need to get a new one and we can (maybe) help out a bit", situation.

It's cold outside so maybe you can use that really big freezer for a while, eh? Wink

Cheers!

Chris
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