Kenmore Refrigerator Coils [Problems & Solutions]

Kenmore refrigerator coils need some maintenance from time to time. This article is a guide on how to fix problems with the coils.

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Kenmore Refrigerator Evaporator Coils Freezing – What to Do

If you find the evaporator coils in your Kenmore refrigerator freezing, defrost the refrigerator manually to thaw them. To do this, turn off the thermostat in the unit and unplug the refrigerator from the wall outlet. Next, open the doors of the refrigerator and allow warm air to melt the ice accumulated over the coils and other parts.

The defrost process may take a few hours, depending on the level of ice. Afterward, clean and dry the refrigerator to remove moisture as much as possible to avoid a frost buildup. Then, check the defrost timer.

Defrost Timer

The timer should be in the temperature control housing on the roof inside the refrigerator. But if yours is not there, check behind the toe grille or at the back of the unit. It is small and round, with four terminal points and a flat end. Using a flat-head screwdriver, turn the timer to advance it into a defrost cycle.

You should hear a click as the defrost heater turns on and the compressor turns off. If the heater does not turn on, it may indicate that the timer needs a replacement. Continue turning the timer clockwise until there is another click as the defrost heater turns off. If there is no audible click at all, replace the timer.

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The defrost timer determines how the defrost cycle runs by advancing the components into a cycle daily. But if the component malfunctions, the cycle won’t run, and the evaporator coils will freeze over time.

Models Without a Defrost Timer

Some Kenmore refrigerators don’t have a defrost timer even though they defrost automatically. With such models, the control panel governs the functioning of the defrost cycle. Sometimes, the water dispenser controls can help you test the timer, and other times, the controls at the back of the front panel do the job of testing the timer.

The method of testing and fixing the timer varies according to models. So, consult the user manual of your specific refrigerator to determine how to repair a defective defrost timer.

However, if the timer works, it is necessary to test other components of the defrost system. The heater may be defective, along with the defrost thermostat. Using a multimeter, run continuity checks on the components, and if there is any defective one, replace it immediately.

Kenmore Refrigerator Coils: Other Factors to Check

The defrost system is not the only cause of freezing evaporator coils. A leaky door gasket or a door that does not close properly is also a culprit. A weak gasket allows humid or warm air into the refrigerator, and the moisture in the air condenses on the coils. 

Over time, the moisture freezes, and if the trend continues, the coils will freeze too quickly. Typically, the defrost system should warm the coils and eliminate freezing, but it won’t be able to keep up if the air enters frequently. The same applies if the door is poorly aligned or the hinges are broken.

Therefore, check the space between the gasket and the door frame where it should rest. You should not be able to see the inner part of the frame when the door is closed. And you can measure the space with your finger. The door is not sealing if there is even the smallest gap between the gasket and the frame.

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If this test does not work, use the dollar test. Close the door on a dollar bill and pull on it. If the door is sealing properly, you should not be able to remove the dollar bill. But if you pull it out with the door still closed, the gasket is weak and should be replaced.

If you recently removed the door or the refrigerator is a new installment, ensure the hinges are secure. Consult the user manual for steps to fix the hinges or have a professional do the job for you.

The evaporator coils cool the air in the refrigerator when the gas passes through them. While they should be cold due to the presence of the gas, they should not freeze. Interestingly, when they freeze, the refrigerator stops cooling as it should; that is one sure way to know the coils have an accumulation of frost on them.

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Where Are the Coils on My Kenmore Refrigerator?

There are two types of coils on the typical Kenmore refrigerator. The evaporator coils are behind the back panel you find inside the freezer section. They are responsible for cooling the unit. Some refrigerators have dual evaporators, so you have to determine the Kenmore refrigerator model you own.

The condenser coils are at the bottom back of the refrigerator, next to the compressor. Some models have the coils located in the bottom front of the unit, behind the grille. They are responsible for condensing the refrigerant during the refrigeration process.

If you own a Kenmore upright freezer, the evaporator coils are behind the inside back panel while the condenser coils are inside the freezer’s walls. They are not readily visible.

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How to Clean the Condenser Coils Under a Kenmore Refrigerator

Here is how to clean the condenser coils under a Kenmore refrigerator:

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Find the coils in your specific Kenmore refrigerator model. Some have the coils in front, behind the bottom toe grille, while others have them at the back, next to the compressor. When you find them, remove the cover over them and inspect them. The level of dirt on them will determine how you clean them.

A vacuum cleaner usually does the job, but if there is a significant amount of dirt, the vacuum cleaner may not be enough. If you can reach the coils easily, use a condenser coil cleaning brush to clean dirt and debris between coils that the vacuum cleaner cannot reach. Otherwise, try using a rag for the same purpose.

Afterward, clean the area around the coils to remove the dirt, so it does not stick to the coils quickly again. Also, clean the condenser fan and compressor while you are at it. Then, replace the cover or grille if you removed one. Maintain a yearly cleaning routine for the coils.

For an upright freezer from Kenmore, you cannot clean the coils because of their location inside the walls.

Note: Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power before cleaning the condenser coils for safety reasons.


Maintaining Kenmore refrigerator coils is crucial to the smooth running of the unit. Therefore, check them from time to time to ensure optimum operation.

If you believe the coils are leaking or have some other problem, do not hesitate to contact Kenmore for immediate service. You also have the option of contacting us. We have technicians waiting to assist you with your appliance issues.

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