Refrigerator dies - try to fix or get a new one?

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I'm guessing, with no real knowledge, that the compressor went. There was a burning smell, the fuse blew, and when I ran an extension to the refrigerator to get that working, smoke came from the big black thing at the bottom. So, I'm guessing compressor. Is that likely?
If so, a new compressor is around $180, much cheaper than a new refrig. The parts guy (Sears) says that anyone can replace the compressor, that I can get a do-it-yourself guide for $15.
A new model would be around $600 and a big pain. Is replacing a compressor so hard?
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dgk wrote:

new ones are more efficient. how old iis it?
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Thanks to everyone for answering. I'll send the compressor back; I know nothing about HVAC. The dead refrig is around 9 years old, reasonably efficient but not worth trying to fix.
I guess, like everythjing else, Sears is not what it once was.
I'll look for a reasonably priced used one but transportation is a huge issue there. It needs to be about free.
I'll also check with a local non-big box dealer and ask them to check out the refrig or sell me a new one.
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Sounds likely.

If it is like any compressor I've ever seen in a refrigerator- you'd need to drain the freon- capturing it without contaminating the lines or the atmosphere; cut some tubing, solder it back up and recharge the lines. Special skills- special tools.
I wouldn't tackle it.
Jim
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Jim Elbrecht wrote:

... Starting w/ the vacuum pump...
Not a DIY-er' project unless HVAC repair experienced and equipped which if guessing the "black can" might be the compressor indicates... :)
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The parts guy is a liar. Unless you have the proper license to handle the refrigerant and the proper equipment to do the job right you can't even start it. The equipment is probably over $1000. Vacuum pump, gauges, etc. This is not a DIY job.
If the refrigerator is old, it will pay for itself in electricity savings in a few years. OOH, if may be a capacitor or other modestly priced part. Trouble is, a service call is probably $100 to diagnose it.
Another thought though, is to call you local appliance dealer. Explain the situation. He may be willing to check it out and do the repair for normal cost, but if it is not fixable, he may credit you a portion of that amount towards the cost of a new fridge. Today, most local dealers belong to buyer's co-ops and sell at similar prices as the big box stores. They also offer better service.
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Please try it yourself, and let us know how the job goes.
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On Aug 25, 11:24am, "Stormin Mormon"

We just bought a new fridge, washer and dryer a few months ago. So far I've only seen one power bill that covered only the period we had the new appliance, and our power usage was down 20% from the same period a year ago.
I don't know how old my fridge was (it came with the house), but I'm quite certain that's what's making the difference. And newer models are SO much nicer than what they used to sell. Mine has a bottom freezer with a pull-out drawer, I love it.
In a nutshell, if your fridge is older, I wouldn't bother trying to fix it. Newer models are not only more functional, they're more energy efficient.
KD
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And I'm quite certain that you the data you have is far from conclusive of anything. My energy bills can vary 20% up or down without changine anything. Have an especially cold Jan, more energy usage. Have an especially hot Jul, more energy usage.. And I hope you're comparing killowatt hours, not the bill.

Now that I agree with. If you;'re facing a major repair and have an old fridge, it's better to replace it. I replaced a 24 year old Frigidare a few months ago. I used a killowatt meter to measure the before and after change. Bottom line, for a similar size side by side, 24 vs 25 cbft, with the new one being the larger, I'm saving about $100 a year. Note that $100 a year isn't anywhere near 20% my average bill. It's more like 5%.

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On Aug 25, 12:00pm, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Perhaps comparing the same period last year isn't all that scientific, so perhaps not 20% savings. But certainly a savings.We'll see how the next few periods average out. My usage has never been higher than 13 kWh a day over the past two years, and my July bill in 2007 was 10 kWh a day. This year (post-fridge) it's 8 kWh a day.
And yes, I am comparing kilowatt hours rather than actual $ on the bill. Our power consumption doesn't really vary much from season to season - my heat is oil, so is my water heater. Here in Atlantic Canada it doesn't get hot enough for an extended period to make an air conditioner necessary for us. While the furnace does use a bit more power,in the winter, I think that lights are probably the primary difference since. We use CFLs, and I think that makes a difference as well.
$100 savings on my power bill would probably work out to about 16%. Not huge, but I like it. :)
KD
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dgk wrote:

The choice is not exclusively between a (modest) $600 fridge and a $150 repair.
Check Craigslist for used fridges. Often they are free.
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Am I the only one wondering how smoke comes out of a sealed comrpessor? Also, consider a "free" fridge can cost you $100 a year more to run.
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BINGO!
Mark
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Maybe it got hot enough to burn the black paint on the outside.

BINGO!
Mark
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wrote:

Ive seen em blow out the sealed wire terminal penetrations .. makes all kinds of black smoke, blows oil all over the place.. or they just leak.
most likely though is an exploded start capacitor and start relay.. thats external.
Phil scott
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which is relativly easy for a good DIY guy to fix
so the OP should check this out, if he is lucky and it is the cap or relay, he CAN probably fix it on the cheap
OP, you need to determine exactly where the smoke came from ...look for burned parts near the compressor.
Mark
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wrote:

Thanks, but I went and got a decent new one. It would just cost too much money and time for me to find out what was wrong and fix it. That's often the problem, just to find out what's wrong costs too much money.
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That's good thinking. Not limited to the two choices posed. Good job.
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dgk wrote:

I think he just wanted to sell you a repair guide, but you can get factory repair manuals free at www.ApplianceJunk.com. Your Sears was probably made by Whirlpool.
I don't think I'd trust a Sears parts guy, but I would a Johnstone Supply parts guy, who'd probably tell you to forget it.

It is if you have to ask. ;)
Here's a table of how much energy various appliances, including refrigerators, consume annually. Notice that refrigerators made in 1980 consume over twice as much as those made in 2001 (divide the KW-h figures by 10 to get a rough idea of the cost of energy).
www.cato.org/pubs/pas/html/pa504/pa50400005.html
IOW if your refrigerator is over a decade old, it may make sense to buy a new one.
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I used to be in domestic refrig business 30 years ago, since then in the larger commercial and industrial applications. replacing a compressor takes special skills and tools (vacuum pump, oxy acty torch, proper refrigerant charging aparatus etc).. further a replaced compressor has a much shorter life than a new one due to contamination introduced when changing the the compressor... if the old one burnt out its internal windings it is toast, too contaminated to consider replacing the compressor... clean up is possible but a costly nightmare, no guarantees either.
id buy a new one.
There is a chance that if you saw smoke its not an internal compressor problem but the compressors external 'start relay and capacitor' .. give sears the model number of the refrig. order a new start relay and capacitor kit and replace it.
check first.. if it smoked you will see burnt wiring. ... it could also be a burnt fan motor, visual inspection should do, see if the fan blade rotates etc.
compressor replacement takes insight on how the compressor is wired internally.. its easy to screw up if you are not a tech.
age of refrig... over 10 years forget it entirely, under 5 years maybe consider repair... under a year it might be worth repair..
Phil scott
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