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TLDR; What is the best way to splice wires together that will be moving?

I purchased a Kenmore Elite 106.51773510 refrigerator in March 2017. I had a few issues with the ice maker during my first year of ownership that were covered under warranty (turned out to be alignment issues and NOT an icemaker issue). Last week, I was surprised (and frustrated) to find out that the ice maker stopped working again. I investigated the issue and was able to locate the root cause of the problem. The wiring harness that comes from underneath the freezer door and goes up through the door and connects to the icemaker (and other components) is broken. See attached photo for reference. Problem!

I was able to conclude on the root cause of the failure for this wiring harness. When the freezer door is opened and closed, the wiring harness is pinched and folded over. Over time it has broken (think bending a metal hanger over and over again until the metal fatigues and breaks).

At this point in time, I have identified that the wiring hardness is NOT available for purchase and the only way to repair this failure is to replace the door which costs about $1200. The wiring harness is permanently installed in the door. But replacing the door with the SAME wiring harness will result in the same failure over time.

So what I am looking for here is some assistance on fixing this issue. The only economical solution that I can come up with is to splice the wires together. But when splicing these wires together, should I solder the wires or butt splice them. When I complete the repair, I am going to have to extend the wires underneath the refrigerator in order to eliminate the pinch point. Any suggestions or feedback is much appreciated.

Update 2019.05.01: I have purchased the following materials from a local electronics store for repair.

Materials

This is the plan.

  1. Stagger cut the wires (to allow for space for the butt joints)
  2. Complete butt joints on staggered cuts
  3. Shrink wrap each wire
  4. Shrink wrap the whole wire
  5. Re-route the wires to eliminate the pinching
  • Is the broken spot a place that will need to flex in the future? – JPhi1618 Apr 29 at 18:24
  • @JPhi1618 yes, that is the root cause of the issue. – JoeFletch Apr 29 at 18:32
  • consider buy the more-expesive silicon-based insulation wire, which is more flexible than the common PVC-based jacketing. – dandavis Apr 29 at 20:18
  • Automotive wire would be ideal. It contains finer copper filaments, allowing greater flex and durability. It's commonly available in heavy gauges at parts stores. – isherwood May 1 at 13:39
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There are a lot of splice methods, but most of them aren't going to allow the wire to flex and will probably fail very soon if they are flexed. For the splice method, I say whatever is easiest for you to accomplish in the limited space available is best.

What I will recommend is that you make two splices and leave solid wire in the area that needs to be flexed. In other words, make a cut in the wires above and below the area that needs to be flexed and make your repairs in two spots that don't need to flex. Use a wire made for flexibility - even if you have to use the same color for all connections. Finding a good flexible wire is better than trying to match colors.

  • Yes, I was planning on extending the wire to allow for movement under the fridge. Would a big box store have the flexible wire that you mention? Or is that something special? – JoeFletch Apr 29 at 18:45
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Before answering, I'll give a couple things to consider. Regardless of butt splicing or soldering, it will affect the how the wires bend and cause further issues if you are unable to mitigate what I would classify as a "design flaw".

If you have the room for it, I would suggest tinning them together then cover each tinned connection with heat shrink (my preference) or a butt splice to insure bare wires do not cross. A plain butt splice would work just as well, I just prefer tinning them. Then you could heat shrink or tape the nurf tubing (the corrugated cover around the wires).

Finally, if it's possible, take a couple securable zip ties and fasten one at either end of your repair somewhere you can pull the wires out of the way of the forced flaw. Your only option may be securing them to the underside of the fridge.

Remember:

If using heat shrink

  • Have all most outer wraps in place
  • ie have your heat shrink around your nurf before repairing wires
  • Keep heat source in constant motion
    • Holding it in 1 place too long may melt good wire casings and duplicate your existing problems

Securing zip ties

  • You will have to make sure your screws are clear of piercing wires, tubing etc
  • If securing to the bottom, try to avoid laying the fridge on its side for longer than 30 min
    • If it's on its side for 30+ min, wait an hour before plugging it back in so the lubricants can get back to where they belong

That's all the cautions and reminders I can think of for now; good luck.

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