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What Does the HRS Light on a Refrigerator Mean?

John Cagney Nash

GE, Hotpoint and Kenmore are all appliance brands owned by General Electric that share many of the same components and operating systems. Several different refrigerators share the same control board, and these appliances typically display the code “HRS” on their interface when a general operating fault is detected.

Interpreting the Code

The parts replacement typically necessitated after the HRS code appears can be done by almost any do it yourselfer.

In General Electric -- GE -- Hotpoint and Kenmore refrigerators, the “HRS” code indicates that the main control board has malfunctioned. If the control panel has simply locked up, switching the machine off for 20 minutes allows the appliance to “reboot,” resetting the control panel. If this fails, it means the control board has ceased to function or that communication has been lost between the board and the rest of the circuits.


The main control board does exactly that: it controls the operation of the appliance. Problems typically present themselves in a number of ways, including a total failure to start up or run, a failure of both the freezer and refrigeration compartments to reach the desired temperatures as set at the controls or thermostats, or their becoming too cold. Noisy operation is another common symptom. Separate functions that typically refuse to operate include failure to dispense chilled water from the dispenser, and the ice maker failing to make ice. If the dispensers work, the dimming or pulsing of the dispenser lights as they are operating is another common symptom of control board failure.


Disconnect the refrigerator from the power supply. To access the control board, remove a 6-by-10-inch panel on the rear of the refrigerator; it is held in place by four screws. The malfunctioning board will be revealed. Visually inspect the eight connection plugs that attach wires to the control board; if one has fallen off due to the mechanical function of the refrigerator, replace it on the empty terminal. Reinstate power and test.


It is far more likely that the control board has malfunctioned; there are no user- or technician-serviceable components in the control board. Take a digital photograph that details which colored wires are attached to which terminals, or draw a rough plan of that information. Unplug the cables attached to the board and retract the board from the hole exposed by the removal of the panel. Obtain a new control panel from an appliance dealership or a home improvement warehouse, then install the replacement panel in a direct reversal of the removal process and press the cables into place according to the photo or plan. This is a true “plug-and-play” project that requires no tools. The experts at Parts Select identify this job as “really easy,” with a likely completion time of between 15 and 30 minutes.