Celebrating the New Year with my head in a fridge

Helpful. Very helpful.

New Year’s Eve was all going terribly well until, at about 7pm, the fridge (a Samsung RL33SBSW, for anyone Googling) started making an extremely loud mechanical buzzing sound. We stood and watched it for a minute or so, as if hoping that it’d rethink its timing and resume working, but the only change was four of its five lights beginning to blink in an obstinate “No, I’m really breaking down NOW” kind of way.

As you can see above, the manual was less than helpful. Samsung’s help line staff had, of course, gone home for the bank holiday barely an hour earlier. Perfect timing.

We resorted to that time honoured method of domestic appliance troubleshooting: Google. Nothing. It turns out that at least three other people have had the same problem and reported it online, but nobody followed up with a cause or solution. By 8pm, and with no real idea what to do, the screwdrivers came out. We managed to fix a second, completely unrelated, fault that we were previously unaware of, but couldn’t even get to the area where the problem seems to lie. At 9pm, more Googling, and we found a forum dedicated to broken fridges. Hooray. We posted a message and got a suggested solution less than an hour later on New Year’s Eve. It’s hard to work out what we would have done without access to the internet – hit the fridge with a rock, maybe.

So now the broken fridge is empty and slowly warming up, and we’re bloated from eating everything of value in the freezer. I’ll add more details below if we do actually manage to fix it, temporarily or otherwise. Oh, and after 10pm the New Year went much better: we watched a rather sweet Korean film about a woman who thinks she’s a robot, while the fridge buzzed angrily away in the background, slowly freezing all its contents solid. Ah, domestic bliss.

Update – and here’s how we fixed it, for the moment at least, with the help of the forum linked above. Disclaimer: I am not an engineer. I am, regularly, an idiot. I take no responsibility if, having used these instructions, your fridge becomes too hot / too cold / a ball of flame / vertically mobile. You might try this is your problem includes: four flashing lights, very loud buzzing noise from within the freezer compartment, contents of fridge getting frozen solid. If you have another problem, look elsewhere.

Step 1: Eat contents of fridge and freezer, then turn it off for 24 hours.

Step 2: Turn it back on. The problem may be solved* – if so, congratulations. If not, turn it back off and move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Take out the freezer baskets. You’ll see a plastic plate on the back held on with four Philips screws – remove these, then remove the plate. It’s held on with plastic clips at the sides, so you’ll need to give it a bit of a tug, starting with the bottom then moving up until it’s removed.

Step 4: Look in the top left corner of the area behind the cover. It should look like this:


Note the flap door thing in the top left. This is motorised, and should spin to regulate the flow of cold air into the fridge and freezer. Ours was jammed open with a bit of insulation foam that had fallen from the join above – the horrible buzzing was its motor attempting to turn the flap and failing.

Step 5 – if your spinny flap thing is jammed with something, unjam it. Doing this fixed our fridge, so it may well fix yours. If it’s not jammed, then the problem must lie elsewhere – bad luck.

Step 6 – clip then screw the cover back on, turn the fridge on, cross fingers for luck. I turned the fridge back on before replacing the cover, and the flap span slowly around a few times as if testing itself before settling in the position shown above. Bear in mind that, should you do this, the electrical wires in the fridge will be live so don’t touch anything.

* I think this 24 hour period solves the problem if the flap is iced shut rather than jammed on something.

All © 2022 Tom Royal