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Old 08-27-2009, 02:12 PM   #1
ajwillys
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Default Refrigeration experts, how do I disassemble a walk-in cooler

Hi,
A friend and I are in the process of starting a nanobrewery. We are doing this slow and steady so most of the work/capital is supplied ourselves. We obtained a walk-in cooler from a government auction and are going to disassemble and pick it up tomorrow. My question is, how do I do this? Is there anything specific I need to know? I was under the impression that the cooling unit was in one piece but the guy I'm buying it from just called and asked if he should recover the freon for us. I assume this means that there are multiple units that will need to separated, thus necessitating the removal of the freon? If it is one unit, why would the freon need to be removed before moving it? From my very limited knowledge, it always seems like the evaporator/condenser are one unit that sits on top.

Unfortunately, we haven't seen it and we are completely over our heads on this one. It was just a very good deal and we jumped on it.

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Old 08-27-2009, 02:25 PM   #2
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The wall attachments should be evident once you see it. The cooling system is usually split. "Sometimes" the outdoor coolers have a through the roof one piece but, I haven't seen a lot of those.

Why not get the make and model number and try googling installation instructions? You may be surprised to find them in an online pdf.

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Old 08-27-2009, 02:27 PM   #3
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The condenser portion of the system is typically mounted above the unit on the roof, or possibly next to the cooler. The evaporator section is where the actual cooling takes place. More so, the heat extraction occurs. The two pieces of equipment are joined by tubing to hold the refirgerant that travels between them.

Yes..... You do indeed need to have the refrigerant recovered. It is a violation of EPA regulations and law to simply blow off the refrigerant to the atmosphere. Possible $10,000.00 fine if you do and someone turns you in for it. Your buying a government cooler, so expect that they will observe your dismantling of the unit.

If you have no knowledge of doing this, it might be in your best interest to hire a HVAC contractor to supervise you while you take the unit apart and move it. He would have the necessary equipment to do the recovery of refrigerant and may only charge a nominal fee if you have him contracted as a supervisory consultant.

Good luck.

Salute!

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Old 08-27-2009, 03:59 PM   #4
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Awesome! Thanks for the advise. We do know that we cannot vent the freon. My question was more of "do we even have to take it apart"? I see the answer is yes. The guy that does the refrigeration for the county offered to recover the freon for us. I just didn't know all that was involved. He said he is going to try to pump most of it into the condenser and cap it off.

We're super excited about getting this thing tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't turn into a disaster. We're planning for the worse and hoping for the best.

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Old 08-27-2009, 08:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajwillys View Post
Awesome! Thanks for the advise. We do know that we cannot vent the freon. My question was more of "do we even have to take it apart"? I see the answer is yes. The guy that does the refrigeration for the county offered to recover the freon for us. I just didn't know all that was involved. He said he is going to try to pump most of it into the condenser and cap it off.

We're super excited about getting this thing tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't turn into a disaster. We're planning for the worse and hoping for the best.
Definitely take some pictures and let us know how it went. I would love to see it.

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Old 08-28-2009, 03:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajwillys View Post
Awesome! Thanks for the advise. We do know that we cannot vent the freon. My question was more of "do we even have to take it apart"? I see the answer is yes. The guy that does the refrigeration for the county offered to recover the freon for us. I just didn't know all that was involved. He said he is going to try to pump most of it into the condenser and cap it off.

We're super excited about getting this thing tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't turn into a disaster. We're planning for the worse and hoping for the best.
Having him "pump down" the system is great as you will still have refrigerant to use when the cooler is re-assembled.

Do take pics and post so we can see the unit when your done.

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Old 08-30-2009, 02:57 PM   #7
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Hey guys, we finally got this thing disassembled and moved 3.5 hours back to Greensboro. It was rough going as we had a tough time with some of the corroded hooks that held the panels together. The sawsall came in handy a little too often. Anyway, it is now fully disassembled and in storage until we can find a place to put it back up. I realized I didn't say so in my first post, but this thing is huge 12'x12' with an 8' ceiling.

The refrigeration guy was not able to save the freon in the condenser. Apparently, it had shut off valves, but they weren't holding so he had to recover it all out and remove it. It's been converted to R-409a so hopefully it won't be too expensive. I do have a few pics. I'll try to get them up and on here soon.

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Old 08-30-2009, 03:08 PM   #8
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hopefully the reassembly goes as smoothly as the tear down seems to have. 12x12 is a freaking monster, the guy down the road from me,small breakfast bistro, only has a maybe an 8x8 with a 5ft ceiling.

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Old 08-30-2009, 03:42 PM   #9
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Yeah, after I typed the 8' ceiling I got to thinking that it was probably more of a 7' ceiling. You can definitely touch the ceiling without jumping so I'm thinking its 7. We're actually thinking of putting an insulated wall right down the middle and using one half for refrigeration and half for fermentation. Of course, that limits us to one fermentation temp, but that would be ok to start with.

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Old 08-30-2009, 04:21 PM   #10
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8' or 7', who's counting? It is good to hear that everything went well with only a couple of hiccups. Best of luck with your brewery.

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