Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Troubleshooting Guide – 4 common problems

Kenmore Elite represents the up-scale lineup of Kenmore home appliances, including refrigerators. They’re well-designed machines, but you should still learn how to troubleshoot their common problems in advance.

Kenmore Elite refrigerator troubleshooting can include many issues. Whether it’s a lack of cooling, water dispensers that don’t work, ice makers that can’t freeze ice, and loud noises from inside the compartment. Thankfully, these problems are pretty straightforward to troubleshoot and fix, even without consulting a technician.

This guide will equip you with the knowledge you need to troubleshoot your Kenmore Elite refrigerator. More importantly, you’ll know which parts to check and what solutions to use if you ever run into issues with your fridge.

Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Troubleshooting:

If you want to know how to troubleshoot a Kenmore Elite refrigerator, you must understand the most common problems it might face.

Here are 4 of the most common problems experienced by Kenmore Elite fridges and how to troubleshoot them:

Refrigerator Not Cooling

What part to check: The first and most common problem that might affect a Kenmore Elite refrigerator is a lack of cooling. You’ll want to focus on troubleshooting the condenser coils and the evaporator fans when that happens.

The condenser coils are crucial to the fridge’s sealed cooling system. All heat removed from inside the refrigerator flows to the condenser coils, where it’s then released to the surrounding environment.

Meanwhile, the evaporator fans are inside the fridge’s compartments. They’re designed to distribute cold air evenly throughout each compartment, keeping them cool.

What’s wrong: When your Kenmore Elite fridge fails to cool, it’s because the condenser coils are dirty or the evaporator fans have failed.

The condenser coils are an external portion of the cooling system. Plus, there’s a fan continuously blowing air through them. Combining those two factors causes the coils to get dirty and dusty very quickly.

When they get too dusty, they lose their ability to efficiently release heat into the surrounding environment. As a result, the fridge struggles to stay cool.

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As for the evaporator fans, the blades could become damaged, or the motor could wear out. When that happens, cold air generated by the fridge’s cooling system won’t be distributed throughout the compartments, leaving them warm.

How to fix it: These problems are fixable. Firstly, clean the condenser coils by vacuuming loose dirt and using a brush to scrub off anything that remains.

Cleaning under fridge

Next, inspect your evaporator fans to see if they’re still working. Damaged fan blades are replaceable, and they’re typically not expensive.

However, a failed motor will also require a replacement that costs more than fan blades.

Read: Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Temperature Setting

Water Dispenser Not Working

What part to check: When there’s no water from the water dispenser on your fridge, you have to troubleshoot the fridge’s incoming water supply and water inlet valve.

The incoming water supply refers to the water line connecting your fridge to your household’s water supply. 

That water line connects to the fridge through its water inlet valve that controls the flow of water into the appliance to supply the water dispenser.

Kenmore elite refrigerator troubleshooting

What’s wrong: A fridge water dispenser that doesn’t work has two likely causes. Firstly, there’s an issue with the water supply.

For example, there might be no water flowing through the water line. Besides that, the water line might be kinked or bent, preventing water from flowing through.

However, the water inlet valve in the fridge might have also failed to open and let water through.

Both of the above will cause the refrigerator’s water dispenser not to work.

How to fix it: You can save a lot of time and effort by troubleshooting the water supply first. So, ensure that the water valve is fully open and that the water line isn’t obstructed in any way.

Once you’ve confirmed there’s a water supply, inspect the water inlet valve. Some valves are clogged with sediment, which you can clean away to restore their functionality.

However, if the valve has failed due to excess wear or some other damage, you’ll have to replace it with a new one.

Water Inlet Valve, Kenmore Frigidaire
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Read: Top 6 Issues When Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Stop Cooling

Ice Maker Isn’t Making Ice

What part to check: The ice maker in a Kenmore Elite refrigerator won’t make ice if it doesn’t receive incoming water. If you’re sure there’s a water supply and the inlet valve is functioning correctly, you must troubleshoot the ice maker’s water line.

You can identify the affected water line by following the one connecting the inlet valve to the ice maker.

What’s wrong: Unfortunately, the water line has frozen with ice. That will clog the water line and prevent the ice maker from receiving the water it needs to function.

How to fix it: You’ll need to defrost the frozen water line to clear it out. Firstly, disconnect the ice maker’s water line at both ends. Then, flush the line with warm water to melt away the ice inside.

This process will take a bit of time and effort, but once the ice starts to melt, you’ll clear the water line soon after.

fridge ice maker caddie

Read: Where Is Kenmore Freezer Reset Button?

Refrigerator Is Noisy

What part to check: Kenmore Elite refrigerators typically operate with a soft and gentle humming sound. Check the evaporator fans inside the compartments when it makes a loud vibrating or hitting noise.

The spinning fan blades are the most likely source of those noises you hear.

What’s wrong: The evaporator fans will generate loud noises when they’re partially frozen. The ice buildup will get in the way and cause the fan blades to hit it repeatedly as they turn.

Those loud noises will continue for as long as there’s ice in the way.

How to fix it: Melting the ice buildup is the only way to solve this problem. You can do it slowly by turning off your Kenmore Elite refrigerator and leaving the compartment doors open.

Doing so will defrost the ice slowly but surely.

If that’s not a practical solution, put a pot of hot water inside the affected compartment. The steam from that pot will melt the ice that’s blocking the evaporator fan.

Depending on the buildup’s severity, you might have to refill the pot with hot water to melt everything away.

Avoid using a heat gun or hair dryer, as the focused heat damages the fridge’s plastic panels.

Unfortunately, the slow and steady approaches are the best when it comes to melting ice buildups.

Read: Top 5 Reasons Why Refrigerator Compressor Is Hot

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few more pointers to help you troubleshoot your Kenmore Elite refrigerator:

How Do I Defrost My Kenmore Refrigerator Freezer?

You can defrost your Kenmore refrigerator freezer by shutting off the appliance and leaving the door open. That will allow warm air to enter the compartment and melt away all the ice built up inside.

Where Is The Defrost Heater On A Kenmore Refrigerator?

The defrost heater is concealed behind the rear wall inside the fridge’s compartments. Therefore, you must remove the panel to see and access the defrost heater.

Read: 3 Reasons Why Kenmore Fridge Is Not Making Ice

How Often Does A Kenmore Refrigerator Defrost?

Kenmore refrigerators defrost every 8 hours.

How Often Do Refrigerator Coils Need To Be Cleaned?

You should clean the condenser coils on your Kenmore Elite refrigerator every 6 months. That will prevent dust from building up there and allow the fridge to keep itself cool.

Can I Use My Ice Maker Without A Water Line?

Yes, you can use the ice maker without a water line by manually pouring water into it. However, this is a tedious process that should only be done for the short term, perhaps while waiting to repair a faulty ice maker.

Related: Kenmore Elite freezer not working

Related: Fridge leaking water inside

Related: Why icemaker is leaking water on the floor

Reader Comments (8)

  1. My kenmore elite seems to intermittely freeze items in the back row like yogurt and/or milk. any ideas on what I should look at.


    • Roger, the first thing to check is the temperature setting of the fridge. Since the coldest air is delivered at the rear of the fridge, it is coldest back there and can over-cool the more sensitive food items. 38 degrees F or less is a general rule of thumb for fridge temp.

  2. Kenmore Elite freezer and ice unit seem to be functioning normally but just three days ago we noticed a small puddle under the freezer door….drip pan was dry but there was a 1/2 inch slab of ice in the lower freezer ….removed ice but it builds up again, up to 1/4 ich every two days…seeping water is originating from cold air feed vent at bottom rear of freezer.

  3. what could be the causes for the kenmore refrigerator to keep running. it is at temperature, it is clean, and no codes are showing.

    • Hey Dean,
      It could be a bad defrost timer that isn’t registering properly. Also, a faulty capacitor or relay could be the culprit, though less likely. Sometimes a faulty or inhibited condenser fan motor can cause the fridge to keep running beyond it’s normal cycle time.

  4. Hi Eugene,
    Thank you for maintaining this site. Intermittently, the blue light for the water, ice cubes, and crushed ice dispenser for my Kenmore Elite refrigerator will go out and when it does these three actions cease to function. The light and the actions will cease for an hour or less or sometimes a day before the light and actions return to working. How can I prevent this from happening?

    • Hey Tim,
      An intermittent electrical problem like that could be a few different things… such as a bad (or stuck) door cutoff switch, a loose wiring harness connector, pinched or damaged wiring, or even a bad control board. See if you notice any change as you open and close the door several times successively, especially when it is acting up. That might jar the door cutoff switch loose or reengage the wiring connection, depending on the exact issue.
      Then you can narrow it down from there. Hope that helps get you started in the right direction!


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