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I have a Kenmore Coldspot (model 106.57022601) side-by-side refrigerator. About a couple of years ago, we had a problem with the freezer working great, but the refrigerator not working. We called a great repairman who found that due to a faulty thermostat/heater, our evaporator coils were frozen, which blocked airflow into the fridge. He fixed it, and everything went back to normal.

This happened again about a week ago...when I put my hand up to the inbound airflow duct (which blows cold air into the fridge from the freezer) and felt no air movement, I suspected a similar problem. We couldn't find our former repairman, so we wound up going with a new one (big mistake, but that's another story). Anyway, to his surprise and ours, the evaporator coils were actually fine: they weren't frozen, and there was no ice-buildup. After hemming and hawing for a while, the only thing he found was that the lower, return-airflow duct (from the fridge back to the freezer) was frozen up with ice. He used a hairdryer to thaw it out and, after also cleaning our condenser coils at the bottom of the refrigerator, started things back up.

Things now seem to be working normally...there is cool airflow coming from the inbound duct again, and the fridge is cool. However, now my family is suspicious and are pushing the idea of a new refrigerator. From my research, I found that frozen return-airflow ducts typically result from faulty door seals (I used my hand to check...we don't seem to have that) or possibly from folks not shutting the door properly (which has happened on occasion). Now I'm wondering: is there anything else I've missed that could have caused this? More importantly: is this a symptom indicating that our refrigerator needs to be replaced soon, or do we just need to be a bit more careful with our fridge doors and replacement is something I can wait on? I deeply appreciate your input...THANKS!

  • Well asked question! – FreeMan Jun 1 at 12:58
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In my experience, "frost free" refrigerators frequently benefit from an occasional through (manual with carefully applied gentle heat, or "move all the food somewhere else and leave open for 24-48 hours") defrosting. I've honestly had far less problems with problematic frost build up in "manual defrost" refrigerators, (which normally have separate cooling coils for the freezer and fridge rather than air ducts that bring moist fridge air into the freezer to make frost) but you can hardly find one of those new these days.

Anyway, I'd suspect that you are correct, and the door got left open a bit. Or leaks a bit.

I don't know what you mean by "checking the door seals with your hand" - the "standard" test I know is to use paper (typically paper money) closed in the door and make sure there is resistance to pulling it out all the way around.

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  • it helps to do the complete defrost in winter ... that way you can put your frozen food outside in your vehicle ... of course, that only works in some areas of the world ... in others, you have to use picnic coolers and dry ice – jsotola Jun 1 at 19:54
  • And if the money falls through the gap then you know you are losing money on electricity and/or food spoilage :-) But seriously, gaskets are a real issue. I've replaced mine and may need to do that again - but they aren't cheap (and are specific to each exact model due to sizing) so if it is the gaskets then you have think twice whether to put the money into gaskets or towards a new refrigerator. – manassehkatz-Moving 2 Codidact Jul 10 at 13:58
  • manassehkatz-moving-2-codidact, that's exactly what we wound up doing: even though I tried my best to check, we're seeing some of the same issues with the refrigerator not quite getting cool enough, so we weighed the option of replacing the gasket seal with getting an new fridge and decided on the latter. – Superion Jul 13 at 18:31
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I've had the exact same problem with a Kitchenaid fridge of similar design.

In each case it's resulted from something stuck fouling the door seal, such as a plastic bag.

For a bad seal, the standard test is to take a crisp dollar bill and ensure the door seal is tight all around.

The lower vent is very hard to clear on my version, because it's all foam in there. A hair drier is too hot. Best we found was using hot (not boiling) water.


If you're buying new prevent this with a "dual evaporator" refrigerator. Each higher end brand has them, and some brands have moved to them exclusively. With a dual evaporator there's no air communicated between freezer and fridge, and temperature stays more stable in the one you're not opening.

See also Water dripping out from freezer compartment onto floor. What do? And definitely clean your fridge coils often to save energy!

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