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Dave Harnish
CEO: Sadie
Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833

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The DRSNews
September 2004

(My apologies for the lack of an August issue. It's 
been the busiest August in many years, and I just 
didn't have time to get it to you!)

You are encouraged to forward this newsletter to friends! 

In this issue:

1) When Your Frost-free Refrigerator Isn't
2) A Neat Upholstery Cleaning Tip to Try
3) How to Grow Good Corn (Not too far off-topic!)

1) With summer's high humidity still hanging around, I thought this might be a good time to discuss frost-free refrigerator problems and their causes. If your fresh food is beginning to warm up and you notice a coating of frost inside the freezer, read on...

First, a bit of overview: 

From the introduction of frost-free home refrigerators around 1960 up until a few years ago, defrost systems were pretty simple. Today, many new units use 'adaptive defrost controls', basically small computers that measure compressor run times, door openings, and other data, to determine how often the defrost heater should be turned on to melt accumulated evaporator coil frost (This defrost water then runs into a pan under your refrigerator and quickly evaporates away).

On 'standard' systems, a small timer turns off the compressor every 8 hours (in most ref's) that it runs, and turns on a heater in the freezer's evaporator coil. The timer remains in the defrost cycle for 20 minutes or so, during which a small defrost limit thermostat turns the heater off when the coil's temperature reaches a preset temperature. This temperature is 45-70 degrees F, depending on refrigerator design.

When the defrost system fails, it causes the evaporator coil to continue accumulating frost until air can't get through it to do its job of cooling (transferring heat from, actually) your groceries.

By the time you see frost in the freezer, coating the back wall in most designs, the coil will be clogged with frost, and in need of attention.

First, ensure that the freezer fan's running. Fan failure can also cause coil frost-up, so this is the first test. (Be aware that some refrigerators have a fan switch that turns this fan off when the freezer door's opened. And some new refrigerators' ADC computers switch and vary the speed of the freezer fan  - these can be very tricky to diagnose).

If it's *frost* and the freezer fan's running, you have a defrost problem, usually caused by one of 3 components: timer, heater, or defrost t'stat. The good news is, if the frost is evenly coating the coil, the expensive stuff's OK - no Freon leaks or restrictions, etc. For more on this, see the second article in the March '03 Back-issue of the DRSNews .

 If it's *ice* in the drain trough, that's different. ICE tells us that defrost is taking place, but the water can't get where it needs to go, and is refreezing. Drain freeze-ups & clogs are pretty common, and not too tough to clear. If that's what you've got, HERE is a little trick that'll keep it from ever happening again.

To diagnose the frost problem, slowly turn the defrost timer clockwise with a screwdriver to click it into a defrost cycle. The timer's located in one of several places, depending on brand and model. Either down at floor level behind the grille, or in the fresh food section, often behind a small plastic plug.

Occasionally I still see one with the timer mounted behind the refrig, but (thank goodness!) that's not too common any more. You'll recognize the timer by its 'one-way' screwdriver slot.

If the heater comes on (located in or under the coil), the timer has stalled and should be replaced. (Watch the refrig light as you 'click' the timer into defrost. If the heater comes on, you'll see just a little bit of dimming of the light. A good sign!)

If no heat, it's *usually* an open defrost t'stat, a little round device clamped to the coil outlet, with 2 wires attached. To 'prove', unplug the refrig and bypass this - just short its 2 wires together (some brands use a defrost t'stat harness plug) - and plug it back in. 

The defrost heater will come on if the t'stat was bad. 'Should be 'closed' when cold (only). If there's frost on the coil and this t'stat's open, it's bad.
Read the temp rating off the side of the original. You'll want to replace it with one as close as possible to its original rating. Most are 50 or 60F - but many newer ones are rated in Celsius just to make life more interesting.
I rarely replace these with genuine factory parts. They're way too pricey and not reliable enough, and the 'generics' are really good, as well as inexpensive.
If the heater doesn't come on with the t'stat bypassed, you probably have a bad heater (somewhat rare), but you'll need to *prove* that. Unplug the refrig, attach a meter or test bulb on the heater leads (leave them conn'd to the heater) and plug back in. 120V to the heater/no heat = open heater.
This should get you started. If you're still 'stuck' with this, again, feel free to email me with your model #, and we can take it from there.
PS - the best and fastest way, by far, to defrost these coils is with hot water in a one gallon pressure sprayer and a wet-vac. HERE is an article covering that.

2) From the Food for Thought Dept: 'Growing Good Corn'

There was a farmer who grew award-winning corn. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon. One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him and learned something interesting about how he grew it.

The reporter discovered that the farmer shared his seed corn with his neighbors. "How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering corn in competition with yours each year?" the reporter asked.

"Why sir," said the farmer, "didn't you know? The wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbors grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbors grow good corn."

He is very much aware of the connectedness of life. His corn cannot improve unless his neighbor's corn also improves.

So it is in other dimensions. Those who choose to be at peace must help their neighbors to be at peace. Those who choose to live well must help others to live well, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others to find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

The lesson for each of us is this: if we are to grow good corn, we must help our neighbors grow good corn. - Author unknown

3) Here's a tip that has worked out pretty well for us. Not exactly related to appliance repair, but one of those good ones I like to pass along: 

How do I get that stain out of my couch? Commercial upholstery shampoos do a good job and are easy to use, but if you'd like to do it yourself (and I know you would!) you can make a homemade preparation using liquid dish detergent and warm water. You just whip it with a hand mixer. After testing it on an unnoticeable area, apply dry suds by lightly scrubbing with a cloth or soft brush. 

Shampoo only a small area at a time and use a spatula or rubber scraper to lift off dirty suds. (I use my wetvac - what else!) - from the
www.DoItYourself.com newsletter, 6-25-04


Thanks again for inviting me into your inbox. 

Also, if you have any topics you’d like to see discussed in an online article, let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige. And don't forget those testimonials! Thanks to those of you who've already sent yours in! I'm posting them just as fast as I can! You guys are great!

May God richly bless you & yours!


Dave Harnish
Dave’s Repair Service
New Albany, PA

'Coincidence: God performing a miracle but choosing to remain anonymous'
- from the bulletin board at The Haft (www.thehaft.org)


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This information may be reprinted and distributed freely only 
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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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