Top 6 Issues When Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Stop Cooling

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If you own a Kenmore Elite Refrigerator, you might be happy with the way it’s worked for you thus far.

They are built to last and do a good job keeping your foods cool (or frozen). But what if it fails to do its original task?

We’ll be taking a look at six reasons why it might not be cooling as normal.

A refrigerator that doesn’t do its task will lead to disaster if the issue isn’t taken care of.

It can lead to plenty of food spoilage, which can lead to bad odors that can continue to linger long after you’ve cleaned the fridge out.

It’s important to follow the list of reasons below so you can be able to do a pinpoint diagnosis.

Once you are able to detect the issue, you can repair it accordingly.

possible issues That Can Cause Kenmore Elite Refrigerator To Stop Cooling:

  • Evaporator Fan Frosted Over
  • Damper Control Malfunction
  • Defrost Thermostat Burnt
  • Compressor Start Relay Failed
  • Compressor Failed
  • Sealed System Freon Leak

1.   Evaporator Fan In Freezer Frosted Over

The first issue may be linked to the evaporator fan.

This is one of the major components that is responsible for keeping the freezer cold.

Without it, your ice cream and frozen foods will not be properly frozen.

Kenmore evaporator fan frosted over

If it’s frosted over too much, it can cause the motor inside the fan itself to fail.

Your refrigerator may have two evaporator fans located in both the freezer and the refrigerator side.

If the appliance has one evaporator fan, then it should be located on the freezer side.

A failing evaporator fan will not transfer cold air to the refrigerator, thus failing to cool the compartment itself.

This may cause temperatures to rise over time assuming that the refrigerator stays shut (opening it will lead to a drastic rise in temperature if left open for long).

Oddly enough, the freezer may stay cold even if the fan itself malfunctions or stops completely.

Once replaced, you’ll want to give it a test run so you know that it’s functioning properly.

If the motor is working properly and the fan is moving, you are good to go.

2.   Damper Control Broken

The damper control (also known as the air diffuser, air damper, or baffle) is designed to control the amount of air that comes from the freezer and allows the refrigerator compartment to cool.

With this flap-like part broken, it will cut off airflow to a point where it’s severely restricted (or completely cut off).

Damper control

To replace this, you’ll need to disconnect the refrigerator from the power unit (Reminder: This should be done whenever you need to replace a broken or malfunctioning part).

Next, locate the baffle or the damper. It should be located where the cold air enters the refrigeration compartment.

The housing should be made of styrofoam or plastic lining. It may have a foam seal as well to prevent leaks from entering the fridge.

What you’ll notice in some models is that it has a light bulb that senses the temperature.

It will change controls in the event of an increase or decrease.

Before replacing the damper, make sure the bulb itself is correctly installed and not damaged.

You’ll want to operate the control knob so the attached linkage moves freely.

Next, you’ll want to check the position of the damper.

If it’s closed completely or partially open and can’t move freely, then you’ll also need to replace the air replacement inlet baffle.

3.   Defrost Thermostat Or Defrost Control Assembly Failed

If you believe your defrost thermostat is on the fritz, it might be a good idea to test it out.

Use a multimeter and put it on a continuity setting.

Using the red and black leads on your multimeter, touch the wire ends of the defrost thermostat (removed from the refrigerator) and test for continuity.

Get A Defrost Thermostat Here

If the multimeter doesn’t make a sound, that’s when you know when the circuit is open.

If there is a sound, the circuit is closed. In case of the latter, your heater stays on and therefore continues to produce more heat (which can be a bad thing).

If you have the defrost thermostat in your hand, you’ll notice a set of numbers.

One section of numbers will represent the temperature that will either open or close the defrost thermostat (i.e. L 6.7-14.5 C).

The “C” at the end of this sequence represents Celsius (alternatively, you could see an “F” at the end that represents Fahrenheit). 

When the thermostat closes, the evaporator will kick on and eventually heat up the back of your freezer so the ice that forms on the thermostat itself melts.

If the thermostat fails to melt the ice, there will be blockage that will restrict or completely cut off the air that goes to the refrigerator compartment.

4.   Compressor Start Relay Failed

The compressor start relay is responsible for that humming noise your refrigerator makes.

What it does is compress the refrigerant and converts it into a liquid and heats up.

The condenser will draw out this heat from the liquid and pump the refrigerant itself into an expansion chamber.

And that’s where the real magic happens (i.e. — the production of cool air for refrigeration).

If you don’t hear that humming on a regular basis, that means your refrigerator is getting warmer. The failure could be due to several factors.

First, you could be dealing with a defective unit. Since it transfers an electrical current, replacing it will require you to disconnect the fridge from the power unit.

Thankfully, installing a replacement part will take no more than 15 minutes to get the job done.

5.   Compressor Failed

The purpose of the compressor is pumping the refrigerant through so that cold air is dispersed in the refrigerator compartment.

It will send the refrigerant through the coils so it converts to liquid first before it loses the heat built up during its conversion and finishes the process at a much cooler temperature.

A failed compressor will lead to severe restriction or no cold air output.

Since air flow is what’s needed to keep everything nice and cool, a lack of it will obviously lead to increased temperatures and foods spoiling faster than expected.

It should be noted that Kenmore had recalled a previous version of the Kenmore Elite (specifically the Kenmore Elite / LG Model 795.7205).

As a result, they faced a class action lawsuit due to a widespread defect on the compressor unit of the Elite refrigerator.

According to some past customers, the compressors would fail within the first ten years of use.

Keep in mind that the compressor is protected by a five year warranty.

So if it fails while the warranty is still valid, you can make sure that it can be replaced or repaired.

The compressor is a major part of your refrigerator that you don’t want to fail.

Replacing it will require a professional to install a new compressor for you. And it may end up costing you anywhere between $500 to $1000.

6.   Freon Leak

Freon is just a fancy name for coolant. And a leakage will spell disaster for your fridge and the food inside of it.

What could be causing these types of leaks?

Without Freon, the liquid cannot be converted back into cool air when it’s deployed to the expansion chamber.

Obviously, when Freon is successfully converted that’s when the refrigeration compartment will stay cool constantly.

Assuming you have performed maintenance in the past, a refrigeration line could be damaged.

However, if the lines are untouched, what else could be causing these leaks? You might be dealing with an overflowing drain pan.

As always, you’ll need to disconnect the power before removing the drain pan to dispose of the contents.

Removing the drain pan itself is going to be a challenge. To do this, you’re going to need to tip the refrigerator slightly forward (Note: Remove all contents before doing this).

Next, you’ll need to remove the screws that hold the basepan together.

Be careful when removing this as you might risk severing or damaging the refrigeration lines (which means while one cause for leaks is taken care of, another may arise).

If this appears to be a complex job, you might want to leave it to the professionals.

Final Thoughts

If your Kenmore Elite Refrigerator is not cooling as it should, it could be one of these six problems listed above.

It’s important for you to do a thorough diagnosis as soon as possible so you can be able to pinpoint the problem.

Some of the issues can be done by replacing the parts yourself.

Thankfully, some parts are not as expensive and can take as little as 15 minutes to repair or replace.

However, some of the complex replacements or repairs are always best left up to the professionals.

In this case, contact your local refrigeration expert near you and schedule an appointment.

Your Kenmore Elite Refrigerator should last you a long time. And every part that makes it all work must be in good working order.

Sometimes, it won’t hurt to check on the fridge once in awhile to see if the temperatures are just right.

The sooner you catch a problem with your refrigerator (i.e — not cooling), the better. 

Reader Comments (19)

  1. Kenmore elite 795.73157.610 refrigerator not cold, freezer not freezing. Inside lights are on and I can hear the refrigerator hum. Less than 4 years old.

  2. Kenmore Elite (year ?)
    Side by side, Lower freezer.
    Freezer not freezing but cold.
    Fridge side is cool but not cold.
    -I cleaned out, unplugged for a day, (to thaw any possible ice buildup, – none)
    Plugged back in and it performs the above.
    -Checked capacitors, fans (one outside by coils, fridge and freezer) all good.
    -ohm’d the compressor overload protector, good
    -visually and smelt the elec control board, both sides, no obvious issues
    -compressor runs and no abnormal sound, or leaks.
    -outside coils are clean.
    -all lights, water… work normal.
    What can I check next or trick to test a component? Or is it time to make a service call?

    • Kenmore elite stopped working after 12 mo. 2 days & Sears Whole House Warranty has no parts to fix the evap fan but I just got a comp mother board in the mail. Its bern 2vmo. So I bough a small white whirlpool garage fridge but I need my $1880 fridge fixed. What can I do?

      • You provided not enough information. Is the fridge not colling (freezer and fridge compartment) at all or just a little bit?

  3. Kenmore Elite Cold Spot Model 106-44423601 (side by Side Refrigerator) age 15 years. First time acting up, both freezer and refrig are losing temps won’t maintain 5 degrees on freezer side or 35 on refrig side. I caught it early and removed everything to another unit. I reset the circuit breaker which seemed to work for an hour but its back to dropping temps.

  4. My 2005 Kenmore Elite freezer compartment is working but, not the refrigerator what could be the possible problem

    • Behind the fridge, one of the refrigeration lines located inside drain pan and submerged in the water. one of these submerged lines can develop a hole, due to corrosion

      • This is exactly what happened to mine (Kenmore 596.76593600). For some reason they routed the refrigerant line through the evaporator pan. The line intentionally dipped down in to the pan for about 8 inches, and then back out. I don’t know why they did this – could have just run the tube straight – there was nothing in the way (if it’s some kind of an oil trap, it is in a strange place). Over enough years of water being in the pan, the copper tube corroded enough to make a small hole and the refrigerant leaked out. The hole formed near a foam rubber-like bumper thing that surrounded the copper tube for about 1″. There were two of these foam things, and they deteriorated into little masses of black goo . If the foam things weren’t there, the copper would probably have been OK. Anyway, I eventually tore the fridge apart because it wasn’t that old (12 years?) and was curious/annoyed that it already broke. And that was the problem… I would call it design flaw.

  5. I have a non cooling fridge but freezer works fine. I replaced fridge thermistor and checked evap and compressor fan. Both fans working. Fridge had been completely off so there was no ice buildup. Fridge actually gets warmer when plugged back in. Kenmore 596.77609801


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