How to Replace a Defrost Heater in a Side-by-Side Refrigerator



This DIY repair guide gives step-by-step instructions for replacing the defrost heater in a side-by-side refrigerator. During the defrost cycle, the defrost heater melts frost from the evaporator fins. If the defrost heater fails, frost builds up in the freezer, and the refrigerator works less efficiently. If the defrost heater is visibly damaged, replace it with the manufacturer-approved replacement part that fits your model. If the defrost heater isn't visibly damaged, a service technician should diagnose the cause of frost buildup before you install a replacement, because a failed defrost heater is just one of several possible reasons.

This procedure works for Kenmore, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, GE, Maytag, Amana, Samsung, LG, Frigidaire, Electrolux, Bosch and Haier side-by-side refrigerators.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 45 min.

Parts Required

  • Defrost heater

For manuals, repair guides, and specific part recommendations, enter your model number.

Tools Required

  • 1/4" nut driver
  • Screwdriver
  • Work gloves

Before you begin

Wear work gloves to protect your hands. Safely store any food that could deteriorate while the refrigerator is shut off for this repair.


 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.

Step 1: Disconnect the electrical power

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

Step 2: Remove shelf supports from the freezer

Remove the shelves and baskets from the freezer compartment. Remove the screws from the shelf supports on the right interior wall of the freezer and pull the supports out.

 Tip: If necessary, refer to your owner's manual for guidance in removing baskets and shelves in the freezer.

Step 3: Remove the back panel

Remove the mounting screws that secure the freezer’s inside back panel. Pull out the bottom of the panel slightly to release it and then remove the panel from the freezer. 

Step 4: Disconnect the wires

Release the locking tabs that secure the black wires to the top of the defrost heater and disconnect the wires.

Step 5: Remove the defrost heater

Unhook the hangers at the bottom of the evaporator. If your evaporator has clips, release them. Remove any plastic foam insulation from around the evaporator. Work the defrost heater downward and pull it out. 

Step 6: Install the new the defrost heater

Insert the new defrost heater into the evaporator assembly. Reinstall the mounting clips at the bottom of the evaporator. Connect the wires at the top of the evaporator.

Step 7: Reinstall the back panel

Reinstall the back panel and secure it in place with the mounting screws. Overtightening the screws can crack the freezer liner or mounting rails, so rotate the screws until they stop and then snug them up with a final twist. Reinstall the baskets and shelves. 

Step 8: Restore electrical power

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