How to Replace Frigidaire Defrost Heater [Quick Guide]

This article is a guide on how to replace Frigidaire defrost heater. If you suspect your refrigerator’s defrost heater is faulty, this is for you.

FRIGIDAIRE 242044020 Defrost Heater Assembly

How to Replace Frigidaire Defrost Heater

If you are looking for how to replace Frigidaire defrost heater, take the following steps:

Step 1

Empty the freezer of all its content, including the bins and shelves. Replacing the heater won’t take a long time so you don’t have to store food elsewhere unless you want to. Next, disconnect the refrigerator from electric power.

Step 2

Remove the back panel inside the freezer section in order to gain access to the evaporator coils. The heater is located under the coils with its wires threaded up around the coils.

Step 3

Put on work gloves for protection from sharp parts. Then, move the evaporator coils so you can reach the heater. To do this, take a ½-inch nut driver and remove the screws holding the coils secure to the rear of the freezer.

Step 4

There is a metal sheet that is under the coils. This is called a heat shield and you need to move it. So take a pair of pliers, hold the shield, and pull it towards you as far as possible.

Drop the pliers, hold the copper tube on top of the evaporator coils, and draw it just a little towards you. Pick up the pliers again and begin to pull the shield forward again. Do this until it cannot move anymore.

There are 2 wire harnesses close to the copper tube. Disconnect them and continue to pull the shield forward.

Step 5

The insulation between the sides of the coils and the walls of the freezer should be visible now. You may want to pull out the insulation. But if not, push the pieces of foam to the back of the defrost heater using a flat-head screwdriver.

A retaining clip holds the base of the defrost heater in position. Remove the clip and pull out the heater from under the coils.

Step 6

Set the new heater at the base of the coils. Thread the wire terminal up the side of the coils until it reaches the top. Make sure the base of the heater rests flush to the base of the coils.

Next, fasten the heater back to the base of the coils with the clip. Afterward, connect the wire terminals of the heater to those above the coils.

For an easier step-by-step guide on how to replace Frigidaire defrost heater, follow the instructions in this video to replace the heater in your Frigidaire refrigerator…

It is important to note that the steps apply to all models of Frigidaire refrigerators. However, how you remove the inside back panel will differ from one model to another.

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How to Tell If a Refrigerator Defrost Heater Is Bad

If the refrigerator stops cooling, the first thing to check is the evaporator or cooling coils behind the interior rear wall of the freezer. They should be a light coating of frost on all the coils, not some. This way, you know the defrost system is functioning fine.

However, if there is a heavy coating on the coils, especially on just one section, it is likely the defrost heater is not working. The frost on the coils inhibits the release of cold air to the refrigerator, making it impossible to cool, though the freezer may be cold.

To be sure, test the defrost timer. This is because the timer controls the functionality of the heater and if it is bad, the heater won’t work.

Turn the timer, usually located in the temperature control housing on the inside top of the refrigerator section, counterclockwise with a screwdriver to take it into the defrost cycle.

Once you do this, the compressor goes off and the heater comes on to melt the frost. You should hear the refrigerator kick into action for the defrost cycle. Wait about 30 minutes and see if the timer automatically comes out of the cycle.

If the timer does, the problem is with the defrost heater and you may consider replacing it. But if the timer does not advance out of the cycle, the problem is with the timer. Replace it.

Take it a step further and check form continuity in the heater just to be sure it is in good working condition. If there is no continuity, replace the heater.

Frigidaire Refrigerator Heating Up – What to Do

The following are components to check if a Frigidaire refrigerator is heating up:

1. Evaporator Fan

You will find the fan behind the inside back wall of the freezer section. Open the panel and inspect the fan. Make sure there is no ice around it and the blades are not laden with debris. If they are, clean them.

Next, turn the blades with your hand to check whether or not they turn freely. If they do, the fan is likely functioning well. But if they don’t, something is wrong with the motor. An unusually loud sound from the motor is also an indication of a fault. Consider replacing it.

However, if the motor is not running at all, take a multimeter and test the windings of the motor to check for continuity. And if you find no continuity in the windings, replace the motor.

The evaporator fan spreads cold air throughout the freezer and refrigerator compartments after passing the air over the cooling coils. If the motor or some other part fails, there will be no cold air. As a result, the temperature in the refrigerator begins to rise.

2. Evaporator Coils

You will be able to see whether or not the coils have a huge accumulation of frost on them while you are checking the fan. If they do, it means the defrost system is no longer functioning. A quick fix to the problem would be to defrost the unit manually.

Empty it of food items and store the items in another refrigerator or in a well-insulated cooler with packs of ice.

Unplug the unit from the wall outlet and open the doors. Place towels or rags around the bottom of the unit to catch dripping water. Then, allow it to defrost; sometimes, this takes up to 8 hours.

Afterward, clean up residual moisture and check the coils. All the frost should be gone so fix the back wall in place and replace the shelves of the freezer.

Next, troubleshoot the components of the defrost system. Defrosting the refrigerator manually is only a temporary fix. A permanent one would be to find the faulty defrost system component and replace it.

Defrost Timer

Move the dial of the timer slowly to take it into the defrost cycle. Within 30 minutes, wait for it to come out of the defrost cycle automatically. If this does not happen, the timer is broken and should be replaced.

Defrost Thermostat

Take a multimeter and check for continuity in the thermostat. When it gets to its lowest temperature within its operating range, it should have continuity. But if it does not, replace the thermostat.

Defrost Heater

Check the heater for continuity using a multimeter. If you find no continuity in the heater, replace it.

Defrost Control Board

The board controls the effective and efficient running of the defrost system. But if it gets damaged, the system would fail. However, be sure the other components are in good working condition before checking the board.

The evaporator coils, which are also called the cooling coils, cool the air which the evaporator fan passes over it. In other words, the coils make cold air available for both compartments. But if they are stuffed with frost, they cannot cool the air, leaving the refrigerator without any cold air.

3. Thermistor

With a multimeter, check the resistance of the thermistor. The resistance should fluctuate with the change in the temperature of the refrigerator if it is in good working condition.

If the resistance remains the same or there is no continuity, replace the thermistor.

This component reads the temperature of the refrigerator, makes notes, and sends the readings to the main control board. The board, based on the readings, supplies power to the cooling system made up of the fans and the compressor.

However, if the component is faulty, the readings would be wrong. So, the result could work in two ways. One is that compressor and fans may run more than the refrigerator needs. And two is that they may not run at all or may run less than the refrigerator needs.

4. Damper Control

Take a look at the damper, located between the refrigerator and the freezer. It should open and close as long as the refrigerator is working.

If it appears to be stuck in the closed position, it means it is broken. And it would explain why the refrigerator is heating up. Therefore, replace it.

In refrigerator models with a single cooling system, the damper opens to let the right amount of cold air flow from the freezer section into the refrigerator section. But if the damper sticks in one position, the refrigerator may either get too cold or too warm.

Other components to check are the temperature control board and the main control board. They may fail and cause the refrigerator to start heating up.

But before checking or replacing them, ensure you troubleshoot the other components. Only when all are working well do you consider replacing either of the boards.

Note: These troubleshooting steps apply to all models of Frigidaire refrigerators.


Knowing how to replace Frigidaire defrost heater yourself saves you money that would have gone to service technicians. The same is true for other components. The steps in this article are a sure guide for you to follow.

However, if you are not sure you can do this, don’t fret. Contact Frigidaire to request assistance in fixing a faulty defrost heater.

If you would rather go independent, we have appliance technicians who can help you fix the problem. Contact any of them. There is no need to book an appointment or have an expensive in-house call.

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