How to Defrost a Whirlpool Refrigerator [Detailed Guide]

Read this guide to learn how to defrost a Whirlpool refrigerator easily and quickly. Also, learn how the different defrost components work and how to replace some of them…

how to defrost a Whirlpool refrigerator
Photo Credit: Pixy.orrg

Table of Contents

How to Adjust the Defrost Timer on a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To adjust or set the defrost timer on a Whirlpool refrigerator, take the following steps:

Step 1: Unplug the refrigerator from the wall outlet and leave it unplugged for about a minute.

Step 2: Move the dial of the thermostat to the ‘Off’ position. If your model has more than one thermostat at the back of the unit, as most Whirlpool models do, be sure to turn both off.

Step 3: Plug the refrigerator back into the wall outlet. The defrost timer will adjust automatically. You will know this if there is heat emanating from inside the freezer. This heat will continue to emanate for about 10 minutes, but this only shows the defrost timer is working.

Step 4: Move the dial of the thermostat back to ‘On’ and set it.

What to Do if Your Whirlpool Refrigerator Is Not Defrosting

If your unit is not defrosting as it should, then you should check the defrost heater and defrost thermostat. These two components of the defrost system work well together.

If the thermostat is broken, it cannot signal the heater to melt the frost from the evaporator coils. This, in turn, will cause a buildup of frost. And if the heater is broken, it cannot melt ice whether the thermostat is signaling it to do so.

Also, check the defrost timer. If it is broken, it cannot regulate the refrigerator’s defrost cycle. The unit will likely be stuck in the cooling mode, causing a buildup of frost, which cannot defrost.

However, getting a qualified refrigerator repairer or calling the Whirlpool service center for diagnostics is important. They will be in a better position to find and fix the fault, and this is especially needed if you still have a warranty.

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Watch this video to see how to diagnose a defrost problem in your Whirlpool refrigerator properly…

How Do You Defrost a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

To defrost a Whirlpool refrigerator, do the following:

Step 1: Empty the refrigerator of all items, including food. To keep the frozen food from thawing quickly, wrap them in paper and store them in a cooler or ice chest.

Step 2: Unplug the unit from the power source it is connected to. Then, open the door or doors of the refrigerator.

Step 3: Place thick rags around the mouth of the open door or doors. This is to absorb the water that forms from melting frost.

Step 4: After all the ice melts, which can take a few hours, clean the unit with water and mild soap. Then dry it thoroughly with dry towels to remove any residue. Give it a little more time to air dry.

Step 5: Put all the items back in the refrigerator and plug it into its power source again.

This process applies to all Whirlpool refrigerator types, including mini fridges.

Whirlpool Freezer Defrost Problem

If you have trouble defrosting your Whirlpool freezer, it may be a problem with the defrost system. It may also stem from the excessive frost buildup from a faulty door gasket or constant door opening. So, check the defrost timer, thermostat, heater, and control board.

Locate the defrost timer in your Whirlpool freezer; consult the user manual for the location. Use a flat-head screwdriver to turn it counterclockwise to see if it advances the appliance into a defrost cycle. If it does not, you should replace it. But if it does, wait to see if it advances the system out of the defrost cycle. If the timer fails to stop the cycle within thirty minutes, replace it.

If the timer works, test the defrost heater with a multimeter to see if it has continuity. Do the same for the defrost thermostat; the thermostat should close contacts so that voltage can flow to the heater. But if the heater fails, it may be because the thermostat is defective. Therefroe, check both components and replace them if there is no continuity.

The last piece is the defrost control board. It governs the entire defrost system and rarely gets faulty. However, control boards eventually fail, especially if they are old. You can hire a technician to check the board and replace it if necessary. Alternatively, contact the Whirlpool Service Center to report the defrost system issue and schedule service.

How to Replace the Defrost Heater in a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To replace the defrost heater in a Whirlpool refrigerator, take the following steps:

1. Turn Off the Refrigerator

Always turn off the refrigerator before you start any repair work. You can do this by unplugging from the wall socket or shutting off the circuit breaker that powers it.

2. Empty the Refrigerator

Remove every item in the refrigerator, both edible and non-edible. This is to give you free access to the unit’s back panel. You will need screwdrivers and nut drivers to remove the rail supports.

3. Remove the Back Panel

Using a ¼ nut driver, unscrew the screws that hold the back panel of the refrigerator to the back wall. When you remove this, you will see the defrost heater. It runs along the sides of the evaporator coils.

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4. Remove the Old Heater

Using the ¼ nut driver, unmount the screws that hold the evaporator to the back wall of the refrigerator. Slowly but surely, pull the heat shield under the coils towards you until it cannot move anymore. This will draw the coils towards you. Then, disconnect the wire connectors attached to the heater.

Remove the two retaining clips that hold the wires of the heater. Next, remove the wires and grommets from the evaporator bracket. Unhook the retaining wires held by the clips you removed earlier. This completely frees the heater from the coils.

5. Attach the New Heater

Position the new defrost heater at the base of the coils. Push it until you can wrap the wire terminals at its right side through the evaporator bracket holes. Connect its wire connectors and close the clips in their proper place.

Carefully sit the evaporator back in the position it was in previously. Remount the screws to hold the evaporator in place to the back wall.

6. Replace the Back Panel

Reverse the steps you followed to remove the back panel earlier. Be sure to place the screws in their right places. Then, turn on the refrigerator by plugging it back into its power source.

Note: This is a pretty long and somewhat complex process. If you don’t think you can do it or it looks too daunting, let the professionals do it.

This video gives you the visuals you need to replace the defrost heater assembly in your Whirlpool refrigerator…

What to Do If the Defrost Button on Your Whirlpool Refrigerator Is Stuck

If the defrost button on your Whirlpool refrigerator is stuck, you can try and pull it out with pliers. But you have to do this as gently as possible.

If this doesn’t work, then you will have to replace it. However, if the button is inside the refrigerator and is frozen, thawing it will get it working again.

How to Unclog a Clogged Defrost Drain in a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To unclog a clogged defrost drain in a Whirlpool refrigerator, here is what to do:

1. Cut off the power supply to the refrigerator by unplugging it or shutting off the circuit breaker.

2. Find the drain hole inside the unit, at the bottom typically. Get a stiff wire or a plumbing snake and insert it into the hole. Push the wire or snake up and down to free the drain of any debris. Continue to do this until the wire runs freely through the drain.

3. Squirt a teaspoon of baking soda into the drain, followed by two cups of hot water. Do this slowly so that the water will fully get into the drain.

4. Clean the place up and dry it thoroughly. Then, find the pan under the refrigerator into which the water drained. Empty it and wash it before returning it to its place. Turn on the refrigerator.

This video explains the process further…

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How to Force Defrost a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To force defrost a Whirlpool refrigerator, open the door or doors, depending on the type of model you own. Hold down the refrigerator door switch or switches.

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The display screen will go blank. When this happens, press the temperature (-) key for the fridge section 3 times in the space of 10 seconds. This is when you release the door switches.

The display screen that went blank earlier will now show ‘f’ and ‘d’, meaning forced defrost. Press the temperature (-) key for the fridge once more to confirm this mode.

How to Change the Defrost Thermostat in a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To change the defrost thermostat in a Whirlpool refrigerator, do the following:

1. Unplug the Refrigerator

This should be the first thing you do before the start of any diagnostics or repair work.

2. Remove the Back Panel

Remove the back panel of the freezer section. That is where the thermostat is located. You will have to remove the shelves and shelf railings, along with every other protruding part in the freezer. This is to have unobstructed access to the back panel.

3. Locate and Change the Thermostat

Once you remove the back panel, you will see the evaporator. The thermostat is near it, a metal clip attaching it. Carefully remove the clip and cut the black and red wires connected to the thermostat. After doing this, cut about half an inch from the end of the wires to prepare it for connection to the new thermostat.

Place the new thermostat in the right position. You will see it also has black and red wires. You remember the wires you prepared earlier? Connect the black to the black ones of the refrigerator and connect the red to the red ones.

Once you get this right, attach the new thermostat to the evaporator by clamping back the metal clip in place. Put the back panel of the freezer section you removed earlier in its place and screw it in. remount the shelf railings and shelves and every other freezer part you removed.

4. Finish the Process

Plug the refrigerator back to power it.

This video explains and shows you what to do in this replacement process…

How to Turn Off Defrost Mode in a Whirlpool Refrigerator

To turn off the defrost mode in a Whirlpool refrigerator:

1. Unplug the refrigerator from the power outlet it is connected to and leave it for about a minute.

2. Turn the thermostat off.

3. Plug the refrigerator back into the power outlet.

4. Turn the thermostat on and set it to its original setting.

How to Defrost a Whirlpool Refrigerator – Related FAQs

1. Where Is the Adaptive Defrost Control on a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The adaptive defrost control can be found in the control box that houses the thermostat control and the light bulb.

2. Where Is the Defrost Heater Assembly on a Whirlpool Refrigerator Located?

The defrost heater assembly on this unit is located behind the rear panel of the freezer section of your refrigerator. It is right under the evaporator coils.

3. Where Is the Defrost Drain in a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The defrost drain in a Whirlpool refrigerator is typically found close to the rear wall, at the bottom, of the freezer and fridge compartments. It looks much like a tiny indentation.

4. How Long Is the Defrost Cycle in a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The defrost cycle in a Whirlpool refrigerator runs for about 15 to 30 minutes, every 8 hours.

5. How Often Does a Whirlpool Refrigerator Defrost?

A Whirlpool refrigerator automatically defrosts about 3 times every 24 hours. This is because it goes into a defrost cycle every 8 hours.

6. Where Is the Defrost Button on a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The defrost button on a Whirlpool refrigerator is found close to the unit that controls temperature, inside the refrigerator. Some models, however, have the button at the back of the refrigerator.

7. How Long Is the Manual Defrost Cycle in a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The manual defrost cycle in this unit depends on the amount of ice that has built up in the unit. For some, it will take all night to thaw while for other, 4 hours are enough.

8. Where Is the Defrost Thermostat in a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The defrost thermostat in a Whirlpool refrigerator is behind the back panel of the freezer section of the refrigerator. It is just next to the evaporator.

9. How Long Is the Forced Defrost Cycle in a Whirlpool Refrigerator?

The forced defrost cycle in this unit takes about 30 minutes, much like the automatic defrost cycle.

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