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Old 11-06-2010, 08:29   #1
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DIY R134 Charge ?

I consider myself fairly capable with marine systems and repair. I normally do all my own refits and repairs, but there are some areas where I bring in the hired guns. Engine alignment for example. I can do it but a pro can do it in half the time it takes me. Bottom jobs and compounding, Im happy to pay for the brute strength needed there.

Refridgeration is the task at hand. I have been reading Calder and others and have pretty good understanding of whats going on. Im pretty sure that my Grunert Polar Mate compressor is low on refrigerant. Its an R134 unit. I have the manual for the unit which specifies the high and low pressure values and refrigerant specifics. I am considering buying a guage set and a can or two of R134 and going at it myself. I spoke to the local marine refer guy on the phone this am and he said he had a 3 week back up for service. I really need to know how to do this stuff myself anyway as I dont like relying on other people to fix my boat.

That being said anyone want to talk to me about how to correctly hook up the guage set without introducing air to the system? Any special tools beyond the guage set I should buy? Cautions? Advice?
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:46   #2
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It's not very complicated.

The cans come with a sealed top. The gauge sets come with a screw-on valve. Once you screw on the valve, you turn the valve until the sharp end of it breaks open the can and seals it off. Don't take this valve off again until the can is empty or you get freon spraying everywhere.

If it's like a car, the low pressure and high pressure lines are different sizes with different size fixtures, so you can't get them mixed up. You'll have to check online or call your manufacturer to get the correct pressures for your system.

If the pressure is too low, open the valve on the freon can until it brings it up to the right level. That's pretty much it.
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:48   #3
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Actually, now that I think about it, the last cans I used had ball valves in them, so you could take them back off the adapter valve. Sorry, I haven't worked on an A/C unit in a few years.
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Old 11-06-2010, 09:49   #4
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Thats what I figured thanks. Im thinking though that I need to make sure purge air from the gauge set before hooking it to the compressor though.
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:04   #5
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They use pressurized snap fixtures, so connecting them you won't get any air into the system. I guess if you're really worried about that little bit of air in the line between the cannister and the snap fixture going into the system when you open the freon can, then you could attach the hoses before you screw on the can, open the valve to bleed the air out of the hoses, shut it back off, then screw on the can. I wouldn't worry about it though. There's a drier built into the system, which should collect any moisture introduced by that incredibly small amount of atmospheric air.
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:31   #6
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Okay I was thinking that it was important to purge any air from the gauge manifold before connecting it to the system but you are saying that there would not be enough air in the gauge set to hurt anything? I think I still will try and purge it first if it seems doable.

Thanks,
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:45   #7
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I need to give my system a boost as well, but I can not find any connector to add refrigerant. It's a typical 12 volt air cooled fridge with a sealed Danfoss compressor and an evaporator.
Is there a saddle type connector available?
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:48   #8
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Remember to do this when the system is operating. You will notice the compressor kick on when the pressure switch senses enough psi to turn on the system. Also, when operating it will "suck" the freon into the system fairly quickly. Turn the can upside down so the liquid is pulled into the system, not upright where it would siphon in the gas component (That takes forever.)
If the system has lost freon, there's a reason. I would also think about a dye check too so you can fix the issue and not keep wasting time and $$ putting a can in every so often.
If the system has gone to atmospheric pressure (e.g. no freon in at all) then you really need a vacuum pump to pull all (or at least down to 20-30"Hg) of the 'wet' air in there out before introducing the freon. You'll get a better operating system that's got more freon in it and won't ice up and also won't kill the drier prematurely.
Watch the sight glass and when the bubbles disappear in the fluid stream you got it. Or use the gauges to determine the proper amount of pressure ont he high and low side.. read up on the refrig process online. It's really simple.

In reply to the fridge question: Refrigerators are usually serviced using a solder sealed method. Most handi-types like us boat people don't have the gear to do that kind of service. Usually it isn't needed. I've never worked with a saddle clamp concept of re-furbishing a frig but if I had the chance I'd have a pro do the job and have them solder in a fill port so i could do in-field repairs to the filling part of the job.
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Old 11-06-2010, 10:54   #9
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No sight glass in my system. I will probably get a dye kit as you suggest. My unit works but does not cycle, just runs full tilt all the time. It pulls the box down pretty cold 38*, but should be cycling. I am getting ice on the lines (low pressure side) where it exits the compressor. I also can hear the refrgerant flowing through the evapoartor but its a very un even sound. Not like my adler barbour unit on my old boat used to sound. Unit in question is a Grunert.

Senormechanico what make unit do you have? I see connection points on mine but did not look close enough yet to see what style.
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Old 11-06-2010, 12:52   #10
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Is your model listed here?

Is you model listed here? Maybe you could use the manual to make sure everything is cool. (so to speak )


Manuals & Translated Info - Dometic
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Old 11-06-2010, 12:58   #11
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I only see Airconditioning info there. My unit is a Grunert Polar Mate and I have the manual for it on the boat which has the required values. One thought I am having though. If I am getting icing at the low pressure coupling from the compressor would this not indicate maybe too much refrigerant? What about a clogged evaporator? I wonder if thats likely? Guess I can sit here at work and wonder all damn day until I can get down to the boat with some gauges...
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Old 11-06-2010, 13:01   #12
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owner install manual here

Polar Mate Manual

I think the icing would just be a really good chill factor and high ambient humidity. Good thought... check the values on the gauges and go from there.

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Old 11-06-2010, 13:08   #13
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Yeah thats the one. Same manual I have on the boat.
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Old 11-06-2010, 14:54   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SV Escape Plan View Post

Senormechanico what make unit do you have? I see connection points on mine but did not look close enough yet to see what style.
Fridge is an Isotherm Grey Line 50 L.
I have the documentation, but it's pretty uselss when it comes to service.
It just says contact your dealer.
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Old 11-06-2010, 15:55   #15
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R134a charge

you can not just top up a system with R134a in it you must vac down and start again and only charge as a liquid to ensure the right gas mix.You must prurge gauges and hoses,put do not think your problem is a refrigerant problem check the evaperator air flow and clean the condenser.Greg Ps: the valves someone was refering to enter a system without a service point is a bullet piercing valve.
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