Refrigerator Common Parts Glossary

Compressor

The refrigerator compressor is sold as part of a compressor motor kit. the compressor is a positive displacement pump rotated by an electric motor. The compressor receives low-pressure refrigerant gas from the evaporator and rotates to compress that refrigerant to a high-pressure gas that moves through the condenser. The refrigerant gets hot when compressed by the compressor pump. The condenser is a heat exchanger that removes heat from the refrigerant gas and condenses it into a high-pressure liquid refrigerant. The high-pressure liquid refrigerant flows through the expansion device and into the evaporator that's at low pressure. The high-pressure refrigerant expands and evaporates. It absorbs the latent heat of vaporization as it changes from a liquid to a gas, which causes the cooling action in the evaporator. The refrigerant flows through the evaporator and back to the compressor where the cycles starts over.

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Compressor Run Capacitor

The run capacitor sends electric current to the auxiliary motor windings to create a magnetic field, starting the compressor motor. Replace the run capacitor if it's defective.

Compressor Start Relay

The compressor start relay starts the compressor and shuts off the compressor if the motor overheats. Replace the start relay if it's defective.

Compressor motor kit

The compressor motor kit includes the compressor pump and compressor motor. It also includes the motor mount rubber grommets, the start relay, the overload device, the UV Dye Drier and copper tubing. It's used to replace the compressor motor.

Condenser

The condenser contains heat-exchanging coils that cool down the hot refrigerant leaving the compressor.

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Condenser fan

The condenser fan is in the machine compartment of the refrigerator next to the compressor. It moves air across the condenser coils to help cool the hot refrigerant coming out of the compressor. The refrigerant is cooled before it moves through the expansion device and into the evaporator.

Consensor Fan Motor

The condenser fan is in the machine compartment of the refrigerator next to the compressor. It moves air across the condenser coils to help cool the hot refrigerant coming out of the compressor.

Defrost Bi-metal

The defrost bi-metal thermostat is a safety device attached to the evaporator coil. The defrost bi-metal thermostat shuts off the refrigerator defrost heater if the heater gets hot enough to damage the evaporator.

Defrost Heater

The refrigerator defrost heater melts frost from the freezer’s evaporator fins. Replace the defrost heater if it doesn't heat when activated.

Defrost Thermistor

The defrost thermistor attaches to the evaporator coil and measures the evaporator coil temperature during defrost.

Defrost control assembly

This component has the defrost thermistor (temperature sensor) and the thermal fuse for the defrost heating element. The thermistor monitors the temperature of the evaporator during the automatic defrost process. Once the thermistor detects that the frost is all melted off of the evaporator, the heating element shuts off. If the sensor malfunctions and the evaporator begins to overheat, the fuse cuts off electrical power to the heater to protect the evaporator from damage.

Defrost drain heat probe

The defrost drain probe device is an extension of metal attached to the bottom of the defrost heater in the refrigerator. The metal extension tab extends to the opening of the evaporator drip tray where the defrost drain tube is attached. It transmits warmth from the defrost heater to the area near the defrost drain tube area to prevent freezing. If that area of the evaporator drip tray does freeze, the path becomes clogged, preventing condensate water from flowing down the drain tube to the drip pan.

Defrost drain tube

As part of the defrost cycle, the defrost drain tube transfers condensate that collects in the evaporator drip tray under the evaporator to the drip pan near the compressor, where the water evaporates.

Defrost heater harness kit

The defrost heater harness kit is a kit widely used in GE and Kenmore 363 Source refrigerators. The kit includes a heater that is often different than the original defrost heater that is installed in the evaporator section of the freezer. The wiring harness included with the kit is designed to fit the new defrost heater. The kit contains instructions for installation of the new defrost heater and new wire harness.

Defrost sensor

The defrost sensor—also known as the defrost bi-metal thermostat—shuts off the refrigerator defrost heater if the heater gets hot enough to damage the evaporator.

Defrost timer

The defrost timer is an electro-mechanical timer that controls the intervals between automatic defrost cycles in the refrigerator. The defrost timer motor runs and moves the components in the device. When the contacts for the defrost cycle are engaged, the compressor stops and the defrost heater turns on briefly to melt frost from the evaporator fins. Removing the frost promotes a more efficient exchange of heat across that component. When the fins are defrosted, the contacts disengage, allowing normal cooling in the refrigerator.

Diffuser

The diffuser—or air damper—in a refrigerator controls cold-air flow from the freezer compartment to the refrigerator compartment.

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Dispenser core control board

The dispenser core control board activates the water and ice dispenser components to dispense ice or water when you press the activation pads on the freezer door. The dispenser core control board also shuts off the dispenser functions when you open the freezer door.

Door gasket

The refrigerator door gasket is a flexible seal that attaches to the outer edge of the refrigerator door to form an airtight seal around the door opening when the door is closed. The door gasket prevents warm, moist air from leaking into the refrigerator compartment.

Drain pan

The drain pan collects condensate water from the defrost cycle. It's located in the machine compartment of the refrigerator, next to the compressor. The defrost system melts frost and ice from the evaporator fins about every 8 hours to increase the efficiency of the evaporator heat exchanger. The condensate water that drips from the evaporator during that process collects in the evaporator drip tray and then is routed to the drain pan through a drain tube. The drain pan collects the condensate, which is evaporated by the heat and air flow in the machine compartment before the next defrost cycle begins.

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Electronic control board

The refrigerator electronic control board controls the major electro-mechanical components in the refrigerator. When the electronic control board senses the compressor needs to run to cool the refrigerator, it sends voltage to the compressor and fans. It then receives input from temperature sensors to monitor the temperatures inside the refrigerator and freezer sections. With this information, the electronic control board controls the defrost cycle.

Evaporator

The evaporator is the heat exchanger that provides the cooling for the refrigerator. This is accomplished with the help of low pressure liquid refrigerant that moves through the evaporator. The evaporator is kept at low pressure so that the liquid refrigerant evaporates and turns to vapor. The latent heat of vaporization is absorbed from the air that is blown across the metal fins in the evaporator. The air is cooled down as it blows across the metal fins which produces the refrigeration cooling process.

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Evaporator Fan Motor

The evaporator fan motor blows air across the evaporator coils and through the refrigerator cabinet for cooling. Replace the evaporator fan motor if it won't run when activated.

Evaporator drip tray

The evaporator drip tray is a metal collection pan under the refrigerator evaporator. Sometimes referred to as an evaporator drip pan, it collects water that drips from the evaporator fins during the defrost cycle. The collected condensate water drains from evaporator drip tray through a drip tube to a drain pan at the bottom of the refrigerator in the machine compartment next to the compressor. The heat and air flow evaporates the condensate from the drain pan before the next defrost cycle begins.

Evaporator fan

The evaporator fan is mounted on the evaporator assembly. It moves air across the evaporator fins and through the refrigerator cabinet for cooling.

Ice Maker Kit

The ice maker kit is an optional accessory for refrigerators. Install the ice maker kit in a refrigerator that doesn't have an automatic ice maker.

Ice dispenser motor

The ice dispenser motor spins the auger that pushes ice through the dispenser door when you press the ice dispenser lever.

Ice maker

The ice maker is a complete assembly that contains the ice mold and the control device. It plugs into a wire harness in the freezer or the ice compartment. The ice maker receives water from the inlet water valve and then holds the water in the ice mold until the water is frozen solid. It then automatically ejects the ice and refills to continue the process until the ice storage bucket is detected as full.

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Ice maker control module

The ice maker control module contains the motor, gears and contacts that operate the ice maker in the refrigerator during the harvest mode. It is mounted on the side of the ice mold and has a thermostat that determines when the ice is frozen. Once frozen, the thermostat and heater contacts close to heat the mold and release the ice. Then the ejection motor pushes the ice out of the mold. The motor continues to rotate as the fill contacts close to initiate the water fill process. This process activates the water valve assembly and water fills the ice mold. The motor continues to the home position and the process repeats once the thermostat detects that the water in the ice mold is frozen again.

Ice maker fill tube

The fill tube for the ice maker extends through the back wall of the freezer. It's connected to a water line behind the refrigerator. It directs fill water into the fill cup located just above the ice mold.

Ice maker optic boards

The ice maker optic boards emit an infrared light beam that detects the ice level in the freezer door ice bucket. The optic boards shut off ice production when the ice bucket is full.

Light Switch

The light switch turns the refrigerator light on and off and monitors door position. Replace the light switch if it doesn't work.

Overload/PTC relay

The overload/PTC relay starts the compressor motor. It has 2 components: an overload protector that trips when the compressor motor overheats or locks up, and a relay. The relay completes the circuits to both the Start Windings and the Run Windings in the compressor motor. Once the motor is started, the relay de-energizes the Start Winding circuit so the compressor motor continues to run using just the run windings.

Refrigerator door

The refrigerator door covers the front of the refrigerator cabinet. Shelves on the inner door panel hold items for easy access when you open the door.

Temperature control board

The temperature control board is a circuit board that controls the major loads such as the compressor and fans. It receives input from the temperature sensors to determine when to run the compressor to start cooling. The temperature control board is mounted next to the compressor in the machine compartment, which is usually behind a panel on the back of the refrigerator.

Temperature control thermostat

The temperature control thermostat is mounted in the control housing area and controls the temperature inside the refrigerator. It turns on and shuts off the compressor as needed to maintain the set temperature in the refrigerator. The thermostat has a temperature sensor tube that detects the actual temperature in the refrigerator compartment and controls the temperature based on the reading from that sensor.

Thermistor

The thermistor is a temperature sensor within the refrigerator that sends information to the electronic control board.

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Water filter

The refrigerator water filter is installed in the filter housing and has carbon and/or other filter materials inside. It removes most sediment and other impurities from the water supplied to the refrigerator. Manufacturers recommend replacing the water filter every 3 to 6 months.

Water inlet valve

The water flow into the refrigerator is controlled by an electrically operated water inlet valve, which is usually located in the machine compartment at the bottom, back of the refrigerator. This valve has a coil that opens the valve and allows water to flow into the refrigerator water system when the valve is open. When voltage is shut off to the valve, the valve closes and prevents water from flowing into the water system in the refrigerator.

Water supply tube

For refrigerators with an ice maker and/or water dispenser, the water supply tube carries water from a water source to the refrigerator.

Wiring harness

The wire harness is a collection of wires, cut to specific lengths, that connect the various components in the refrigerator. The ends of the wires normally have the proper connection plugs or spades so that they will properly attach to the original components in the refrigerator.