I wanted to toss this article out there in case others had a similar issue because it was a very simple fix to what could have been a very expensive problem down the road if not quickly corrected.
I woke up one morning and came downstairs to find that the bottom pull-out door to our refrigerator/freezer (the freezer section) had been left open. I shut the door after looking at the contents to make sure everything was still relatively cold and somewhat frozen (in case I had to throw anything out) and the fridge started making a pretty loud humming/grinding noise. Definitely not a normal noise we hear coming from our fridge (which is essentially silent running).
At first I thought it was just the compressor working overtime trying to make up for lost time and chilling down the freezer again. But by later that afternoon it was still making a lot of noise even though everything in the freezer had re-frozen and the temp was back to 0 deg F. Something was wrong. So I did some digging online and the most likely causes to the noises I was hearing was either:
- Something caught in the blower/fan
- Bearings in the fan motor going out
- Compressor going out
The last two items I was not going to attempt to do anything with myself, but the first was a different story. As the fridge was cooling back down the freezer section I noticed a lot of ice that had built up on the surfaces of everything in the freezer. The door was left open long enough for warmer moister air to get into the freezer and the moisture condensed all over the surfaces. This meant that it was likely that moisture had condensed on the fan blades in the blower compartments and re-frozen. Just like on a prop plane, ice accumulation on blades/propellers is bad. It throws off the balance and makes the motor work a lot harder than it should (which could explain the noise I was hearing).
So if there was ice on the fan blades of the blower unit in the freezer how I could I get the ice off? There didn’t seem to be any way to easily gain access to the blower unit and the fan blades. To make things worse there was also no way to just shut off the freezer part of the fridge...it was all or nothing. So what we ended up doing was moving all of the freezer items out of the fridge and into our deep freeze in the garage and then unplugged the entire fridge for a short period of time. Then we opened up the freezer door and put a small space heater in for about an hour to melt and dry out all the ice/water in the freezer section. After that was done we plugged the fridge back in and the fridge was operating just as quietly as it had before this whole open door incident happened.
For reference, the fridge unit we have is a Kenmore Elite model 795.73153.610.
Also, we never did solve the mystery of who actually left the freezer door open. My wife went to work early that morning and said she didn’t get in the freezer and would have noticed if the door was open. My teenage kids all say they didn’t do it, but its rare for any of them to be up before noon. So if they did get up they certainly wouldn’t remember doing it. Maybe it was the dog...