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frascati 02-15-2013 08:54 PM

Fixed a noisy fridge, it worked for me.
Gibson top freezer. Just a generic run-o-the-mill fridge from a big-box store about twenty years ago. Like new condition but it had developed this creepy moaning and bubbling and gurgling sound that dinner guests were actually starting to notice. You could hear it throughout the house.

Nothing to lose, with my eye on a new model, so I followed the sound to the evaporator coils behind the back panel of the freezer. Took the panel off and started hunting around with a mechanic's stethoscope. The image below is precisely where I found the noise was coming from.

I'd heard that these can get clogged with... god knows what since it's a sealed system, so I commenced unclogging it on a hunch. I put tin foil behind it to protect the plastic and heated the bottom of the expansion tube with a mini propane torch. Got it nice and hot, not enough to weaken the braze or whatever glue they use to attach the copper to the alum evap tube, and then took a two foot long piece of 1/2 in copper tube to it like a pool cue pretty hard about a dozen times. Plugged it in immediately (hoping that I'd loosened some crud and the compressor would push it into the evap coils).

Holy crap. I fixed it. For the time being anyway, but I'm hopeful. It's been two weeks with nothing but the comfortingly mild hum of the compressor. And it runs half as often as it used to. Temps are perfect.

So it escapes the landfill once again. Who knows how long? I was motivated to clean it top to bottom, dab a little appliance paint on little scratches, and even car-waxed the exterior... so there.

If you have a haunted fridge, give it a try before you $#itcan it.

frascati 12-04-2013 08:40 PM

It returned eventually. So here's an update.

It was fine for about four months. Started groaning and bubbling again like some kid playing with his soft drink through a straw. Audible throughout the house.

Ok, time for a new fridge. So what do I have to lose? I got the shop vac ready with a 15 foot extension on the exhaust leading outdoors in case of disaster if the copper sprung a leak. Then I removed the coils on the rear of the fridge to access the point where the coolant entered and returned from this freezer section. I removed the black sealant (tar) from around the tubing and also the white plastic cladding over the two tubes. The 1/8 tube is actually spot soldered to the larger return tube about every three inches. I carefully broke these solder connections and took up about 8" of the 1/8 tube from the bottom of the fridge where it was coiled. Using this slack I very carefully turned the expansion tube, in the photo, 170 deg (approx) so that it pointed upward. I zip tied the supply/return every three inches tightly, replaced the sealant at the entrance, and replaced the white plastic cladding over both tubes. Entire job approx 1/2 hour.

I plugged it back in and ..... bliss. Quiet as a dormouse. Why on earth the fridge was designed with the tapered end of the expansion tube at the bottom just amazes me. Just waiting to eventually collect debris and clog over the lifetime of the fridge. Simply turning it upside down and discovering quietness like the fridge never had since new proves that it's a poor design.

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