February 20, 2015

How to replace a freezer defrost heater

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a freezer defrost heater

This DIY repair guide explains how to replace the defrost heater in a freezer. The defrost heater melts frost and ice from the freezer's evaporator fins. If the defrost heater stops working, frost builds up on the evaporator and the freezer warms up. Replace the defrost heater with the manufacturer-approved replacement part if the heater no longer works.

Use this basic procedure to replace the defrost heater in Kenmore, Frigidaire, Electrolux, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, GE, Crosley, Gibson and Kelvinator freezers.

Quick links
Tools required
Phillips screwdriver
Work gloves
Repair difficulty
Time required
45 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
45 minutes or less
How to replace an upright freezer defrost heater repair guide video.

Replacing a freezer defrost heater video.

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Disconnect the electrical power

    Unplug the freezer or shut off the circuit breaker for the freezer.

    Tip: Move highly perishable food to a cooler or other cooled space. The freezer will be without power for about 45 minutes, which shouldn't affect most frozen foods.
  2. 02.

    Remove the evaporator cover

    Remove the drawers and shelves from the freezer.

    Remove the screws from the evaporator cover at the back of the freezer.

    Pull the evaporator cover out of the freezer.

    Remove the freezer drawers.

    Remove the freezer drawers.

    Remove the evaporator cover screws.

    Remove the evaporator cover screws.

    Pull out the evaporator cover.

    Pull out the evaporator cover.

  3. 03.

    Remove the defrost heater

    Remove the two aluminum straps at the bottom of the evaporator.

    Remove the Styrofoam insulators from both sides of the evaporator.

    Unplug the defrost heater wires.

    Pull the defrost heater out.

    Warning: The aluminum fins of the evaporator are sharp. Wear work gloves to protect your hands.
    Remove the aluminum mounting straps.

    Remove the aluminum mounting straps.

    Remove the styrofoam insulation blocks.

    Remove the styrofoam insulation blocks.

    Unplug the defrost heater wires.

    Unplug the defrost heater wires.

    Pull the defrost heater out.

    Pull the defrost heater out.

  4. 04.

    Install the new defrost heater

    Push the new defrost heater into the evaporator.

    Reinstall the two aluminum straps and the Styrofoam insulators.

    Connect the defrost heater wires.

    Push the new defrost heater into place.

    Push the new defrost heater into place.

    Reinstall the aluminum mounting straps.

    Reinstall the aluminum mounting straps.

    Reinstall the styrofoam insulation blocks.

    Reinstall the styrofoam insulation blocks.

    Plug in the defrost heater wires.

    Plug in the defrost heater wires.

  5. 05.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover

    Position the evaporator cover on the back wall and reinstall the mounting screws.

    Reinstall the drawers and shelves inside the freezer cabinet.

    Reisntall the evaporator cover.

    Reisntall the evaporator cover.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover gasket.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover gasket.

  6. 06.

    Restore electrical power

    Plug in the freezer or turn on the house circuit breaker to restore power.

Warning: Undertaking repairs to appliances can be hazardous. Use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the guide and follow all instructions. Do not proceed until you are confident that you understand all of the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs should only be performed by a qualified technician.

Symptoms common to all freestanding freezers

Choose a symptom to see related freezer repairs.

Main causes: lack of power, bad compressor, refrigerant leak, bad thermistor, defrost system failure, dirty condenser coils, control failure
Main causes: leaky door or lid gasket, broken defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat, defrost control failure, faulty compressor
Main causes: dirty condenser coils, condenser fan failure, dirty bottom front grill, leaky door or lid gasket
Main causes: burned out light bulb, bad door or lid switch, faulty LED light board, wiring failure, control system failure
Main causes: lack of power, control system failure, broken compressor start relay, locked up compressor, compressor motor failure
Main causes: damaged door or lid gasket, cracked cabinet liner, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer
Main causes: compressor failure, no refrigerant, faulty sensor, control failure, broken defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal thermostat
Main causes: excessive frost, bad defrost heater, bad defrost bi-metal, control system failure, low refrigerant charge, compressor problems

Repair guides for upright freezers

February 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a freezer thermistor

When the thermistor can’t sense the freezer temperature, the freezer is colder or warmer than the set temperature. Follow these step-by-step instructions to replace a defective freezer thermistor.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
February 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a freezer defrost heater

If frost builds up on the freezer evaporator because the defrost heater isn’t working, follow these step-by-step instructions to replace the freezer defrost heater.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less
February 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a freezer evaporator fan

Air won’t circulate to cool the freezer properly when the evaporator fan fails. Follow these step-by-step instructions to replace a defective evaporator fan.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 45 minutes or less

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