I have a ~18 month old refrigerator (a Whirlpool, french doors, similar to this model). About two months ago we found that the freezer had largely thawed (as in, all of the food in it was thawed, ice cream melting out of the tub, ice packs not solid), and the refrigerator was over temp by several degrees; at the time the fridge was ~43-44 degrees in the morning at first check (before it was opened at all), eventually it hit more like 47-48. The back of the freezer (behind the drawers) had significant amounts of visible ice, but the vents didn't seem blocked, though it seems like they must have been if there was a lot of ice along the freezer wall but nothing else frozen...

We called a repairperson, and he came and suggested that the thermistat that controled the defrost cycle was the issue. After fully defrosting the fridge/freezer (leaving it unplugged for two days), he replaced it, and it worked fine for ~2 months. I say okay, because the refrigerated section never really was as cold as we wanted; we set it to 34, and that let it get to 38 to 39, which was close (we prefer 37).

About two weeks ago, we found the freezer thawed again with ice on the back and the fridge at 41. I emptied the freezer but took no other action; after three to four days, the freezer was able to hold temperature again and the refrigerator back to 39. This held for about two weeks; yesterday it was again thawed and 41 in the refrigerator, though.

Does it sound like there are still defrost cycle issues here (and the main board needs replacing and/or another new thermostat), or is there something else going on here? Are there any steps I can take before calling for service again?

I will note that I've been a bit concerned about the placement of the fridge in terms of ability to release heat - it's nearly fully enclosed by cabinet on one side, back wall on one side, and a thin cabinet-matching wood board on the third side, plus on top more cabinet-matching trim. There's a few inches clearance in each direction but that's it. The repairman didn't have any objections to the setup and thought it was fine, but I'm wondering if we need to figure out some way to get it some more air? Or is this no longer really a problem with modern refrigerators? Does this sort of problem match this type of cause?

  • This question seems like it could have bearing on my issue, but it's unclear if I can tell whether only the top few coils are working or not as I don't know if I can get to the coils easily. Is opening up the freezer to get to the coils something doable on modern refrigerators, or is this a serviceperson-only sort of thing nowadays? (I've done this before on a ~15 year old fridge, but it was much easier to get in than it seems here...)
    – Joe
    Jan 22, 2018 at 19:04
  • 1
    I suggest you to ask for warranty replacement of the whole machine as it has less than 24 months and should be covered by compulsory warranty.
    – DDS
    Jan 23, 2018 at 12:00
  • In my experience the warranty only lasts one year, not two.
    – Michael
    May 13, 2019 at 19:42
  • @joe did you ever resolve this? Our fridgidaire does the same thing and I'd like to avoid replacing it if it's easily repaired. After a full power off for a few days, it's fine again, and then slowly the fan gets quieter and it eventually won't freeze anymore. Sounds similar!
    – SqlRyan
    Jun 21, 2020 at 21:39
  • @SqlRyan Not really. It still cycles some, but it got better so it's pretty rare - maybe once every six months to a year now. We've been a bit more careful about not overloading it, and that seems to have helped?
    – Joe
    Jun 21, 2020 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


Could be the defrost timer, the heating element, the defrost thermostat, or a combination of those. My previous fridge did this same thing...Old Kenmore. I replaced the defrost thermostat and the timer and it's been working fine for almost a year.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.