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Old 11-25-2011, 07:20 AM   #1
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Default Anyone with freezer repair skills? Help me fix my Keezer please

I have a 10 y/o GE chest freezer (FCM15HDPAWH) I got cheap off of Craigslist that I have been using as a Keezer/Fermentation chamber flawlessly for about a year now. Recently it has developed a bad habit of not always having the compressor come on when the temp controller signals. When the power comes on, I hear a click and a low electrical hum for a few seconds, then another click and the hum stops. After a few seconds the process repeats itself. Eventually, after a random number of atempts, the compressor will finally kick in and the freezer will cool perfectly back down to the set point. I have done some research online, and I think that my start relay or capacitor maybe going bad but I am not sure which one. Replacing both is not in my budget right now.

What is the purpose of these two parts and how do I test to see which one I need? I am leaning toward the replacing the capacitor because I can hear clicks, which I am guessing is the relay working. Anyone else have this problem before? Any other ideas I should try?

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Old 11-25-2011, 09:45 AM   #2
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The first click is the contacts starting the compressor, the hum is the compressor not turning over, and the second click is the thermal overload. Sounds like your capacitor isn't doing a good job. They are cheap and easy to replace.


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Old 11-27-2011, 02:03 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maxkling View Post
The first click is the contacts starting the compressor, the hum is the compressor not turning over, and the second click is the thermal overload. Sounds like your capacitor isn't doing a good job. They are cheap and easy to replace.
Plus or a 3 n 1 if you can't find the oem.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:34 AM   #4
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I agree, sounds like the first thing you should do is replace the capacitor if you can find one. Does the freezer have an exposed coil that is stopped up with dust and dirt? That will overheat the compressor. If not it may also come down to the compressor locking up for a number of other reasons. One other thing you can try, if the capacitor doesnt work, would be to find whats called a hard start kit, which is a relay and capacitor in one kit, which are used for freeing up "froze up" compressors. Lastly, before replacing any parts you may want to just inspect all the compressor connections for burned up wires or terminals.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:25 PM   #5
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Thanks for the replies everyone.

I found a replacement capacitor online and it should be here in a couple of days. I will start there and see how it goes. I have given the freezer a good inspection and all the wiring and connections look good, so I hope replacing the capacitor will do the trick. I dont think the compressor is locked up necessarily because it will eventually start running and operate with no issues. The problem seems to be isolated to the fact that the compressor will not reliably start up on the first try when needed.

But then again I am no expert and this thing may just be supersized paper weight in the works.

I will let you know how it all works out.

Thanks
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:21 AM   #6
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Well, after a very long shipping time, I finally got the new capacitor. After swapping it out however it appears that I still have the intermitent compressor problem.

Like before, the power will come on and I will hear a click followed by a low electrical hum for a few seconds. Then I will hear another click and the hum will stop. A few seconds later the process repeats itself. This continues until the compressor finally kicks on. The freezer seems to work perfectly getting the temp down to the set point, at which time the controller turns the power off. When the controller comes back on the whole process repeats.

I am not an expert in freezer repair, but I have been reading up on it on the internet (scary I know). From what I have seen, it seems that the relay on the freezer is also what triggers the charge and discharge of the capacitor along with the power to the compressor. Is this correct? Could my starting issue be caused by a bad relay?

I am thinking about getting a 3 in 1 kit to by-pass the stock relay and capacitor to see if that will start the compressor more reliably. If I am still having problems after installing the 3 in 1 then the issue is all in my compressor correct?

Thanks for the help
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:22 AM   #7
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Your relay is likley a solid state relay usually when they go bad they will rattle when you shake them. the older mechanical relays have a visable copper winding on them I doubt yours is that old. If your relay doesn't rattle then you likely have a bad compressor
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Old 12-07-2011, 09:28 PM   #8
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a 10 year old fridge isnt going to have a SSR. most new ones dont. and SSRs do not have any moving parts, its silicon chips potted in epoxy, so there would be no rattle when they die.

your relay is probably fine if you are hearing it click. the contacts can become worn after a while and have a hard time transfering full current, but i wouldnt suspect this unless all other options are exhausted first.

if you replaced the cap and that wasnt the problem, the only thing that would cause the compressor to have trouble turning over would be internal friction. there is oil (usually) mixed in with the refrigerant. if you do have, or ever had, a refrigerant leak you may no longer have enough oil in the system. it could also be that some of the bearings are just shot. if that is the case you need to replace the compressor unfortunately.

when the thing does eventually kick on, how quickly does it get cold?
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Old 12-07-2011, 11:26 PM   #9
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Is it plugged directly into the wall? Low voltage will keep it from starting.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:31 AM   #10
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Thanks for the replies.

Hermit - I experience the same problem when the freezer is plug directly into the wall. I have also tried different outlets in case the problem is in the house wiring. At this point I am positive it is something in the freezer itself.

audger - It gets cold pretty fast when it does work. I dont think that it has leaked refrigerant. For the last year it worked like a champ without any problems. I havent noticed any excessive compressor cycling or spot iceing recently that might suggest a leak. When the compressor does start it is pretty smooth. I havent noticed any squeals or vibrations that I would make me usually think of bearings but like I said I am not an expert.

I have been checking around in all the usual places to see if I might just get a replacement, but the cheapest I have seen is $150 so far. It is not that I have a lot of money invested in this one freezer but I am having a hard time justifying spending that much to get a replacement right now.

When I get a chance I think I will try a hard start kit. I can get a 3 in 1 kit for under $20 which is a lot easier to swallow. Has anyone had experience wiring one up? They say it is easy in the descriptions I have read, but I would like to know a little bit more than the company jargon before I am elbow deep in rewiring this guy.

Thanks


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