GE Refrigerator Does Not Defrost [How to Fix]

If a GE refrigerator does not defrost, one or more components of the defrost system are faulty. So this article explains how to fix the problem in quick steps.

GE Refrigerator Does Not Defrost

Why Does My GE Freezer Keep Defrosting?

The following are possible reasons why your GE freezer keeps defrosting:

1. Door Is Open

Check the door or lid of the freezer to see if it closes fully and tightly. It is possible it does not close properly, leading to warm air constantly flowing into the freezer.

If it is a fridge freezer, check the leveling of the unit. If the legs are not properly leveled, the door of the freezer, and even the fridge, won’t shut tightly. You would have to manually push it before it closes well.

And if it is a stand-alone upright or chest freezer, the door gasket could be loose or weak. The same applies to a fridge freezer.

Using a small screwdriver, push the gasket into place if it is loose. Do this carefully so you don’t puncture it or damage the door frame.

And if the gasket is weak, find the right replacement gasket for the model you own and replace it.

In addition to the above, reduce the frequency at which the door is opened. Constantly opening the freezer door will cause it to keep defrosting. This is because the warm air will enter easily and compromise the cold temperature within.

2. Temperature Setting Is Low

Increase the setting of the temperature. If it is too low, the freezer would keep defrosting because it will overcompensate for the thermostat.

Be sure to keep the setting at a steady point to avoid thawing in the freezer. Besides, when you set it, allow the unit to adjust to the new setting. Otherwise, you risk damage to the freezer.

3. Door Bolts Are Loose

Inspect the bolts or screws that hold the door of the freezer to the body. If one or more are loose, the door won’t lie flush to the body of the unit. As a result, there will be a gap through which warm air will enter the freezer and cause it to defrost.
Consult the installation or user manual of the unit to determine how to tighten the bolts. You may need to use a wrench to do this. But if you are not sure of correctly tightening them, contact GE or find an independent repair agent.

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4. Evaporator Coils Are Frozen

If the evaporator or cooling coils are covered in ice or even dirt, they won’t be able to perform their duty. As the refrigerant goes through them, they turn it into vapor. And in this process, the heat is removed from the air around it.

If the coils fail to do this, the freezer would suffer for it. The heat will reduce the cooling in the freezer, making it look as if it is constantly defrosting.

5. Start Relay Is Defective

The compressor won’t run at all or may run only intermittently if the relay is defective. And if the compressor does not run smoothly, the freezer would not maintain a steady cool temperature. So, test the relay to see if it still has continuity. If it does not, replace it.

Be sure to unplug the unit from electric power and disconnect the relay from the compressor before testing it.

6. Temperature Control Thermostat Is Faulty

The thermostat can affect the temperature in the freezer. If it is faulty, coolness in the freezer would drop. In fact, it would fluctuate from cold to not cold.

It controls the voltage that goes to the compressor and fan motors. The refrigerant won’t run if the thermostat is bad because the components won’t have the needed voltage. Consequently, the freezer’s temperature will fluctuate.

7. Main Control Board Is Damaged

You may have to replace the board if the freezer or even the refrigerator keeps defrosting. Since it controls all the other components, including the compressor, it may be triggering some of them to fail.

8. Compressor Is Malfunctioning

If the compressor cycles off and on too often, it is an indication of a problem. Listen to it and time how often it comes on or goes off.

It could also be that its seals are weak or there is a loose wire somewhere. Whatever is the case, only a licensed and certified technician can handle or fix it.

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The same is true if there is a leak in the sealed system. Such a leak could cause the freezer to look as if it keeps defrosting because it won’t be able to maintain a cool temperature.

Note: All the steps above also apply to a GE refrigerator that keeps defrosting except for the sealed system problem. That applies to freezers alone.

GE Refrigerator Does Not Defrost – Solutions

Take the following steps if a GE refrigerator does not defrost:

  • Check the defrost timer
  • Inspect the defrost heater
  • Test the defrost thermostat
  • Check the defrost sensor
  • Check the defrost control board

Read this article for details on how to troubleshoot and fix each component if found faulty.

How to Tell if a Refrigerator Defrost Heater Is Bad

If the evaporator coils have a significant accumulation of ice on them, it is the first sign that the defrost heater is bad.

The defrost cycle will fail if the defrost heater is bad. And sometimes, the heater is not bad; the defrost timer is just not working anymore.

To make doubly sure, disconnect the refrigerator from power and take the heater out. You will find it wrapped around the evaporator coils behind the rear wall of the freezer section.

Using a multimeter, check it for continuity. If you don’t find continuity, buy a new defrost heater using the model number of your refrigerator and replace it.

This video shows how to accurately test the defrost heater…

GE Refrigerator Defrost Heater Not Working – Quick Fix

If you perform the test and find that the defrost heater is not working, replace it.

To replace the heater, take the following steps:

Step 1

Unplug the refrigerator from the wall outlet. If you cannot do this, locate the circuit breaker for that part of the house and turn it off.

Step 2

Open the door of the freezer and remove every shelf and rack in it. Next, take the light shield and bulb out.

Step 3

Unthread the screws that hold the rear panel in position. Next, unclip the ground wire clip attached to it.

Now, slowly and gently lift the panel out of the freezer compartment. Place it on a flat and safe surface.

Step 4

With a Phillips screwdriver, unthread the 2 screws holding the heater in place. Pull the assembly out and disconnect the wires connected to both ends of the heater.

Step 5

Take the new defrost heater and attach the wires to both ends of it. Put the heater in place and mount the 2 screws that hold it in place.

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Next, fix the rear panel and mount the holding screws again. Be sure to position the panel properly before mounting the screws.

Now, clip the ground wire clip onto the panel again. Fix the light bulb back and put the shield in place.

Put the shelves and racks back into the freezer and close the door. Then, plug the unit back into the wall outlet or turn the circuit breaker on again.

GE WR51X10055 Genuine OEM Defrost Heater and Bracket Assembly for GE Refrigerators





This video shows how to replace the defrost heater in a GE side-by-side refrigerator…

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How to Manually Defrost a GE Refrigerator

To manually defrost a GE refrigerator, do the following:

Step 1

Empty the freezer of all food content. The process is going to take a few hours so be sure to store the food in another freezer or a well-insulated cooler.

Then, turn off the temperature controls and unplug the refrigerator from electric power.

Step 2

Leave the door of the freezer open and get a pan or tray ready to collect any dripping water. If you have a wooden or plastic spatula, use it to scrape ice off the sides of the freezer. Doing this makes the process faster.

Step 3

As the ice melts, try to sop the resultant water up and out of the freezer. T prevents water from soaking into unseen areas within the freezer. And if this happens, the water will freeze with time and cause problems.

Step 4

Once the freezer defrosts, dry it completely with a dry towel. Ensure you get all the moisture. Then, give t some more time to air-dry.

When you are sure it is completely dry, turn the temperature controls on again. Put the food back into it and plug it into the wall outlet again.

How to Force Defrost a GE Refrigerator

To force defrost a GE refrigerator, open its door and press the light switch. Press it 5 or 6 times in quick succession and within the space of 6 seconds.

Doing this causes the compressor and fan motors to go off while the defrost heater will turn on.


If your GE refrigerator does not defrost, check the defrost system. It is most likely the defrost timer that is malfunctioning but it helps to check all the components.

However, if you cannot seem to find the reason why the GE refrigerator does not defrost, contact GE to report the issue and request service.

As an alternative, chat with any of our appliance technicians. You don’t need to book an appointment or have an expensive in-house call.


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