How to Replace a Faulty Defrost Heater in Your Frigidaire Refrigerator

An above normal temperature in your refrigerator’s fresh food compartment or a below normal temperature in your freezer indicates the evaporator coils in your appliance are frosted over. A common cause of frozen coils is a faulty defrost heater. The defrost heater’s main purpose is melting the frost off the evaporator coils, meaning when the heater fails, frost build-up is inevitable. Unfortunately, restricted airflow through the coils is the main symptom of frost accumulation, which is why the temperature in the fresh food compartment suddenly rises to an unfavorable degree. Before the temperature in the freezer and fresh food compartment can return to normal, the defective defrost heater in your Frigidaire refrigerator model FFHS2322MW will need to be replaced.

Repairing your refrigerator can become hazardous when the proper safety precautions aren’t followed. Before beginning any type of repair, you must unplug your appliance and turn off its water supply. Wearing proper safety equipment, such as work gloves and protective goggles is also a precaution you shouldn’t skip. If at any point you don’t feel confident in your ability to successfully repair your refrigerator, please stop what you’re doing and contact an appliance repair technician.

Tools Needed

  • Multimeter
  • ¼ in. Nut Driver
  • Phillips Screwdriver
  • Flathead Screwdriver
  • Pliers

How to Test the Defrost Heater

Although a faulty defrost heater is often the cause of frost build-up on evaporator coils, it’s always wise to test the part before you decide to replace it. To do so, you must use a multimeter to find out whether or not the component has continuity. If there is no continuity present, the heater is no longer functioning and will need to be replaced.

How to Gain Access to the Defrost Heater

The defrost heater in your Frigidaire refrigerator is located in the back of your freezer behind the lower rear panel. To reach the part, open your freezer door and slide out the ice bin and auger assembly. Then, remove the remaining shelves and bins. Before you can detach the lower panel, you’ll need to remove the bottom three rails from the side walls of the freezer, using your ¼ inch nut driver. Once you’ve taken the rails off the walls, you can unthread the screws securing the rear panel to the back wall of the freezer. To do this, use your Phillips screwdriver. With the rear panel out of the way, you’ll get a good look at the evaporator coils and the defrost heater which surrounds the coils.

How to Uninstall the Defrost Heater

At this point, if you’re not already wearing work gloves it’s highly recommended you put a pair on to protect your hands from the sharp fins on the evaporator coils. In order to reach the defrost heater, you’ll need to move the coils, so use your nut driver to unthread the two screws securing the evaporator coils to the back of your freezer. Next, using your pliers, grab the bottom of the heat shield, which is the large metal sheet located under the evaporator coils, and slowly pull it forward as far as it will go. Then, put the pliers down, and carefully take hold of the copper tubing at the top of the coils and pull it towards you, slightly. After that, pick up your pliers, and once again inch the heat shield forward until it won’t budge any further. Now, disconnect the two wire harnesses found near the copper tubing. Once the wire harnesses are separated, continue pulling the heat shield forward.

By this stage, you should be able to see the insulation wedged between the walls and the sides of the evaporator coils. You can either push the foam pieces behind the defrost heater with a Flathead screwdriver or if it’s easier, simply pull the insulation out.

Now, you can start uninstalling the defrost heater. At the bottom of the evaporator coils, you’ll find the base of the heater, which is held in place by a retaining clip. Open the clamp holding the retaining clip closed, and then dislodge the defrost heater from the evaporator coils.

How to Install a New Defrost Heater

Start installing the defrost heater at the bottom of the evaporator coils. Continue pushing the component up until you can weave the right side wire terminal through the top evaporator coil, Then, resume installing the heater. Once the base of the component is flush with the bottom of the evaporator coils, secure the heater to the coils with the retaining clip you removed earlier. To finish up, connect the heater’s wire terminals to the terminals located above the evaporator coils.

How to Reassemble the Freezer Compartment

After successfully installing the new defrost heater, you’ll need to start reassembling your freezer. First, reinsert the insulation you removed from in-between the freezer walls and the evaporator. Then, you’ll need to alternate between pushing the bottom of the evaporator backwards and moving the copper tubing back to its original placement. As you’re doing this, be extra careful with the tubing; otherwise, if you accidentally damage the tubing, you’ll be dealing with an expensive appliance repair. At this point, examine the evaporator coils, if any of the fins appear bent to one side, carefully straighten them with your Flathead screwdriver. To finish reinstalling the evaporator coils, rethread the mounting screws that hold it to the back of the freezer.

Now, you can close up the back of the freezer compartment by reattaching the lower rear access panel. Once the panel is secure, grab the shelving rails and reinstall them on the side walls of your appliance. After the rails are in place, slide the freezer shelves and bins back into the compartment, and then, to finish up the reassembly process, replace the ice maker bin and auger.

Your very last step is plugging your refrigerator back in and turning on its water supply. If your repair is successful, the temperature in your freezer and fresh food compartment should return to normal shortly after the electricity is restored to your refrigerator.

If you’ve tested your defrost heater and found it isn’t the cause of frost build-up on the evaporator coils, and you’re having difficulty pinpointing which part of the defrost system is failing, please contact us today and we’ll be happy to help you diagnose and repair your refrigerator.