I seem to be having my second failure of a chest freezer
used as beer cooler. The failure mode is that the unit runs
continuously but doesn't get the temp to drop more than
a few degrees. It also seems quieter when running after
The space it is in in my basement is currently about 55F.
The temp controller is a mechanical thermostat with
the sensing bulb passing into the unit between the lid
gasket and the top of the chest wall. The thermostat controls
the power to the compressor through a relay. The temp is
usually set to 35-40F.
Both units were obtained used for cheap or free, so maybe they
were just worn out. They seemed to work fine for awhile.
Each lasted a year or so.
Has anyone else had similar problems? Is there something that
I am doing that is killing the freezers?
Let's see. It could be near end-of-life. Or someone doesn't use it and
doesn't want to pay the disposal fees to get rid of it. I see several each
week on craigslist for free. The only problems are that now I have to take
it down and pay the disposal fee, and I don't want to kill another if I'm
doing the damage.
I hope you didn't think I was insulting you Bob.
I just wanted to point out that most free refrigerators are not working
I teach at a technical school, the school gets many donations a year, almost
all the donated items don't work properly.
A tight recycle time can tax a compressor or a small coolant leak can cause
Both units worked fine for months at least.
I just transfered everything to a smaller freezer. It all fit, so maybe I'll
with that, although I liked having the extra space.
I'm thinking I will add a timer so that it can only turn on once an hour or
to reduce the short cycle problem. I'm not sure by what mechanism it
would cause harm, but it seems like short cycleing is the most likely cause
of problems, since the actual run time should be minimal.
If you have the right controller you should be able to set a temperature
spread. Set the spread a little wider, instead of 2-3 degrees make it 4-5
degrees. The compressor will run fewer times a day for longer periods,
better for the compressor.
Using the freezer as a cooler instead of a freezer actually puts less stress
on the unit as long as there is enough temp differential in the controller
to let the compressor rest between the on and off cycles. Setback, I think
it's called. If the freezer runs excessively, and the controller is ok, the
freezer is leaking freon and it's time for a new one. Please dispose of the
old one responsibly.
Free or cheap is your answer, continously running is likely low freon
and very expensive on your electric bill, you might be paying 20-35$ a
month to run your free junk when new energy star units might only use 5$
a month. Do the math and look at utility trend costs.
I have a few words to share on this subject but bare with me
it may be a bit long winded. You see, I went thru all this when I built
my own fridge to create a coolbox for my home built bar.
Now you suggested the ambient temp of the room is
around 55F which means you don't have far to go to achieve the set temp
of 35- 40F. This relay that you speak of may be an issue. What governs
this relay, does it have some other device it needs to satisfy other
than the thermostat? On my fridge I had to go out and buy a seperate
beverage thermostat that I could hardwire into the system. This allowed
the system to operate at "beverage temps" 32-51F.
As John suggested in another post Free doesn't
nessesarily mean that its "good". It could be that the former owner
discarded it because it failed on him.
Now I too obtained most of my equipment for free, compressor,
evaporator, fan assembly etc. at appliance junkyards and yardsale
giveaways yet upon assembly and an educated eye for detail you can
typicaly tell the good from the bad. Electrical componants need to be
new such as the defrost timer hardstart relays etc. Oh and check the
accuracy of your thermostat with thermometer and see how far off it is.
This can take out some of the mystery.
It's hard to pinpiont your problem without a bit more info.
What I did was rounded up anyone who had a working knowledge of
refrideration and would pump them for info, walking each through the
anatomy of your system and how your useing it. A guy that works in the
field will absorb all you can dish quickly and surmise were the problem
lies. Doing this I learned all I needed to troubleshoot my
frankenfridge and now four years or so later she's still working hard.
I still have to fiddle with the old girl now and again to make sure
she's still hummin the right tune but going through this will help you
in the long run. Hopfully you have a refridgeration guy to tap on for a
few detailed answers. Good luck and let us know how your progressing!
I don't have any friends with expertise in this area, which
is why I posted here.
I replaced my high quility - low differential thermostat with a
refrigerator type thermostat in a newer, smaller freezer. It is
working fine at this point. Only time will tell I guess.
Ok, if you have no friends to tap on then lets work on this a
little differently. When you got this fridge/freezer home did you give
it an initial test drive to see if it had enough umph to get the job
done? Did it get real cold and hold it there for several days? It
needs to at least do that before considering it for this use. Then when
selecting your replacement thermostat are you choosing an external unit
that you hang on the outside of the unit and fish the probe into the
box or is it a hardwire componant thats installed inside the box
replacing the original and operates at "beverage temps" somewhere
around 31-45deg.F ? The external units are popular , easy to install,
yet may require some fiddling to find the "differential" of your set
temp vs. your actual operating temp. Many folks don't go the way of the
hardwire unit unless they feel at comfortable dismantling their fridge
and it's related internal parts. I know I had to find a local supply
house that sells only to wholesale licened profesionals and pretend I
was one of the same and picked up several items for mine. If you've
done all of this it "should" be operating at the temp you have
selected. When you troubleshoot these things it's important to
systematicly go through each link in the chain of things with ample
review time before you can sit down. Let us know.
What I have now is a mechanical thermostat. It is, I believe, a
thermostat manufactured for use in a refrigerator. It has a metal
tube, about 1/16" in diameter and 3 or 4 feet long which I have
snaked under the door gasket into the chect freezer. The thermostat
has 2 connectors on it connected to the the hot line of a power
cord with one connector going to the male plug end and one going
to the female receptacle end. It seems to operate proberly..
This, and the two preceding chest freezers operated fine as freezers
before adding the external thermostat. I tested that each could reach
well below 0F before use.
The previous two freezers were operated with a similar thermostat
installation, but the thermostat was not a refrigerator thermostat.
It had a 1.5F differential. Both of the previous freezers worked fine
for several months, set at around 40F. But after several months
to a year, I noticed that the freezer would be running full time
and not cooling very month.
This is all occuring in a basement in Seattle which normally sits at
Ok, if you have no friends to tap on then lets work on this a
In that previous paragraph we identified your replacement as
an "external type". But the key here is you suggested you may be
placeing the probe into the "freezer section" not the fridge section!
You'll be doing your work in the fridge section so "thats" where probe
needs to go! Everything else seems fine. If this is the case then thats
all there is to it. Now I'm sure you already know this but we'll
mention it anyway. Set your "external thermostat" to your desired temp
while the one in the freezer/ fridge is set to it's max cold. Ok!
This seems to be the nature of the beast. The mechanical versions
have a seemingly higher differential than the digital models. Find the
differance of your set vs. the actual operating temp. and make the
proper corrections when you set it.
I bought a cheap and very old Montgomery Ward chest freezer 3 years
ago, and have been using it as a beer fridge just like you (thermostat
controller) ever since. No problems.
It's very common to use a freezer in this way, so you've just had some
Bob, I hope my advise is helping you figure out where the
problem lies with your fridge. After building my own from scratch I
feel I can offer some helpfull advice when troubleshooting yours. It's
been suggested that useing one of these external thermostats is
somewhat stressfull to the original unit due to a short cycling of the
unit at warmer temps. Personaly I haven't noticed this on the two that
I have used, the second of which is still in use. Good luck
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