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Access port through side of a refrigerator

Discussion in 'Home Bar' started by far333, May 4, 2012.

  1. far333

    far333 Poo-Bah (2,010) Nov 16, 2002 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Anyone have experience drilling a hole in the sidewall of a fridge for access for CO2 lines so that the tank can sit outside the fridge and be able to feed gas to kegs through the sidewall?

    I found schematics of my fridge online, but it doesn't show any info on what's hidden inside the sidewalls. I think the schematics would have shown any wiring, but are there cooling elements there? Or is a fridge basically just a giant cooler and I'll be okay to drill away? Thanks for any info anyone may have.
  2. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (346) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    I was installing(attempting to install) a hasp lock on my metal shop fridge in my shop. I assumed there were no lines in the side. I was wrong. 3/4 of the way up on the left side I drilled my first hole just to release all of the freon and completely ruin the fridge. I'm not sure what to tell you except in this ~15 year old fridge (freezer over fridge) there were freon lines in the side. Just FYI.
  3. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (717) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    I'm contemplating the same thing and have been told that all the coils are on the bottom/back now. You go first and tell me how it goes : ) ...I'm in the middle of building a 10 gal setup right now anyway, so the O/S CO2 bottles are second on the list.

    Edit: I'm obviously full of shit after reading scurvy311's reply above.
  4. mcbeerbrew

    mcbeerbrew Initiate (64) Feb 9, 2011 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    If its a newer fridge, search the model number on homebrewtalk.com. Theres a lot of keggerator mods on there that people have well documented so that might help you out.
  5. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (346) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    I drilled the hole on the left side, about 3/4 the way up on the edge. The hasp was going on the edge of the left side and the latch with the hole side I was planning on screwing to the side of the door to accept the hasp. About 2-3 inches in on the left side there was a freon line. The middle of the side for a shank or whatnot, I don't know.
  6. teal

    teal Initiate (75) May 3, 2012 Wisconsin

    Don Osborne on one of his videos shows how he checks. Basically just breaks through the outter skin of the fridge with a drill, then pokes around that little hole at angles with a nail to see and feel for a line. If not - he punches it all the way through. Still some risk but it's lessened.

    If your schematic is only for electrical - I'd do that. If it does show the freon tubes and the like - I can't imagine why they'd show some and not all.
    zacky_U likes this.
  7. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    one trick you may use, and i have heard the technique works with some success,

    clean the outside of the fridge. make a thin mixture of cornstarch and alcohol, paint it on the area you plan to drill. paint it in a few other places too, just to be sure it works. turn the fridge to its coldest setting. you will likely see a ghost of the coils after a while. don't drill in that spot.

    if you post the link for your schematic we might be able to figure out the design of your future keg box.

    whatever you decide, don't fly blind. you are going to hit a line. trust me. you will be left with a big, ugly plastic box. to add insult to injury you will get up early next Saturday to haul the useless junk to the dump then pay to drop it off. don't do it!
  8. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    I've drilled 3 fridges over the years and never hit a line. I advise going from the inside because it's plastic, thus easier to drill, and there are no visible holes all over the outside of the fridge. After you drill the initial hole and convince yourself there are no lines, use a hole saw to just cut the right size hole in the inner skin. Clean all the insulation out from that hole until you see the outer skin and you will be certain there's nothing in there that you will ruin.
    zacky_U likes this.
  9. Buggies

    Buggies Initiate (0) Jul 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    My soon to be X wife just informed me that she is taking the refrigerator I was going to convert to a kegerator this summer with her. Woh is me.

    With that being said, I'm thinking of getting something small like a mini fridge. Any suggestions on what minimum size I should get.
  10. far333

    far333 Poo-Bah (2,010) Nov 16, 2002 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    Here's the link to the schematics: http://www.partselect.com/ModelFram...D191TJ&Position=1&mfg=Frigidaire&Type=&Mark=1

    Another interesting link to a conversion project on the site of the company that makes the hop stopper. This guy makes no comments about being careful with the drill: http://www.partselect.com/ModelFram...D191TJ&Position=1&mfg=Frigidaire&Type=&Mark=1
  11. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    same link twice.
    i think diagram # 5 shows the condesor hangs off the back of your fridge. this is good. the cool coil is located within the freezer box, though it is not labeled. this is a standard freezer on top design. the small box on top will chill to sub zero, the large box on the bottom will have a vent to allow some of the shilled air to enter. the thermostat is in the fridge box to elminate the chance of frozen food in the fridge. adjusting the vent between fridge and freezer modulates the temp exchange. there is a wire heater element to de-ice the coil. counter intuitive, but that is how it works. when this thing is one, the back coils will get hot, and they need some air clearance top shed removed heat.

    so, from what i can see, you can drill the fridge box safely. stay the hell away from the freezer box. and of course, don't nick the condesor on the back. keep that clean and free of dust and this unit should last forever.

    note, if you use this exclusively as a keg box with an outboard temp controller, open the vent between freezer and fridge as wide as possible. the more air communication between freezer and fridge you can get, the better.
  12. far333

    far333 Poo-Bah (2,010) Nov 16, 2002 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

  13. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I'd drill holes all over that thing. ALL over.
  14. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Initiate (0) Jul 16, 2005 Connecticut

  15. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    Agreed. I have use barbed fittings in my kegerator for years and they are not even close to "permanent". Not difficult at all to take apart and clean or replace if needed.
  16. bertdorf3

    bertdorf3 Initiate (0) Nov 5, 2012

    For the record, I was making my kegerator with a Sanyo mini fridge. Put a 1/2' tap hole on the left side (big, to support PVC tube fittings so I could take the beer tubing out and close off the hole), a gas hole on the right (same size, about mid-point). Placed the fridge on a table with wheels and screwed it down tight. I didn't want to have the 20# CO2 tank fall off the table so I decided to strap it to the side of the fridge. With 4 nice belt-loop bases from West Marine, I was drilling my eighth and final 1/8" hole for the bolt, and NICKED a 3/16" freon line on the right side inside wall, about 4 inches from bottom. Hissssssssss and my kegerator was toast.
    At least with Sanyo brand, the small freon line was literally glued in place against the metal side of the inside wall. Pissed off, I tore the hell out of the plastic interior to see the line run... what luck... 98% chance you won't hit a line but Murphy's Law rules.
    I now have a Whirlpool I purchased yesterday and am assuming the lines are close to the same proximity, but will drill SLOWLY, maybe by hand, from the inside plastic side, and probe with a nail this time...
  17. Tonysantan

    Tonysantan Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2013 Ohio

    Ok guys, newbie here and I need help!! I have an amana TM16SP refrigerator. I need to know if I can drill the sides. I have laid out the drilling if I go through the front door and am very unhappy with how low the tap spouts would have to be. Any suggestions on how to drill through the sides or where to find info?
  18. zero_signal

    zero_signal Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Your safe drilling through the side of most fridges.. Coolant lines usually run up back walk.
  19. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    There is a test you can do with corn starch that will show you exactly where the lines are. You mix it with vodka and paint it on. It dries out where the lines are, leaving a white line.
  20. Tonysantan

    Tonysantan Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2013 Ohio

    Can rubbing alcohol work instead of vodka? I saw a previous post about this method..but didn't specify, so I presumed he meant rubbing alcohol. Also, what is the ratio mix of corn starch to alcohol?
  21. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    I think the rubbing alcohol may be too volatile - it will all evaporate so quickly the whole side of the fridge will be white almost instantly. You need the carrier to stay in liquid form for a while so you can get a differential.
  22. Tonysantan

    Tonysantan Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2013 Ohio

    Ok, ratio of vodka to corn starch? Also, my fridge is white...so do I need to add food coloring so I can see the starch? Or will it appear anyway? The outer shell of fridge is warm but insides are cold...does that mean I don't have side coils? Or do I have them and the side insulation is keeping it warm to touch?
  23. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Try a ratio and see what happens, if no effect add more corn starch. Add some food coloring. The sides are insulated, if there are lines they are in the insulation.
  24. Tonysantan

    Tonysantan Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2013 Ohio

    Should it be a soup? A paste? How wet should it be in order to be applied?
  25. mikehartigan

    mikehartigan Aspirant (297) Apr 9, 2007 Illinois

    1. Drill a hole in the side of the fridge.
    2. If you don't hit any lines, you're done!
    3. If you hit a line, make a template of the side of the fridge, marking the location of the hole.
    4. Go to your favorite appliance store and buy the exact same model number fridge.
    5. Using the template from step 3, mark the location of the hole on the new fridge with a permanent marker. In large, block letters, write 'Do Not Drill' with an arrow pointing to the mark.
    6. Pick an alternate location and return to step 1. Repeat, as necessary.

    Joshjv, Kadonny and IceAce like this.
  26. Tonysantan

    Tonysantan Initiate (0) Oct 26, 2013 Ohio

    Lol..not much help with this suggestion... But pretty funny!
  27. zero_signal

    zero_signal Initiate (0) Aug 8, 2013 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I am betting 95% of refrigerators don't run lines through side walls of there units..
  28. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (470) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    If the outer shell of your fridge is warm, that is the result of your condenser coil. This is where the compressed refrigerant goes to "cool off" and turn into a liquid . . . thus the warmth (and name). Old-timey fridges had the condenser coil on the back, many newer models have them on the bottom, some have them integral to the shell (many freezers are this way).


    If you drill into a condenser coil you will be granted membership into the "Duh" Club.
  29. hotrail

    hotrail Initiate (0) May 30, 2014

    Ok fellas, I am reviving this thread because I screwed up....maybe. I am hoping one of you can tell me I didn't! I have a Whirlpool refer Model et20akxlnr2. I drilled a hole in the side for my faucet shank. I drilled it about 23 inches down from the top and about 7 inches out from the front on the right side of fridge if you are facing it. The very top of my hole I hit and severed a white coated copper braided wire. It is still running fine I think, it just happened a little bit ago. Anyone know what that wire is? The light still works etc...
  30. notyal

    notyal Initiate (0) Jan 9, 2015

  31. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (470) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    I confess this is the first fridge schematic I've ever studied. Difficult to make heads or tails of it . . . but if disaster strikes you will have the replacement part number handy.
  32. KegKicker

    KegKicker Initiate (26) Aug 11, 2008 New York

    Copied from Instructables:

    - Plug in the refrigerator and let it run for about 30-40 minutes

    - mix cornstarch and vodka together into a paste (about the consistency of sour cream)

    - spread the paste around the (top) surface of the fridge

    - the refrigerant lines are hot and will cause the vodka to evaporate from the mixture faster than the surrounding areas, leaving a lighter colored line that indicates where the refrigerant line is.

    - mark this location with tape, then clean up your mess
  33. billandsuz

    billandsuz Disciple (310) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    that is a brilliant effing idea.
    IceAce likes this.
  34. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    You guys mean like this idea from 15 months ago???
  35. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (859) Jan 8, 2004 California

    The duration of the post has absolutely nothing to do with its relevance.
  36. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    It doesn't, but it is the exact same content, so I would guess it is pretty relevant.
  37. Beery-Mcleary

    Beery-Mcleary Initiate (0) Feb 26, 2015

    Hi from a newbie :slight_smile:
    I've successfully drilled through three fridge walls using the method outlined below.

    On my first attempt I was going to use the cornflower and rubbing alcohol trick mentioned in this thread to locate gas lines but I noticed when I left the turned the fridge on the sides got warm as the refrigerant circulated around the gas lines.

    I pressed my hand against the warm fridge side, each time I found a warm part I put a black dot using a non permanent marker. I did this all over the fridge side, then looked at the resulting chaos and went off for a coffee.

    When I went back I now saw that the dots clearly marked out a gas line (I 'joined up the dots' with the pen so you can see in the picture below)
    (Having said that, on my second and third fridges I didn't bother marking out an area in the fridge to reveal the gas lines, I just felt for the hot and cold spots with my hand and marked a suitably positioned cold spot - don't forget, the hot spots are where the gas lines are located)

    I decided I didn't want to rely solely on my network of dots to reveal the gas lines, so I decided to have a gentle 'exploratory dig' at the area I had decided to drill the hole.

    I heated up a palette knife at the end using the gas stove (a blow torch would be better....) and carefully pressed it into the plastic inside wall of the fridge I went in just as far the thickness of the plastic, you can tell when it's enough as the resistance to the knife lessens.

    I did this four times to make a square hole and pulled off the surface plastic to reveal the inner foam of the fridge wall.

    Having done this I dug out the foam from behind the hole (carefully) with a screwdriver - when I hit the outside fridge wall I knew I was home and dry. All that was left to do was drill the hole through the thin metal wall. As I was only running a temperature controller and heat belt to make a fermenting fridge a 20mm hole was fine. I fitted a 20mm rubber grommet to the hole so that the wires going in wouldn't suffer damage over time and packed the hole with cut square pieces of polystyrene with a hole 'drilled' through them for the wires (using an old heated up screwdriver) and glued the square bit of fridge wall back (again, with a hole for the wires)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    atone315 and PortLargo like this.
  38. VorwerkBrewing

    VorwerkBrewing Initiate (0) Aug 12, 2015 California

    Maybe someone can interpret (the Indestructables link doesn't) how finding the "hot" lines definitively marks the spot for "cooling" lines? Reluctant to start piercing holes in my new freezer with this kind of stoner science.
  39. DougC123

    DougC123 Devotee (477) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    Freon works by expanding and contracting, which causes it to be hot and cold. The lines in the outer walls of a fridge are where the freon travels when it's hot.
    KegKicker likes this.
  40. dwfrank

    dwfrank Initiate (133) Oct 8, 2009 Oklahoma

    So you're saying you drilled 2-3 inches deep, or 2-3 inches from the face of the fridge? I have also hit a freon line through the side wall and am about to pick up my replacement fridge.
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