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Old 07-26-2012, 01:32 AM   #1
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Default Advice on broken mini fridge refrigerant line

Yes, I've already done a ton of searching and reading on here about broken refrigerant lines.

The general consensus seems to be that its easier to just buy a new minifridge than to try to repair the broken one.

My issue is that I managed to break the refrigerant line right before it connects to the chilling element that is inside the freezer portion of the mini fridge. It is just a tiny little crack, and I'm sure I could solder or braze it closed no problem.


The problem for me is that this is an old Excellence fridge, that ran on R-12 refrigerant. I can buy 4oz off Amazon.com without needing a license/permit (apparently?). I have access to a lab grade vacuum pump at work, or I could buy one of the air compressor driven ones from harbor freight.

Another issue is there are no access valves on this mini-fridge, so I'd have to braze one in.


I guess my question is, is it worth the $40-50 it will take to get the supplies to get this working again, or should I just go buy another damn used mini fridge off craigslist to replace it with?

This really pisses me off, since I had gotten it take apart easily, and was just attaching it to the wall of my fermenter. Didn't even touch the part that broke, just all of a sudden there was refrigerant hissing.

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:07 AM   #2
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If you want to try your hand at repairing it, repair it. Just go in expecting to fail and needing to replace it anyway. ~$50 repair \$50 replacement = $100.00 What's it worth to you to do it yourself? Not every decision needs to be strictly financial(as long as you know what the financial ramifications are and you're OK with it to begin with).

As an aside, it sounds like a perfect time to start that 2nd fermentation chamber or keezer build. About a month ago I got a 7.2 cu-ft freezer via craigslist for $40.00, this past weekend I did it again, this time a 7.1 cu-ft for $60.00. Now I have a lager\cold conditioning chamber and a fermentation chamber to go along with my kegerator. Think of the possibilities.


Keyth

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Last edited by KeythL; 07-26-2012 at 02:10 AM. Reason: didn't read through to the ferm chamber build part...
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:23 AM   #3
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My buddy did the same with his keezer, he made it before either one of us knew to make a collar, anyway he repaired the line and added the fitting and I charged it with R-134 and it didn't work. He spent more time messing with it and waiting for stuff he ordered on the Internet than he would have just buying a new fridge (which he found on CL for about what he had in parts to fix the old one).

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:37 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeythL View Post
If you want to try your hand at repairing it, repair it. Just go in expecting to fail and needing to replace it anyway. ~$50 repair \$50 replacement = $100.00 What's it worth to you to do it yourself? Not every decision needs to be strictly financial(as long as you know what the financial ramifications are and you're OK with it to begin with).

As an aside, it sounds like a perfect time to start that 2nd fermentation chamber or keezer build. About a month ago I got a 7.2 cu-ft freezer via craigslist for $40.00, this past weekend I did it again, this time a 7.1 cu-ft for $60.00. Now I have a lager\cold conditioning chamber and a fermentation chamber to go along with my kegerator. Think of the possibilities.


Keyth
Gah. I scour craigslist daily, and can never find decent chest freezers for anything under $150. Plus, I have a Camry, so I don't really have a way to get one home right now anyways.

I found someone about 5 minutes from me that has a mini fridge for sale for $50, so I'm probably just gonna meet them tomorrow after work and look at tearing that one apart. I don't really feel like messing around trying to fix this one, I just hate to throw it away.

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Originally Posted by Transamguy77 View Post
My buddy did the same with his keezer, he made it before either one of us knew to make a collar, anyway he repaired the line and added the fitting and I charged it with R-134 and it didn't work. He spent more time messing with it and waiting for stuff he ordered on the Internet than he would have just buying a new fridge (which he found on CL for about what he had in parts to fix the old one).
If this were an R-134 fridge, I might try to fix it, but being R-12, that makes it a little more difficult. I think I'm just gonna buy another mini fridge and junk this one.

I am also looking at window AC units, but they seem to be running a little more expensive than mini-fridges at the moment, so we'll see. The SWMBO probably won't be happy if I end up blowing another $100 on a fridge and/or a window AC, but if I don't, then the ferm chamber I have half built (and already bought everything for) will just go to waste...
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Old 07-26-2012, 02:48 AM   #5
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Quote:
Gah. I scour craigslist daily, and can never find decent chest freezers for anything under $150. Plus, I have a Camry, so I don't really have a way to get one home right now anyways.

I found someone about 5 minutes from me that has a mini fridge for sale for $50, so I'm probably just gonna meet them tomorrow after work and look at tearing that one apart. I don't really feel like messing around trying to fix this one, I just hate to throw it away.
Yeah, I'm in a very target rich environment at the moment. Not sure what your space limitations are, but I've seen some neat builds where the builders just build an insulated chamber (double chamber in fact) and attached the whole mini fridge, sans door, to one end and used a computer fan to circulate the air. They reported that it worked slick. That would cut down on the possibility of killing another unit. Also, if possible, I'd moth ball the dead parts (you never know with something might drop in you lap).

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:54 AM   #6
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You can't buy r12 it's waaaaaay banned like since 1994. The stuff on amazon is a replacement with different specs intended for cars. Your best option is to replace the appliance.

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Old 07-26-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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I have two different fans, I think 120mm, that I took out of a defunct piece of equipment at work. Already got them wired up to a plug. Going to use them to circulate air in the chamber. Its designed to hold 4 fermenters (buckets or 6 gal better bottles, or a mix). Already got it half insulated, and one panel stained and sealed. Still pissed about this... Best part was this fridge was free. Now I actually have to buy one...

I guess I'll keep the guts I tore out of it (compressor, coils, etc). The rest of the mini-fridge is going in the trash though.

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Old 07-26-2012, 04:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gartywood
You can't buy r12 it's waaaaaay banned like since 1994. The stuff on amazon is a replacement with different specs intended for cars. Your best option is to replace the appliance.
That's not true, it was no longer manufactured after 1994, you can still sell it/ buy it but the price has just gone way up. It was still used in houses until just a few years ago it was labeled as R-22.

It sounds like you have a plan to get another fridge good luck!
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:39 PM   #9
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I just saw this in an ad today - 1.7 cubic foot mini-fridge on sale at Walmart in case you are still considering fix vs buy.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Black-Deck...rator/19514770

Yeah it's a Black and Decker, but if you buy it with a credit card and you'll get two years of warranty coverage.

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Old 07-26-2012, 06:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Monkfish View Post
I just saw this in an ad today - 1.7 cubic foot mini-fridge on sale at Walmart in case you are still considering fix vs buy.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Black-Deck...rator/19514770

Yeah it's a Black and Decker, but if you buy it with a credit card and you'll get two years of warranty coverage.
Nice deal on the fridge, but a warranty won't do me much good. I'll be gutting it completely for my fermenter build.

I do like this one though. I think it might work for a kegerator for 2 5gal kegs...:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Igloo-4.6-...FR464/15162430
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