Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fixing The Samsung RF267ABRS Refrigerator Water/Ice Problem

If you own a Samsung refrigerator, you may have experienced ice or water buildup under the vegetable drawer or "CoolSelect Pantry." There are several potential causes of this problem, but one common one is very cheap and easy to solve. I was quoted over $300 for this repair, and I was able to fix it for free using some scrap aluminum. You can also purchase a part for $12 that will accomplish the same thing. 

Before showing the repair steps, it's helpful to understand why this is happening. A refrigerator works by moving heat from the inside to the outside, using a compressed liquid that cools when it expands. This expansion takes place in an "evaporator" coil, which is located in the rear of your Samsung unit. A fan circulates the air inside the fridge over the coil, thus maintaining a constant temperature. 

Now, just like a cool glass on a humid day, condensation tends to form on evaporator coil. Since the coil is often below freezing, this condensation can turn to ice and build up over time, so the engineers who designed your fridge added a heater to the evaporator coil. Periodically, the heater will activate and melt the ice. The water then flows into a catch pan, down a drain, and into a pan in the bottom of the fridge, where warm air from the compressor evaporates it.  In theory, that is.

In our Samsung units, if enough moisture is present, a lot of water and ice can form in the evaporator. Enough that the drain itself can become clogged with ice.  Your Samsung engineers were prepared for that possibility also, and they installed a small aluminum drain strap that clamps to the heater coil, and extends into the drain. Unfortunately, however, the drain strap is far too short, and doesn't melt the ice in the drain if it extends more than an inch or so.  With no drain available, the defrost water has nowhere to go but back into the fridge.

The repair involves installing a longer drain strap that extends partially into the drain. After doing this, my unit has been water-free for over a month!

Three days of water buildup after removing a 1" thick sheet of ice.

The following is a step-by-step guide for fixing the RF267ABRS. If you own a different model, the instructions may vary slightly.

Equipment you will need:

- Philips screwdriver
- A way to melt the ice (hair dryer, turkey baster, time with the fridge off, etc. DO NOT USE SALT!!! Some repair forums have suggested this, but unless you like rust, avoid this option!)
- A new drain strap. (Build your own, or buy this one.)
- Aluminum foil tape (optional)
- Heat sink compound (optional)

Step 1: Empty the refrigerator enough to expose the evaporator cover:

Cover Exposed
Step 2: Remove the four screws and remove the cover. There's a chance there is enough ice buildup that the cover is frozen in place. If it doesn't come off relatively easily, you may have to defrost the refrigerator.

Step 3: Verify the drain tube is clogged with ice. This will be easy. The metal tray at the bottom of the evaporator coil will be iced over, with no way for the melt water to drain.

Drain frozen over. Samsung drain strap wasn't even long enough to reach the drain.
Step 4: Defrost the drain tube. I found a turkey baster with hot water worked the best, since the ice extended several inches down the drain. I took this opportunity to improve on the foil tape seal around the catch pan as well.

Drain is clear, new tape.

Step 5: Install the new drain strap.  I improvised one using some scrap aluminum I had lying around and a self-tapping sheet metal screw, or you can buy one for $11 or so. You could probably even use a section of aluminum can. The piece I used extends around three inches down the drain.  I also used a dab of heat sink compound to help with heat transfer. It's probably not necessary, but I wanted to make sure.

New strap. Looks bootleg (it is), but works like a champ.
Step 6: Reassemble!

The proof is in the pudding, and we're a month water and ice free. I'll update if anything changes.

Thanks to Appliance Blog for this thread. Also, there is talk of a class action, but nothing substantive. Hope this helps!

**Edit January 31, 2015**

So, it froze up again, almost exactly one year later. I confirmed the new strap was working, it had just become overwhelmed with ice somehow. Melted out the tube using the turkey baster like before, and did some further research. According to the comments on this Youtube video, Samsung has advised their technicians to relocate the ice sensor from the top of the coil to behind the fan. At this rate, I'm still happy to only be doing this once a year!


Brandy Chewning said...

I'm dealing with this problem right now and was looking online to see if anyone else knew what this was or how to fix it themselves. Thank you for the step-by-step and the photos!

Melanie said...

Thanks for the info! We got the freezing up problem fixed only to have the area under the deli drawer start filling with water & at times ice! Hoping this will return our fridge to normal.

Mike L said...

I just tried this fix, I've taken it apart 4 times already to let it thaw. I will post the results in a months time.

uma said...

Is the ice sensor also called the defrost Timer and is this the one that I have to move below the fan ?. Thank you.

uma said...

Is the ice sensor also called defrost timer, the small white cylindrical part located in a clip that is right now on the upper right hand side in my fridge ( RF266ABPN ) and I have to move this below the fan ?. Thank you.

Mrs. Scott's Class said...

Thank you so much for posting this! You've helped me and others by sharing what works. Thanks for the follow up too, very helpful.

Dale Spoonemore said...

I'm having this same problem with my Samsung. I found that others have tried looping a copper wire around a heating element down to the bottom of the drain and have had success. I plan to try it this weekend but wanted to share.

HERCULES said...

does anyone know where and how to get to the defrost drain pan?

HERCULES said...

Does anyone know where the defrost drain pan is and how to get to it?

owner 232 said...

You need to open the drain line tubes in the back of the unit they are almost closed from the factory cut them and open them then you need to defrost the unit that will solve your issue

Frank De Mascio said...

I just dealt with mine. Took forever to get the drain tube to clear. The turkey baster with microwaved, near boiling water, was essential. I used a 6" length of 12 ga. copper wire as a defrost probe for my drain.