If the defrost heater on your refrigerator freezer fails, the walls will have ice, or feel warm to the touch. The defrost heater is commonly located on the rear panel of the freezer or below the floor. As the refrigerator defrosts, the freezer defrost heater activates to melt ice that builds on the coils. Here are some tips to replace a side-by-side refrigerator defrost heater.
Prepare to Work
For this project, you need:
- work gloves
- voltage tester
- small container
- needle-nose pliers
- masking tape
- replacement defrost heater
Unplug the refrigerator, or turn power off from the breaker box for extra safety. Test the breaker box for a current with the voltage meter. Current can still be present several minutes, after you turn the unit off, so if you get a reading, wait, and try again.
Pour ice into the cooler to ensure frozen foods stay frozen. Store all food items in a cooler, and use the screwdriver to loosen the screws holding the shelves in place, and set the shelves aside. Store screws in a small container. Consult your refrigerator's manual for removing the ice maker and basket.
Remove the Old Defrost Heater
Cover the drain hole with masking tape, so you won't lose screws down the drain as you remove them. Loosen the panel screws, release the panel by pulling it toward you, then remove the panel.
On some models, you may have to remove plastic molding or a light bulb cover and light bulb to access the panel. Wait for the ice to melt before you remove the defrost heater.
Press the locking tabs securing the wires, then disconnect them from the terminal. Use pliers to pull the wires free, if needed. Remove the hangers or release the clips from the evaporator, removing any insulation around the coils.
The defrost heater is connected by clips or screws. Pull off the clips with needle-nose pliers, or detach the screws, then remove the defrost heater from the coils.
Install the New Defrost Heater
Use the old defrost heater as guide to buy a replacement at an appliance store. Set the new defrost heater in place, then reattach the clips or screws.
Reattach the back panel, but do not make the screws too tight, or you could damage the freezer liner or mounting rails. Twist the screws until they stop, then give them a final rotation. Reinstall shelves, basket, and ice maker, then move food items back to the freezer.
Restore power to check for proper operation of the defrost heater. Consult a appliance repair service, like Gringer & Sons Inc, if the repairs fail. Consider replacing old refrigerators that constantly need repairing.