July 20, 2015

How to replace the defrost heater in a top-freezer refrigerator

By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace the defrost heater in a top-freezer refrigerator

This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for replacing a defrost heater in a top-freezer refrigerator. The defrost heater melts frost from the freezer's evaporator fins. If the heater fails, frost builds up on the evaporator, resulting in warm freezer temperatures. If your defrost heater is defective, replace the heater with a manufacturer-approved replacement part.

This basic repair procedure works for Kenmore, Frigidaire, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, Maytag, Amana, GE, Samsung, LG, Gibson, Crosley and Haier top-freezer refrigerators.

Quick links
Tools required
Work gloves
Nut driver set
Needle nose pliers
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less
Repair difficulty
Time required
30 minutes or less
Replacing a defrost heater in a top-freezer refrigerator repair guide video.

Replacing a refrigerator defrost heater video.

Instructions

  1. 01.

    Shut off the power

    Unplug the power cord from the wall outlet.

  2. 02.

    Remove the freezer shelf

    Remove the spacer in the freezer shelf.

    Push the shelf to the left to release the right side of the shelf from the holes.

    Pull the shelf out of the freezer.

    Remove the freezer shelf spacer.

    Remove the freezer shelf spacer.

    Remove the shelf.

    Remove the shelf.

  3. 03.

    Remove the evaporator cover

    Remove the mounting screws from the evaporator cover.

    Pull the top of the evaporator cover down and unplug the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Push the evaporator cover to the left side of the freezer and disconnect the green ground wire and the ice maker wire harness from the evaporator cover.

    Pull the evaporator cover out of the freezer.

    Remove the evaporator cover screws.

    Remove the evaporator cover screws.

    Pull down the top of the cover.

    Pull down the top of the cover.

    Unplug the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Unplug the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Push the evaporator cover to the side.

    Push the evaporator cover to the side.

    Disconnect the green wire.

    Disconnect the green wire.

    Disconnect the ice maker wire harness.

    Disconnect the ice maker wire harness.

  4. 04.

    Remove the defrost heater

    Unplug the defrost heater wires.

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

    Pull the evaporator coil outward just enough to slide the defrost heater down and out.

    Pull the defrost heater out.

    Unplug the defrost heater wire harness.

    Unplug the defrost heater wire harness.

    Unbuckle the defrost heater straps.

    Unbuckle the defrost heater straps.

    Remove the defrost heater.

    Remove the defrost heater.

  5. 05.

    Install the new defrost heater

    Slide the new defrost heater back up under the evaporator.

    Reinstall the two aluminum straps and push the evaporator back in position.

    Connect the defrost heater wires.

    Reinstall the heater straps.

    Reinstall the heater straps.

    Plug in the defrost heater wire.

    Plug in the defrost heater wire.

  6. 06.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover

    Position the evaporator cover in the freezer compartment and reconnect the ice maker wire harness and ground wire.

    Push the evaporator cover to the center of the freezer compartment and reconnect the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Position the evaporator cover over the evaporator and reinstall the mounting screws.

    Reattach the ice maker wire harness.

    Reattach the ice maker wire harness.

    Reattach the green wire.

    Reattach the green wire.

    Reconnect the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Reconnect the evaporator fan wire harness.

    Push the evaporator cover into place.

    Push the evaporator cover into place.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover screws.

    Reinstall the evaporator cover screws.

  7. 07.

    Reinstall the freezer shelf

    Push the shelf into the mounting holes on the left side of the freezer compartment wall.

    Slide the shelf to the right and reinstall the shelf spacer.

    Reinstall the freezer shelf.

    Reinstall the freezer shelf.

    Reinstall the shelf spacer.

    Reinstall the shelf spacer.

  8. 08.

    Restore electrical power

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

Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable 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 or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.

Symptoms common to all refrigerators

Choose a symptom to see related refrigerator repairs.

Main causes: leaky door gasket, defrost system failure, evaporator fan not running, dirty condenser coils, condenser fan not running
Main causes: blocked air vents, compressor problems, condenser or evaporator fan not working, control system failure, sensor problems
Main causes: jammed ice cubes, broken ice maker assembly, dirty water filter, kinked water line, bad water valve, freezer not cold enough
Main causes: water valve leaking, frozen or broken defrost drain tube, overflowing drain pan, cracked water system tubing, leaking door seal
Things to do: clean condenser coils, replace the water filter, clean the interior, adjust doors to prevent air leaks, clean the drain pan
Main causes: damaged door seal, faulty defrost sensor or bi-metal thermostat, broken defrost heater, bad defrost timer or control board
Main causes: control board or cold control failure, broken compressor start relay, compressor motor failure, defrost timer problems
Main causes: blocked vents, defrost system problems, evaporator fan failure, dirty condenser coils, bad sensors, condenser fan not working

Repair guides common to all refrigerators

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your refrigerator.

How to replace a refrigerator temperature control board

If the temperature in your refrigerator doesn't match the temperature you set, the problem could be the temperature control board—a service technician can give you a definite diagnosis. If the board is at fault, follow these steps to replace it yourself.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to clean refrigerator condenser coils

Help your refrigerator run more efficiently by cleaning the condenser coils. It's easy and takes just a few minutes.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
July 20, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a refrigerator water valve

Replace the water valve that feeds water to the ice maker and water dispenser if it no longer controls the flow of water.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less

Articles and videos common to all refrigerators

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your refrigerator.

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