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I recently moved into a rental property and within the first week the refrigerator stopped keeping things under 50ºF. When the guy came out to look, he said it was due to my chest freezer being near the refrigerator and it caused the compressor to burn out in it. The refrigerator has wood on both sides, going up to the cabinet above it, creating a little nook for it to reside in. There is about an inch gap on both sides between it and the wood. The chest freezer was on one side, next to the wood, with the stove being on the other. The chest freezer's compressor and other parts are in the back corner, away from the refrigerator.

If any other information is needed, ask and I will provide if I can.

I'm highly skeptical about this, but don't want to just take the blame of it being broken. I have no real knowledge if it is possible or not.
So, is it possible that the refrigerator is failing due to it's proximity to the freezer?

Update
They have replaced the refrigerator at no cost to us. The guy mentioned that he was going to have it written into the lease to not allow chest freezers at all so I'm thinking he may have something personal against them. Thanks for all the input and help.

  • How old is the fridge? Is it possible that both of these appliances are on the same electrical circuit and the refrigerator could not handle the sags and spikes in electrical power? Maybe the fridge was not getting clean power? – MonkeyZeus Dec 15 '15 at 17:30
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    Is "the guy" an independent repairman or the owner/manager/supervisor? – Reinstate Monica iamnotmaynard Dec 15 '15 at 17:43
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Total, utter, male-bovine-derived-organic-fertilizer.

The cabinet isn't helping it cool any (and is almost certainly less ventilation space than the manufacturer requires), but the freezer really can't have much effect, being on the other side of the cabinet.

The stove on the other side gets far hotter than the outside of the freezer does - so why wasn't that blamed? Presumably because you added the chest freezer to an extant rental kitchen, and the landlord wants to stick you for price of the new refrigerator?

You are not, however, doing your chest freezer any favors if it was right next to the wood - most chest freezers have the coils running under the skin and also have a manufacturer-recommended minimum ventilation space around them.

  • Will definitely make sure to leave ample space around the freezer in the future. – Loto Dec 15 '15 at 13:53
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    +1 for the good, reasonable and correct answer, +50 for the nice euphemism. – BrownRedHawk Dec 15 '15 at 14:10
  • Also, the O.P. should read a bit about how fridges work. The heat from the freezer won't do anything good or bad to a fridge. But some care is required, since the coils around the fridge may get to 100ºC (200+ºF)! Also, nice way to say bulls.... – Ismael Miguel Dec 15 '15 at 18:38
  • Ambient/incident heat will have an influence on a fridge, it will have to work harder to maintain a higher temperature difference. However, as was said the heat from one compressor/set of coils does not seem to strongly impact the other in that setup. If there is much argument about it, check whether the documentation of the fridge (or the manufacturer when asked) states what ambient temperatures are acceptable - and measure. – rackandboneman Dec 16 '15 at 10:38
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Turn the refrigerator off, put a thermometer next to the refrigerator compressor, and let the chest freezer run.

See the tech specs on the refrigerator for maximum allowable ambient temperature.

Measurement trumps opinion, even if the opinion is supposedly qualified.

Added in response to difficulties pointed out by Chris H: You might tie a string to the thermometer so you can pull it out quickly without moving the fridge.

  • I don't have the original user manual for the refrigerator and the only manual I can find for the model number, FTMD18P4KW0, shows it having a ice maker which mine does not. It says to keep it in a location that will not rise above 110F, which I'm fairly certain would be noticed fairly quickly without a thermometer measurement. – Loto Dec 15 '15 at 13:52
  • @Loto. Maybe, but by the time you've moved the fridge to feel the temperature behind it (where it matters) you'll have brought in so much cool room air you would have a hard time convincing someone whose mind is made up. I agree with Ecnerwal, not your repair guy/landlord, but... – Chris H Dec 15 '15 at 15:14
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    @Chris H: I agree, actually taking the measurement will not be simple or convenient, but the idea is to have some evidence to wave in the face of the mendacious landlord (or even in small claims court if it comes to that). – A. I. Breveleri Dec 15 '15 at 17:38
  • Then you'll need some sort of remote-reading (wireless or long cord sensor - or a datalogger with temperature sensor) thermometer to make an accurate reading. – Ecnerwal Dec 15 '15 at 18:47
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The installation clearance requirements for that fridge are actually pretty small and I bet the wood cabinet does meet them. According to the user manual on Sears' website that unit requires only 1" at the back and 3/8" on the top and sides. (That model appears to be one with a vent along the bottom at the front which probably explains the low clearance requirements.)

I would just tell the landlord that there's no indication that the freezer has anything to do with the problem, especially considering it is separated by a cabinet wall and the compressor is not even nearby. I wouldn't bother with a thermometer, it won't prove anything. The stove clearly puts out more heat than the chest freezer anyway.

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Having worked in the appliance field for almost 50 years I think I might be qualified to render an opinion here.. First is the refer a frost free type or an older manual defrost unit ? If it is an older unit chances are it would have never worked inside the cabinet.. They rely on convection to move air across the condenser coils in the back of the unit.. Now a newer frost free type has the condenser coils in the bottom of the unit and there is a fan that directs air across the coils in this manner.. The air channel is split in two with the fan being at the back of the partition, air is drawn in across the coils, blown across the compressor and discharged thru the other half of the front of the refer cabinet at the bottom.. The coils can become clogged with lint and dust easily and need to be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner.. The other major screw up people make is the cardboard cover across the bottom of the refer cabinet in the back.. Its there for servicing the compressor and fan.. If by chance when cleaning the condenser coils that cardboard panel was removed and not replaced or properly installed this creates a huge problem.. The fan cannot direct the cooling air in across the coils and out across the compressor because the cardboard acts as the back portion of this boxed channel arrangement.. Have seen it way to many times where the cardboard is left off or not properly installed and the cooling air only goes round in circles thru the fan.. Reinstall the cardboard back or cut a piece of cardboard and duct tape it in place if need be and the magic will start to happen inside of 10 minutes.. The airflow inside the refer will start to cool off.. In basic terms, you are removing heat from the inside of the refer to the condenser coils outside of the unit.. If you cant get rid of the heat outside the box, you don't get no cold inside the box.. Hope that helps..

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