duty cycle of fridge?

Hi all,
got a really old fridge in my kitchen, nothing special just a 15-20 year old typical white boxy thing. Bought myself a new gadget the other day, one of those wireless thermometer thingys that also records max and min. Well here it turns out that while after I'd moved in I thought I'd calibrated the fridge correctly (PO's of the house were kind of eco-nuts, and had set the fridge too warm, presumably to save energy) it was still running a little warm. Tweaked it a little last night, reset the thermometer thing before I left for work (figuring it'd stabilize overnight,) and came back home to find that while I'd gone the fridge temperature had ranged from 32F to 42F. weird. obviously since I was gone all day nobody had opened a door. So it seems that it's not holding the temp in a narrow enough range (since the fridge portion should, ideally, be between 33 and 39F at all times)
Also, it seems like every time I walk through the kitchen, the darn thing is running. Is this typical? Seems to me I don't recall that anywhere else I've lived, usually the fridge would only be running 50% of the time or less, correct? Typical room temp this time of year ranges from 62F (away) to 67F (morning and evening) so it's not like it's especially warm in the kitchen. I don't have a kill-a-watt, but might get one. Would that tell me anything about whether it is time for replacement or not? (do they tend to draw more or less current if they're low on freon?) I know for a fact that this is a sealed system (was just under it not long ago for its first cleaning probably ever) and it's not a particularly special fridge, so getting a new one wouldn't make me cry at all.
Along the same lines, were I to buy a new fridge, it'd probably be set on its side to fit in the back of the truck to get it home. How long should it sit in its installed position before being plugged in? 12 hours? Longer? Wouldn't want to blow up a new compressor for doing something dumb...
nate
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

Does it show that badly? (I *am* an engineer by degree at least, if not practicing)
The actual impetus for buying gadget was a) it's cheap and b) it incorporates this little alarm thingy that beeps when the temp. in either the fridge or freezer goes "out of range" which I thought would be a useful thing to have (hey, a $20 electronic gadget is cheaper than a new fridge; I figured if I could verify that fridge was operating correctly then I could with confidence not purchase a new one for a good long time) However, the default settings are the NSF recommendations (fridge: 33-40F; freezer: 0F or below) and it appears that at least for the fridge I cannot enable the alarm as the temp has varied both above and below the set points without me playing with the setting. I *could* jigger with the alarm settings, but I'm going to let it ride for a couple days before doing so to see what happens. In any case I am wondering if this is the Beginning of the End for said fridge - it is probably already past its design life; while I have a habit of letting things run until they die, green, slimy roast beef is not an appealing foodstuff, no matter how much horseradish you slather on it.
nate
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I know for a fact that this is a sealed system

I just went thru the same thing with a 15 yo refrig running 90% of the time & off about 10%. I never liked it anyway so decided to get a new one. The new one runs maybe 20-25% and off 75-80%. I had to transport the new one from town to the country so I asked the salesperson about laying it on it's side. Answer was to let it stand upright for a minimum of 24hrs so the oil could return to the compressor before plugging it in. I waited about 27 hours. Been running for 2 weeks now without any problems.
KC
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Am I the only one here wondering how a wireless thermometer works inside a fridge? I'm assuming this is the RF kind that has a remote probe, typically placed outdoors and a display that stays inside? If so, I would think if you put the sensor in a fridge and left the display outside the fridge, the RF would be blocked and you'd get no reading?
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Or, house with the old aluminum siding?
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

I wondered the same thing myself, but it does produce readings that seem reasonable... I guess it's all done by elves or something.
nate
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wrote:

Check the door seal. If it leaks, the appliance will run longer.
Transport: position the compressor on the resting (down) side.
Allow to set for a day and THEN plug it in.
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wrote:

Same with my 20 year old fridge.
I guessed it was costing a fortune in power and was getting ready to select a replacement when I decided to stick a Kill A Watt on the thing for 24 hours. I don't recall the exact number but the consumption was insignificant.
I'll wait until the old thing dies before replacing.
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The internal temperature will normally 'spike' and vary quite a bit as the refrigerator runs through compressor and defrost cycles, door openings and whatnot.
A good way to measure the refrigerator average is to put a thermometer in a fair size container of water... the water has a good bit of thermal 'inertia' and will allow you to accurately monitor and tweak your average over time.
Same deal for the freezer, only pack the calibration thermometer between something like bags of frozen vegetables.
40F for the refrigerator, and 0F for the freezer are good target temperatures for best food life v low energy bill.
Your refrigerator shouldn't run continuously. There are any number of reasons why it might not... check some common ones first, like the door gaskets and condenser.
Leaking door gaskets as noted by another poster should grip a piece of thin paper wherever you place it.
You said you cleaned the condenser, thats good. It should be checked a couple of times a year, especially in households with pets.
Is the condenser fan (if so equipped) running normally? Sometimes condenser fan motors develop tight bearings, greatly reducing the actual fan speed. With the refrigerator unplugged, the fan should spin freely by hand, or if difficult to reach carefully with a long stick. (A tight evaporator fan motor can raise hell too...) Fan motors are common, easy to find and usually child's play to replace.
There are any number of detailed appliance troubleshooting, parts and repair sites on the internet...
Let us know how it comes out. Good Luck!
Erik
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