Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Troubleshooting Freezer On Bottom

While Kenmore Elite bottom freezer refrigerators are generally reliable, they are not immune to issues. One common problem is a non-working freezer, and this guide aims to help you troubleshoot the issue effectively.

There are several possible reasons why a Kenmore Elite refrigerator’s bottom freezer may not work. These include power disruptions, defrost cycles, demo mode activation, overstuffing, air leakage from the door, misadjusted thermostat, frosted coils, or dirty condenser coils.

If none of these eight issues are the cause, it is possible that a component within the refrigerator has failed. Potential culprits include the start relay, compressor, thermostat, or fan motor. This guide will walk you through all nine possible issues, providing you with the knowledge to troubleshoot your Kenmore Elite bottom freezer successfully.

Additionally, we will also address a non-cooling Kenmore Elite bottom freezer refrigerator and a malfunctioning temperature control. Let’s dive into the troubleshooting process!

Quick Troubleshooting Guide 

Likely CauseFix
Power DisruptionEnsure that the refrigerator is plugged into a functioning wall outlet and powered on. Check that the outlet and fuse are working properly and ensure that the breaker is not tripped.
Defrost CycleAllow the refrigerator to sit idle for at least 30 minutes before attempting any troubleshooting after confirming that it has power.
Demo ModeReset the refrigerator to exit Demo Mode.
Freezer OverstuffingReduce the food load inside the freezer if it is over-packed, and make sure to clean the freezer to promote proper airflow.
Door Air LeakageAvoid leaving the freezer door open for extended periods and replace a damaged door seal to prevent air leakage.
Misadjusted ThermostatSet the freezer’s temperature to the recommended range of 0-2°F (-18 to -17°C) for optimal performance.
Frosted Evaporator CoilsDefrost the evaporator coils by allowing the refrigerator to thaw completely. If the defrost heater shows no continuity when tested, it may need to be replaced.
Dirty Condenser CoilsClean the condenser coils to remove accumulated dirt and debris, ensuring proper heat dissipation.
Failed Component (start relay, compressor, thermostat, or fan motor)If any of the appliance components (such as the start relay, compressor, thermostat, or fan motor) have failed, it is recommended to have them replaced by a professional refrigerator technician for proper diagnosis and installation.

Why Is My Kenmore Bottom Freezer Not Working?

If you’re experiencing issues with your Kenmore bottom freezer, there could be nine possible reasons for its non-functionality. Here’s a breakdown of these issues and their corresponding solutions:

Power Disruption

Check for a dark refrigerator door, indicating a lack of power. To address this:

  • Ensure the power plug is securely inserted into the outlet.
  • Test the outlet with another functioning appliance.
  • Reset any tripped circuit breakers.
  • Verify if the fuse has blown and replace it if necessary.
  • Avoid using an extension cord and plug the refrigerator directly into the wall outlet.

Defrost Cycle

During a routine defrost cycle, the freezer motor may not run for approximately 30 minutes. This is normal, and you should wait for the cycle to complete before proceeding with further troubleshooting.

Demo Mode

If the refrigerator display shows “OFF,” it means the Demo Mode is active, preventing the freezer from freezing food. To deactivate Demo Mode:

  • Press and hold the Temp and Ultra Ice buttons on your Kenmore refrigerator.
  • Wait for the words “OFF” to disappear and the current temperature to display.
  • If the reset doesn’t work, unplug the appliance, plug it back in, and start the refrigerator.

Freezer Overstuffing

An overloaded freezer can block air vents, hampering the performance of the evaporator fan. To resolve this:

  • Reorganize the freezer to allow proper air circulation.
  • Ensure there is sufficient clearance for the evaporator fan to operate smoothly.

Door Air Leakage

A worn-out or loose gasket on the freezer door can lead to air leakage, resulting in insufficient cooling. To address this:

  • Ensure the freezer door is tightly shut.
  • Replace the gasket if it is loose or torn.

Misadjusted Thermostat

A misadjusted thermostat can cause the freezer to become warmer. Adjust the freezer temperature to the recommended range of 0-20°F.

Frosted Evaporator Coils

If the defrost heater fails, the evaporator coils may ice over, affecting the freezer’s ability to chill food. To resolve this:

  • Remove the back panel to access the evaporator coils.
  • Allow the appliance to self-defrost by leaving it unplugged.
  • Test the defrost heater with a multimeter and replace it if necessary.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Dusty or dirty condenser coils can impede heat dissipation, resulting in a warm freezer. Clean the condenser coils every 6-12 months to ensure proper functioning.

Failed Component

If none of the above issues are causing the problem, it is possible that a component such as the start relay, compressor, thermostat, or fan motor has failed. In such cases, it is recommended to seek assistance from a refrigerator expert.

Troubleshooting a Kenmore Elite Bottom Freezer Refrigerator

Sometimes, the problem with your Kenmore Elite bottom freezer refrigerator may lie in the upper fridge compartment. Here are some issues that could prevent the Kenmore refrigerator from cooling:

  1. Dirty Condenser Coils: Clean the condenser coils to ensure proper heat dissipation and cooling.
  2. Defective Condenser Fan or Evaporator Fan Motor: If either of these fans is not functioning correctly, they should be replaced.
  3. Failing Start Relay Thermostat, Defrost Heater, Defrost Thermostat, or Thermistor: If any of these components are failing, they should be replaced to restore proper cooling functionality.
  4. Non-Working Compressor: If the compressor is not working, it will need to be replaced.

Kenmore Elite Refrigerator Temperature Control Not Working

The refrigerator’s temperature control, also known as the thermostat, plays a crucial role in controlling the cooling and freezing operations. If the unit fails to cool or freeze adequately, the temperature control may be the issue. Its job is to supply the correct voltage to the motor and compressor. When it becomes faulty, it disrupts the operation of the fans and compressor, resulting in inadequate cooling.

Fix: You can test the temperature control or thermostat for defects using a multimeter. If it lacks continuity, it is not working correctly and should be replaced.


These are the possible causes for a non-working Kenmore Elite bottom freezer refrigerator. Most of the issues can be resolved through DIY troubleshooting, except for the possibility of a failed component. By addressing these issues, you can restore proper functionality to your refrigerator.

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