Recently our Kenmore Elite side-by-side refrigerator was warm while our freezer was nice and cold. I diagnosed the problem as a defective refrigerator air diffuser. After doing some research I was confident that the air diffuser and possibly the thermistor were broken and needed to be replaced. I ordered both pieces from Sears PartsDirect and they were delivered today.
In this article I’ll explain how easy it is to replace a refrigerator air diffuser and thermistor.
Steps To Replace Air Diffuser
- Remove Wire / Component Covers – In order to remove the air diffuser you’ll need to remove three different covers. You’ll need to remove one cover in the freezer where the air diffuser connects between the freezer and refrigerator section. You’ll need to remove two covers in the refrigerator compartment; the wire chase cover is easily removed by taking out one screw (see photo), and you’ll also need to remove the air diffuser cover by taking out one screw (see photo).
- Replace Thermistor – I recommend you replace the thermistor at the same time you replace the air diffuser. If you look close at the adjacent photo you’ll see a black wire (that’s the thermistor wire). Disconnect it at the wire connector (white plastic piece on left of photo) and replace it with a new thermistor. The thermistor is taped to the inside of the air diffuser cover near those three “holes” just below the drill in the photo.
- Disconnect & Remove Air Diffuser – Now you need to disconnect and remove the old air diffuser. The air diffuser is located in the refrigerator compartment, however, you’ll need to remove a cover in the freezer section in order to release the locking tabs on the air diffuser so you can free it on the refrigerator side. Once you release the locking tabs you can just pull the air diffuser free from the refrigerator.
- Connect New Air Diffuser – Now you simply connect the new air diffuser in the same way you dis-connected the old one. Once you’ve connected the new diffuser I recommend that you test it. This is very easy to do. Before you install the diffuser in the refrigerator wall, sit it on the top shelf. Next turn the temperature up to 45 degrees. Let it set for a couple minutes, the air diffuser should close to prevent cold air from the freezer from traveling past the diffuser into the refrigerator. Now turn the refrigerator down to 35 degrees and wait again. The diffuser should open (if the warm inside the fridge). Once you’ve successfully tested it you can install it back into the hole until the locking tabs lock it into place.
- Re-connect Covers – Finally re-connect the three covers from Step 1.
That’s all there is to this simple repair. The parts cost me $65 with shipping. I figure I saved myself at least $200 if not more for this simple DIY repair. Most all appliances have detailed parts diagrams available online. You can also buy most any part online for appliances if you can diagnose your problem. So next time your appliance quits working, try doing some online research and repairing it yourself.