How To Defrost A Kenmore Refrigerator (the easy way)

If you own a Kenmore refrigerator that is in need of a defrost keep reading to find out the best way to defrost any Kenmore refrigerator easily. For models that don’t have a self-defrost program, or aren’t frost-free models, you’ll need to defrost your Kenmore refrigerator manually. 

This can be quite time consuming, but it will actually save you money in the long run. Whilst performing a manual defrost, you will be saving on the cost of electricity, and also increase the lifespan of your fridge.

How To Manually Defrost A Kenmore Refrigerator

To manually defrost a Kenmore refrigerator just follow these steps;

  1. Remove The Contents Of The Fridge & Freezer (if applicable)
    Completely empty the refrigerator and freezer compartments and store the contents somewhere cool.
  2. Turn Dial To Defrost
    Turn the temperature setting control dial to “Off” or “Defrost” (depending on model). Then disconnect from the power supply (remove plug or switch circuit breaker).
  3. Open Door(s)
    Open the door to the fridge and the freezer and place a large bowl of hot water inside the fridge just below the freezer section in the fridge. Place a separate large bowl of hot water inside the freezer.
  4. Use Towels Or Cloths For Water Mop Up
    As the ice melts, mop up excess water using towels or absorbent cloths.
  5. Replace Hot Water Bowls As Needed
    As the hot water cools, replace with fresh hot water carefully.
  6. Scrape Iced Walls Using A Plastic Spatula
    As the ice softens, scrape it off the walls, ceiling and floors using a plastic spatula to speed up the defrost process.
  7. Use Hair Dryer On Thick Icy Buildups
    In areas of thick ice, carefully aim a hair dryer at the ice, without allowing the hair dryer or cable to touch the fridges surfaces at all.
  8. Dry All Surfaces
    Once all of the ice has thawed, be sure to mop up all of the water and dry all surfaces before resetting the fridge to its correct running temperature and/or reconnecting to the power supply.
  9. Restock fridge and freezer contents
    Replace all of the items you removed from the fridge and freezer earlier and shut the doors.

The Adaptive Defrost Control Board (what is it & where to find it)

The adaptive defrost control board cuts power from the refrigerator’s cooling system and diverts that power to the defrost heater while the appliance is in defrost mode. Then redirects the power to the cooling system once the defrost cycle is complete.   

In Kenmore refrigerators, the adaptive defrost control board is often located within the temperature control housing in the fridge part of the appliance. If it’s not there, it will be underneath the door, behind the kickplate or sharing the compartment with the compressor, it all depends on the Kenmore refrigerator model you own.

How To Diagnose & Repair The Adaptive Defrost Control Board

To effect a repair to the adaptive defrost control board, follow the advice in this video.

Adjusting The Defrost Timer On A Kenmore Refrigerator

To adjust the defrost timer on your Kenmore refrigerator; 

  • Disconnect the power supply by removing the plug or switching the circuit breaker
  • Then turn the thermostat or temperature control switch to “0” or “Off”
  • Reconnect the power supply and wait for 30 seconds
  • Return the temperature control switch or thermostat to its correct setting

Kenmore Refrigerator Auto Defrost Not Working? Do This

If the auto defrost on your Kenmore refrigerator isn’t working, check the defrost timer. If it’s stuck in the cooling mode, it will need to be replaced. If the defrost timer is working correctly however, check the defrost heater.

The defrost heater removes ice from the evaporator coils by heating up and melting the ice. To check if the defrost heater is working correctly use a multimeter to check for continuity. If the heater is working correctly, check the thermostat and if this isn’t working replace it.

If the thermostat is working the problem has to be the defrost control board.

The defrost components on a Kenmore refrigerator are located in the following positions;

  • Defrost Timer – Within the fridge section in the temperature control compartment
  • Defrost Heater – Connected to the evaporator coils behind the back panel 
  • Defrost Thermostat – Behind the back panel
  • Defrost Control Board – Alongside control board

Force Defrost

To initiate a force defrost on your Kenmore refrigerator, press the “on/off“ button to off on the control panel. Press and hold the “water filter reset” button and the “on/off” button at the same time until the display panel displays “test # 1” on the water filter display.

Tap the water filter reset button 5 times until the display shows “#6” (defrost mode). This will turn on the defrost heater and initiate force defrost mode.

Other Kenmore models like the Elite for example, will need the refrigerator door switch pressed 5 times in quick succession to enter force defrost mode, which will be signified by a loud beep from the control panel.

Defrosting A Side By Side Kenmore Refrigerator

To defrost a Kenmore side by side refrigerator, start by pressing the button that decreases the freezer temperature. Then remove all of the contents of the fridge and freezer and store them somewhere cold. Disconnect the power supply and remove all of the shelves etc from the fridge and freezer.

Once the unit has defrosted, which can take some time (upto 18 to 24 hours), mop up all water and dry the appliance thoroughly. Reconnect the power supply and restock the fridge and freezer.

How To Unclog The Defrost Drain On Your Kenmore Refrigerator

Over time the defrost drain can get clogged up with various foreign bodies, to unclog it remove the power supply from your appliance. Then locate the defrost drain on your particular model, it will be either behind the back panel of the freezer or underneath the false bottom.

Gently push a long wire or wooden skewer into the drain to remove any blockage. Using a syringe, squirt a 50/50 mixture of bleach and water into the drain until the water dripping from the drain pan runs clear.

Then replace the false bottom or back panel and reconnect to the power supply.

How Long Does The Automatic Defrost Cycle Run For?

On a Kenmore refrigerator, the automatic defrost runs for around 20 to 30 minutes and cuts in around every 8 hours. This applies to all Kenmore models with automatic defrost.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you put a Kenmore refrigerator in defrost mode?

To put a Kenmore refrigerator into defrost mode press the fridge light switch button 5 times in quick succession. To take it out of defrost mode press the door switch button another 5 times in quick succession.

How long is the defrost cycle on a Kenmore refrigerator?

The defrost cycle on a Kenmore refrigerator is 20 to 30 minutes every 8 hours or so.

How warm does a freezer get on a defrost cycle? 

During a defrost cycle, a freezer can warm from 20 to 45F (-6 to +7 C). But this warm up only lasts between 18 to 30 minutes.

Why is my freezer full of frost?

Frost forms in freezers when warm air enters and condenses, then freezes. This is often caused by the freezer door being left open or the door seals failing.

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