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Fridge blues

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by inchrisin, Dec 22, 2012.

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  1. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I've got an older fridge that I use for my kegs. It keeps the beer at about 49F. It's just not cold enough for some of the styles I've put in there. I've defrosted the unit for two days, I've turned the freezer compartment all the way up (coldest setting), the fridge compartment all the way up (coldest setting), and I'm still not getting anywhere. All of the ice cubes in the freezer are frozen, so I know the fridge is capable of getting colder. I'm led to believe that killswitch to the compresser is in the fridge and it trips when it hits about 49F.

    I actually drilled some holes from the freezer to the fridge to see if it would get colder. Alas...

    What's my next step?
  2. hopsandmalt

    hopsandmalt Initiate (0) Dec 14, 2006 Michigan

    Craigslist.... Lots of refrigerators/freezers on there for <$50.
    spointon likes this.
  3. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,335) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Beer Trader

    Cheap used chest freezer and an external controller.
    Mfedonczak likes this.
  4. PortLargo

    PortLargo Devotee (468) Oct 19, 2012 Florida

    I recommend measuring the temp of the freezer section. This will tell you the efficiency of your compressor/evaporator. Normally the freezer should be around 0 degrees and when set at maximum as low as -10.

    There is no killswitch from the refrigerator compartment to the compressor. The only input for the compressor is from the freezer section. A damper allows the coldest air from the freezer section to cool the main refrigerator compartment. Normal fridge temperatures are in the 36 - 40 range, or a differential of about 40 degrees from the freezer (as regulated by the damper).

    From your description, there isn't enough cold air being delivered to the freezer section. You have set the damper to maxmium and are only getting 49 degrees. This means the freezer section is not producing enough cold air. You have ice, but I believe you will find the temp in the freezer section is no where near 0 degrees. If that is the case with the freezer set on maximum, you have the symptoms of a defective compressor/evaporator.

    There is limited self-help remedies for what you have described. Make sure your condenser coils are clean and have unrestricted airflow (back of unit or underneath). If you have a kill-a-watt meter you can measure the time it is running, typically they run more as they become defective. Problems with a dying compressor or leaking coolant is a job for a pro. It is possible your thermostat is the problem, but that is typically not a DIY repair.
    billandsuz and inchrisin like this.
  5. TomTown

    TomTown Disciple (319) Feb 7, 2011 Texas
    Beer Trader

    Craigslist may be the way to go. Often times you can find a used freezer and then purchase a temperature controller for a fraction of the cost of a compresser repair unless you're already handy with that sort of thing.

    Found my freezer for $50 and it holds 4 kegs now that I built a collar for the taps.
  6. waddsworth

    waddsworth Initiate (0) Oct 17, 2006 Pennsylvania

    Time to get a new fridge for your kegs, and turn this one into a ferm chamber.
  7. rocdoc1

    rocdoc1 Aspirant (268) Jan 13, 2006 New Mexico

    When my defrost heater element died my freezer was working fine, but the space for the cold freezer air to head south was completely frozen solid. I had to defrost it for a couple of days, then replace the element-total cost about $75. I've also replaced the compressor fan motor(about$25), and just blowing the dust off the coils may solve your problems.
  8. clearbrew

    clearbrew Initiate (0) Nov 3, 2009 Louisiana

    I would start by checking the condenser coil. They are often dirty or the condenser fan has gone out. This would cause the problem you described. If all is well there, then start to look for airflow restrictions from the freezer to the fridge section. The condenser coils can are located in the rear at the bottom of the unit. You may have to remove a panel, but it will still be the easiest place to start. If the fan is working and the coils are clean, open the fridge and look at the top of the back wall. You should see a slotted plastic grill where the cold air flows into the fridge. Remove that grill and you should see the cold air damper that Portlargo is talking about. I don't know what type of fridge you have but you should be able to see a small actuator that controls the damper. If you adjust the fridge temp, the damper should open and close. If it doesn't, it might be a stuck actuator. Give it a tap, or gently try to free it up.
    If none of that works, buy a new fridge because the compressor, circuit board or any other major component will likely cost more that a cheap used fridge.
    Edit: If you still want to try to save it, you can message me some pics. I'll be happy to try to talk you through any repairs that I can. Good luck.
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