"Frost-Free" Refrigerators

I had an interesting experience with a relatively new Frigidaire fridge last week. I first noticed the freezer compartment had started keeping ice cream rock hard. Then I noticed a little frost there, and some water in the fridge space. Finally, the fridge temp rose into the red zone.

Fearing a need to replace, I turned to YouTube, and educated myself about “frost-free”. Basically, what would accumulate as ice within the freezer is heated, condensed and drained from one collection pan to another, where it’s supposed to be evaporated by the compressor’s heat. I learned that if ice plugs the drain, then what I experienced can happen. I also learned that the drain tubing is commonly buried within the appliance’s walls and completely inaccessible. Finally, I learned that to access the condensation coil, I’d have to remove a panel at the rear of the freezer interior.

Sure enough, the little drain hole was entombed in ice like a Dark Ages alpinist. 40 minutes with a hair dryer solved all the VISIBLE ice, but I soon discovered that the ice in the drain tube was impervious. It was only HOURS later that the lower evap pan started filling as the ice in the tube melted.

From the time I emptied the appliance until it was all buttoned up must’ve been 5 hours. Having defrosted older appliances many times, I can confidently say this was a huge PITA by comparison. It certainly belies the idea that my appliance is frost-free.

Who else has had this happen to them, and what did you do? Replace the appliance? Summon a repair person?


I gave up on my nearly new KitchenAid and replaced it, but the times that the repair guy came out under warranty to unfreeze the frozen parts, he didn’t use a hair dryer. As a matter of fact, he admonished me never to use one to defrost. It’s too hot and can melt internal components.

He uses a Bissell Steam Shot. And recommended same. Bonus: you can actually use it to clean funky stuff.



Cool. Wasn’t a few years back, there was a hype for steam cleaning (in general like clothing and countertop)

Yeah. And moldy grout and greasy gunk. The steam doesn’t get as hot as a hair dryer, so good to know.

Is it a Samsung? Ours had an issue for a while. It was freezing up in the back, there was a tiny bit of visible ice about midships at the back of the fridge inside, it was probably the defrost drain tube that froze up. It was fixed twice, but it hasn’t happened in the last few years.
However, whenever the power goes out, the temp readouts for both the fridge and freezer read 88, and it quits cooling. It’s easy to reset, but scary anyway, should we be gone for a few days.

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interesting and thanks for mentioning as future reference. (My current stuff is 27 and 13 years old, but I will watch out in future).

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Thanks I think for introducing me to another gadget that I want/need?

Ignorance was bliss

To the OP: My old Maytag had similar issues. It responded by “peeing on the floor” Repair guy was able to clear it and we were advised to make sure the drain hole was kept clear.


You know. Maybe it is a good tools for cleaning some greases without using chemicals.

That’s one of the selling points.

Sorry that you too are experiencing the wonders of a frost-free refrigerator that isn’t. What a frustrating design fail.

Our Liebherr counter-depth fridge, which was here when we bought the house, can also freeze up. A repair technician showed me an open channel, on the inside back wall of the fridge compartment, that collects condensation and directs it to a small drain hole. He recommended that I check and remove any liquid from that channel once a month. He also gave me a soft, bendy length of wire to snake gently through the drain hole to probe for blockage. I never had luck with his snaking procedure, but I regularly swabbed out the condensation from the collection channel, which kept the fridge working.

Repair tech had a steamer, too.

Even so, every couple of weeks I had to carefully pry off the thin layer of ice that would build up inside the bottom of the freezer compartment. Frost-free? Hmmm.

P.S. At 12 years old the freezer portion of our Liebherr has now failed and could not be resuscitated by a tech.

We said “never again” but the dimensions of the cabinet cutout in our kitchen are exactly specific to fit only one make and model of refrigerator that is—wait for it—another Liebherr! We can’t change the dimensions of the fridge cutout without having to redo the (now-discontinued) cabinets and flooring. The kitchen is very compact. We are literally boxed into a choice.

So I will soon find out whether the newer version of the Liebherr has the same design flaw as the old one.


I have a (frost-free) Frigidaire refrigerator that I must unplug and manually defrost from time to time (about every 18 months to 2 years). There are some small vents in the freezer part and I shine a flashlight in there and check for ice buildup.
I have a backup fridge in the garage, so I move everything to the backup fridge and unplug the Frigidaire. Then I open the doors and place two box fans in front of it to blow ambient air. After about 24 hours all of the ice is gone.
I also remove all of the shelves and bins and give everything a real good cleaning.

I think part of my issue is I use and Evaporative Cooler to cool my home in the summer, this adds extra moisture to the air, thus more opportunity for ice to form on the freezer coils. This is just a hypothesis and I could be wrong.


If the fridge is relatively new and under warranty, call in service.

I have a 10 year old sub zero. Had a similar problem which I resolved in a similar fashion. Kept happening so I called in the service tech. He said that the chip that handled the defrost cycle had failed and that the coils were clogged with ice as a result. Unfortunately I was well past the warranty. Tech had to install a new motherboard at the cost of $1,100. Who knew that fridges had motherboards?


This is good advice if the problem persists. However, had I just called, the fix would have been measured in days or weeks.

The YouTube videos I watched indicated the more serious possible causes, and if this defrost try had not worked, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

It might still be a good idea to call in a warranty repair as your solution, as effective as it was, was most likely temporary.

And temporary fixes means one of two things, sometimes both. You have to keep fixing it or eventually the “fix” no longer works.

If it’s still warrantied, get it fixed and (hopefully) be done with it.


That was, I think, part of my KitchenAid’s problem. It had some kind of faulty sensor like predictive system to defrost based on the number of door openings. The tech reprogrammed it to just defrost on a timed schedule. The work-around worked for about a year.

I have never connected my Bosch fridge to my network. I don’t intend to. No “remote diagnostics.” I bought an extended warranty along with the fridge from a local, independent dealer. They show up fast. And I never connected my range to WiFi either.

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I saw somewhere on Reddit that manufacturers of appliances were grousing about people not using the wi-fi they had been so good as to install on their appliances. The replies generally had to do with not thinking there was any reason to build wi-fi into the fill-in-the-blank appliances in the first place, which made me remember an ad for an electric toothbrush with built-in wi-fi.


Aside from the security risk, why should I let them gather information on how I use my appliances? What will they do with my profile? Monetize it! And that’s the least harmful thing I can think of.


If the wi-fi allowed the manufacturer to remotely update and fix my kitchen appliance, I would be for it.

Otherwise, I have better things to do with my home wi-fi bandwidth.

Like porn. Kidding, just kidding.



My 8 year old refrigerator stopped working. In checking my paperwork, I think the compressor may still be under warranty, but not the labor to install it. I called up Sears and there is a two week wait for a technician to come out and “evaluate” it.
Luckily, I have a “beer fridge” in the garage, so all of our food is in that fridge/freezer.