Danfoss Compressor Starting Device Recall – Fridge/Freezer Repair

After a recent fire in one of the flats in our apartment building, the resulting London Fire Brigade investigation concluded that the cause was a faulty part present in all the original fridge freezers installed when the building was first constructed. This part had in fact been subject to an electrical safety product recall back in 2007. As we’d recently purchased our apartment and the fridge was indeed an original, this spurred us into action.

Desiring to avoid the environmental impact of disposing of an entire device when reportedly such a small part was at fault, I set about researching options for a repair rather than resorting to replace the entire fridge/freezer.

The fridge/freezer in question has two Neff product labels inside, one in the fridge and one in the freezer, photos of which were as follows.

Looking these product codes up online told me two things; firstly that these fridges and freezers do indeed contain the faulty part as per the product recall and secondly that we actually have a separate fridge and a separate freezer, something I was up until now unaware of due to the wooden surround which hid how the fridge and freezer were installed. Extracts from the docs showing the Danfoss compressor and the separate nature of the fridge and freezer as follows.

The Neff product look up provided a further useful piece of information about the compressor – its specific product code. This was useful because it allowed me to determine that a starting device, readily available on amazon, was suitable for the task. Note that the new part states the suitability for the “TL” series of compressors which you can see is the same series as present in the Neff product documentation. I bought two of these as the fridge and freezer are completely separate units with separate compressors.

Now all that was required was to extract the fridge and freezer in turn from their integrated state within the kitchen units, disconnect them from the power supply and replace the faulty part. This is best tackled in two stages, firstly, to remove the fridge or freezer from the cabinet

  1. With the fridge/freezer door open, locate retaining screws below the wooden panel on the door and remove
  2. Do likewise for those on top of the door, being careful this time to support the wooden panel in case it should fall – it’s heavy
  3. Lift the wooden panel off the door if has not already come away. Set it aside.
  4. Still with the door open, locate two screws, one on each hinge, that anchor the unit to the side wall of the cabinet. Remove them.
  5. At the top of the unit, still with the door open, find the pair of screws which hold the unit to the top of the cabinet, remove them.
  6. At the base of the fridge/freezer is a clip on plastic panel. Carefully pull this away to reveal a gap underneath the fridge/freezer. Use the diagrams to help you here as the freezer has a slightly more complex plastic panel which first requires the removal of a drain plug and drain tube before you can remove the plastic panel. The fridge/freezer is now “free”
  7. Closing the door, use the gap you have created underneath the fridge/freezer in the step above to slide the unit out, take great care with both the cable which will still be plugged into the wall at the back and also the sharp metal/pipes at the back near the vents/compressor – these can hurt and also can be easily damaged – a second pair of hands is highly recommended in removing the unit
  8. Set the unit down on the kitchen floor, the back portion facing in a direction with plenty of space such that you’ll be able to work on it at floor level. Switch off and unplug the unit at the wall.

Once you have the unit on the floor you need to get access to the compressor starting device which is under a plastic cover. See the labeled, exploded diagram below to help you in this

  1. Find the cover retaining screw and remove. This will allow the cover to slide up and out, top first. It’s in a tight space but with care and patience you’ll be able to fully remove it.
  2. You’ll see the black starting device now, wired up and attached to the side of the compressor. Your new one will be white so you won’t get them mixed up
  3. Note that in these “faulty” fridges/freezers a significant amount of white decayed plastic will be sitting inside the cover and below the starting device. Remove this with a vacuum cleaner and then any residue that remains in the cover you can wash/scrub off, afterwards drying the cover thoroughly – only use water on the cover – do not put water anywhere near the compressor, use vacuum only here! It is of course this decayed white plastic that is the cause of the fire risk – quite startling to see it there really.
  4. It’s best to leave the wires attached to the starting device as you remove it; this will allow you to see more clearly how it’s wired up as you’ll need to replicate the same wiring with the new device
  5. Slip a small flat-bladed screw driver between the compressor and the starting device, as close to the centre of starting device as you can and slide it in until it’s fully behind the starting device. Once in position, gently prise the device away from the compressor. You’ll be able to finish the job by hand, revealing 3 pins on the side of the compressor which have plugged into the starting device.
  6. Observe the simple wiring; white cable from the wall plug goes live/neutral to the screw terminals of the starting device, black cable from the fridge/freezer goes live/neutral to the corresponding spade terminals to either side of the screw terminals and then a black control wire goes to a spade terminal on the centre bottom of the starting device. There are also earth wires, but you should avoid touching these and leave them in place – you don’t need to do anything with these in order to replace the starter.
  7. Carefully disconnect the old starter from the wires. If you’re unsure of the aforementioned wiring convention, you may wish to take a photo for later reference.
  8. Wire up the new starting device to the cables as per the aforementioned wiring plan, referring to your photo if you felt you needed to take one. Note that I found the spade terminals were slightly different sizes (new ones larger) and so I had to prize apart the terminals on the wires a little using pliers to get them to fit snugly over the new starter’s pins.
  9. Once you’re happy that everything is wired up correctly and tightly, it’s time to fit the new starter back onto the compressor’s 3 pins. Line it up carefully, use a torch if you can’t see clearly and gently press the starter onto the pins. Take great care to only exert force in the absolute centre of the starter such that you avoid the possibility of bending those pins.
  10. With the starter firmly in place it’s time to replace the black cover – make sure it’s dry if you wiped it with a cloth earlier! Slide it into place, bottom first, then top, then push down – you’ll see the screw hole line up – replace the retaining screw

At this point I decided to test my handy work by plugging the fridge/freezer back into the wall socket and turning it on. You should hear the compressor start. All being well you can now proceed to replace the unit into the kitchen cabinet as per the following directions

  1. With the fridge/freezer plugged in at the wall and switched on – you won’t be able to reach behind it to switch it on after re-inserting it into the kitchen cabinet – start the process of replacing the unit into the cabinet
  2. Get someone to help you lift the fridge freezer back up to the level of the hole in the cabinet. Line up the base of the back of the unit so that the back “feet” will enter first – be careful not to damage those delicate pipes on the back.
  3. With the back feet in position supporting the back of the unit, support the unit at the front with your hand. Reach behind and feed the cable down the back of the kitchen cabinets so it is out of the way and will not snag/trap under the unit
  4. Now slide the fridge/freezer back into place, taking care not to push it in too far – you can use the screw holes in the top and hinges as a guide – get them lined back up with those in the cabinet walls
  5. With the door open, replace the hinge screws and those at the top of the unit
  6. Re-insert the plastic cover at the bottom
  7. Hang the wooden face plate back on the open door, supporting it carefully as you tighten the top screws
  8. Finally replace the bottom screws and close the door – it should close snugly to a good seal

Now you’ve done one unit, you’ll need to do the exact same process on the other. I did the freezer first as that was already almost at floor level so was easy to remove on my own. I got someone to help me with the fridge as that was higher up and the galley shape of our kitchen made it tough work to get the unit gently down to floor level – remember to take care of that cable and delicate pipe work at the back!

And there you have it. Fridge and freezer as good as new and with safe parts to boot. All for the price of a round at the pub and a couple of hours work – what could be better.

One final word – I offer these instructions without warranty! If you’re unsure of these steps in any way, consult a qualified electrician! The wiring is simple (like inside a plug) and should be within the ken of most competent DIY’ers but as with any unfamiliar task, do take care and double check what you’re doing at each stage.

   

Possibly related articles

Leave a Comment

If you want support for Calendar then please do not post a comment or send an email. There is a dedicated forum and FAQ available for this purpose. Praise, criticism etc. about Calendar is welcome in comments on Calendar related articles.

Subscribe without commenting