Refrigerator light wiring

Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by wayneh, Nov 4, 2013.

  1. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    The wiring for the door light in my old (25? yr) Amana refrigerator has failed. I'm wondering if I should repair it or do an easy kludge fix, see below.

    I've determined that the bulb, socket and the switch are all fine. The socket resembles the one here. It's mounted into a metal reflector that has a green ground wire screwed to it. This reflector is screwed into the refrigerator.

    The problem appears to be that the neutral wire to the socket is "open". With the hot wire connected to one socket prong and a jumper from the other prong to the grounded reflector, the bulb lights properly as I toggle the door switch. So the easy kludge fix I'm considering is to wire the socket to the chassis ground and bypass the failed neutral wire. I realize this is not code, but it's easy and it works.

    There's no obvious access to the wiring inside the refrigerator but I'm assuming with some time and effort I can dig in there. I'm reluctant to take the bother when the kludge fix is so fast and easy.

    Opinions? How much time would YOU spend to do it right instead of fast?
     
  2. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    Personally I would seek the correct fix.
    You should never use the ground as a conductor, according to code.
    It is unlikely that a conductor has opened, especially a light, it is most likely wherever the neutrals are terminated.
    Have you checked the rear of the fridge to detect any conductor paths that you can trace?
    Max.
     
  3. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    I though I should at least look, so I pulled out the fridge. Might as well clean under and behind it. :rolleyes:

    Without removing sheet metal there is no access to any wiring. However, I discovered a wiring diagram on the back and am now focusing on the obvious potential culprit - my "mullion heater". The wiring diagram shows 2 whites leaving the lightbulb, but there is actually only 1 at the socket, so that's a bit of a puzzle. But anyway it looks like a failure of the heater could cause the light to not work. What good is a heater that only has power when the door is open?

    Thanks for the nudge, Max. I might not have bothered to look otherwise.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  4. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Oh crud, nevermind. The schematic clarifies that the door light should function regardless of the heater. I think the wiring diagram is showing that the heater gets its neutral wire routed near the light socket.

    I'm going to remove a rear panel to see if I can see anything.
     
  5. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    I am the wrong person to ask; I just spent 6 hours building and installing a crawlspace door in my house. :eek: Let's see...at $25 an hour and $15 in materials, I owe me $165.
     
  6. MaxHeadRoom

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    I believe the mullion htr stops the fresh food section from freezing up?
    they probably share the same neutral conductor.
    They are not seen too much now on modern fridges.
    Max.
     
  7. wayneh

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    Sep 9, 2010
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    I took a rear cover off and vacuumed out the bunnies. I didn't see any terminal blocks or connectors to break into. There was a bundle of cables heading into the rear, lower left corner, and I guess those are the wires that route up to the thermostat, the light and so on. No connectors, though.

    Giving up for now. I think I'll jumper the bulb to ground for now. Not a great solution but I have no other. :(
     
  8. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
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    In most modern houses that will trip the earth leakage unit (ground fault protector) and of course then the whole fridge and everything on that house circuit will blackout.

    Basically you would be modifying the appliance from safe to unsafe, sorry to say.
     
  9. MaxHeadRoom

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    N.A. installations do not generally have a main ELT or GFI at the service panel.
    I agree it is still not good practice.
    Max.
     
  10. killivolt

    Active Member

    Jan 10, 2010
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    If the light is located at or near the middle of the fridge compartment at the top. Chances are to locate the wires may be located in the molding cover, their should be screws holding the front middle section that the doors top seal rests against.

    Depending on the age of the unit, I've worked on a few, back in the day. You could tie into any of the wires that are a neutral, as long as they are not in series with any other part.

    I think the defrost timer should be located somewhere near, the light if it's located, where I think it is?

    Can you take some pics?
     
  11. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Let's talk about HOW unsafe. This is not on a GFCI circuit.

    When the door is open and the 40W light is on, 333mA will flow through the bulb into the ground wire. A failure of the ground system would cause the light to go out and the chassis to become hot at that moment, which is when a human is touching it. So I get that there is a risk. The current allowed through a 40W bulb is more than I would like to encounter.

    I estimate at least a day's work to access the internal wiring, even if it's possible. (I'm not convinced it IS possible without destroying the fridge.) That amount of work just doesn't seem justified. Would YOU tear apart your fridge?

    I'm still researching to find a take-apart. I'm hoping there is an easier way to get at the wiring.
     
  12. killivolt

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    I worked with appliances for the better part of 20years. If I could see it, I might be able to help you, I just don't know what design type yours is?
     
  13. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Sure! You can see my problem: I can't find any screws to turn. I'm reluctant to start prying on 25-year old plastic parts.

    Here you see the door switch, bulb, socket, and metal reflector with attached ground wire.
    [​IMG]

    Here's the control panel at the rear. No obvious access.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. killivolt

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    Jan 10, 2010
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    It looks like maybe they're running the wires up into the bottom of the freezer compartment. If you have an Ice Maker in the freezer there should be a bundle of wire going down to the back to the fridge. Most likely covered by a panel? Just guessing.

    The wire in the rear access should be going up the back wall based on the wiring diagram. The Evaporator fan motor is connected to the Light Neutral. I'll just use (W) White or (H) Hot.

    Did you take measurements on socket?
     
  15. killivolt

    Active Member

    Jan 10, 2010
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    Your mullion Heater is powered by VT not the door switch.

    It's located behind the center metal piece. The only way to remove it, is to take the doors off. You can gain some access their and you wouldn't have to pry on the plastic.

    I have to go to the store, I'll be back in a few.
     
  16. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    The mullion heater stops sweating on the outside of the refrigerator.

    The wires are usually foamed into the insulation and buried wire failure is the primary cause of a manufacturer replacing a whole refrigerator under warranty. Either kludge it, find another neutral wire nearby, run a separate wire for the neutral of the light bulb, do without a light bulb, or throw it in the trash bin and start over. Those are your choices.
     
  17. wayneh

    Thread Starter Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    Hadn't thought of that. Hmmm... If I can break into that control panel, there's almost certainly a neutral wire in there, only about 18" away from the light bulb socket.
     
  18. killivolt

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    Stick a battery bulb or Led run the wires to the switch and just replace the battery until it's dead.
     
  19. wayneh

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    I was wrong about the control panel - I got it off but I don't see any neutral wires in there. Rats. :mad:
     
  20. killivolt

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    Jan 10, 2010
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    Sorry about that it controls the run of the compressor. The best bet is follow the wires up into the freezer but, that is a pain. If you don't care what it looks like you could run the wire down to a drain hole at the bottom of the fridge and into the rear and connect to the plug neutral. That is, if they still put a drain in the bottom of the fridge compartment.

    You could run it inside that rail on the back wall.
     
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