UPDATE: Whirlpool has finally publicly admitted (kind of) that they’ve left their customers “high and dry” with this control board issue. They published this Class Code 91 Letter (though they never actually explain what “class code 91” means and Google wasn’t any help) with a list of all the model numbers that use the control board discussed in this article… and there are a lot. The letter states “Due to the failed ACU board W10219463 and the complexity of the control boards function the only resolution is to replace the entire control assembly with a service kit.” I have no idea about the price of this new “service kit,” but I’m confident that the process I explain below is just as effective as it’s always been in solving the control board issue. I recommend you try my extremely cheap and affective (read the comments to see how many people it’s worked for) approach first, before you spend big money on a new Whirlpool part.
In 2007, I purchased a brand new, stainless steel, side-by-side KitchenAid refrigerator for our Utah house. It worked great for almost 7 years, until two months ago… when I noticed a small puddle of water coming from under the fridge. Upon further investigation, I also noticed that the unit wasn’t able to keep the freezer below 0° F or the fridge below 38° F, and and that the metal divider between the fridge and freezer (which is called a mullion strip) was warm enough to make the rubber door seal give off a faint melting/burning odor. I guessed that all the problems might be related, but I wasn’t sure how. I decided to attack the temperature and mullion strip problem first.
One of the most common causes of a fridge not being able to keep temperature (as well as a warm mullion strip) is dirty condenser coils. If not cleaned regularly, they can get clogged with dust and prevent airflow from cooling the coils as the condenser fan tries to draw air through them. I removed the vented plastic cover on the bottom of the fridge, where air is supposed to come in, and inspected the coils. Ewww. They looked like this:
As gross as that looks, it actually made me happy. I figured this was the cause of at least one of my problems, and that cleaning the coils with a vacuum would solve it. After a quick cleaning, they did look much better!
With the condenser coils clean, I rolled the fridge forward so I could check behind it. The puddle of water was bigger back here, so I knew I was closer to the source. I put my hand down next to the vent at the bottom corner of the fridge, expecting to feel warm air coming out as the condenser fan drew room air from the front of the fridge, across the newly cleaned condenser coils, and out the vent:
To my dismay, I felt nothing… which meant my problem was worse than simply dirty condenser coils. Time to take things to geek DEFCON 3, which meant busting out my tools!
Using a 1/4″ hex head drill socket, I removed all the sheet metal screws from the fridge’s rear panel:
I could hear the compressor running, but I could see that the condenser fan wasn’t spinning.
That’s very bad.
To oversimplify it a bit, that means that while the compressor was circulating coolant through the metal tubes inside the fridge (to absorb heat) and through the tubes attached to the condenser coils outside the fridge (to release that heat and cool off), the condenser fan wasn’t drawing any air from the front of the fridge and across the coils to help them cool off. That’s explains why the mullion strip (which houses some of those heat-exchanging tubes inside the fridge) was warm, and why the the unit wasn’t able to keep things cool.
I also noticed that the small plastic tube feeding water to the ice maker was resting against one of the copper heat-exchanging tubes. That tube was hot (due to the fan not working), and it had melted a small hole in the ice maker supply tube. Every time the ice maker called for water to make more ice cubes, water would spray out of the hole, forming a puddle on the floor. Here’s a close-up of the slightly melted water tube:
I still didn’t know why the condenser fan wasn’t working, but at least I’d solved the mystery of the puddle! So to help cool off the condenser coils while I continued to troubleshoot, I grabbed a floor fan, turned it on HIGH, and set it at the rear of the fridge (my floor fan actually has double fans, but for obvious reasons I only turned on the bottom one).
Normally, the fridge’s condenser fan would pull air from the front of the fridge and push it out the vent in the rear. But because I still wanted to be able to open the fridge doors, I put my fan at the rear of the fridge pushing air across the coils and out the front. As long as air is flowing across the coils, they’ll cool properly, and after a few minutes with the fan running, the mullion strip started to cool and temperature inside the fridge began to drop!
As the fridge cooled off, I turned my attention to what I knew would be the easy fix: the melted ice maker tube. First, I shut off the supply valve in the wall behind the fridge.
Next, I used scissors to cut out the melted section of plastic tube.
After a trip to a nearby hardware store, I returned home with a 1/4″ quick-connect plastic coupler, which is a far easier (and reliable) way to repair refrigerator water lines than trying to use copper fittings.
I pushed the connector onto one side of the ice maker tube:
then pushed the remaining tube into the other side:
I turned the supply valve back on, and re-routed the plastic tube away from any copper heat exchange tubing to avoid such problems in the future, and turned my attention to the condenser fan.
A condenser fan is designed to run any time the compressor runs. If your compressor is running, but your condenser fan isn’t, then one (or possibly both) of the following two things is broken:
- The condenser fan itself
- The control board that provides voltage to the fan when it’s supposed to run
In most cases, your fridge’s condenser fan is designed to go bad long before its control board does. Swapping out the fan is relatively fast and inexpensive, assuming you can get your hands on one (and they’re not hard to find). I removed the wiring plug from the fan, and checked the fan’s label to see what voltage it required:
I also noted the fan’s part number (UDQR007W7), and was happy to find that I could buy a new one on Amazon for less than $60. Please be a dead fan… please be a dead fan… I pressed buttons inside the fridge to lower the desired temperature, which kicked on the compressor. Using my volt meter, I checked the voltage on the wiring plug that I’d removed from the fan. At first, I read 109V:
Then zero: Then 112V:
Then zero again. The low and intermittent power readings let me to suspect that maybe the problem wasn’t with the fan, but rather with the control board that’s supposed to send at least 115V (and probably more like 120V) to the fan whenever the compressor is running.
To find the part number for the control board, I went to my fridge’s secret compartment. Did you know your fridge has a secret compartment? Yep – it probably does! Because professional appliance repair dudes can’t possibly remember all the various part numbers for every electronic piece on your fridge (and let’s face it… if they did have that ability, they probably wouldn’t be working as appliance repair dudes), most manufactures hide printed wiring and service sheets somewhere in a part of your fridge that anyone other than a repair dude would probably never look. On this KitchenAid fridge, it’s tucked inside the rear of the plastic vented cover that I’d removed to clean the condenser coils:
And here’s what it looks like unfolded:
The service sheet showed the main circuit board’s part number was 2307028. I looked up that part number, figuring I’d able to quickly get my hands on one for decent price, especially since my fridge was only 7 years old, right?
My search results included a number of major online appliance parts outlets that listed the control board’s part number… but all of them showed it as “Out of Stock.” After 20 minutes of searching through parts providers’ websites and owner DIY forum posts, I was shocked to discover that I was far from the first to have these types of problems with a KitchenAid, Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, or JennAir fridge — all of which used this exact same Whirlpool control board with part number 2220398, W10219463, AP4411082, 2307028, W10185291, 2307005, 2303934, 2252111, or 2223443 (depending on the brand).
But the kicker was that all sources reported the same thing: that part is discontinued, and Whirlpool Corporation (who owns KitchenAid and all those other brands) doesn’t make it any more! I figured there’s no way that could be true. My “high-end” fridge had cost thousands of dollars… and was barely seven years old! KitchenAid’s website, however, still showed the part priced at $225.79 as a “Special Order” item:
I called KitchenAid’s customer service line and asked for their parts department. They informed me that their website was mistaken — they no longer make the part. But they did give me a phone number for an independent repair company (CoreCentric Solutions) that I could contact, arrange to ship my board, have them repair it, and ship it back. I took down the number, but wasn’t ready to give up so quickly.
Further online research revealed an apocryphal story about the Japanese manufacturer of these boards being destroyed in the tsunami of 2011. I’m not sure if I believe that, but even if it is true, I find it hard to believe that Whirlpool Corp was unable to find another source willing to make them. They probably didn’t want to incur the cost of establishing a new vendor and going through quality control… although, with the seemingly high failure rate of these boards, it doesn’t seem like quality control is really that big a deal to them.
Anyway, when my “regular” DIY parts sources don’t come through for me, I go where all power shoppers go: eBay! I searched for “2307028” on eBay and was flabbergasted by what I found. Turns out you can buy a replacement control board… for $850! Obviously, once this problem became widespread among the thousands of owners whose refrigerators rely on this defect-prone board, the laws of supply and demand took hold… driving the price of this control board to nearly half the price of a new fridge (or a tenth of the price if you bought a $9,000 Architect Series model). eBay listings also included repair services for the control board priced around $250. That’s still nuts for a board that used to cost less than that brand new! In my geek rage, I decided I’d do a little more tinkering before I caved and paid for the repair. It was time to yank the control board and see if I could identify the problem myself.
I unplugged the fridge, moved my fan out of the way, then used a screwdriver to remove the inverter box (the grey plastic box in this photo):
With the inverter box out of the way, I removed the screws holding the metal control board housing in place, then pulled the housing out to expose the control board:
I unplugged all of the connectors (it’s always smart to snap photos like this before taking anything apart), and got my first clear look at the naughty control board:
I removed the board from the metal housing by pinching the five plastic pins (one in each corner plus one in the middle) and put it on a towel on my kitchen counter to get a better look:
Because I knew the problem presented as intermittent power to the fan, I speculated that cause was most likely one of the following three things:
- A bad physical connection where the board connected to the wire running to the fan
- A failed (or failing) capacitor that regulates the power to the fan
- A failed (or failing) relay that switches power to the fan
I traced the two condenser fan wires back from the fan to determine which of the six plastic plug connectors on the board fed voltage to the fan, and it turned out to be two of the pins in the connector marked P5 on the board (lower right corner in the photo above). I tested the wires for continuity, and they checked out fine. I flipped the control board over, and re-soldered the pins on connector P5, thereby (hopefully) eliminating possibility #1. To eliminate possibility #2, I inspected the capacitor nearest the P5 connector (looks like a silver cylinder wrapped in black plastic in the photo). It was a 220 uf 35V (pronounced “two-twenty microfarad thirty-five volt”) unit, and if you carefully compare its top to the other two capacitors in the above photo, you’ll notice that the light reflects off it differently… meaning it could be slightly bulging at the top, which is a sure sign of failure (or impending failure). Here’s a closer shot of all three capacitors (the one in question sits in position C32):
I figured I wouldn’t take any chances, and capacitors are cheap… as in “$1.49 at Radio Shack for a new one” cheap. I don’t shop at “Da Shack” much these days (update – Radio Shack is now out of business), and there’s a store less than two miles from the Utah house. A few minutes later I was back home with a replacement:
Since Radio Shack closed down, there’s probably not a local electronics store near you where you can run out and buy a new capacitor. So if you’re following these same steps to fix your fridge, a comparable one would be an Amico 610256488578 ($5.50 on Amazon with free Prime Shipping) or a Nichicon UPW1V221MPD ($3.25 on Digi-Key plus around $5 shipping). An upgraded capacitor (that will still fit and last the longest) is a Panasonic EEU-EB1J221 (62 cents + shipping on Amazon).
I desoldered the old capacitor:
and soldered in the new one, making sure to keep the “stripe” on the side of the capacitor facing the same direction (toward the bottom of the board) as the original (which is more important than just cosmetics):
To eliminate potential problem #3, I’d have to figure out which relay controlled the fan. I flipped the board over, and traced the circuit with my finger from the connecting pins and determined that the potentially faulty relay was the second one from the top in this photo:
The relay shows NAIS part number JQ1P-B-12V-Y3, meaning it’s a 12VDC relay (i.e. the relay coils expect 12 volts of direct current to actuate) and it’s also marked “4A 125VAC” (meaning its contacts are rated to handle a circuit of up to four amps of 125 volt alternating current). Among all three possible problems, this relay had the highest probability of being the actual culprit. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a source for these relays in Utah, and I was headed back to Seattle in two days, so I wouldn’t have time to find one online and get one shipped. I hoped that maybe fixes #1 and #2 had solved the problem, so I re-installed the board and powered up the fridge. After a few minutes, the compressor came on… and so did the fan! Hooray! But after another minute or so, the fan stopped… while the compressor kept running. Nooooooo! I tested the voltage to the fan connector once again, and was disappointed to read only 88V:
And then zero volts again. Arrgggh…. Power still wasn’t getting off the control board reliably. I don’t leave a lot of food in the fridge when I’m not in Utah, but I didn’t want the food inside the freezer the thaw, so I decided I’d throw a temporary fix at the fridge while I was back in Seattle for a few weeks, and then deal with the control board issues again when I returned the following month. Using an old VCR power cord and some spare computer power cables, I cobbled together a 120V power cord and spliced it directly into the condenser fan. This meant that the fan was plugged directly to the wall, and no longer powered by the control board, so it would run 24/7:
Why did I make a connector instead of just wiring the fan directly to the cable? Good question! It was so I could easily disconnect it and install the back vent panel on the fridge, which is an important part of ensure proper air flow over the condenser coils:
I used the fridge normally for the next couple of days, and then returned to Seattle.
On my next trip down to Utah the following month, the fridge continued to work fine with the compressor fan running 24/7, and I was tempted to leave it as it was… but the question of that final relay was still nagging me. So, at the end of my week there, I emptied the fridge (we used all the frozen food that week), removed the control board again, and decided I’d wasted enough time on the board myself. I phoned the company that KitchenAid’s customer service had suggested: CoreCentric Solutions. They quoted me $121 (including shipping) to “recondition” the board and send it back to me with a one-year warranty. I figured that’s a far better deal than some of the other online locations such as FixYourBoard.com that offer to do it for $220! I shipped it off, using the Utah house’s address as the return shipping address, so the repaired board would be waiting for me the next time I went to Utah (which was only three weeks later). As you can imagine, I was extremely curious to examine the board and compare it to the “before” photos I’d taken. Here’s what my “reconditioned” board looks like now:
At first glance, it was obvious they’d replaced the C32 capacitor (the exact same one I’d already replaced myself), but their “RECONDITIONED” sticker conveniently covered the other new item on the board. Here’s a close-up shot with that sticker removed:
I knew it! The original board had four identical NAIS-branded relays here, but CoreCentric Solutions had replaced the second one from the top with an Omron 12V relay that was rated to support up to a 10A 250VAC circuit… which is considerably beefier than the original NAIS relay that was only rated for 4A 125VAC. Omron’s part number for this replacement relay is G5Q-14-DC12. The bummer (for me) is that you can buy that relay between $4 – $8 on Amazon or Digi-Key. One of my readers recommends using an even better-rated G5Q-14-EU12DC relay (available on Mouser).
I flipped the board over to inspect the solder joints:
It’s easy to see a human-made solder joint vs. a machine made one, so I was able to quickly verify that CoreCentric had replaced nothing else on the board. I’d spent $121 to confirm exactly what I’d thought… the fix for the board was a capacitor and a relay totaling somewhere between $6 and $10 in parts. Live and learn.
I installed the “reconditioned” board back in the refrigerator:
I buttoned everything back up, and fired it up. After a few minutes, the compressor and fan came on… and they stayed in sync the entire week. The fridge now works great again!
To make my $121 “tuition payment” worthwhile, I hope that anyone else experiencing this problem finds this blog post, tracks down a replacement capacitor and relay, then replaces them on their own control board themselves (or you can ask a geeky friend with basic soldering skillz to do it for you). I’m very disappointed in Whirlpool Corp’s lack of customer service with this issue, particularly since this one control board affects so many of their products.
For your convenience, I’ve created a short Amazon Listmania list with the two components you’ll need for this fix, as well as a soldering iron and de-solderer if you don’t have them.
Or, you can search on your own for these part numbers:
- Capacitor: Panasonic EEU-EB1J221 (recommended), Amico 610256488578, or Nichicon UPW1V221MPD
- Relay: Omron G5Q-14-EU12DC (recommended) or Omron G5Q-14-DC12
Also, for your reference, here are a few of the model numbers of Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Kenmore, and JennAir refrigerators that use control board:
W10219463 or 2307028: 10641522500 10641523500 10641524500 10641529500 10644022600 10644022601 10644022602 10644022603 10644023600 10644023601 10644023602 10644023603 10644024600 10644029600 10644029601 10644029602 10644029603 10644032600 10644032601 10644032602 10644032603 10644033600 10644033601 10644033602 10644033603 10644034600 10644039600 10644039601 10644039602 10644039603 10644322400 10644323400 10644324400 10644329400 10644422600 10644422601 10644422602 10644422603 10644423600 10644423601 10644423602 10644423603 10644424600 10644424601 10644424602 10644424603 10644429600 10644429601 10644429602 10644429603 10644432600 10644432601 10644432602 10644432603 10644433600 10644433601 10644433602 10644433603 10644434600 10644434601 10644434602 10644434603 10644439600 10644439601 10644439602 10644439603 EC3JHAXRL00 EC3JHAXRL01 EC3JHAXRS00 EC3JHAXRS01 GC3NHAXSB00 GC3NHAXSQ00 GC3NHAXST00 GC3NHAXSY00 GC3NHAXVA00 GC3NHAXVA01 GC3NHAXVB00 GC3NHAXVB01 GC3NHAXVQ00 GC3NHAXVQ01 GC3NHAXVS00 GC3NHAXVS01 GC3NHAXVY00 GC3NHAXVY01 GC3PHEXNB00 GC3PHEXNB01 GC3PHEXNB02 GC3PHEXNB03 GC3PHEXNQ00 GC3PHEXNQ01 GC3PHEXNQ02 GC3PHEXNQ03 GC3PHEXNS00 GC3PHEXNS01 GC3PHEXNS02 GC3PHEXNS03 GC3PHEXNT00 GC3PHEXNT01 GC3PHEXNT02 GC3PHEXNT03 GC3SHEXNB00 GC3SHEXNB01 GC3SHEXNB02 GC3SHEXNB03 GC3SHEXNB04 GC3SHEXNQ00 GC3SHEXNQ01 GC3SHEXNQ02 GC3SHEXNQ03 GC3SHEXNQ04 GC3SHEXNS00 GC3SHEXNS01 GC3SHEXNS02 GC3SHEXNS03 GC3SHEXNS04 GC3SHEXNT00 GC3SHEXNT01 GC3SHEXNT02 GC3SHEXNT03 GC3SHEXNT04 GC5NHAXSB00 GC5NHAXSB01 GC5NHAXSB02 GC5NHAXSB03 GC5NHAXSQ00 GC5NHAXSQ01 GC5NHAXSQ02 GC5NHAXSQ03 GC5NHAXST00 GC5NHAXST01 GC5NHAXST02 GC5NHAXST03 GC5NHAXSY00 GC5NHAXSY01 GC5NHAXSY02 GC5NHAXSY03 GC5NHAXVB00 GC5NHAXVB01 GC5NHAXVQ00 GC5NHAXVQ01 GC5NHAXVS00 GC5NHAXVS01 GC5NHAXVY00 GC5NHAXVY01 GC5SHEXNB00 GC5SHEXNB01 GC5SHEXNB02 GC5SHEXNB03 GC5SHEXNB04 GC5SHEXNB05 GC5SHEXNQ00 GC5SHEXNQ01 GC5SHEXNQ02 GC5SHEXNQ03 GC5SHEXNQ04 GC5SHEXNQ05 GC5SHEXNS00 GC5SHEXNS01 GC5SHEXNS02 GC5SHEXNS03 GC5SHEXNS04 GC5SHEXNS05 GC5SHEXNT00 GC5SHEXNT01 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KSCS23FVWH00 KSCS23FVWH01 KSCS23FVWH02 KSCS23FVWH03 KSCS23INBL00 KSCS23INBL01 KSCS23INBL02 KSCS23INBL03 KSCS23INBT00 KSCS23INBT01 KSCS23INBT02 KSCS23INBT03 KSCS23INMS00 KSCS23INMS01 KSCS23INMS02 KSCS23INMS03 KSCS23INSS00 KSCS23INSS01 KSCS23INSS02 KSCS23INSS03 KSCS23INWH00 KSCS23INWH01 KSCS23INWH02 KSCS23INWH03 KSCS25FSBL00 KSCS25FSBL01 KSCS25FSBL02 KSCS25FSBL03 KSCS25FSBT00 KSCS25FSBT01 KSCS25FSBT02 KSCS25FSBT03 KSCS25FSMS00 KSCS25FSMS01 KSCS25FSMS02 KSCS25FSMS03 KSCS25FSSS01 KSCS25FSSS02 KSCS25FSSS03 KSCS25FSWH00 KSCS25FSWH01 KSCS25FSWH02 KSCS25FSWH03 KSCS25FTBL00 KSCS25FTBL01 KSCS25FTBL02 KSCS25FTBT00 KSCS25FTBT01 KSCS25FTBT02 KSCS25FTMK00 KSCS25FTMK01 KSCS25FTMK02 KSCS25FTMS00 KSCS25FTMS01 KSCS25FTMS02 KSCS25FTSS00 KSCS25FTSS01 KSCS25FTSS02 KSCS25FTWH00 KSCS25FTWH01 KSCS25FTWH02 KSCS25FVBL00 KSCS25FVBL01 KSCS25FVBL02 KSCS25FVBL03 KSCS25FVBT00 KSCS25FVBT01 KSCS25FVBT02 KSCS25FVBT03 KSCS25FVMK00 KSCS25FVMK01 KSCS25FVMK02 KSCS25FVMK03 KSCS25FVMS00 KSCS25FVMS01 KSCS25FVMS02 KSCS25FVMS03 KSCS25FVSS00 KSCS25FVSS01 KSCS25FVSS02 KSCS25FVSS03 KSCS25FVWH00 KSCS25FVWH01 KSCS25FVWH02 KSCS25FVWH03 KSCS25INBL00 KSCS25INBL01 KSCS25INBL02 KSCS25INBL03 KSCS25INBT00 KSCS25INBT01 KSCS25INBT02 KSCS25INBT03 KSCS25INMS00 KSCS25INMS01 KSCS25INMS02 KSCS25INMS03 KSCS25INSS00 KSCS25INSS01 KSCS25INSS02 KSCS25INSS03 KSCS25INWH00 KSCS25INWH01 KSCS25INWH02 KSCS25INWH03 KSCS25MSMS00 KSCS25MSMS01 KSCS25MTMK00 KSCS25MTMK01 KSCS25MTMS00 KSCS25MTMS01 KSCS25MVMK00 KSCS25MVMS00 KSSC36FMS01 KSSC36FMS02 KSSC36FMS03 KSSC36QMS01 KSSC36QMS02 KSSC36QMS03 KSSC42FMS01 KSSC42FMS02 KSSC42FMS03 KSSC42QMS01 KSSC42QMS02 KSSC42QMS03 KSSC42QMU01 KSSC48FMS01 KSSC48FMS02 KSSC48FMS03 KSSC48QMS01 KSSC48QMS02 KSSC48QMS03 KSSO36FMX01 KSSO36FMX02 KSSO36FMX03 KSSO36QMB01 KSSO36QMB02 KSSO36QMB03 KSSO36QMW01 KSSO36QMX02 KSSO42FMX01 KSSO42FMX02 KSSO42FMX03 KSSO42QMB01 KSSO42QMB02 KSSO42QMB03 KSSO42QMW01 KSSO42QMX01 KSSO42QMX02 KSSO48FMX01 KSSO48FMX02 KSSO48FMX03 KSSO48QMB01 KSSO48QMB02 KSSO48QMB03 KSSO48QMW01 KSSO48QMX02 KSSP36QMS01 KSSP36QMS02 KSSP36QMS03 KSSP42QMS01 KSSP42QMS02 KSSP42QMS03 KSSP48QMS01 KSSP48QMS02 KSSP48QMS03 KSSS36FMB01 KSSS36FMB02 KSSS36FMX01 KSSS36FMX02 KSSS36FMX03 KSSS36QMB01 KSSS36QMB02 KSSS36QMB03 KSSS36QMW01 KSSS36QMW02 KSSS36QMW03 KSSS36QMX01 KSSS36QMX02 KSSS36QMX03 KSSS42FMB01 KSSS42FMB02 KSSS42FMX01 KSSS42FMX02 KSSS42FMX03 KSSS42QMB01 KSSS42QMB02 KSSS42QMB03 KSSS42QMW01 KSSS42QMW02 KSSS42QMW03 KSSS42QMX01 KSSS42QMX02 KSSS42QMX03 KSSS48FMB01 KSSS48FMB02 KSSS48FMX01 KSSS48FMX02 KSSS48FMX03 KSSS48FMXO3 KSSS48QMB01 KSSS48QMB02 KSSS48QMB03 KSSS48QMW01 KSSS48QMW02 KSSS48QMW03 KSSS48QMX01 KSSS48QMX02 KSSS48QMX03 KSSV42FMM00 KSSV42FMM01 KSSV42FMM02 KSSV42FMS00 KSSV42FMS01 KSSV42FMS02
Yeah. That’s a bunch of them. And there are probably more! If you’re the owner of one of these refrigerators and have experienced this problem, please tell me about it in the comments!
Update: New to Soldering? Try a Desoldering Tool
If you’re new to soldering, you may want to consider using a desoldering tool when removing the capacitor and relay before installing the new ones.
You can pick one at your local Radio Shack, or I’ve included one in my Amazon Listmania list for this fix.
Update: Solder Points for Replacement Relay
I’ve had a lot of positive feedback on this article, which is great. I love hearing about others who’ve been able to fix their refrigerators with these same steps.
I’ve also received some requests to point out exactly where the solder points for the relay are on the rear of the control board. This is another copy of a close-up of the rear of the board, with the five solder points for the relay that should be replaced outlined in red:
I hope it’s helpful!
Update: Don’t Replace Just the Capacitor
I’ve received lots of comments from readers who have successfully completed this fix on their fridges (yay!). But a recurring theme I’ve sees by reading those comments is a fridge owner who replaces only the capacitor (since it’s the easiest component to find), then re-installs the control board. In many cases, this works… for a short period of time. Eventually, however, the fridge stops working again and replacing the relay mentioned in my article does the trick for good.
The hard part of this entire process is taking your fridge “offline,” getting access to the control board, and removing it. While you’re going through that trouble, I strongly recommend that you replace both the capacitor and the relay at the same time. It’s literally only $5 – $10 more expensive. Hear me now, believe me later. 🙂
Update: Make Sure Your Fridge Isn’t In Demo Mode
One of my blog readers recently did this fix to his Kitchen-Aid fridge, but was disappointed when the fridge didn’t come back to life. He actually had fixed his fridge, but during his troubleshooting he had tried to put his fridge in “MAX COOL” mode, but accidentally put it in “DEMO” mode instead. Demo mode allows all the lights and electronics to work, but not the cooling (perfect for a demo unit in a store).
So when testing your fix, if your fridge is in demo mode, here’s how to put it back to normal:
- Shut off “MAX COOL” if it’s turned on.
- Press and hold the “MAX COOL” and “Cooling On/Off” buttons simultaneously until you hear a beep (the MAX COOL light will be off while both buttons are pushed).
- Turn on “MAX COOL.”
- To enable normal cooling mode, press and hold the “MAX COOL” and “Cooling On/Off” buttons simultaneously for about three seconds until you hear a beep.
Thanks to Jeff for sharing this great tip!
Update: How to Prevent This from Happening Again
Even though it will only take you $6 to repair your control board following these instructions, it might be worth a few dollars more to protect your fridge from future issues… by installing a fridge surge protector.
Power surges, nearby lightening strikes, and/or brown-outs (low power situations) are what cause the majority of household electronics problems. They weaken capacitors, fry relays, and installing a surge protector is cheap insurance against having to pull it apart, get parts, and maybe spoil a fridge and freezer full of food in the process. I suspect a thunderstorm (which are common in Utah) was the cause of my board’s failure.
To prevent it from happening again, I bought an RCA PSAPP1R Appliance Surge Protector, which cost me less than $25 (with free shipping from Amazon). A regular power-strip surge protector probably wouldn’t be sufficient — you want something that is designed to handle the amperage draw from you fridge when the compressor kicks on, and that has a fast “clamp” rate (reaction time to a power event).
The RCA PSAPP1R has two LEDs: a red one showing the power is on, and a green one showing that the appliance is protected. However, what I really love about this unit is that it has an audible beep when power protection kicks in… and the unit “sacrifices” itself to save the fridge. This is perfect, since it’s plugged into the wall behind my fridge where I can’t see the LEDs!
Here’s what mine looks like installed on the wall behind my fridge:
If it looks big in the photo… that’s because it is. It only plugs into one three-prong perceptible, but it takes up both receptacles’ space in standard two-receptacle outlet, and has a plastic “prong” on the back that slides into the bottom outlet’s ground hold to keep the unit stable on the wall:
However, if you only have a single three-prong outlet behind your fridge, I see no harm in cutting off that plastic prong on the back of the unit. It does nothing but help hold it in place. Of course, you do so at your own risk… and it will technically void the warranty. If your equipment does get damaged, any modification to the unit will be an excuse for them not to fulfill their guarantee.
The RCA surge protector allows you to plug in two appliances (one on each side), but I only needed one for my fridge.
Also keep in mind that this unit sticks out from the wall just over 2 inches, so you won’t be able to push your fridge flush against the wall. That’s a good thing, however… especially if it’s installed in a cabinet (like mine). You need a couple inches of vent space behind your fridge for air to be properly drawn in the front, over the condenser, and out the back.
To give you a better idea of how it looks, here’s an overhead shot showing how far the surge protector sticks out from the wall:
After installing the surge protector, my fridge slid right back into place, and the 2″ space at the back will probably do it some good!
So my advice to prevent this issue from happening in the future is to pick up an appliance surge protector that’s beefy enough to protect the electronics on your fridge (like the RCA fridge surge protector I got on Amazon).
Update: Radio Shack is Gone
When I first published this article, Radio Shack was usually the quickest and cheapest location for the capacitor you’ll need for the repair. Radio Shack has now gone the way of the Do-Do, so I’ve updated the links to other locations (such as Amazon and Digi-Key) where you can get the capacitor you’ll need. In fact, the capacitors I link to now are even better quality than the Radio Shack one.
Update: Inverter Box Replacement
After hearing the repair story of one of my readers named Marco, whose symptoms were worse than the ones I faced, I’ve written another post for Whirlpool / KitchenAid fridges on replacing the inverter box. If your fridge is totally dead and won’t power up, there’s a chance it could be the inverter.