refrigerator not cooling, compressor too hot?

We have an old (c 1980) GE 'Frost Free' fridge (freezer-on-top). Both the freezer and the fresh-food areas cool down only to about 50F. The evaporator fan runs, and seems OK. The evaporator coils are 'cool', but not so cold it hurts to touch them. The defrost heater is not on.
The compressor runs, but shuts off after less than 10 mins. The compressor is quite hot - you can touch it, but it would burn, if you applied pressure. (The compressor fan is running, but shuts off along with the compressor.)
Questions: - Is that too hot for a compressor? IIRC, my father used to say that a motor that you couldn't touch was too hot. Even if true, does the same apply to compressors?
- Would they have a 'self-resetting' temperature cutout on the compressor, where it would keep recyling after cooling down?
- Any other reasons why the compressor would shut off, when the freezer is nowhere near the setpoint temp?
Thanks, George
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wrote:

Check the voltage at the compressor terminals and see if it is still "on". It may just be the internal thermal switch cycling it. It sounds like you need a shot of freon from the symptom.
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We have an old (c 1980) GE 'Frost Free' fridge (freezer-on-top).
CY: Ah... generally expensive brand.
Both the freezer and the fresh-food areas cool down only to about 50F. The evaporator fan runs, and seems OK. The evaporator coils are 'cool', but not so cold it hurts to touch them. The defrost heater is not on.
CY: 50F is a bit too warm.
The compressor runs, but shuts off after less than 10 mins. The compressor is quite hot - you can touch it, but it would burn, if you applied pressure. (The compressor fan is running, but shuts off along with the compressor.)
Questions: - Is that too hot for a compressor? IIRC, my father used to say that a motor that you couldn't touch was too hot. Even if true, does the same apply to compressors?
CY: I think your Dad is right. Sounds like the compressor is running way too hot.
- Would they have a 'self-resetting' temperature cutout on the compressor, where it would keep recyling after cooling down?
CY: Yes, there is such a device.
- Any other reasons why the compressor would shut off, when the freezer is nowhere near the setpoint temp?
CY: Either too hot, or too much current draw.
Thanks, George
CY: As you didnt ask for ideas what is the problem (or how to solve the problem and make the fridge work again) I'll limit myself to answering your questions.
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On Mon, 27 Apr 2009 21:13:36 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

I opened up the junction box on the end of the compressor. There was a two-wire thingy in there, that I suspect is a thermal switch. The next time the compressor shut off, I hit that thing with some spray coolant, and the compressor started. So, I think the compressor is too hot, for whatever reason.
If you (or anyone) has more ideas, I'd be interested to hear them. To be frank, though, we'd already been talking about getting a new fridge, so anything more I do to this one would have to be pretty cheap.
Thanks, George
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29 years of constant? use is pretty good, spring the $$ for a new one, it will use enough less electricity to pay for itself in a couple of years.
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wrote:

the problem and can be fixed, it may not be worth it on a unit that old.
Don Young
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George wrote:

Check 3 things; defrost timer/contacts, air circulating fan inside, then low refrigerant charge. If left like that compressor may burn up.
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When mine was going out the service guy told me it would cost a minimum of $100 for him to come out and just check it out. Taking it into the shop want much cheaper. Would you pay $100 plus for a 29 year old fridge. It sounds like the compressor has overheated several times. It has a leak that has to be found. You could easily be looking at a $400 to $500 bill for this thing if you repaired it.
Jimmie
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On Tue, 28 Apr 2009 20:04:28 -0700 (PDT), JIMMIE

On the other hand, if you are throwing it away anyway, get a piercing valve and a can of R-134 from the auto parts store. Shoot in a can and see how long it works, I know it is not really the right gas and the charge won't really be right but it might be cool until he can find a deal on a new one. It isn't a bad $10 gamble. I shot a can of R12 in an old fridge years ago this way and I wouldn't be surprised if it was still working.
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