The automatic defrost feature in refrigerators manages to heat up the freezer and refrigerator compartments in order to prevent frost build-ups inside each compartment and on the refrigeration coils. This system uses a timer, which manages the amount of time in between defrost cycles, and a thermostat, which tells the system when to stop heating. Malfunctions may happen in any piece of the refrigerator's heating system, from the defrost timer to the defrost heater.
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Defrost Timer Malfunction
The refrigerator's defrost timer switches between the cooling and heating circuits periodically while the refrigerator operates. This may happen from every six hours to every 24 hours. In some cases, when the defrost timer doesn't work correctly, your refrigerator might not even cool food at all. Symptoms of a bad defrost timer include constantly spoiled food or a build-up of frost around the cooling coils on the refrigerator unit.
The thermostat in your refrigerator not only manages the cooling cycle, but also manages when the heating process stops. It sends a signal to the timer to tell it to switch back to the circuit leading to the cooling system. If your thermostat stops working, your defrost process continues to work due to the lack of a signal sent from the malfunctioning thermostat. Symptoms of a bad thermostat include a lack of cooling capacity in the freezer and refrigerator.
The heater in your defrost system actually performs the dirty work of melting the frost built up in your freezer and refrigerator and channelling the vapours into the evaporator coils. If your heater stops working, frost continually builds up into your refrigeration coils and inside the freezer compartment, expanding as time passes, even as the defrost mechanism activates. This might make your refrigerator retain a lot of humidity and perhaps spoil or wet foods within its compartment.
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