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Kenmore 253, model 970 frost free freezer control panel won't come on

I recently got a secondhand Kenmore. It is a 253, model 970 with a temperature control panel. I moved it to my place in a van, and I'm pretty sure the temperature control panel was working before I left. Now though, it will not turn on, but the compressor is working fine, and the freezer is freezing things quite well. I replaced the 9 volt battery in the thing, which has done nothing. Meanwhile, the interior light is also working, so it doesn't seem some kind of general electrical failure. I also went under the thing and checked to see if any wired connections came loose in the move, and this doesn't seem to be an issue. Everything is set in place nice and tight.

As I understand it, without the temperature control, the system will switch to a default freezer setting, but I worry that without the temperature control working things might break down. Would it be worth getting into the door itself and having a look behind the LCD panel to see if there is anything to see there? Any ideas what might be the problem here?

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Air Compressors , Kenmore , Refrigerators , Appliances
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11 Answers from these members:
Manage My Life
Well so far so good. As I mentioned, I'm not sure if any of the functions controlled by the digital display actually work, such as flash freeze, or even temperature control. I can shut down the unit with the digital display, however. Meanwhile, when it's not plugged into the control board, the freezer runs all the flipping time.

As for replacing the door, that solution is a bit of an environmentally unsound solution for fixing a faulty wire. Moreover, from a fiscal perspective, I can't say I'd be happy about spending $130 [plus $$$ for delivery) to replace an otherwise functional door because there is a problem with the $3 wire running through it. I think I'd perhaps opt for trying to replace the digital display myself, and try hooking it right up to the control panel again if need be.
by Manage My Life
October 16th, 2012
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scott d
Marnian, based on this latest information, it appears the wires inside the door may have a connection problem. If the display is working now, it means there is voltage to the board. If it works ok now, you may have solved the problem. If the display fails again the door # 216557844 will probably need to be replaced. The wires will be included in the door. I hope this will help you.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Kenmore
October 15th, 2012
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Manage My Life
So here's my very inelegant solution. The control panel comes on, and after fooling around with the order of the wires, I got the digital display to turn on and not beep at me. I'm not sure if it's get an accurate temperature reading, however, I was able to use it to shut the unit down. I have a hunch the digital display is not 100 percent, but we'll see if having it connected right to the high voltage unit gives me some ability to adjust temp. The wires in the picture are the ones that are just not passing along any juice. I have measured power going into them, but can't get any readings off of them up top.

I'm assuming these wires run though the door and up above to the digital display, but they aren't even listed as a part in the Sears parts catalogue for my freezer.
by Manage My Life
October 13th, 2012
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Manage My Life
But just to confirm, 5 vdc coming from the high voltage control unit by the compressor is what I want to see?

Otherwise, I did the checks. As noted, there is 5 vdc coming from the control board (via the black and red wires coming out of it. However, I was unable to get a reading from the connection between the wires coming out of the control board by the compressor and the wires running up to the digital display. The electricity just seems to stop flowing past the harness there. But I really can't fathom how that well insulated wire that runs through the fridge door could have been damaged in the move. But the electricity just doesn't seem to be making it through.

Just a further note, I don't have blue and black wires going into the digital display. The red wire coming out of the unit by the compressor connects with a brown wire at the harness below the unit, and black connects with an orange wire, so those (orange and brown) were the wires I was checking up top to check for a reading between wires.
by Manage My Life
October 13th, 2012
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scott d
Marnina, this can be some complicated checks. The wires will need to stay connected to make these voltage checks. At the display board, check for 5 vdc between the blue and black wires. If the voltage is there, the display board will need to be replaced. If there is no voltage there, check the same wires at the module next to the compressor. With some models you will need to check the blue and orange wires at the module. Be very careful because there are some high voltage wires also connected to the module. If there is no voltage at this check, the module will need to be replaced. If there is 5 vdc at this check but not at the display board, it will indicate the wires in between the boards will need to be checked. All of the wires must remain connected when making these checks. I hope this will help you.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Kenmore
October 12th, 2012
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Manage My Life
Thanks for you answer. Actually, I'm not sure that wiggling the wires did shut the unit off because the wires I was touching were just those going to the dead digital display. I ended up disconnecting those wires altogether (these were the wires running to the digital display) and the unit still runs. However, I picked up a freezer thermometer to see that it is -22 F in there, or -30 C a lot of the time. So the default setting doesn't seem to be kicking in here. Do you suppose this is a good sign the control board is bad? I really need to be sure because a new control board costs as much as the freezer cost me and I'm just a starving student here. To take readings otherwise, is it possible to make contact with one wire with the red pin and another with the black/ground pin? I did this on the wires to the digital display and got 0.25 volts at the end, and 4.95 volts at the beginning (i.e. off the soldered wires that run out directly from the control panel).

Could a faulty control board be making the unit run too cold? Shouldn't there be controls that bypass the board altogether so the freezer operates at the default setting? Because if I could get it to work at the default setting consistently, I could go without all the other fancy options.
by Manage My Life
October 12th, 2012
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scott d
Marnina, the meter will have to be able to read both ac and dc circuits and be able to check resistance. Boards are not repairable, when a board fails, it will have to be replaced. The temperature in the default setting will range between 0 & 5 degrees. Now, if the unit quit running by wiggling the wires, it usually indicates there is a loose connection. I hope this will help you.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Kenmore
October 12th, 2012
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Manage My Life
I've removed both the module and the control board (by the way, I used a razor to remove the overlay, and managed not to damage it at all, but this is because I've come across your advice elsewhere so I was careful). The unit seems to be going into defrost mode, and the interior light works, which makes me think 216979700 might be ok. But then, yesterday, I was checking the dedicated wire that runs into the board down there, and managed to shut the whole unit down after wiggling it around a bit (I know, bad, bad doing this while it was plugged in). I unplugged the freezer, took the whole thing out, inspected it. As if I would really know what to look for, except to see that the soldered wires were in fact making contact with the board (they were). After a bit of a rest (the freezer seems to like resting before it will boot up again after being unplugged) the freezer started up again. It was in defrost mode when I got home, and is running now. So again, most of the high voltage unit down below seems to be intact.

The inside of the digital control panel looked just fine too.

So I have 3 questions for you:

1. Will I be able to use a cheapo voltage meter to check the wiring? I'm going to have to buy one for this, but it seems like something good to have around the house.

2. Is it possible to fix the faulty board rather than buying an out and out replacement? Those parts are pricey, especially the control board down below!

3. You've said elsewhere that the freezer will go to a default setting when the digital display is kaput, do you know what the temperature tends to be?
by Manage My Life
October 10th, 2012
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scott d
Thank you for your question. I can understand your concern about the display. This could be a problem with either one of the boards or it could be a wiring problem. It could be a loose connection at either board. First, check the module # 216979700 next to the compressor. Be sure to disconnect the power first. This is the main control. If the connections are all ok, you can check the connections at the display control board # 216944300. To access, this board, the overlay will need to be removed. The overlay will usually be damaged when peeling it off and will usually need to be replaced. With the overlay off you will be able to get to the screws holding the board in place to check the wires. If the wires are ok and if you have a meter that will read dc voltage, reconnect the power and check for 5 to 11 volts dc between the wires. If the voltage is there, the display board will need to be replaced. If there is no voltage there, the main module (control) will need to be replaced. I hope this will help you.
by scott d Earned 3,139 community points in Kenmore
October 10th, 2012
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Manage My Life
The entire model number is 970-C244620
by Manage My Life
October 8th, 2012
Answered in 5 hours
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Joseph Perez
I am sorry that you are having some difficulties with your refrigerator and I will be happy to help. I suggest you add to the thread of this question and include the full model number of your refrigerator so that the expert can provide you with a more detailed answer. I did manage to find a link that will provide you with some good information. I hope this helps with your refrigerator troubles while you wait for your expert response.
by Joseph Perez Earned 1,551 community points in Kenmore
October 8th, 2012
Answered in 10 minutes
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