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Sears / Kenmore Elite Trio Refrigerator / defect in lighting

1 United States Review updated:
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My husband and I purchased a Kenmore Elite Trio refrigerator in May of 2006. On Friday morning, August 29, 2008, I opened the refrigerator door and smelled something burning. When I touched a Mason jar containing tomato juice on the top shelf, the jar was extremely hot. A bowl next to it was likewise extremely hot, so much so that I couldn’t pick it up without using a potholder. In investigating further, I noticed that the light fixture cover was warped and the light fixture itself was burnt and scorched. I held in both of the door closure buttons and the lights would not go out. Concerned that the heat from the two 60-watt bulbs could cause a fire, I tried to remove the bulbs using a potholder to keep from getting burned. I was able to remove one of the bulbs but could only partially unscrew the second one due to expansion of the light socket caused by the extreme heat. We had to wait for the unit to cool down before the second bulb could be removed.

A month or so prior to this incident, my husband said the top of the freezer door was hot and questioned what may have been causing that. Apparently the lights in the freezer were staying on as well. Although we have had no further problems with the lights in the freezer, it is conceivable that it was caused by the same faulty components that are causing the hazardous condition with the lights in the refrigerator.
I contacted Sears and was told they are not aware of any problems with the lights in these refrigerators. I find that hard to believe since there are a multitude of postings on the internet regarding the lights in this refrigerator and numerous complaints have been filed with the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Sears’ suggested plan of action is to have a technician come out and apprise the situation, but I will be required to pay for the service call, which, I am told will be refunded up to $150.00. If Sears can refund the cost of a service call, then I am certain they can have a technician assess the damage without my having to pay up front. I fully intend to pursue this with a vehemence because someone’s home is going to burn down if something isn’t done about the defect in these refrigerators.

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  • Wa
      18th of Sep, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I also purchased the same Kenmore Elite Trio Bottom Freezer Refrigerator in 2007. After about one year, I began having a similar problem - the internal lights staying on when the doors are closed.
    The problem is intermittent.

  • Ev
      22nd of Sep, 2008
    0 Votes

    I am also having this problem. I opened the frig door and there was a burning smell. The bulb cover was hanging there being melted by the bulb. My food was extremely hot. I called Sears and apparently I have no recourse. They offered to have me buy the extended warranty for $250, which I felt I had no choice. What if when the technician comes out he charges me more? I'm so frustrated with Sears. I won't buy any more applicances with them.

  • Gs
      6th of Oct, 2008
    +1 Votes

    I just experienced this same problem on my Kenmore Elite french door frig, model 795.77543600, built 2/07, installed 3/07. so right at the 18 month mark, the frig lights stayed on and melted the lens and housing before i discovered the problem. the freezer light still goes off properly. i haven't called sears yet, but i did file a notice with the federal consumer product safety commission. it seems the cpsc only issues a recall if it is a fire or injury hazard, not just a lame design defect.

  • Ke
      6th of Oct, 2008
    0 Votes

    I am shocked by all of the complaints on this. I opened my Elite frig this morning and it was all melted and smelled. The frig is only two years old. This is a fire hazard for sure. The repairman is coming out tomorrow. It's going to have to be replaced it's all melted.

  • Ja
      17th of Oct, 2008
    0 Votes

    Today, I smelled the "burning plastic" when I opened the door. It didn't take me too long to discover the warped lamp cover and scorched brown lamp sockets. I confirmed that the refrigerator lights are remaining on when the door is closed. This could certainly result in a fire. I've removed the light bulbs and will call Sears service, but this should be a recall situation.

    This refrig is less than two years old and cost about $2500 on sale. It has the freezer icing problem that many others have cited on the web. I had a service call on this problem under warranty and the "repair" was to alleviate the symptom and not fix the problem, but of course Sears won't acknowledge this as a common defect of this model.

    Never again buy a Sears/LG refrigerator. Should have stayed with previous one lasted 18 years with no problems.

    This refrigerator is a total disappointment.

  • Ka
      5th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    November 5, 2008
    We also bought a Kenmore Elite Trio Model # 795.775 in August 22, 2006
    This morning 11/05/08, we woke up to a burning smell in the kitchen. I opened up the refrigerator, the smell of burning plastic was from inside the refrigerator. I found the lens cover to the lights barely hanging to the fixture. It was melted around the edges. I took off the lens, and burned my fingers in doing so. The light sockets were burned and all my food on the top shelf was extremely hot to the touch. I figured the bulbs were the problem. I waited until they cooled down enough to get the bulbs out. I had to be sure not to wait to long or the plastic socket would cool to much and seal around the bulbs. I noticed that each of the bulbs are 60 watts, that make them 120 watts heating up a sealed unit and could start a fire. I got the bulbs out and found that all my food was warm and had to toss it out.
    I also had a freezer icing problem as well. I believe that the light bulb is the issue in the freezer. So I took the out as well. You might think about doing that as well.

    I am going to contact a consumer protection agency.
    Kathleen McCall

  • Al
      9th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    Like the other writers I too have had the problem of the refrigerator lights staying on and overheating. After investigation and replacing the dective parts I consider this to be a design defect which has been since corrected by the manufactuers by changing the design of the lamp holder wiring harness. I have written to Sears requesting an explation.

  • Al
      9th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    Photographs of the defective parts can be seen at

  • Pa
      16th of Nov, 2008
    0 Votes

    We purchased our Kenmore Trio refrigerator in spring of 2007. This summer in August the butter was hot on the top shelf and the plastic lens covering the fridge light had melted and was hanging on only by one screw. Calling Sears resulted in a "This is out of warrantee." statement. This product should be recalled and fixed free of charge. Sears wanted to send a repair person for a charge. This machine cost over $2000 last year. The estimates on line go to over $500 for a circuit board replacement. This cost should be borne by the seller. This is obviously a product defect. Fearing a fire, I removed the lens and unplugged the lights. The lining and paint on the inside of the fridge is burnt near the bulbs and the sockets are scorched from the excess heat. Our last fridge was still running after 22 years. We bought this one to save energy. No savings here. Sears should stand behind its products. Reputation is all they have left. Read the posts here. You are losing customers for life.

  • Ti
      2nd of Dec, 2008
    0 Votes

    Exact same problem here. I read elsewhere that L.G. Electronics (who makes these units) has a defective CPU board. They have a new CPU board to replace the old one that supposedly addresses this issue. I'm sure that won't be cheap.

  • Sa
      11th of Feb, 2009
    0 Votes

    I purchased an Elite Trio #795.77543600 in Dec. 2006. 26 months later I too was faced with the same problem. I opened up the refrigerator and smelled burning plastic. The lens cover to the lights was melted in the center and around the edges to where the screws no longer had a surface to connect to. The light sockets were partially burned and all my food on the top shelf was hot. I called 1-800-4 MY HOME and was on hold for over half an hour. I hung up and drove to my local Sears. The saleswoman asked me to return later so that her manager could speak with me. Surprisingly, the saleswoman called me back after three hours and said she had spoken with a Sears representative who would be contacting me. Within a minute I received a call from JR (i.d. number 77688 (1-800-479-5899)who said that a service guy would be at my house in two days to assess the damage. I would need to pay $60-$80 which would then be reimbursed. He apologized for the problem and did not seem surprised by the complaint. I am hopeful that Sears will do right.

  • Ch
      24th of Mar, 2009
    0 Votes

    Had the same problem as everyone else here. We called Sears after having the fridge for 2 years. They sent out a repairman to assess the situation. He had to come back a day later with parts but fixed the light issue free of charge. We were very happy with the service from Sears. I think they were aware of the issue and were trying to fix the units as quickly as possible. The replacement part was partially made of metal where a mostly plastic had been.

  • Jm
      12th of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    We just encountered the same issue!! I will call SEARS and see if they are as "Accomodating" as they were to you, Chris!! Wow!! Such a dangerous situation!! My husband was away and luckily my son noticed that everything on the top shelf was warm -- I was able to PRY the plastic piece off with a knife and remove light bulbs with a heat proof oven mitt! ;-(

  • Re
      21st of Jul, 2009
    0 Votes

    I just had the same problem. Sears Trio Elite 795-77243601. Sears is coming tomorrow to evaluate.

    Unfortunately the interior shell of the refrigerator is severely warped, so I doubt it can be easily repaired.

  • Ch
      4th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Just started experiencing this problem with my own Kenmore Elite. 795-77559600. The manufacture date is listed as May 2007. Food on top shelf was warm/spoiled. I noticed the lense was warm to the touch. I believe this model has a built in safety switch to turn off the light when it over heats. The lights were intermittently on or off.

    I took out the bulbs and let the fixture cool down. A few hours later I reinserted the light bulbs. I used a butter knife to carefully split the seal and peak in. Sure enough, the light was on.

    Other than reporting this to Sears, does anyone have any DIY fixes or replacement part numbers I might try out?

    ( 795.77559600 for Google, that's how I found this forum )

  • Tl
      20th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    We're dealing with the exact same issue!!!...our light fixture is completely melted, blackened & burned. We purchased our refrigerator March 2008... so, its not even 2 years old. RIDICULOUS!!!

    Just called the phone# that Chris used... 800-479-5899. We have an appointment scheduled for tomorrow. I was advised they will charge $75. just for the service person to come out & assess the situation. They could not tell me how much more it will be to fix the defective light. I advised them that per the internet, this is a problem that they should be aware of, & it should be covered. Apparently, the service man makes that determination at the house-call...

    I guess we will see what happens tomorrow. But, I know for sure, that if it is not in our favor, and we are charged for fixing this defective product, I WILL BE SENDING A COMPLAINT LETTER TO KENMORE AND SEARS.

  • Ka
      30th of Aug, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Kenmore Elite Model 795.77553600 - burning smell and all food hot to touch on top two shelves coming from the lights. Light sockets turned brown from burning. Sears can't send a technician out for 3 days and my entire refrigerator will be bad in 3 days. This could have caused a fire and burned my house down.. ..Everyone needs to report this to the officials here is the address. Please do your part in reporting or someone could lose their life prematurely because of this defect Kenmore and Sears choses to ignore. Here is the website:

  • Dl
      5th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    Kenmore Model# 795.77543600
    I opened the refrigerator door this morning and felt heat from the upper shelf radiating on my face. I noticed the clear light cover was all warped, and one side of the white plastic light assembly that screws into the top of the fridge had become soft enough to let the screw pull through and was hanging only by the screw on the other side. I pushed the switch in the upper hinge of the left door to see if the lights would go off but the switch was not working. I turned off the refrigerator and removed the clear plastic light cover, the light sockets, and metal heat shield. When I removed the white plastic base of the light assembly I could see the plastic interior of the refrigerator had become blistered from the heat. I also purchased this refrigerator for energy savings and also the stainless steel look. My 20 year old fridge was working fine when I replaced it with this one. This is a major defect and the damage to the refrigerator unit itself is major. I hope there is some sort of recall on these. I am very disappointed in the quality of this fridge.

  • Ja
      7th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    I just realized that I have the same problem with my Elite Trio. Purchased April/06 delivered in May/06. My wife said the light cover was falling down. I did not have any melting problems, probably because we caught the problem early. Both bulbs were extremely hot as well as warm food on the top shelf. I thought that maybe the door switches that are supposed to shut the light off maybe defective. I will be calling Sears to find out.

  • Is
      10th of Sep, 2009
    0 Votes

    The light cover fell out of the fridge this morning as I left for work. Didn't think anything of it until we came home from work and found the exact same problems described above. All the food is extremely hot and is ruined. We had to use a towel to unscrew the lightbulbs, which are blazing hot - I'm really surprised the bulbs haven't shattered. The plastic cover that fell off this morning is warped and doesn't want to go back on.

    We've had this unit for 2 years and are extremely disappointed in it. We will never buy a Sears product again. We're calling the service department tonight and will post what we find out.

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