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Old 28-04-2021, 07:41   #1
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Refrigeration -- End of Life?

I have separate Isotherm fridge and freezer, run by separate Danfoss compressors, with the self-pumping "SP" condensors.


This gear is now 20 years old.


It's worked pretty well over the years and I have not have any of the electronic board problems that so many people had with the Danfoss compressors.


But for years I've had a slow gas leak which has required me to top off both systems once or twice a year out of a small can of refrigerant.


Seems like the leaks have slowly gotten worse.


Is it right for me to just live with this, and wait for them to die? Or should I be thinking now about replacement? The compressors are not all that expensive and I think the control systems are better now (aren't they?) than they were when mine were made circa 2001.


Grateful for any tips.
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Old 28-04-2021, 07:54   #2
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

I think its completely up to you whether you want to replace on your time schedule or the systems.

To me it isn't “normal” to have to add to the systems. My system is also 20 years old.
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Old 28-04-2021, 07:54   #3
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

I'd say it depends on 2 things: how easily can the leak be fixed? And how much performance / efficiency do you stand to gain by upgrading to a new system?
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Old 28-04-2021, 07:55   #4
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

Well, you could always have someone find and fix the leaks.
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Old 28-04-2021, 07:57   #5
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

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Well, you could always have someone find and fix the leaks.
Probably cost almost much as new unit for the chance to maybe fix
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:02   #6
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

I had a professional chase a leak on my fridge with Danfoss compressor. He had a very sensitif probe detecting exactly where the leak is. The repair did not break my bank account, but I had taken out the fridge for easy access for him.
I suggest to get the leak repaired.
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:13   #7
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

I've had great experiences with Leak Sealers from auto supply places. Hidden Dometic system on cruiser with $3,600. estimate "cured" with one can at $23.00. Also worked on my van a/c. Stuff is great.
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:19   #8
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

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Probably cost almost much as new unit for the chance to maybe fix

Yes, that's the thing.


Also, if the system has been non-hermetic, it's likely there's moisture in there and different components are deteriorating. I would be reluctant to spend money at Ä100 an hour or whatever on a system which can be swapped for new for a few hundred. It would be easy to spend more than a new one just to get an old system back still old and with other failures looming.
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:21   #9
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
I'd say it depends on 2 things: how easily can the leak be fixed? And how much performance / efficiency do you stand to gain by upgrading to a new system?

On the first question: I have no idea. If it's a bad Schraeder valve, then simple and cheap. In fact, I could do that prophylatically myself. Maybe I should.


If it's a pinhole leak in a condensor, then it's basically unfixable and I would have wasted money and time chasing it.


On the second question: I doubt that current ones are more efficient than the 2001 ones were. But they are NEW, which means you set the component life clock back to zero.
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:23   #10
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

But I think maybe a more pertinent question -- how long do people usually keep these Danfoss systems? Do they go 30 years? Or not? Since mine are already 20 years old, if it's unrealistic to hope for 10 more after spending good money on it, then I guess I'd better toss them.
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Old 28-04-2021, 08:38   #11
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

IME, leaks only get worse in refrigerant systems. Most residential AC systems target a 20 year life, and that's the older school stuff. Danfoss compressors has smarter motors and many are brushless so they run for a long time... but 20 years has been a good run for a modern system.

That said... and call me a pessimist , losing your refrigerator will happen at the worse time and with something mobile like a boat/RV... in a non-optimal location. If you got 20 years out of it, you got your money's worth. Just take the opportunity to replace on your schedule, not it's.
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Old 28-04-2021, 10:16   #12
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

My AB refer was installed in the 1980's and is still going. I had the thermostat fail. I had to add a little refrigerant once last spring and expect to this spring. It's cheap and super easy to add gas. A few minutes and ~$10 per year is not much maintenance. Heck of a lot easier and cheaper than replacing.

If the pressure in the system is higher than atmosphere (should be), then no moisture should be able to get in.
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Old 28-04-2021, 10:32   #13
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sailormed View Post
I had a professional chase a leak on my fridge with Danfoss compressor. He had a very sensitif probe detecting exactly where the leak is. The repair did not break my bank account, but I had taken out the fridge for easy access for him.
I suggest to get the leak repaired.
As a general tinkerer and professional service person myself it's incredible how often I show up to do work for friends/family or professionally and the thing I'm asked to work on is completely inaccessible and we spend an hour or more just getting access.

Your initiative does not go unnoticed.
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Old 28-04-2021, 10:40   #14
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

Agree with everyone else that you need to see where the leak is coming from. Or if it has a bad compressor or clogged drier/filter (the fat copper thing in the line).

The killer (IMHO) might be if the leak is in the icebox cold plate, although you might be able to find a commercial plate that would fit and skip paying the Alder Barber extorsion "marine premium" for the same plate.

The replacement compressors are readily available at a decent price. The drier/filter is a $6 part. These BD35F compressors are used EVERYWHERE.

A refrigerator/freezer repair guy replaces/fixes these items every day. He will tap into the lines and see what the pressures are, if the refrigerant is low, and if the compressor is really pumping or not.

The controller failures are usually attributable to the unit being installed in a HOT space. The electronic controller also needs to be kept cool, and if not it reduces the electronic components' life.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/15302496413...QAAOSwBohdi-sA

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Supco-SU...iABEgKoZfD_BwE


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Old 28-04-2021, 11:40   #15
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Re: Refrigeration -- End of Life?

DH,

Four years ago our top loader Danfoss system [installed in 1999] developed a slow leak requiring topping with refrigerant every ~ 8 months.

We have the typical aluminum evaporate plate, so I figured I would try some quick troubleshooting. I charged the system and wet my hands with hand sanitizer- running my still wet hands over the evaporator quickly revealed a pinhole leak.

I spot sanded the paint off the pinhole area and applied a pea size wad of JB Weld epoxy- covering the soft epoxy with clear packing tape to make it a smooth, feathered repair.

It is still holding...

In case you are as lucky...

Cheers! Bill
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