New Fridge or Add Refrigerant?


1996 Amana SXD22S2 Refrigerator has soft ice cream and seems to be running a lot, so the usual drill: 1) Vacuum the coils under the front. No good: freezer still 15 degrees. More drastic measures required. 2) Pull it out and clean dust from fan exit grill (which is spinning nicely), and do my best with a brush on a springy wire to clean dust off of the nearly impossible to reach coils under the unit, still no improvement. Hmm. Begin diagnostic phase. 3) Check fan inside the freezer is running (ok) and evaporator coils (by the time I pulled the sheet metal) had no frost build-up (ok). Running out of ideas. 4) Run defrost cycle by opening/closing the door 4 times within 8 seconds, verify heater comes on (ok). Unplug to stop the defrost cycle (no frost to thaw). 5) Set the thermostat to max cool. Let it run an hour (it stays running the whole time) and check temperature of evaporator coils with non-contact instant IR thermometer. Inlet tube in the zero degree range, outlet tube in the 25 degree range, but inlet and outlet are both on the top. On the bottom (half-way through the path), the temperature was 45 degrees! Temperature of coils under the toe kick are 77 degrees, the room is 70 degrees.
So, I think I know the answer: new fridge, right? I know that replacing a compressor is not a good idea, if that's the problem, but any hope at all in adding refrigerant?
--Dale--
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On 19 Mar 2007 18:32:36 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@sengsational.com"

There is a cold air transfer duct between your freezer compartment and your main fridge compartment. That's what the fan is for, to transfer the cold air. Check the plastic grille covers in both compartments to satisfy yourself that there is such a duct running inside the fridge's back wall. This duct can become blocked by a build up of ice. Just do this. It will save a lot of explanations. Remove all the contents in the fridge. Let the whole fridge thaw overnight with all the fridge doors open. Use this opportunity to clean out the insides of the fridge. Put a towel on the fridge floor to soak up the melt water/ The fridge should work fine after the big thaw. Put your palm against the plastic grille outlet. You should feel cold air coming through.
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Thanks for the idea. I do agree that the fridge side is connected to the freezer side, but when I discovered that the bottom 3/4 of the evaporator had no frost (ie above 32 degrees) after running an hour (and now 24 hours with the same result), I thought I could dismiss any discussion of ice build-up anywhere. It can barely get below right on next to the inlet side of the evaporator coils, much less maintain less than 32 in the duct. I really want to believe you, since that would mean no new fridge, but I'm struggling with your logic.
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On 20 Mar 2007 16:54:56 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@sengsational.com"

Oops. I forgot the part about switching off the power when you leave the fridge doors open overnight. This will allow everything to thaw throughly especially the ice in the transfer duct. Try it anyway as it is relatively easy to do and costs nothing.
I had this trouble three or four times a year - cold freezer but warm main compartment that soured my milk. My fridge is fairly empty most of the time and everything looks OK. The final reason as to the cause was a fridge door sligfhtly ajar. Sometimes I have a plastic bag of something on the fridge door shelf. When I closed the door this bag flops against the gallon milk container and pushed the door slightly ajar but not enough to be noticeable. There was a constant supply of warm moist room air into the fridge compartment. The compressor works overtime and frost builds up in the transfer duct. The thermocouple never opens (=compressor switch OFF) because the compartment never gets to the desired 2 to 5 deg C for the main compartment. The compressor seems to be running on very short cycles, etc. Anyway I make sure that nothing in the fridge shelves sticks out just enough to keep the door even slightly ajar. I haven't had any trouble since.
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Thaw...... what?
The guy said he took the back of the freezer apart, and there's no frost back there. No frost on 3/4 of the coils.
Do you read and comprehend American language?
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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On Wed, 21 Mar 2007 01:09:32 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

I doubt the OP is looking at the same part I am describing. The cold air transfer duct is between the wall insulation of the fridge and there is no way of looking into the duct to see anything let alone a frost build up. All one can see are the two openings behind the removeable plastic grilles, one in the freezer compartment and one in the main compartment. Similarly you cannot see the frost buildup on the outside of the freezer compartment cuz there's a plastic cover you can't remove. That big thaw is a simple and cost free way of eliminating the possibility of ice blockage as the cause of the problem. If it fixes the problem the OP doesn't have to buy a new fridge. If not he isn't out of money and he can save himslef a lot of head scratching whether to recharge the refrigerant or buy a new fridge. A fridge from 1996 should last another 20 years trouble free. Methinks you are into scamming people to buy new fridges at the slightest problem.
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Sure sounds to me like low freon. Now, the challenge is to get an appliance repair guy out to charge it up. Please let us know how much that ends up costing. (I'm probably too cheap.)
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Christopher A. Young
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If the only problem is a clogged duct (yes, I've seen clogged ducts) then the freezer would be bitter cold, rock hard ice cream.
What the OP is decribing sounds a LOT like low freon. As it's past 1993 model, it's almost certain to be R-134A. No way to know how fast the leak is, might leak out in a day or a year. But, if this was my customer, I'd add freon and see how long it lasts.
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Christopher A. Young
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On Mar 21, 1:05 am, "Stormin Mormon" <cayoung61-

Thanks to all in this group for the advice and council. I ended-up getting a new refrigerator (Amana bottom freezer ABB2522FEW) which is supposed to use 475 kWh per year...pretty decent for a 25 CF unit.
I never did "call the man"*, so I didn't get an estimate for juicing- up the freon. I suspect that would have worked, but I also suspect I'd be looking for another fridge within a year, or maybe a month, of that repair. So, having a higher weighting on sanity than cash flow, I went with the new fridge.
--Dale--
* Remember the old Andy Griffith show where Aunt Bea wanted to squeeze more mileage out of the old freezer, and Andy kept saying "Call the man!"?
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Adding refrigerant is not so simple on a residential fridge.
Check out www.applianceaid.com and www.repairclinic.com for some diagnostics and ideas.
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On 19 Mar 2007 18:32:36 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@sengsational.com"

Sorry to say this, but I figure when a fridge has lost enough refrigerant, it also lost enough motor cooling and oil to comprimise the compressor. So you need to factor in the costs.
Keep your old applicance, replace compressor, and refridge
OR
Get a newer more energy efficient fridge?
You might see some money savings on utilities with the newer ones, plus check with your electric company. Some give cash for trading in your old fridges, or rebates for geting new energy star appliances.
Just tossing out info, you have to figure how deep your pockets are. ;)
tom @ www.Consolidated-Loans.info
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the cards. I don't want to throw good money after bad. Consumer Reports reported that for side-by-side refrigerators, "consider repair" was from year 4 through year 7. After that, it was a "replace".
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On 20 Mar 2007 17:04:16 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@sengsational.com"

Remember to check with yourl local utilities for rebates, or bonuses. Don't forget to ask your accountant for tax breakes. Your state might offer some incentive to go further new and green.
later,
tom
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Good idea. I looked, but couldn't find any incentives, but your post did get me to pay more attention to the yellow efficiency tags during the selection process, so no instant money back, but a little money back every power bill, eh?
--Dale--
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