LG/Kenmore refrigerator f DH error defrost saga

Sharing this recent saga here in the hopes that it helps someone.
TL;DR version: don’t get oversold crap service and the wrong diagnosis. it’s the defrost heater, NOT the defrost sensor only, not the $350 control board and certainly not the $1000 compressor.

LG refrigerator built for Sears with Kenmore brand. 2016 model. Bottom freezer, side by side fridge, water & ice dispenser in the door, icemaker in the fridge door. Very common model, thousands of these LGs out here.

2 months after the extended warranty ended (of course), it tosses up the notorious “f DH” error code on the front. Fridge keeps running, just can’t use the water & ice.
A bit of research on the interwebs reveals this is a frequent problem. A few YT videos go through the procedure of replacing a defrost sensor. I’m busy so I don’t do a lot of research, but restarting the fridge with a 2 minute time out makes the code go away. I try that. Code goes away.
Code comes back 8 hours later.

Call Sears home services anyway, off warranty. Tech #1 comes out next day. Turns out to be the most non-verbal, uncommunicative dude I’ve ever run across. Grunts, “it’s the control board. $330 part. Want me to order it for you?” With a bit of research and my limited understanding in my crowded brain, something sounds wrong about this diagnosis - considering Dude didn’t bring a multimeter, didn’t open up the existing control board to test it, didn’t look at the freezer where the defroster is and spent about 5 minutes scrolling his phone setting up the part order. “No thanks.”

A week or so later, the fridge stops running. I’m awakened to the crashing sounds of DW unloading the fridge and freezer into coolers. Food goes on the below-freezing porch (this is early February in upper NE).
Emergency call to random local appliance co, quick response. Tech #2 - the appliance co owner - comes out in an hour ($150). Opposite of tech #1, this guy chats a mile a minute. “It’s probably your control board or your compressor” before he looks. Then he opens the freezer “oh look at all the frost in there lemme look…” (ya think?) Pokes round in the freezer, goes back to his phone and tells me it’s either the defrost sensor or the control board. But there’s only one left in the country so I’d better order both." At this point, I just want the thing fixed before we were away on vaca in 2 weeks - so, yeah (sigh). $500 (but that includes the $150 emergency call).

Not sure this is going to work and with the temps rising above freezing, I go to HD and buy a $350 chest freezer. Probably should have had one anyway.

Within two weeks, parts come in to appliance co, different tech #3 comes out and quickly replaces control board in the back and defrost sensor in freezer. Unit comes back on, no code, we’re happy. Refill the fridge and put a little of the freezer food in.

Code comes back 8 hours later. Mind you, there’s zero frost on the evaporator yet - it’s only been running for 8 hours.

Call appliance co back. Here’s their “service” response: “is it still running?” Well, yes, for now but it’s not fixed and I just paid you guys $500. “Well if it’s running we ain’t gonna send someone out to fix it.” What?? (couple more rounds of that, no movement). Since we were leaving in 2 days I punted - we emptied the fridge and shut it off, left for a long vaca.

Back from vaca. Call appliance co back, but this time I get the owner - tech #2 above. He gives me the “I’ll call you back” line. No call back. I call him back again the next day. “Lemme look into it and I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” Never heard from him again. Really, eff these guys.

I call Sears Home Services again hoping to get a different tech who I can talk to and reason with. Tech #4 comes out next day. Now I’ve done more YT research and found RandomDude channel with some fixit skills who found it was actually the defrost heater coil that runs underneath the evaporator. Tech #4 agrees, says yeah it could be, and probably not the compressor. And we agree that if it were the compressor I’d just be buying a new fridge.

And he shares that these LG refrigerators have gone to absolute s**t quality the last 5 years, compressor fails everywhere within 3-5. “You’re lucky the compressor is still running.”

He orders the defrost heater part and sells me on a SHS 1 year extended warranty covering every appliance in the house (they’re all now 7+ years old and 2 have minor issues) for $150 off the defrost heater part at $60/month. Er… might be $300 more down the drain, skepticism over quality wins.

Heater comes in a week later. Tech #5 - “Eddy” from Brazil, another talker - comes out as scheduled, installs the defrost heater coil with a little elbow grease. Turn unit on, starts right up, no error code, starts cooling back down right away.

It’s been a week. No defrost error code!
That first day or two I was betting it would come back.

Here’s the punch line. On the way out the door, Eddy says,
“You’re lucky the compressor is still running!”

remembering pre-offshoring appliances that lasted 30 years without maintenance


remembering pre-offshoring appliances that lasted 30 years without maintenance

Hear, hear!

I’m still using my 30 year old washer and dryer. Replaced one part on each during that time. Both as DIY projects.

The things are dead simple, parts are still plentiful, and they work. Why would I want to spend a grand replacing them with something new and shiny that will be dead in 5 to 10 years?

But my newer fridge is a piece of garbage. Ice dispenser freezes up every couple of months, requiring a significant project to melt the ice that’s in the wrong places. I gave up on that, and now the water dispenser doesn’t work, either. I suspect the excess ice has invaded that mechanism as well, now. But the ice maker itself still works. So I just open up the freezer and get some ice.


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Thank you. This is our fridge, and it has some years on it. Appreciate your anecdote.