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Dave Harnish
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Dave's Repair Service
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New Albany, PA 18833

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Every Refrigerator’s Built-in System
Diagnostics Tool


This tip first appeared back in the March 2003 DRSNews. Many back issues of the newsletter are still available HERE.

Here in the Northeast we’ve been somewhat fixated on snow this winter, and since ‘snow’ happens to be the handiest tool for refrigeration sealed system diagnosis, I’d like to talk about that a bit.

If a refrigerator is ‘running but not cooling’, or is 'cooling poorly’, and everything seems to be clean and running (clean condenser, fans and compressor running), our attention turns to the sealed system.

So many times over the years I’ve looked at a refrig that a previous servicer has checked, and found an access valve clamped to the suction line (and very often leaking).

When questioned, the owner usually says something like, ‘yes, he had to attach a set of gauges to check the system’, and I always find it hard not to groan out loud.  Folks, it’s just not necessary to poke a hole into a domestic refrigeration system to find out what’s going on inside it. If a tech knows his business and is at all interested in being efficient, he’ll be aware of this.

If the above conditions describe your refrig or freezer, do this: leave it running if you can, and remove whatever covers are over the evaporator (cold) coil.  If you see a nice, EVEN frost pattern covering the entire coil, even if it’s 1” thick, you do NOT have a system problem. It’s just that easy!

If only part of the coil is frosted and the rest is bare or only wet, you DO have a system problem - leak, restricted, or compressor - and these days I usually recommend replacing the refrig or freezer.

Wasn’t that easy?!

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