Samsung Refrigerator Error Code 5E Explained

Samsung Refrigerator Error Code 5E Explained

Is your Samsung refrigerator signaling a 5E error code? Is your fridge warm to the touch or doesn’t seem to have a problem at all?

A 5E error code is sometimes a heating problem and other times a communication problem. It can involve a lot of parts, or it can only require resetting your fridge.

It might sound confusing at first, but understanding why a 5E error is happening isn’t as complicated as it sounds, though it might require checking a number of parts in your fridge.

This article will help you figure out which of them will require your attention, as well as how to fix and prevent this error.

What does an error code 5E on a Samsung fridge mean and how do you fix it?

A 5E error code from a Samsung refrigerator indicates a fault in the defrost system. This can be because the defrost sensor or its connecting elements have failed.

Fixing this error requires you to defrost your refrigerator first to melt the ice buildup that might be obstructing the parts involved.

In the case of an error code 5E, where the defrost sensor is potentially damaged and won’t be able to read the temperature in the refrigerator properly, this means that you’ll have to defrost the unit manually.

Unplugging your Samsung fridge and leaving the doors open for the ice to melt is enough to do the trick. 

We do not recommend using a hairdryer or other similar heating devices to speed up the defrosting process as this may damage the material of your refrigerator.

Moreover, in this scenario, putting your fridge in Force Defrost might not be as effective. Since the error lies in the defrost sensor — a key element in defrost cycles — your fridge might not know when to terminate the process.

Furthermore, this might strain the defrost sensor even more. To prevent this from happening, we’ve prepared a few tips you can follow before you proceed to troubleshoot the parts involved.

Resetting the Samsung Refrigerator Error Code 5E

To understand an error code 5E, you need to know what role the defrost sensor plays in your Samsung fridge’s defrost system.

The defrost sensor, otherwise known as the thermistor, is responsible for detecting temperature changes inside your Samsung fridge so that it may alert the rest of the defrost system when to start a cooling or defrosting cycle.

When the defrost sensor’s contacts detect that the temperature has dropped beyond the initial temperature you set, it sends a signal to other parts of the defrost system to begin an auto-defrost cycle.

That is why the temperature inside your refrigerator fluctuates. Furthermore, your fridge may start an auto-defrost cycle numerous times a day, if the defrost system detects a need for it.

Since the defrost cycle begins with the defrost sensor reading temperature senses, getting a 5E error code is often accompanied by other error codes pointing to other parts of the defrost system.

These codes might not appear as a pair at first, however, so you’ll have to put your fridge on diagnosis mode to draw them out. To run a self-diagnosis on your fridge, do the following steps:

  • Step 1: Defrost the refrigerator manually by unplugging the fridge and leaving the doors open. Most troubleshooting methods begin with unplugging your fridge, for safety measures.

This also helps cool down and reset parts of the defrost system that might be straining due to the error code.

Leaving the door open also helps speed up the melting process without compromising the material of your fridge. 

To reiterate, using an electrical heating device might burn or melt the material, and bend your fridge out of shape.

  • Step 2: Remove the back cover of the evaporator panel while defrosting the fridge. The back panel is usually where the defrost sensor is located.

Removing the back cover will help thaw out any ice buildup around the defrost sensor and the evaporator coils.

  • Step 3: Once defrosting is done, wipe everything dry with a clean towel. When all the ice has melted, towel dry your fridge.

Do this twice if you have to. Ensure that no moisture residue is left anywhere in the fridge.

  • Step 4: Replace the back cover and plug the refrigerator back in. After making sure that everything is dry to a T, replace the back cover.

We still have to run a diagnosis to check other errors that exist alongside the 5E error. If a compartment is left open, or an internal component is left exposed, the fridge won’t perform any other function.

Make sure to secure the back cover in place. Afterward, plug the refrigerator in again and power it on.

  • Step 5: To run a diagnosis, press and hold the Power Freeze and Power Cool buttons for at least 10 seconds or until the screen flashes with a chime.

If your fridge doesn’t have these buttons, refer to your user manual for the diagnostic buttons. On most refrigerator models, this is usually the topmost left and topmost right buttons on the display panel.

If more than one error code is present, the display will cycle through all the codes. This will be accompanied by a steady beeping noise for at least 30 seconds or until the diagnosis ends.

The fridge’s defrost system relies on the communication of its internal parts to function. When one of them fails, the communication within the system gets disrupted, and your fridge may read this as two parts malfunctioning.

Here are other possible codes you might encounter along with a 5E error code:

  • 22C or 22E: A 22C error indicates a fault in the fridge’s cooling fan. This error is the most common error to combine with a 5E code.

The cooling fan, otherwise known as the evaporator fan, is connected directly to the defrost sensor. It’s responsible for blowing cold air into the compartment and absorbing heat from the refrigerants.

When paired with a 5E error code, you might notice that some parts of your fridge are colder or warmer than others. 

  • 21E, 40C, or 40E: These indicate an error in your fridge’s other cooling fans.

Your Samsung fridge is designed to have separate cooling systems for each compartment. This means the fridge, the freezer, and the ice maker compartments all get an evaporator fan of their own.

While the 22C or 22E error pertains to the fridge compartment’s main cooling fan, the 21E error points you to inspect that freezer fan instead. Meanwhile, the 40C or 40E indicates the ice maker fan.

While placed in different locations, the troubleshooting methods for these fans are the same.

  • 33E: This means that the ice pipe heater has encountered an error. This part is responsible for preventing ice buildup in the ice maker’s fill tube.
  • 84C: This means that the fridge’s compressor has locked up or is clogged. When this happens, the fridge won’t be able to produce cold air at all.
  • 39E or 39C: This means that there’s an error in the ice maker function and your fridge is unable to produce or dispense ice.
  • 8E or 14E: These point to specific sensors in your fridge. While a 5E error code indicates a fault in the fridge’s main defrost sensor, an 8E error code means that the defrost sensor in the freezer compartment has malfunctioned.

Meanwhile, a 14E indicates an error in the ice maker defrost sensor.

  • 88 88, 83E, 85E, or 86E: These indicate an error in voltage or power supply. They usually appear once your fridge turns on after a power outage.

In most cases, this points to a fault in the communication between the fridge’s internal parts. 

When these appear, unplug your refrigerator or turn off the circuit breaker for at least 60 seconds. Afterward, reset your fridge settings.

This is usually enough to resolve all other errors. If the 5E error code persists after this, there might be a fault in the wirings or the component itself.

Common Causes of Error Code 5E and How to Fix Them

A 5E error code involves a specific part of your fridge that isn’t prone to wearing down. In this case, the most common culprit is a loose connection or one that has been damaged due to lapses in the power supply.

You can learn more about them in the table below.

Faulty WiringRemove the cover of the evaporator panel and inspect the wiring around the defrost sensor for any loose or damaged connection.

Test each wiring for continuity. Replace the ones with no continuity.
Defrost Sensor FailureRemove the defrost sensor to test for resistance using a multimeter.

Refer to your Samsung refrigerator user manual for your fridge’s defrost sensor’s electrical specification.

Test the defrost sensor for resistance in both room and cold temperatures.

If the defrost sensor resistance fails in either test, replace the defrost sensor.
Faulty Defrost ThermostatRefer to your Samsung manual for the opening and closing temperatures of the thermostat.

Test the thermostat for continuity in both temperatures.

If the thermostat is cold (closing temperature), it should have continuity.

If the thermostat is warm (opening temperature), it should have no continuity.

If the thermostat fails in either test, replace the defrost thermostat.
Damaged Control BoardOpen the back panel of your fridge’s exterior and take a photo of where the wirings are placed in the control board.

Disconnect the wires one by one and inspect them for damage. Replace damaged wirings.

Take the control board out of its housing and inspect it for any signs of burning or shorting out.

Replace the control board only if necessary.

While a 5E error code can be traced back to only a handful of issues, all of the items in this list require you to inspect internal components and wire connections.

Before diving into each method, unplug and power off your refrigerator for good measure.

Furthermore, some wires might need soldering to be repaired. This is a method that requires melting solder points in order to secure wire connections.

If you aren’t well-versed in this method — or any of the troubleshooting methods that require handling wires in general — do not hesitate to call for professional help.

Faulty Wiring

When you remove the back cover of the evaporator panel, you’ll notice numerous wirings holding it in place. Some of these connect the defrost sensor to the evaporator coils.

These wirings can come loose when you move the fridge, and they can get damaged due to a power surge, short-circuiting, or heavy ice blockage.

When this happens, communication to the defrost sensor will be disrupted, which explains why your fridge is pinning the error on the defrost sensor in particular.

Solution: Remove the cover of the evaporator panel and inspect the wiring around the defrost sensor for any physical damage, including the wiring connecting the panel cover to the fridge body.

To test for damage to the wires themselves, you’ll need to run a continuity test on each of the wire contacts using a multimeter.

You can fix damaged wirings by soldering, twisting, or cabling the damaged connections. If there are too many damaged wirings, however, you’ll have to replace the entire harness.

You can refer to the video below for the wires directly connecting to the defrost sensor.

Defrost Sensor Failure

If none of the wires around your defrost sensor are damaged, the fault is in the defrost sensor itself. This could mean that its contacts have failed, which is why it’s no longer picking up temperature changes.

When the defrost sensor fails, it cannot be repaired. The only thing you can do is replace the component.

Solution: Remove the defrost sensor from its housing and test its ohm value using a multimeter.

Auto-ranging multimeters need to be set to the ohm setting, while manual-ranging multimeters need to be set to 20k or 40k setting for accurate results. 

Refer to your Samsung refrigerator user manual for the electrical specification you need.

We recommend testing the defrost sensor at both room temperature and cold temperature.

As a reference point, if the room temperature in your home is around 75°F to 76°F (23.8°C to 24.4°C), the ohm reading should be around 5,000 ohms.

To test the defrost sensor at a colder extreme, simply dip it in a glass of iced water.

If the defrost sensor fails to meet the required specification for either circumstance, replace the defrost sensor.

Furthermore, if there is physical damage to the defrost sensor, such as signs of burning or open wiring, it needs to be replaced.

Faulty Defrost Thermostat

The defrost sensor isn’t the only component regulating the temperature inside your fridge. Part of the credit for that goes to the defrost thermostat as well.

These two parts are directly linked; you’ll often find them at either end of the evaporator coils.

While the defrost sensor detects temperature changes, the defrost thermostat reacts to the absence of cold temperatures. When it picks up a lack of cold air in the fridge, it signals the compressor to cool the refrigerants some more, or vice versa.

When the defrost thermostat malfunctions, it would fail to react to the signals the defrost sensor sends. There is no specific error code for the thermostat, hence, this error may reflect as a 5E code instead.

Solution: To test the thermostat for damage, refer to your Samsung manual for the opening and closing temperatures of the thermostat.

You can also locate these values on the thermostat itself, however, you’ll need to calculate the closing temperature. 

The formula is as follows: the first number on the thermostat (opening temperature) minus the second number. The value this will produce is the closing temperature.

You’ll need to test the continuity of the thermostat at both temperatures.

While the thermostat is cold, it’s at its closing temperature. This means it should have continuity.

You will hear a beeping sound from the multimeter if the contacts have continuity.

Meanwhile, if the defrost sensor is warm, it’s at its opening temperature and should have no continuity.

Like the defrost sensor, a damaged thermostat cannot be repaired and has to be replaced instead. If it fails in either of the continuity tests, replace the old thermostat with a new one.

Damaged Control Board

The control board is the heart of your Samsung fridge’s cooling and defrosting system. This is where all the wirings from other components are connected.

It’s a central hub that processes signals and commands from other internal parts of your fridge. This is an integral part of the defrost system, hence, it’s designed to endure physical damage and wear.

However, it is not immune to heat or damage from power surges. When exposed to too much heat or an inappropriate voltage supply, the control board may get burned.

Like the defrost thermostat, control board failure does not have an error code of its own. However, should any other troubleshooting methods fail, it’s worth inspecting this part.

Only replace the control board if you’ve verified that none of the other parts of the defrosting system are failing.

Solution: Open the back panel of the refrigerator and take note of the wiring placements of the control board. We recommend taking a photo for reference.

Afterward, carefully disconnect the wires from their terminals. Inspect each wiring for damages.

Once the wires are out of the way, remove the old control board and inspect it for any signs of burning or shorting out.

Loose wire connections can be repaired by soldering. However, if the control board has any black tracks or burned elements — especially if the scent of burnt plastic is present — the entire control board needs to be replaced.

To install a new control board, position the component in place with the bottom part going in first. Reconnect the wirings using the photo of the old control board as a reference.

Prevention Tips for Samsung Refrigerator Error Code 5E

When you encounter a 5E error code, you’ll notice unbalanced temperatures within the fridge compartment. This means that it can get too warm or too cold.

Sometimes, a part of your fridge is cold while at the same time another part of it is warm.

Since this error code involves the defrost sensor — one of the key temperature regulators of your fridge — you’ll naturally encounter inconsistencies like this. 

If neglected, this can lead to overheating or over-freezing.

Preventing this error is no different from preventing other temperature errors from showing up. The most important factor to consider is developing habits that won’t disrupt the temperature settings in your fridge.

If you’re not sure how to do that, you can start observing the things on this list:

  • Don’t leave the refrigerator door open for more than a minute. This is to prevent warm air from entering the fridge and turning into frozen condensation that contributes to ice buildup.
  • Cool warm or hot food down before storing them in the refrigerator. Conversely, transfer food items into a container before placing them in the fridge.

This applies to hot or warm foods, perishable foods that require rinsing, and other ingredients that have high water activity. Doing this will refrain the defrost sensor from picking up incorrect temperatures coming from the food.

  • Leave a 2-inch gap between your items and the back of the fridge. Placing food too close to the back panel can disrupt the sensor’s temperature-reading capabilities.

    You should also leave a 2-inch gap between the door and the items in the fridge. This is to ensure that no items will obstruct the door from closing all the way each time.
  • Do not block the air vents, which can be found on the back panel in the interior of your fridge as well. Blocking these air vents prevents air from circulating properly in your fridge, which can later cause temperature errors.

Moreover, avoid overcrowding your fridge. Consider how much space each item will take and move larger items into other compartments instead.

  • Defrost your fridge regularly. Thick ice buildup can lead to several issues, including a 5E error code and all other error codes associated with it.

While your Samsung refrigerator has the ability to defrost itself, it often foregoes colder compartments such as the freezer.

To ensure that all compartments of the refrigerator will be rid of ice, it’s important to schedule Force Defrost sessions regularly. 

Remember that ice forms in the fridge compartment naturally as a result of opening and closing the fridge door.

We recommend defrosting your fridge once a month to avoid frost buildup from getting too thick.

  • Clean the coils regularly. After you’ve defrosted the fridge and cleaned up all the melted ice, don’t forget to get the condenser coils at the back exterior of the fridge.

These coils transport all the heat absorbed from the refrigerants and release them into the outside environment of the fridge. This explains why the rear always feels hot to approach.

When these coils are clogged, they keep all the absorbed warm air trapped, which strains your fridge’s cooling system as it forces it to work harder to get rid of the lingering heat.

Furthermore, having heat trapped in a component in close proximity to the defrost sensor may lead to incorrect temperature readings.

  • Unplug your fridge during a power outage. Power outages can damage even the most durable part of your refrigerator.

To avoid this, unplug your appliance immediately when the power goes out or when you’re resetting the circuit breaker.

Make sure there are no loose connections involving the power plug. This is to ensure that your fridge isn’t getting an inconsistent energy supply, which can result in short-circuiting.

  • Place your fridge in an appropriate location. While this might seem like an obvious thing to do, most homeowners aren’t aware that room temperature can contribute to heating errors in appliances.

As a general rule, you shouldn’t place your Samsung fridge in a room with a relatively unstable room temperature. 

This means that if a room is prone to be more humid than other rooms during a certain season, or is prone to grow warmer based on the activity you use it for (such as a garage), you should reconsider placing your fridge there.

Room temperature can affect the performance of your fridge. If you place it in a place susceptible to warm extremes, it might overheat easily.

Likewise, if you place it in a room that’s susceptible to cold extremes, it might increase energy consumption and lead to inconsistent cooling capabilities.

The ideal room temperature for your Samsung refrigerator is anywhere between 50°F (10°C) and 90°F (32.3°C).

  • Avoid adjusting your fridge’s temperature too often. As mentioned before, your refrigerator cycles through auto-defrosting and cooling regularly throughout the day, so it’s only normal for its temperature to fluctuate slightly.

Unless the temperature change is drastic and far from the initial temperature you’ve set, avoid tampering with your fridge’s temperature settings. This will strain its cooling system and may even lead to over-freezing.

Another good way to avoid thick ice buildup is to set the fridge to an ideal temperature. As recommended by the US FDA, your fridge should be set to below 40°F or 4°C.

We recommend setting it between 37°F (3°C) to 33°F (1°C). This is already accounting for minor fluctuations in temperature.

Setting the temperature within this range ensures that the fridge won’t incorrectly send a heating error while on auto-defrost mode and that it won’t overchill while it’s cooling or in the process of making ice.

A 5E error code might not seem like a complicated error to encounter, but it’s quite a huge hassle.

Sure, it’s easy to pin down and get to troubleshooting, but it’s also one that can’t be resolved by simply repairing what’s broken. As such, it can be expensive to fix.

Your best bet against this error is to ensure that ice blockage won’t occur and interrupt the defrost sensor’s function. It would save you from encountering other errors as well.

We hope this article not only helped you approach this error but also gave you enough insights on how to prevent it.

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