Fixing the Fridge

My family owns a Whirlpool side-by-side fridge (model ED25RFXFW03) that came with the house when we bought it four years ago. It died within the first week, but a repairman was able to fix it for about $150. Problem solved.

Well, the stupid thing died again this week, but it mattered a little more this time since we have a nearly two-year-old little girl who eats things like milk, yogurt, lunch meat, and cheese. You know — things that like to be cold?

As a result, last night turned into a search-fest on this-here series of tubes we like to call the Internet (after I threw all the somewhat-still-frozen foods into our deep freeze out in the garage, of course…). I thought the compressor had died or something, so I started calling around for potential repairs. Sears has a pretty decent protection plan that will cover you for all parts and labor for 12 months at about $250, but they couldn’t get a tech to the house for nearly two weeks — unsatisfactory! Other places were closed on a late Friday night, and the answering machines said they were closed weekends, too. I did some comparison shopping on a new fridge, which seemed to start around $800 for a comparable model. Crap.

Luckily, as my wife and I were talking about the symptoms after I ran to the store for ice and we packed the cold food into coolers. She remembered the symptoms of the last breakdown were similar — lights still on, and the fridge pretty much sounded the same except for a “click – buzz – click” every couple of minutes. That turned out to be the key. A few minutes of Googling later, I found an article that described the sound and what it most likely meant — the compressor’s start relay had most likely fried itself. Same problem we had last time. So I found the Compressor Start Device part kit online at so I knew what I would be looking for, then found a local appliance part store that was open on weekends. They had a similar kit in stock, and a short bit of running around and futzing with the fridge, it seems to be working again. The only thing of note is that I was replacing an older design with a newer one, and the kit I bought didn’t include a short adapter wire I needed so I had to make one myself with a couple of spade connectors.

Whirlpool and others really should come up with a different design than this one — the stupid relay just cooks itself until a key part disintegrates. But at least now I know exactly what to do — and I’ll be ordering a spare relay to keep on hand as a spare!

About Neil

Happy husband. Proud father. Systems engineering consultant, and former U.S. Air Force officer. A music fan, science fiction nut, geek, and die-hard Mac user who grudgingly deals with Windows at work only because his employer and clients aren’t enlightened enough to move to Mac OS X.
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