About two weeks before Christmas our refrigerator stopped working. It is a side-by-side unit that is about 8 years old. The freezer side was working ok (not quite as cold as it should be but everything was still frozen), the refrigerator size kept getting warmer and warmer. To complicate the problem, we just loaded it up from a trip to Costco.
Well, we call a Refrigerator Service Person to stop by the next day and repair it. He never showed up. Here we are with a refrigerator full with about $200 of groceries from Costco. My wife asking what we are going to do. The holiday around the corner and the darn refrigerator not working. Luckily it was cold enough outside to keep most of the groceries, the problem was it was only about 15-25 degrees at the time and most of our items froze from being outside.
I decided to fix it myself. The first thing I done was move the unit out from the wall and unplug it. I noticed a large buildup of dust and cobwebs behind the unit so I got out the shop vac and cleaned everything. I also vacuumed out the units compressor area. Then I started removing the interior panels inside the freezer unit. With our unit the cold air is generated inside the freezer side the blows across to the refrigerator side. The cooling coil inside the freezer unit was completely frozen, it was a large block of ice. After removing the interior panel, I took a fan and aimed it at the frozen coils. I also placed a small pan under the coils to help ketch the run off. After about 2hrs all the ice had melted from the cooling coils. I then reinstalled all the interior panels, plugged the unit back in and pushed it back against the wall. I placed a couple of gallons of water inside the refrigerator side and waited to see if it was going to work. The next morning I check the unit and all was working fine. I want outside and got all our refrigerated goods and put them in the fridge. Now almost 3 weeks later, all is still working just fine.
A potential problem may be the defrosting sensor on our unit. It may not be telling the unit to defrost as needed. We will have to wait and find out how it runs in the near future. I'll keep you in the loop. It sure beat having to purchase a new unit.
A home refrigerator unit should operate at between 35 and 38 degrees. A freezer unit should be kept at 0 degrees or lower.