How To Replace A Refrigerator's Broken Defrost Heater

Did your refrigerator lose its ability to defrost and you've determined that the problem is a faulty defrost heater? Replacing the part is fairly simple and doesn't even require any special tools. You do want to make sure the refrigerator is fully cleaned out ahead of your project, however, to ensure you have working room and that the food won't spoil while the power is off. Note that you should consult your owner's manual ahead of the part replacement to make sure the directions don't differ for your particular make and model.

Step 1: Remove Old Defrost Heater

Unplug the refrigerator or turn off its power switch on the wall. Remove the shelves, trays, or drawers located near the top of your fridge. The access panel you will need to get into is on the rear upper wall of the fridge near where the fridge and freezer meet.

You might have a covered light over the access panel. If this is the case, use a screwdriver to remove the cover's fasteners and pull the cover off the bulb. Place the screws in your pocket and the cover somewhere safe. Unscrew the light bulb and put it with the cover.

Locate the rear access panel and use a screwdriver to remove its mounting screws. Set the panel door aside and place the screws in your pocket so you don't lose them.

You should now see the hanging defrost heater that's secured onto an evaporator bracket with a mounting screw. Remove that screw and lift the heater up to remove it from the brackets.  Unhook the wires at the end of the heater and leave them attached to the refrigerator on the other end. Dispose of the old heater.

Step 2: Install New Defrost Heater

Slip the new heater onto the evaporator brackets in the same orientation as the previous heater. Attach the wires to the appropriate terminals. Tighten on the mounting screw to hold the heater in place.

Put the access panel door back on and attach its screws. Twist the light bulb into place and then attach the cover with its fasteners.

Turn the power back on for your refrigerator. Allow the unit to run overnight and see if the defrosting conditions have improved. If the problem is solved, you can restock the food in your refrigerator. If the problem persists, call in an appliance service technician like Collier County Appliance Service, Inc. for further problem solving.