Thread Number: 74060  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1956 Fridgidaire Imperial Cold Pantry
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Post# 978377   1/14/2018 at 23:22 (277 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Hey all;

Just bought my first vintage refrigerator 1956 Fridgidaire Imperial Cold Pantry. I am having a thermostat problem, it will not cycle the compressor it just continuously runs. So Iím hoping I can adjust the thermostat or that there is a remedy to getting it to begin to cycle again. Also the evaporator fan in the back runs constantly too, I wonder if this related to the thermostat problem? Thanks for your help.


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Post# 978383 , Reply# 1   1/15/2018 at 00:41 (277 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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The evaporator fan should be tied into the cooling cycle, so it makes sense that if the thermostat is calling for cooling, everything involved in that process is operating. 


I assume that when you turn the cold control to "OFF" everything shuts down.  If not, then yes, there's an issue with the thermostat and it's probably not something that can be fixed.


There are universal aftermarket cold controls out there, and the best place to find them would be on ebay.  You'd have to extract yours or take a good picture of it so you can compare it to what you might find on line.


I had a similar problem develop on my '57 GE Combination.   The fridge would run continuously even on the warmest setting.  I pulled the cold control and there was nothing visibly wrong, but  I tried to take the assembly apart and it did not turn out well.  There's nothing serviceable inside.


The one thing I do recall is that the NOS replacement control I installed had instructions and adaptive mounting hardware for other makes besides GE, and Frigidaire was one of them.

Post# 978402 , Reply# 2   1/15/2018 at 03:02 (277 days old) by Diesirae7 (Central Illinois)        

Sounds like the internal contacts may be stuck or "welded" together. I have a 1939 Frigidaire and its still running on all original parts, maybe the compressor relay is stuck on as well, and that might be able to open and clean the contacts, but things changed to more sealed components after 1939 for sure. I've worked in commercial refrigeration and there are options out there so you can still use it.

Post# 978415 , Reply# 3   1/15/2018 at 07:00 (277 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

The evaporator fan continues to run in the off position as well. I was afraid of that, I was hoping it was serviceable in some way. Iíll try to see if can clean the contacts in the relay and begin my search for a replacement thermostat. I do want to use it so I appreciate you guys advice and help.

Post# 978416 , Reply# 4   1/15/2018 at 07:52 (277 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Do you guys have advice for removing the Old thermostat? I was lucky to find and own one on eBay this morning, I see the metal tube goes up and over the inside cabinet just not sure how it comes out.

Post# 978435 , Reply# 5   1/15/2018 at 10:38 (277 days old) by eronie (Flushing Michigan)        

So is the refrigerator compartment freezing anything? Could be a tired compressor...

Post# 978449 , Reply# 6   1/15/2018 at 12:58 (277 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Let's hope it's not a tired compressor.  I hadn't thought of that possibility, but yes, if it's getting overly cold in the cabinet, then the compressor is likely still OK.


The tubing is probably either clipped into place, or like my '57 GE, has a couple of clasps that are held by small screws (see picture).  You may need to remove the rear panel to get at the evaporator, but I'm going on fuzzy memory of what these Cold Pantry models look like.  If you can post a picture of the interior, that should help.

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Post# 978459 , Reply# 7   1/15/2018 at 13:58 (277 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

I donít believe the compressor is getting tired itís getting below freezing in the refrigerator compartment. Hereís where the thermostat tube comes down and clips the the evaporator. I removed the plastic air deflector to expose the clip. Iím wondering how to get the tube out through the top and back through with the new thermostat? Thank you for your help.

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Post# 978465 , Reply# 8   1/15/2018 at 15:13 (277 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Bummer.  It's hidden.  If there's no way to view from the top (like below the freezer section, I'm assuming), I don't know how you'd fish through a new one.  Worst case scenario would be to securely attach a line or thin wire and pull the thing out from the front end, and use that same line to pull the new one back through, but there's no telling whether you'd hit a snag trying to remove or reinstall.


Others here are more familiar with Frigidaires than I am, and may be able to provide information on the R&R process.

Post# 978483 , Reply# 9   1/15/2018 at 17:30 (276 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Tie a string to the end of the sensing bulb on the old thermostat.. When you pull the thermostat out, the string will come with it. Then untie it, and tie it to the end of the new sensor. Pull the other end of the string, like a fish tape. Kinda threads it behind the liner.

Post# 978638 , Reply# 10   1/16/2018 at 22:04 (275 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Update... I donít think itís the thermostat. I purchased a temporary thermostat and wired it in. Iím getting the same results with the temporary thermostat. So is it the relay stuck with the contacts closed?

Post# 978640 , Reply# 11   1/16/2018 at 22:11 (275 days old) by Diesirae7 (Central Illinois)        

check the relay out, something is fused together there.

Post# 978655 , Reply# 12   1/17/2018 at 00:52 (275 days old) by PhilR (Quebec Canada)        

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The fan for the cold plate in the refrigerator section of these fridges should run most of the time and shut off when the temperature in the refrigerator section gets cold, the thermostatic control for this fan is usually hidden somewhere behind the plastic trim around the liner. It should run with the main control in off position and when the door is open too. At least, it's how it is on my 1959 and 1961 Frigidaire Frost-Proof refrigerators.

If the compressor runs continuously with any setting of the thermostat except the "off" position, the freezer section should get below 0įF. If that's what it does, then the thermostat might be the problem...

I'm not sure about the YT relay, never had a problem with any of mine. Here are a few pictures from a service manual. I don't have the complete information for 1956 models but I hope that helps.

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 3         View Full Size

This post was last edited 01/17/2018 at 07:11
Post# 978733 , Reply# 13   1/17/2018 at 16:50 (274 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Did the temp thermostat attach a sensing lead to the cold plate? Or was it one that sensed air temperature?

Post# 978774 , Reply# 14   1/17/2018 at 21:33 (274 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Itís clipped to the cold plate. Iím thinkjng the relay is fused I was lucky to find a new old stock relay and should arrive in a couple days so I am crossing my fingers.

Post# 979084 , Reply# 15   1/19/2018 at 23:33 (272 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

How do slide the inside cabinet out to route the thermostat through? The string broke when installing the new thermostat. Now Iím forced to do it this way. Any advice is appreciated.

Post# 979100 , Reply# 16   1/20/2018 at 02:06 (272 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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So did it need the new thermostat after all?   How did you determine that?  Just curious.


Can you use something like a length of coat hanger wire instead of a string?  If that will push through to the rear opening,  you should be able to pull the capillary tubing behind it.  How you keep it attached to the wire is the tricky thing.


Removing the liner could be a big job, but it can certainly be done.  I wonder what a repair tech would have done back when these refrigerators were daily drivers in homes across the nation.  I can't imagine it would have been a lengthy process to replace this part.

Post# 979120 , Reply# 17   1/20/2018 at 09:05 (272 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Iím really just playing it by ear and learning as I go. I may not have needed a thermostat and I found the adjustment after I took the old one out. So I may have been able to adjust it instead. Just learning and trying to figure things out on my own as I always do. I thank you for the coat hanger suggestion thatís what I did and it worked. New thermostat is installed now Iím letting her run to see what I have and Iíll adjust if needed.

Post# 979151 , Reply# 18   1/20/2018 at 12:36 (272 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Thank the stars the coat hanger worked! I can't imagine pulling the liner, or if it could even be done.

Post# 979153 , Reply# 19   1/20/2018 at 12:53 (272 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Iím glad it worked too I didnít want to attempt removing the liner. The only thing is even with the new relay and thermostat itís not cycling yet. Keeping my fingers crossed because I donít know what to do next.?

Post# 979157 , Reply# 20   1/20/2018 at 13:25 (272 days old) by rp2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Give it some time.  I don't know if there are system design quirks on these refrigerators that may cause them to operate differently from other makes.    For sure if yours is working at bringing the cabinet temperature down to the 37-40 range, it could run for a while.


Do you have the cold control on the warmest setting?  That would be a good way to determine whether there's another problem, although I can't imagine what else would cause the compressor to keep running if both the thermostat and relay have been replaced.   Do you hear a click when you adjust the cold control lower or higher?   That would indicate that the contacts are opening and closing properly. 


Perhaps it's a wiring issue.  Do you know whether anyone has messed with the relay or thermostat before?

Post# 979356 , Reply# 21   1/21/2018 at 16:39 (270 days old) by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Just bumping this one with hopes for an update.

Post# 979499 , Reply# 22   1/22/2018 at 20:08 (269 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

I have switched a couple wires at the relay thinking they were wrong and it had no change other than the light not coming on inside unless the cold control was switched on. So that wasnít right. I now have switched wires at the cold control and I have no change it still runs constantly and gets well below freezing even on the warmest setting. Iím stumped same results no matter the wire changes.

Post# 979522 , Reply# 23   1/22/2018 at 23:50 (269 days old) by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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I'm stumped too.  Hard to say if it's the thermostat or the relay.  What we need is a wiring diagram that's color coded.

Post# 979581 , Reply# 24   1/23/2018 at 13:34 (269 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Wires on the control shouldn't matter, just 2 of them I believe. It still sounds like a control problem, the one you're using is known good?

Post# 979705 , Reply# 25   1/24/2018 at 11:20 (268 days old) by Lombardo (Woodruff, SC)        

Update I talked to a refrigeration repair guy. He asked if frost was on the cold plate. There isnít any frost so he says the system is low on Freon. He is coming out to recharge it tomorrow with Freon 12 replacement. He says thatís what will fix the problem.

Post# 979724 , Reply# 26   1/24/2018 at 13:57 (268 days old) by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Interesting that it can still get below freezing inside and yet the evaporator accumulates no frost, but it does make sense that with the evaporator not getting cold enough, the thermostat registers that the machine needs to keep running.


Let us know how it goes after the recharge, and let's hope the refrigerant leak is a very slow one.  Freon is not cheap, nor is it good for the planet to release it into the atmosphere at any rate.

Post# 979737 , Reply# 27   1/24/2018 at 15:52 (267 days old) by goatfarmer (South Bend, home of Champions)        

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Fingers crossed.

Post# 979741 , Reply# 28   1/24/2018 at 16:23 (267 days old) by ken (Ulster Hgts, NY)        

ken's profile picture
If the leak is very small it could take years for it to leak enough after the recharge to cause the problem to surface again. But if its larger it may be a good idea to add dye to the Freon so the leak can be easily seen. That's done often to find leaks in auto a/c systems. Id run this idea by the refrigeration guy when he comes to recharge it.

Post# 979746 , Reply# 29   1/24/2018 at 16:31 (267 days old) by RP2813 (The Big Blue Bubble)        

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Ken, I agree.  Stan's monitor/box top seems to need a recharge every dozen or so years.  Let's hope the Cold Pantry's leak is as slow or slower.

Post# 979976 , Reply# 30   1/26/2018 at 08:59 (266 days old) by kenwashesmonday (Haledon, NJ)        

If it doesn't freeze to the end of the evaporator(s), it's either low on gas or has a weak compressor.  The tech will know which is the problem the moment he breaks into the low-side and puts a gauge on it.

Post# 979978 , Reply# 31   1/26/2018 at 09:09 (266 days old) by estesguy (kansas)        

Fridgidaire refrigerators had the Metermiser compressors that were bulletproof. If a Fridgidaire quit cooling it was usually because of an evaporator leak. My friend would pull out the smallest HP compressor and use them as a cheap mans vacuum pump, with their rotary design.

Post# 980287 , Reply# 32   1/28/2018 at 17:51 (263 days old) by Combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Refrigerator fan running all the time

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The fan on this model is supposed to run whenever itís plugged into the wall thermostat the relay etc. do not control the fan motor operation.

The real question here is whether the refrigerator is keeping the proper temperatures in each compartment, and the compressor should shut off periodically, you may not see frost on the evaporator especially the humidity is fairly low.

What are the temperatures in the refrigerator and freezer section currently.

John L.

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