OT repairing Resistance wire heater in Refrigerator

The mullion (part between the refridge and freezer doors, only way that I know this part's name is that I looked this part up on line) has been sweating a lot lately and the existing small rust patch has grown much larger. WHile removing the part to derust and paint it I discovered a resistance wire heating element under this trim piece. Ohmed it and confirmed that the wire lacked continuity. By progressively scraping off tiny patches of insulation along the wire I discovered the failed area. How do I splice it. The wire is very small in diameter and it appears to be wrapped around a fabric core, plastic outer insulator. THere is not enough wire there to twist together. I'm inclinded to believe that I can not solder the wire. Would I be able to crimp the wires? What happens locally when there is a discontinuity in the wire diameter? Will this end up being a hot spot where the wire is inclined to break again in the near future?

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Depending on how hot it gets, you might be able to use silver loaded conductive epoxy.

I bought some conductive epoxy to fix a broken motor winding (wound with aluminum magnet wire wouldjabelieve) in our kitchen microwave over 5 years ago and it's stiil working fine. Been keeping the rest of that epoxy in the refrigerator freezer compartment and had to use some last year to fix a disconnected link in a small solar panel. It worked fine for that too.


Reply to
Jeff Wisnia

I'd try the silver myself - another source used to be Radio shack - PCB fix paint - small bottle of silver and clear coat.

Normally heating coils - larger ones anyway - have to be crimp connected as a solder type connection simply melts.

This one, likely low current and such could be soldered - however in moisture it might be the real killer of tin lead. I'd coat with a sealing coat of some type.


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If you can get the replacement heater, that would be the safest thing. This heater will be exposed to cold and condensation inside the refrigerator, and you wouldn't want it grounding out and zapping somebody or starting a fire.

If you can't get it, or it is outrageously expensive, you could probably fix it with some sort of crimped connection. Maybe two crimped butt splices with a length of copper wire between to make up the shortage. Then, I'd wrap the spliced area with some kind of high temperature insulating tape. The fabric core may be fiberglass.

If you cut out too much of the resistance element, it is going to run much hotter than before, and fail again soon.

I had a similar problem a couple of years ago, where the mullion and the entire roof of the refrigerator compartment was sweating all over the food. I tore it apart a couple of times, and finally decided I would tear the whole fridge apart, as it would have to be replaced if I couldn't fix it. It turned out all the styrofoam insulation around the frost-free coils, which are enclosed in a compartment between the refrigerator and freezer comaprtments, were totally saturated with ice. This thing looks a bit like a small picnic cooler. The upper sheet is basically a flat piece of styrofoam, and it weighed about

10 Lbs! The bottom part weighed over 25 Lbs! I left them out in the summer sun for a day, but they weren't getting lighter very fast. So, I put them in a garbage bag and hooked up a vacuum pump to drive out the water. it took several days for each part to clear of the water, but the parts weighed just grams when I put them back in. The same frigde is still working fine!


Reply to
Jon Elson

Jon Elson wrote: (clip) How do I splice it. (clip) ^^^^^^^^^^^^ If the fabric core on which the heater wire is wrapped is still intact, how about wrapping the area with the break with thin bare copper wire?

Reply to
Leo Lichtman

If you have a continuous sweating problem I would also look at the seals around your doors. This will let in moist air and everything will always be wet. The defrost elements should be available if you have a "worth fixing" type refrigerator. My old Kenmore was 17 years old when I bought my house and I have put on new door gaskets and a defrost timer. Which you should check to make sure isn't staying on. The defrost timer is probably the #1 item which goes bad and people simply go buy another refrigerator instead of fixing it. My defrost timer was under 20 bucks and the local appliance repair center had one on the shelf. If I were to place a bet on what happened in your fridge it would be a bad defrost timer. Your fridge iced up which broke the wire. One simple check you can make to determine whether an appliance is even worthy of being fixed is to take an ohm meter and check the cord prongs to the case of the appliance. If the hot or neutral wire read anything to the case of the appliance it should really be bye bye time for that item. Compressor motors are bad about high resistance grounds, they won't trip a breaker but if you get between the case of the appliance and ground it is more than enough to kill a person. One other incentive to replace is the efficiency of refridgerators even made

10 or 15 years ago is low enough that a new one will begin to pay for itself in saved electricity. In your case any fix that might not properly insulate this wire is like loading a human mousetrap. If you can't properly fix the defrost element or can't find a new one its time for a new fridge.


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You state that it has a plastic outer insulator - I would go for soldering, but first slip a little piece of shrink tubing over the break, then solder (if possible, clean and "hook" the wires together for mechanical strength), then slide the shrink tubing over the soldered area and shrink it down. Ken.

Reply to
Kenneth W. Sterling

I have Tig welded a heater wire in a dryer. The dryer still works and its been two or three years. I imagine that the wire you are talking about is thinner though.


Reply to
Stanley Baer

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