How To Defrost A Kenmore Refrigerator (Detailed Guide)

Cooling discrepancies in your refrigerator are one of the signs that indicate that the fridge needs to undergo a defrosting procedure.

Our Kenmore refrigerators can show variations in temperature in different compartments or stop cooling altogether if a proper defrost process isn’t initiated. This happens due to ice buildup leading to improper air flow from the freezer. Therefore, you must adequately defrost your Kenmore refrigerators to ensure this doesn’t happen. 

However, that’s easier said than done if the automatic defrost doesn’t happen. But don’t worry! Our detailed guide will help you through the process and even highlight some problem areas that need to be carefully assessed. 

How To Defrost A Kenmore Refrigerator [Detailed Guide]?

All models of Kenmore refrigerators defrost automatically. It’s the responsibility of the defrost timer to start the automatic defrost cycle after eight hours to prevent any frost buildup. The whole function of defrosting is a collective task that depends on a working defrost timer, a thermistor, a defrost heater, and a defrost thermostat. 

If any of the parts stop working due to any reason, then you’ll encounter problems in the defrosting procedure as the automatic defrosting won’t happen. Therefore, you’d have to manually defrost or force defrost to prevent frost buildup. 

Let’s see how you can do that below. 

Setting Fridge Into The Forced Defrost Mode

Here’s what you can do to force defrost Kenmore refrigerator. 

Step 1: Press the on/off button to turn off the refrigerator on the control panel. 

Step 2: Enter the diagnostic mode by pressing the on/off button and the water filter reset button simultaneously for 3 seconds. Your refrigerator will enter the diagnostics mode, and the water filter section will display “test #1.”

Step 3: To enter the force defrost mode, press the water filter reset button five more times for it to display “#6.”

Once you do this, the defrost process will initiate, and the defrost heater will start. 

Also, remember that this isn’t the case with all Kenmore models. In some relatively old Kenmore models, forced defrost mode is initiated by pressing the door switch button five times, after which the compressor stops and the defrost heater turns on. 

Manual Defrost In Kenmore Side By Side Refrigerator

Do you have an Elite Kenmore refrigerator? Here’s how you can defrost it manually!

Step 1: Press down the “freezer” option from the control panel of your Kenmore refrigerator. Doing this will reduce the temperature of the fridge and prepare it for defrosting. After that, let it stay the same way for 24 hours.

Step 2: Check if there’s an improvement after 24 hours. If there’s no improvement, then make sure the vents are clean and don’t have anything blocking their path. If you don’t know what vents are, these are slotted openings in the walls. 

Step 3: If the vents are clear too, turn off your fridge. After that, empty all the contents of the fridge and store them safely. Also, remove all the removable shelves and crispers. 

Step 4: Once both sides of the fridge are emptied, clean it gently with mild soap and a sponge. But be careful and do not scrub harshly or use hard cleaners as they can damage the fridge.

Step 5: Similarly, sanitize the insides with baking soda and warm water to remove remaining stains and deodorize the insides.

Step 6: Wipe the entire unit with a clean cloth and let it dry before reinstalling the shelves and crispers. After you’re done reinstalling, turn on the refrigerator. 

Step 7: Put the contents back again after the fridge is cool enough.

Manual Defrost In Other Kenmore Models

Below are the steps that will guide you to manually defrost your Kenmore refrigerator.

Step 1: Empty the fridge by removing all the stored items as well as removable shelves and crispers. Don’t forget to store the perishable food items in a bucket full of ice or in water to ensure they don’t go bad in 24 hours. 

Step 2: Turn the temperature dial to “off” or the defrost setting. Afterward, open the refrigerator doors to circulate warm air. 

Step 3: You can place a container with warm water inside the freezer to hasten the defrosting process. Also, don’t forget to place dry rugs on the bottom to clean the water buildup after defrosting.

Step 4: Once the defrost process is complete, clean the refrigerator with mild soap and let it dry. 

Step 5: Turn the refrigerator on and set it to optimal temperature. Let it cool for an hour or so before placing the food items back again. 

Reasons Why Your Kenmore Refrigerator Is Not Defrosting

If none of the above-mentioned ways work in defrosting your Kenmore refrigerator, then the problem might be on the technical side. There might be some problem within the defrost system that is hindering the process. Ideally, the defrost system consists of a defrost heater, an electronic control board, a bi-metal thermostat, and a thermistor.

If there’s a problem in any of these, then the defrosting process won’t occur as it should. So, you need to identify the real culprit to remedy the problem. To help you out, we have highlighted some of the parts that might be hindering the defrost process and need a replacement or repair.

1. The Adaptive Defrost Control Board

Ice build-up in your Kenmore refrigerator’s freezer is a sign that there’s something wrong with the refrigerator’s defrost cycle. Our freezers are designed to automatically undergo a defrost cycle every 8 hours or so to prevent any ice buildup or freezing of the evaporator coil. This process is initiated by the Adaptive Defrost Control Board, also known as the defrost timer.

The defrost timer is responsible for turning on the defrost heater to ensure there’s no frost in the fridge. It sends signals to the heater multiple times a day, which helps in the defrosting process. However, if the defrost timer is faulty or not working properly, then it won’t start the defrost cycle or the defrost heater. 

This will either lead the evaporator coils to freeze up by not starting the defrost heater or let the refrigerator remain in defrost mode. Both these cases are detrimental to your refrigerator’s health. That’s why the control board needs to be working properly.

But to be sure that the real culprit is really the defrost timer, you can advance the temperature dial to go into defrost mode. Ideally, the defrost cycle should start, the compressor should stop working, and the defrost heater should start de-freezing. 

If this doesn’t happen or the defrost timer doesn’t stop the defrost cycle within 30 minutes, it means there’s a problem with the defrost timer. And as such, it needs to be replaced. To help you out, we have listed the important steps to replace or adjust the defrost timer.

Steps To Replace The Defrost Timer Or The Control Board

Step 1: Turn off the fridge and open its refrigerator side. Locate the control board on the top left. The board is hidden behind the housing, and you have to remove the complete housing in order to replace it. 

Step 2: Remove the screws to dismantle the control board affixed to the refrigerator and unplug the wires. 

Step 3: Afterward, remove the small box in the housing, which is none other than the Control Board or the defrost timer. Also, remove the old wiring. 

Step 4: Attach the new board and the new wiring in place of the old one. Ensure all wiring is in place.

Step 5: Replug the housing back again. 

Your Kenmore refrigerator should start defrosting properly if the problem was indeed with the Control board. Just as a side note, you shouldn’t do this replacement process yourself as this is a relatively complex procedure. It involves a keen eye for details, especially when it comes to re-attaching the wiring back again. So, if you’re not confident enough, let professionals handle it for you. 

2. The Defrost Heater

When the defrost system doesn’t function properly, it freezes the evaporator coils and the panel where they’re located. In such cases, you have to manually thaw any frost buildup on the panel and check the status of the evaporator coils. If they’re completely frozen, you have to begin force defrosting, which will start the defrost heater. 

Once you do that, check the temperature of the defrost heater using a multimeter to ensure it’s working properly. If it’s working, the ice on evaporator coils will be melted, and the excess water will be drained out via a defrost drain.

If it’s not working, then you have to check the continuity through the defrost heater circuit via an electronic control board. To do that, the refrigerator temperature should be below 46°. Also, ensure that the refrigerator is turned off while checking continuity.

Now, while checking continuity, make sure it’s 40Ω. If not, then it’s not in continuity. If it shows continuity, there’s either a problem with the control board or the thermistor. Moreover, if there’s no continuity, the problem lies with the bi-metal thermostat or the defrost heater. 

Either way, you must get it professionally checked to replace any damaged parts. 

3. The Thermistor Or The Defrost Temperature Sensor

The thermistor is responsible for checking the temperature of the evaporator coils and sending the signal to the electronic control board if it goes down. Once the signal reaches the control board, the defrost heater is started to bring back the ideal temperature and melt any frost build-up on the coil. 

However, if the thermistor isn’t working, it won’t send this signal leading the coils to remain frozen, which will disrupt the overall functioning of the refrigerator. So, they must be working properly to ensure the overall working of the defrost system. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my Kenmore refrigerator not defrosting?

Your Kenmore refrigerator can stop defrosting due to a number of reasons like:

1. Faulty defrost timer
2. Faulty defrost heater
3. Faulty thermistor
4. Faulty bi-metal thermostat

Of all these reasons, a faulty defrost timer is the most common. With a faulty defrost timer, your refrigerator won’t go into its normal defrosting cycle, whereby the defrost heater won’t start to melt the ice buildup. 

Nevertheless, you should get it professionally checked to find out the real problem and solve it as soon as possible. 

Where is the forced defrost button on a Kenmore refrigerator?

There’s no forced defrost button on the Kenmore refrigerator, and you have to follow different steps depending on the model of your Kenmore refrigerator. For instance, if you own an old model, pressing the door switch five times for 2-3 seconds will initiate force defrost. If not, check your refrigerator’s manual to enter the diagnostics mode to start forced defrosting. 

Where is the defrost heater assembly on a Kenmore refrigerator?

The defrost heater assembly is located around the evaporator coils behind the rear panel of your freezer section. 

Where is the defrost thermostat on a Kenmore refrigerator? 

Defrost thermostat is present in different locations in different Kenmore models. So, if you have a side-by-side Kenmore fridge, the defrost thermostat is located behind the panel in the freezer section. In older Kenmore models, the thermostat is located underneath the fridge’s base. 

Final Remarks 

That was all about our detailed guide on how to defrost Kenmore refrigerators. We hope we were able to provide a necessary fix to your defrosting problem. Ideally, you won’t face this problem as Kenmore refrigerators undergo auto defrost.

Still, we never know when a problem can come knocking on our doors. That’s why a proper solution is important to ensure the issue doesn’t persist for long. But we do know that some problems can’t be handled on our own, and professional help is necessary. 

So, if you think the problem is out of your expertise, it’s better to call an expert for help.

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