weightless

Iceless, clueless, techieless

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My freezer has stopped working. I have rapped it smartly, sworn at it, reasoned with it and it still doesn't work.

The symptoms:

When I turn the compressor on I can hear and feel fluid moving through the plate. The plate gets cool/cold to the touch. There is little or no frost on any part of it. After a time the fluid flow stops and the plate warms. That timing seems to be associated with the surface of part "D" of the system or there abouts (see below) getting to the freezing point of water.

What I've done:

See above. Also I've tried running the compressor at each of its speeds. The circulation failure comes faster when the compressor runs faster. It also comes faster when the freezer door is closed. I added some refrigerant. Did not change the symptoms but did increase the amperage drawn by the compressor. I cleaned and inspected everything.

My theory:

There is water and, or debris in the system.

 

So, any thoughts on what I should do next?

In theory I suppose I should draw the system down and maybe change out the drier. I'm game to try that but I'm not sure where to start or what I'll need.

Here's a pic of the plate in question:

 

1795773404_freezerplatebits.thumb.jpg.baa5bf82cd3e07ad58d5a61c93e95334.jpg

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Get a man in. Refrigeration requires special tools and knowledge - it's easy to screw it up and refrigerant isn't cheap if you lose the charge.

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The gurgling you hear is the oil in the system, which is completely normal. The lack of cold is caused by a lack of refrigerant - you need to get someone to recharge it.

Do not open it at all as you'll just allow air and moisture in and then the recharging process is more complicated and more expensive.

 

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I had similar symptoms, $800 and two new flexible hoses. some gas, filters and a fridge guy later it was fixed.... 

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I have fought this battle before...

Get a fridge guy. He will pump a vacuum on the system and recharge with refridgerant. The vacuum is important as it will remove any tiny bits that may be blocking the capillary. 

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^^this

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You can DIY if you are handy.  A cheap chinese vacuum pump and manifold gauge set is about $125 and the information is out there for how to do this on common systems. 

The Danfoss based system on my boat had a small leak from the start (at one of the couplings, a piece of dust must have gotten on the face of it).  I cleaned up the couplings, vacuumed it out, and did a full recharge and it's been working since and wasn't very difficult.

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Thank you all for your thoughts. 

I'm not sure if there is a local expert. I'll ask around. 

I have separate fridge and freezer systems. I fixed a warm plate on the fridge side 5 years ago by adding some refrigerant. Its still working. I don't think that's the problem with the freezer. Nonetheless, I tried adding r134a to the freezer. As mentioned above that didn't change the function of the system but did incease the power drawn by it. I don't want to over charge the system. I worry that bad things could happen if I get the system over full and it has a blockage.

So, my plan now is to see if I can get expert help but also see if I can gather up a vacuum pump and guage set. I don't "need" ice, but I like to have the ability to fix the systems on my boat if I have to.

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20 hours ago, weightless said:

Thank you all for your thoughts. 

I'm not sure if there is a local expert. I'll ask around. 

I have separate fridge and freezer systems. I fixed a warm plate on the fridge side 5 years ago by adding some refrigerant. Its still working. I don't think that's the problem with the freezer. Nonetheless, I tried adding r134a to the freezer. As mentioned above that didn't change the function of the system but did incease the power drawn by it. I don't want to over charge the system. I worry that bad things could happen if I get the system over full and it has a blockage.

So, my plan now is to see if I can get expert help but also see if I can gather up a vacuum pump and guage set. I don't "need" ice, but I like to have the ability to fix the systems on my boat if I have to.

 

oh, there's always a local expert, especially walking on the docks..   whether they can fix anything is the question..

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3 hours ago, Grande Mastere Dreade said:

oh, there's always a local expert, especially walking on the docks..   whether they can fix anything is the question..

True that.

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you can look up "Danfoss Module Error Codes"  

you will find instructions on making your own test LED, it gets hooked up to the small + and the "D" (below the main 12/24vdc inputs ,larger + and - at top).

power up and count the flashes. it will indicate the fault you are having, there are 5 of them.

it wont show a low refrigerant charge, only electrical issues with the fan, the module, the voltage, or the compressor.

also, un plug the fan on the module and see if the unit runs longer. fan motors go bad and exceed the draw limit.

check the voltage.

check the wiring. 

then, call a pro and have it checked.

 

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1 hour ago, Coolerking said:

you can look up "Danfoss Module Error Codes"  

you will find instructions on making your own test LED, it gets hooked up to the small + and the "D" (below the main 12/24vdc inputs ,larger + and - at top).

power up and count the flashes. it will indicate the fault you are having, there are 5 of them.

it wont show a low refrigerant charge, only electrical issues with the fan, the module, the voltage, or the compressor.

also, un plug the fan on the module and see if the unit runs longer. fan motors go bad and exceed the draw limit.

check the voltage.

check the wiring. 

then, call a pro and have it checked.

 

 

yeah, if it's anything like the hvac guys around here,   "  hey , yuh need a whole new system,  I got one in my truck "

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3 hours ago, Coolerking said:

you can look up "Danfoss Module Error Codes"  

...

also, un plug the fan on the module and see if the unit runs longer. fan motors go bad and exceed the draw limit.

check the voltage.

check the wiring. 

then, call a pro and have it checked.

 

Thank you for all that. Good ideas.

I added the LED's years ago. Not sure why they didn't come that way from the factory.

I haven't tried the fan trick. That's a good idea. Might measure the current draw too. But, that's not the problem in this case.

The voltage and wiring are fine.

I looked at a youtube video on putting a vacuum on the system. Although it seems simple enough it looks like a non-starter to me because the system is charged. I gather that venting the system to the air is not okay. I haven't seen any DIY systems that capture the refrigerant. Since my working theory is that there is an obstruction I suspect that the system needs to be emptied and vacuumed. I'll look for somebody who can do that properly.

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its just r134a....its the same stuff that you use to clean your computer, air in a can....that system has just a few OUNCES in it, get a good set of gauges and drain it out, then install a new inline 032, or a bullet drier in the liquid line, leak check, with dry nitrogen, then evacuate for at least 12 hours.

get a good accurate scale and recharge with the designed weight charge.

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2 hours ago, Coolerking said:

its just r134a....its the same stuff that you use to clean your computer, air in a can....that system has just a few OUNCES in it, get a good set of gauges and drain it out, then install a new inline 032, or a bullet drier in the liquid line, leak check, with dry nitrogen, then evacuate for at least 12 hours.

get a good accurate scale and recharge with the designed weight charge.

Yes, it is r134a. That's okay to vent? I've heard dire warnings about doing such things. Maybe for different refrigerants? The replacement evaporator plate can be had pre-charged for about $300. I'm not sure if it's likely to be successful to just swap it out. It is a Veco/Frigoboat system with lossless (one hopes) connectors. Replacing the plate would involve destroying and rebuilding some nice furniture and a bit of the freezer box. A very DIY vacuum pump and guage set is about $150, plus oil, 134a, leak check stuff, a drier and soldering stuff and...? Single use the cost might not be much different assuming the vacuum can clear the clog. Owning the tools might be nice though.

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The cheap vacuum sets come with oil.  The one that I used cost closer to $100 than $150, and was well under $150 with r134a.

I didn't need to solder anything to vacuum out my compressor and recharge it.  The procedure is pretty easy and fairly well documented with some searching (at least for my boat's Danfoss BD35-based system).

In my case there was a tiny piece of dust on a coupling which allowed for a slow but steady leak.

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I checked and it does look like prices have gone up.  The kozyvacu pump that I bought for $109 is now listed for $149.  

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57 minutes ago, Alex W said:

In my case there was a tiny piece of dust on a coupling which allowed for a slow but steady leak. 

I think that mine is suffering from particulates and, perhaps, moisture jammed into the filter or capillary tube. It doesn't seem to leak at all.

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You should see how much refrigerant is lost in your average 60 story building in one year, and I mean REAL refrigerant,  the kind with ODP, not just GWP/ALGOREP.

In my world, anything under 10 tons is considered a toy system.

Which is, if I had to guess, at best 90% of the marine HVAC world.

We try and recover and repair all leaks and refrigerants, and get them as future-proof as possible, its called good practice.

But boy does the new stuff have its challenges.

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Coolerking said:

You should see how much refrigerant is lost in your average 60 story building in one year, and I mean REAL refrigerant,  the kind with ODP, not just GWP/ALGOREP.

In my world, anything under 10 tons is considered a toy system.

Which is, if I had to guess, at best 90% of the marine HVAC world.

Certainly that's in a whole different category than my little system. It may be over-charged a bit since I messed with it but still can't have much over 10 ounces. It seems like putting a vacuum on a bottle and then pulling the 134a out of the system into the bottle wouldn't be much more of a challenge than putting a vacuum on the system is... I wonder if there is a container that I could rent or buy that would work and that an AC place would be happy to take?

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9 hours ago, weightless said:

Certainly that's in a whole different category than my little system. It may be over-charged a bit since I messed with it but still can't have much over 10 ounces. It seems like putting a vacuum on a bottle and then pulling the 134a out of the system into the bottle wouldn't be much more of a challenge than putting a vacuum on the system is... I wonder if there is a container that I could rent or buy that would work and that an AC place would be happy to take?

10 ounces is waaaaay too much. 

it will have less than 5 in it it.

Do not use auto style 134a, it has a different type of oil that will wreck your system.

Just vent it out, then evac it for 12 hours, then start by adding 3oz of 134a, then let it run for a few hours, if the frost line stays close to the plate,  and never gets to the compressor, and the plate is frosty,  then you are most likely good to go.

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3 hours ago, Coolerking said:

10 ounces is waaaaay too much. 

 

Just an order of magnitude WAG on my part. I don't know how much is really in there.

Thanks for your thoughts on this. Much appreciated.

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This guy at Cool Blue has some very good "how to" refrigeration videos.  The other video, I made about R-134a as that refrigerant is not always obtainable as you sail around the world.     

 

 

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