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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Equipment/Sanitation > Freezer Compressor Repair
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Old 06-22-2012, 07:14 PM   #1
kzimmer0817
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Default Freezer Compressor Repair

Is there any such thing as replacing the compressor in a chest freezer? The 20 c.f. used chest freezer that my son got off Craigslist a few months ago for $100 died a couple weeks ago. We happened to have the refrigeration guts from a rusted kegerator from a bar. We positioned the long finned exchanger down into the freezer with a towel beneath it to catch the condensation. The compressor with its little fan and condensor coils had simply slid out of the original kegerator, and the lines had enough length to get the exchanger up over the edge of the freezer. It's functioning well at the moment.

19+ c.f. chest freezers are anywhere from $575-800 at Sears. In light of this, are these individual components not available to qualified HVAC or Refrigeration technicians such that a qualified technician can replace a compressor, recharge the system, and end up with a functioning freezer? Or are the economics such that it's much cheaper to simply scrap it and purchase a new one?

I've thought about putting a collar onto it and trying to adapt the kegerator guts I mentioned above. Another option is to purchase another chest freezer, collar them both, and duct the air between them so that one freezer can control them both. I would think that the working freezer would have to function as a genuine freezer in order to cost-effectively keep the non-functioning freezer at fermentation temps.

Thanks,
Keith

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Old 06-22-2012, 08:13 PM   #2
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I'm not a hvac guy or a qualified technician but here is my experience with it. It is not cost effective to replace the compressor. Unless you found one that was out of a non working freezer. The other thing about it is, depending on how old the unit is, the freon alone might set you back quite a bit. The older freon is hard to find and expensive. You can't charge a old system with newer freon because the oils are not the same. As far as getting a new one and ducting air between the two, I don't know. I know if you talked to someone way more knowledgable than I am, they would probably say that the components are rated at that freezer for efficiency, but I say why not? I did the same to a "home made" aluminum cabinet that I insulated and it works really well. Keep us updated!

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Old 06-24-2012, 01:24 AM   #3
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Are you sure the compressor is the problem? The are starting components associated with the compressor that can fail and also a defrost timer and temperature control which can develop problems. If it's one of these components, the fix may be relatively inexpensive.

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Old 06-24-2012, 01:39 AM   #4
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Are you sure the compressor is the problem? The are starting components associated with the compressor that can fail and also a defrost timer and temperature control which can develop problems. If it's one of these components, the fix may be relatively inexpensive.
Well said and very possible.
Another possibility (which is a very common problem with failures) is if there is a Freon leak somewhere in the system and IF that has happened within the evaporator coils there is no possibility of fixing it.
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Old 06-24-2012, 02:16 AM   #5
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If I'm not mistaken, if the freon gets low enough the compressor won't turn in anyway right? There also should be a thermostat of some sort and or a relay to fire the compressor right?

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Old 06-24-2012, 03:38 AM   #6
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If I'm not mistaken, if the freon gets low enough the compressor won't turn in anyway right? There also should be a thermostat of some sort and or a relay to fire the compressor right?
Not a thermostat, but a low pressure sensor. Which I don't think anyone actually puts into consumer grade refrigeration gear.

Get thee to Craig's List. I have two 17cf brew fridges and a 10cf chest freezer for my keezer I bought off CL for the sum total of $325, and the oldest of the three was two years old when I bought them. All still running perfectly...

Cheers!
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Old 06-24-2012, 04:09 AM   #7
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Thanks, guys, for your posts. I'll have to ask my son about any particular sound it made as it was failing. It was working wonderfully until it died. I guess I'll send him back to CL. The Summer in Athens, GA is too hot to try to brew without some kind of temp control. SWMBO doesn't want us fermenting in the back hallway; besides, we keep the house around 75 which seems to high for fermentation.

I guess I need to figure out if there's any way to re-purpose a dead freezer.

Thanks, again,
Keith

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Old 06-24-2012, 04:26 AM   #8
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I do refrigeration repairs, generally if you have to pay someone to do a compressor replacement expect the cost to be a minimum of $500 and could easily go to 700, the parts are expensive and it's a labor intensive job. But I would make sure the compressor is the problem, can you tell if the compressor is running? If it doesn't start you could have a bad thermostat or start relay, either of those would probably be more like $200-250 to replace. As someone stated earlier you could have a refrigerant leak, not a common problem in a chest freezer, but they do happen and are not really repairable because the lines are not accessible.

I would having qualified technician to look at it and give you an estimate for repair, cost for that would probably be in the range of $50-100. Good luck.

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Old 06-24-2012, 05:33 AM   #9
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It's rare for a compressor to fail. if it just stopped working it's probably an electrical component like the start relay for the compressor. Do a google search and you can find a way to test/bypass. If it really is the compressor you can replace it, the lines have to be cut, flared or braised to connect the new compressor. And then the system has to be evacuated and recharged, even if it's the old r12 it's not a problem. It's expensive but I doubt the freezer even uses one pound. Probably 8 oz or less.

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Old 06-24-2012, 05:46 AM   #10
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I agree with one of the above posters. This isn't a cost effective thing to do on your own.

As for ducting the working one to the non working one...well it could work. Especially if you plan to keep them both above the normal operating temp at which they were designed for. If you decide to do this, do not use flex duct but instead pipe, tape it with aluminum tape and insulate it well.

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