Thread Number: 68664  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1953 Hotpoint combo fridge freezer section not cold
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Post# 914399   1/7/2017 at 07:29 (532 days old) by mom11 (Dundee, MI)        

I haven't been on here in awhile as life is crazy busy but miss all the help here. I got my Hotpoint combo fridge about 2 years ago off CL and has given me no problems til now. I looooove his fridge and desperately want to keep it running. A few weeks ago ice cream was squishy, freezer temp at 9-10 degrees. My temp control has always been set at 9 (max) to get the right temps. Now freezer temp is up to 29 degrees while fridge section remains at 37. Oh, there is no ice build up at all. I just defrosted it about a month ago. Can this be fixed? And by whom? Thanks so much for all of the great help I've received over the years here.

Post# 914400 , Reply# 1   1/7/2017 at 07:36 (532 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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I'm guessing a problem in the sealed system. Not good.

Post# 914402 , Reply# 2   1/7/2017 at 07:43 (532 days old) by mom11 (Dundee, MI)        
what is the sealed system?

I'm sorry for my ignorance but by 'sealed system' you don't mean the rubber gasket on the door, right? Can you give me a little more detail? Thanks, goatfarmer. :)

Post# 914424 , Reply# 3   1/7/2017 at 10:51 (532 days old) by kenwashesmonday (Haledon, NJ)        

If the refrigerator is cycling on and off, I believe that would point to a bad thermostat. If the refrigerator is running constantly, that would be bad news.

Post# 914433 , Reply# 4   1/7/2017 at 11:52 (532 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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"Sealed system" is the compressor, condenser, evaporator, and all related parts.

Post# 914449 , Reply# 5   1/7/2017 at 14:44 (532 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

The bad thermostat experience I had with my '57 GE Combination was the reverse of what Ken described above.  The fridge was not cycling off, the layer of frost on the serpentine evaporator coil (on the ceiling of the fridge section -- I think Hotpoints may have located their version of this on the rear wall) was thicker than I'd ever seen it, and the temperature in the fridge section was approaching freezing.  Even though the cold controls on mid to late '50s GEs are notorious for failing, I don't think that's your problem.


I tend to agree that the trouble is likely the result of a failure in the sealed system -- the compressor in particular.  You shouldn't have to set the cold control to 9 for optimum temperature in both sections.  That's a red flag for sealed system issues.  If the fridge is running more often in an attempt to maintain proper temperatures and instead of developing frost in the freezer it's just sweating, that's another indicator that it's struggling. 


Is the fridge making more noise than it used to?  That's a common indicator that the sealed system is compromised.  Quite often a failing compressor is not only noisy, but hot to the touch.  That's something you can check yourself -- it's about the size of a 3# coffee can and easy to spot under the fridge at the rear.


You should probably start looking for a vintage replacement fridge ASAP, as the behavior you've described sounds terminal.  It might be best to snag a cheap or free fridge off of craigslist to hold you over until you find another vintage one, as your Hotpoint is probably only going to become less viable, and likely sooner as opposed to later.  :-(




Post# 914468 , Reply# 6   1/7/2017 at 16:41 (532 days old) by mom11 (Dundee, MI)        
how would I know...

if it were the thermostat? It is not running constantly and does not make any more noise than it's usual purr. It cycles on and off as usual. Temp now is 32 in fridge and 19 in freezer. I am hoping against hope that it can be fixed. Can I get the thermostat fixed or replaced? Does anyone know a decent repair guy in the Detroit/Ann Arbor/Monroe/Toledo area that would be able to fix it? I love love love this fridge and want to save it if all possible.

I've checked CL and there is nothing comparable available now within a 3 hour drive of me. :(

Post# 914522 , Reply# 7   1/7/2017 at 22:22 (531 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

The thing that seems odd about the thermostat being the problem is that on a properly working Combination, since there aren't separate controls for fridge and freezer, if it's 32 in the fresh food section, it should be well below 0 in the freezer.  There seems to be an imbalance in the way the cooling action is being distributed, and I don't know if that could be pinned on a bad cold control.


BUT -- I also think I remember reading about a separate cold control for the freezer behind the bottom front kick panel on early Combinations.  It might be worth a look, but I also might be imagining things.

Post# 914529 , Reply# 8   1/7/2017 at 23:19 (531 days old) by rickr (.)        
Cold Control photo of a 1948 GE Combo.

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This is the cold control, for the freezer. The control in the refrigerator is for the fridge temp.Hotpoint and GE were very similar however. I don't know when the updated to one control for both fridge and freezer. I think it was about 1954???
Hope this helps!

Post# 914530 , Reply# 9   1/7/2017 at 23:26 (531 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Thanks Rick! 


It seems like that hidden freezer control couldn't be accidentally adjusted, but you never know.


With a little luck, and if mom's Hotpoint has the same system, she might be able to correct the problem by setting the freezer colder and the fridge warmer.

Post# 914551 , Reply# 10   1/8/2017 at 06:20 (531 days old) by polkanut (Wausau, WI )        

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Nice to see a post from you Rick!

Post# 914555 , Reply# 11   1/8/2017 at 06:36 (531 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Hey, Rick!

Post# 914584 , Reply# 12   1/8/2017 at 09:54 (531 days old) by rickr (.)        

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Hi Guys!!

Post# 914739 , Reply# 13   1/9/2017 at 07:58 (530 days old) by mom11 (Dundee, MI)        
No separate freezer control up front :(

I was so excited to think there might be that separate control but, alas, there isn't front anyway. :( I need to get someone strong to pull it out for me so I can check behind it. Perhaps it's there? I know that's probably false hope but I need to get behind there anyway. Temp in freezer is back up to 29. Now that I think of it it didn't start doing this until after I defrosted it a bit before Christmas. I wonder if I hit something then. I don't scrape, though. I just open the doors and let it melt on its own and then sometimes help it along with a blow dryer.

Cruising CL for a new one. I just hate to see this one go to a landfill. She looks so nice with the '56 Hotpoint Supermatic I drove to New York from Michigan to buy from Roger (Firedome). I've been reading the reviews on new fridge$ and that's not even an option for me. It would be so out of place with the '56 Supermatic, my Radarange rr7, and my Kitchenaid KDS 16, not to mention all my vintage small appliances.

I am in mourning for old Harriet Hotpoint. She's even named after my grandmother and the Harriet from Ozzie and Harriet who advertised her. I knew you were the only folks who would understand. Many thanks for all the help.

Post# 914748 , Reply# 14   1/9/2017 at 09:04 (530 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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You may consider finding someone to install a new compressor. Though it would probably be expensive. But certainly less than a new fridge would cost. That way you would still have Harriet and with a new heart she would serve you for years to come.

Post# 914758 , Reply# 15   1/9/2017 at 09:40 (530 days old) by mom11 (Dundee, MI)        
A new compressor? Can I get that?

Ken, I am intrigued by your idea! How would I go about getting that done? Does it need to be a compressor from the same era? Or could a new compressor available locally be retrofitted to it? How much would parts and labor be on that? Thanks for the idea. :)

Post# 914777 , Reply# 16   1/9/2017 at 12:29 (530 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

rp2813's profile picture

The thermostat/cold control on my '57 Combination went bad after using it to turn the fridge off before defrosting.  Maybe the same thing happened to you.  I got a (universal) replacement and the fridge has been fine ever since.


Another thing to consider is that even with modern refrigerators, if the condenser coil is located under the fridge and has accumulated dust or pet hair, this can result in the freezer getting warm.  Coils located under the fridge have an associated fan that draws air across them.  I can't tell for sure from Rick's picture above, but the condenser on his appears to be located up front (on the right in the picture) and I presume it has a fan somewhere behind it to draw relatively cool ambient air across it.  If your fridge has such a system, the fan may have failed.



Post# 914992 , Reply# 17   1/10/2017 at 17:25 (529 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

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There are others here who can advise better as I'm no AC/Refrigeration professional but I can tell you a new modern compressor would be used. The system should be checked for any leaks first. The old R12 refrigerant would be evacuated from the sealed system. New compressor installed and system charged with new refrigerant. The work is straight forward and not difficult but you need someone who knows what they're doing obviously. The fridge would be more energy efficient and use less electric with a modern compressor.

Post# 915005 , Reply# 18   1/10/2017 at 19:12 (528 days old) by Coldspaces (Chillicothe Illinois)        

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Post your fridge's model # and a pic so I can see what you have. Some of the old combo's had two separate sealed systems and only one had a compressor. If this is what you have the freezer has to cool before the refrigerator section can work. Cool Freon from the freezer circuit works as the condenser for the refrigerator circuit.

If yours has one sealed system The fridge coil normally is last in the flow of refrigerant so if the system is low or not pumping the Freon through right the fridge should be warm first.

May be a control issue as suggested as it is not running non stop.

Post# 915011 , Reply# 19   1/10/2017 at 20:00 (528 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        
Here's her fridge

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when she got it about two years ago.


Post# 915014 , Reply# 20   1/10/2017 at 20:28 (528 days old) by Coldspaces (Chillicothe Illinois)        

coldspaces's profile picture
Thanks Ken It does look like the one we discussed here
It may be the one with two sealed systems, no repair man will be familiar with it unless he is pretty old.

This link gives info on how simalar systems worked.

Still hope to see the model # s

Post# 915086 , Reply# 21   1/11/2017 at 09:28 (528 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture
Since Lisa (mom11) stated she didn't find a separate freezer cold control behind the front kick panel as Rick suggested she look for wouldn't that indicate a single cooling system?

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