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Refrigerator running but not getting very cold

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Badfish740, May 6, 2013.

  1. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    We got a free refrigerator from my in-laws who upgraded to a new one. Nothing wrong with the old one, they just wanted stainless steel to match their new kitchen. It sat in their garage for a month unplugged before I finally was able to pick it up, I transported it upright the whole way (I heard you're not supposed to lay them down-not sure if that's an old wive's tale or not) home and it sat in my garage for another month before I found the time to run electric out to it. I branched off an existing 15 amp circuit that feeds our two sump pumps because the receptacle for one of the sumps was conveniently located just behind the wall to the garage, so I took a short length of Romex, and ran it from the receptacle out to a new receptacle in the garage. I plugged the fridge in, set the controls to the recommended settings on the dial for the fridge and freezer and waited 24 hours.

    At that point I was getting 48-50 degrees in the fridge and 25-27 degrees in the freezer. The compressor seemed to be running non-stop. I decided to give it another 24 hours and still no dice-same temps. Temperature in the garage at this time varied from low 60s during the day to high 40s/low 50s at night. The most obvious fix in refrigeration that I know of is making sure the coils are clean, but I don't know where they are? The back of the unit is flat, no coils to be found-are they underneath maybe? Still, if it was working fine at my in-laws, I don't see how it could have accumulated so much dust on the coils in two months? I used standard 14 gauge Romex so I don't see how there could be a voltage drop issue (like if you plug a large appliance in with a long extension cord), and my connections in the boxes are all good. I'm stumped...

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  2. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Sounds like it's a bit low on refrigerant (r-22 or 410a depending on the age). Perhaps moving it caused a leak?

    Laying down is generally not good because the compressor oil can settle in parts that aren't made to have oil in them. THOUGH, I have transported several fridges on their backs and they were fine. Not really sure if it's a DON'T or a "shouldn't".
  3. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Unplug it and let it set for another 24 hours. Plug it back in and see if it reacts any different. Sometimes I have seen this work. Almost like it gets a vapor lock or something.
  4. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    I didn't elaborate in my first post but I've actually tried that a few times. I plugged it in on Friday and it was still not cooling properly on Sunday, so I finally got exasperated enough to post this ;) I'm wondering if it is indeed leaking... Is there any good way for a refrigeration layman to check? Then, assuming it is leaking, how can it be fixed? The fridge is of late 1990s/early 2000s vintage-I can't imagine an appliance repair company would be cheap...
  5. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I'm not too sure what would be involved with working on the fridge coolant. I'm trained for working on car HVAC and that's it. I've never messed with house stuff.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    If you cracked the loop somewhere during the move...well, its probably done for. A repair bill will probably be half the cost of a new fridge. Buying one out of the super saver paper (or whatever) would probably be a cheaper alternative.
  7. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    AN old fridge uses a LOT of power. I even throw air conditioners out after so many years that still work but use lot of power sometimes to the point of heating up the plug (Unsafe) Not only that they dont cool nearly as well as the new ones. Like Jags said dont throw good money after bad.
  8. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    If it is actually bad I'll just scrap it and pocket a few $$$. We don't really need it, the in-laws just said, "hey want this?" and me, not being able to turn down anything free :p, said "sure."
  9. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    I used to hear that as well but I think it's an old wive's tail. If the insulation and seals are fine they aren't bad on power.

    We have a 1940s General Motors fridge at work and it uses slightly more power than a nearly new "energy star/saver" model. Measured it for a few weeks with a "Kill-a-Watts" meter. It was something like 5Kw/Hr difference over the course of 2 weeks.... so about $1.50 a month difference.

  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I came to the exact same conclusion with a kill-a-watt.
  11. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    What is the temperature in the garage? If it's really cool, the refrigeration cycle won't work properly.

    Also, too much airflow over the condenser coils will adversely affect things. I learned that the hard way in the tropics. I had a fan blowing on the back of my 'fridge to "help" it. All that did was make the inside of the fridge warm. I shut off the fan, and the fridge worked fine after that.
  12. Badfish740

    Badfish740 Minister of Fire

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    Coldest it has been in the garage is high 40s, but it was in the high 60s the other day and it still wasn't working well.
  13. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    coils are likely in back bottom. most likely there is a panel that can be removed for access some of these are drum shaped units and are multiple layers deep. fan located on one end other end blocked so air is pulled into center exhausted by fan. very little clearance between the rows of coils. Easier to use a blow gun from a compressor to clean than to try and get a brush in them. Unit may or may not have a low freon shutoff as well as a low temp external sensor shut off . Another problem could be the door/s are not sealing properly. Either from a faulty seal or out of alignment.
  14. heat seeker

    heat seeker Minister of Fire

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    Maybe from the move? You could do the dollar bill test on the door gaskets.
  15. Seasoned Oak

    Seasoned Oak Minister of Fire

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    Depends on the model.I got rid of an old side by side as it would drive the light bill up about $30 a month. It worked fine but what an energy hog. The new ones are equally incredible at low power consumption. I have new french door and the power went out for 3 hours. The fridge didnt lose a single degree in 3 hours off.
  16. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    That is below freezing in the freezer and cooler than room temp in fridge. To some people, that's "still working". ;) Or they might not have realized how bad it had gotten since it got worse gradually. You ought to ask them how well it kept things cold for them, before you assume you're doing something wrong.
  17. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    The fan that circulates air through the condenser needs to actually move air. I've seen some bad or obstructed.
    The condenser coils can be too dirty.
    A bad defrost relay (timer) will also cause this problem If the inside fridge walls feel warm to the touch the defrost timer is the likely culprit.
  18. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    make sure that you do not rip any of the cardboard on the back bottom. that serves as the air deflector for fan. try tipping the fridge and leaning it up against the wall and get down on the floor in front of the unit pull the small grill off the front of the fridge and you should see your coils and vac them out using a fridge coil brush that can be bought at the hardware store. then tip the fridge back to upright and remove the cardboard stuff from the back bottom and clean there. don't forget to clean the fan blades. dust buildup on blades will cut down the air flow. i can't imagine that in two days there would be a ice buildup problem on coils in the freezer if there is ice buildup like a block of ice check your timer. that is a round thingy with about 4 wire out of it and a place to turn a knob.that should be around back also. turn this knob slowly until you here a click and the fridge shuts down. that is the defrost cycle. it should turn the fridge back on in 20 minutes. if it does not turn back on in about 45 minutes the timer in junk. btw when the timer turn the defrost on in about 5 minutes if there is any ice on the freezer coil there should be water flow under the fridge to a pan from a tube.
    tell us how you do.

    frank

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