Putting your story into context, it seems ironic that appliance makers are adding capacitive touch screens to their fridges and washers, but (in your case, Bill) they are failing to make a refrigerator that lasts more than five years. I'm sure that a reliable refrigerator is far more important to you than a touch screen.
I'm surprised at your problem.I have had only two refrigerators over 46 years in my home and found them to be very reliable. While not trouble free,they are unusually reliable. Replaced a defrost timer once on each of two. Had a Sears Kenmore for about 25 years, replaced a defrost heater after about 20 years and sold it because of redecorating.
Maybe the newer ones are having these problems. On the other hand, the newer ones with all of the bells and whistles are bound to be more problematic. More parts, more parts to wear or fail.
Looks to me like you did a pretty good job of trouble shooting....isn't that what we do as engineers. Bravo!
Annual vacuuming of the air passage and coils under and in back of the fridge reaps great benefits in reduced energy consumption and extended fan life. My dog and cat enjoy lying in front of the fridge (can't have someone going into the refer without finding something to share I guess) and apparently laying quietly causes their hair to fall-out in great quantities. The hair gets sucked into the grill and after a time will block 90% of the air movement. This will cause overheating and early failure of the fan motor. Newer refers have almost silent motors which seem to be more susceptable to overheating. Older model fans were much louder and drew significantly more current, plus were designed to have free-air movement up the back and out over the top so a dead fan may not even be noticed unless you closely monitored your electric bill.
I agree with you that newer refrigerators have features that are more likely to be problematic, MMorgan. It's ironic, though, that progress gives our refrigerators shorter useful lives and less reliability. Seems like it should be the other way around.
It is inevitable that the more parts you have, the more parts there are with a Mean Time Between Failure that can at time be additive. I remember seeing very old refrigerators, (in the 1950's) that were made in the early 1920's. These had only a compressor and coils, no fans, no timers, not even a light inside. Of course they were more reliable.
My GE side-by-side was subject to a class action suit which GE settled without admitting fault. In the settlement, we got a couple of free service visits (started failing just outside the warranty period) and eventually a new freezer door to replace the dispensary mechanism that had been damaged by moisture.
All of that happened *before* the fan motor went out! I replaced the fan assembly with one with ball bearings and designed for a 2 or 3U rackmount server application. That fan has now been running at least as long as the original one.
So when it came time to buy a new fridge for the new house, we steered very clear of GE and wound up going with Whirlpool. A couple of months after it was installed, we noticed that the compressor, fan and all had stopped working. When pulling it away from the wall to investigate, it started up again. Loose connection somewhere! I dug into it (don't tell Whirlpool, it's still under warranty!) and found single wire termination was not pushed all the way into its keep in a Molex style connector.
So, design compromises and errors? Yes. Poor quality control? That too. Or maybe I'm just unlucky ;)
Very nice fix. So crazy that you solved the problem and reengineered their design so quicky. Applause! Isn't it lovely that it takes an engineer to own anything these days, well to make them work properly anyways!
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