GE Refrigerator Not Cooling
GE refrigerator repair guide, I will walk you through the steps in repairing
2002 or newer GE side-by-side refrigerators that are not cooling. If you need
any other refrigerator help please refer to my refrigerator repair guide. In
2002, GE redesigned their side-by-side refrigerators. With this redesign came
challenges for repairmen because it was unlike any refrigerator we have ever
seen. GE designed this refrigerator to be more energy efficient and one of the
ways they done this is by using adaptive defrost. This means that the
refrigerator will only defrost as needed. They also changed the fan motors to
run on DC current so that they can change the speed that the motors run as
needed. They also added an electric damper that regulates the airflow between
the fresh food section and the freezer. Instead of using a cold control, they
started using thermistors. All of these changes were new but after doing GE
refrigerator repair for years for years, I have become an expert at them and I
am willing to help you with your GE refrigerator repair. As stated above, this
page is for 2002 or newer GE side-by-side refrigerators that are not cooling. If
you have a problem with any other type of refrigerator, refer to my refrigerator
repair guide. If you have this refrigerator but this is not your problem, here
are some links to other GE refrigerator repair articles I have
GE Refrigerator Not Running
GE Refrigerator Not Dispensing
GE Refrigerator Fan Motor Diagnostics
How To Test A GE Refrigerator Thermistor
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I have dedicated this page just for diagnosing refrigerator defrosts problems that have more detailed information than the information below. Skip down to the section that talks about GE electronic refrigerators.
Defrost Problem Diagnostics
This section of this GE refrigerator repair guide will discuss defrost problems. The most common reason for these GE refrigerators not to cool is that it’s not defrosting properly. To check, this open the freezer and look at the back of the freezer to see if there is excess frost on it. If there is more than just a thin film of frost on the back of the freezer, it’s not defrosting properly. First, you must remove all of the excess frost from the evaporator. Remove the cover that is covered in frost and unplug the refrigerator then use a hair dryer to remove all the frost from the coils. This will temporally fix the refrigerator for about 2-3 weeks, just until you get the part. There are four things that can cause this problem; the main board, the thermistor at the top of the coil (see thermistors below, defrost thermostat and the defrost heater. Read each section to determine if the heater, thermostat and thermistor check good or bad. If one is bad replace it but if all check ok replace the main board.
GE refrigerator repair Main board replacement tip-Step #2 on the installation instructions says to eliminate thermistor jumper wire, read that step carefully. It is only necessary on bottom freezers and encoder models. There is a list of serial number prefixes. What this means is that if your refrigerator is an encoder model and the first three letters of the serial number begin with one of the listed prefixes, then you have to cut out the jumper as described. An encoder model is a model with turn-dial controls rather than push button or digital.
Below is a picture of what the coils will look like if there is a defrost problem.
In the years I have been working on these refrigerators, I have only seen the
main board cause this a few times and the thermistors cause this problem
See this page How To Test A GE Refrigerator Thermistor
The defrost thermostat could also be the problem but it is not as common as the other parts. The defrost heater is most likely your problem. Check the defrost heater with an ohmmeter and if it checks open replace it. If not continue down this page and read about themistors and defrost thermostats. Note the defrost heater may look different from your old one but follow the instructions that come with the heater and you shouldn’t have a problem. These parts can be found at AppliancePartsPros.com
With that being said the page below will show how to accurately diagnose this type of problem.
Or see this video
GE refrigerator repair for defrost problems video
Note on this video. The thermistor test has got to be preformed before the
ice is melted. If not you will not get the 16.3 K ohms.
It is rare for a defrost thermostat on these refrigerator to go bad. This is due to the fact that they are only there as a back up just in case the thermistors don’t do there job. But if they go bad the refrigerator will not defrost properly. A sure way to tell if the defrost-thermostat is bad is to visually inspect it. Above is a picture of two defrost-thermostats. Notice how the one on the right is coming apart where the arrow is pointing. This is a sure way to tell that the thermostat bad. If you see a defrost thermostat like this, there is no need for testing replace it. Note that if it doesn’t look bad it doesn’t necessary mean it isn’t bad you still have to check with an ohmmeter to know for sure.
This section of this GE refrigerator repair guide will discuss fan motors. These GE refrigerators have two fan motors and both must be operating properly for the refrigerator to cool properly. The condenser motor is located behind the refrigerator and it must be running anytime the compressor is running. If the compressor is running but the condenser fan is not, replace the fan motor. The other fan motor is the evaporator motor and it is located inside the freezer behind the ice bin. To check the evaporator motor, open the door of the refrigerator for more than three minutes. After three minutes the evaporator motor should come on, if not you must replace the motor and the main board. This is because the old fan motor caused the main board to go bad. Behind the refrigerator you should see a metal plate about two feet from the floor, remove it to access the main board. Be sure to unplug the refrigerator before attempting to replace the main board or the fan motor. Use this page for more in-depth GE Refrigerator Fan Motor Diagnostics GE refrigerator fan motors and main boards can be found at AppliancePartsPros.com
This section of this GE refrigerator repair guide will discuss dampers. These GE refrigerators have a damper to regulate airflow between the fresh food section and the freezer sections. If the damper sticks closed it can cause the fresh food section not to cool.
To check this open the freezer door and remove the shelf above the ice bin inside the freezer. Then press the button door switch and open the fresh food door. Next, look inside the freezer at the top right hand side while still holding the freezer door switch. If you do not see the light shining inside the freezer from the fresh food section, the damper is closed. Note that you must do this in less than three minutes because if the door is opened for more than three minutes the main board will close the damper. However, if the fresh food section is not cooling and you do this test in less than three minutes the damper should be opened. If not, read on because the door may be your problem.
On some of these refrigerators the fresh food door would work its way down until it would no longer hit the door switch. This would cause the main board to close the damper after three minutes. Because this is what its designed to do, if the door is left open. So if the door will not hit the switch the main board thinks the door is opened. This is an easy do-it-yourself GE refrigerator repair just turn the 3/8 hex head bolt directly under the door. This should adjust the door up so that it can strike the door switch. Then put a little lock-tight on the bolt so that it doesn’t do this again. However, if the damper is closed and the door isn’t down replace the damper provided the door switch is working (cutting lights on an off). If you know the light bulb is good and the switch will not turn the light on and off replace the door switch. Note that I have also seen the opposite where the damper is stuck open causing the fresh food section to get too cold. If this happens replace the damper. GE refrigerator dampers and door switches can be found at AppliancePartsPros.com
This section of this GE refrigerator repair guide will discuss thermistors. Thermistors don’t go bad very often but if they do they can cause your GE refrigerator not to cool and possibly not run at all. Most of these GE refrigerators have three thermistors: one in the fresh food section and two in the freezer. Some have four or more thermistors depending on the model. If any of the thermistors are bad the performance of the refrigerator will be greatly reduced or it may not run at all. Although they don’t go bad often the first models had thermistors that were consistently out of range. The picture below shows you how to identify these faulty thermistors. The part number for the correct thermistor is WR55X10025. This part can be purchased at AppliancePartsPros.com
Note that this only applies to GE refrigerators made between 2002 and 2005. I
have learned that since then GE has gone back to a thermistor that looks like
the one in the picture that says faulty. This new thermistor isn’t faulty but as
always it can still fail.
If you see a faulty thermistor on your refrigerator replace all the thermistors on it. If you don’t have the faulty thermistors but you are still unsure if the thermistors are good or not this is the best way to check them. Remove the thermistor and place it in a cup with ice and a small amount of water for at least five minutes. This should bring the thermistor to 32 degrees. Using your ohmmeter, check resistance across the thermistor with it still in the ice water. It should read around 16.6 K ohms or 16,600 ohms +/-5%. If you don’t own an ohmmeter or are unsure how to properly use it, replace the thermistors if you suspect they are bad.
See this page for How To Test A GE Refrigerator Thermistor
These pictures show common locations of thermistors on GE side by side refrigerators.
On some GE refrigerators the thermistors are behind a cover such as the one below. This is especially true for the fresh food thermistors.
For more on GE refrigerator repair click the link below to visit my refrigerator repair guide.
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The most commonly used diagnostic tool is the ohmmeter check out this page.