Help with improving refrigerator performance in a garage

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

JDbeerfan

New Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Hey all. New member here and I love the site. I tried searching the forums but couldn't find the exact info for which I was looking.

I'm attempting to convert a 550sq foot garage into a hangout for my friends to watch football and have some brew. I plan on making a kegerator with an in-door faucet. I managed to pick a fridge up cheap on craigslist but I can only seem to get the temp down to 40 degrees (using the thermometer in water test). I live in a rather hot part of California and even though I have put in a small AC unit I can only get the garage temps down to about 80-85 degrees in some parts of the day.

I'm so close to the 38 degrees, I'm hoping someone can recommend a way that I might get a few more degrees out of this fridge. Is this a lost cause or did I just get a bum fridge? Anyone have any tips on improving the refrigeration on my fridge?
 

sigmund

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
417
Reaction score
5
Why is 38° so special?

The only thing you can do for your garage is install a roof vent and insulate.
 

conpewter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
5,077
Reaction score
59
Location
East Dundee, Illinois
You may want to look underneath and clean all the coils, that way it can dissipate the heat easier. Also make sure the fan that blows air across those coils is running.

Did you transport the fridge standing up or laying down? Sometimes when you lay a fridge down wrong the lubrication oil will flow up into the cooling coils and ruin the fridge.
 

Germey

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 11, 2007
Messages
699
Reaction score
3
Location
Rancho Bernardo
Sometimes those cheap fridges on Craigslist are there for a reason. I'm sure the ad said, "runs great".:cross:
All the advice above is good for things to help it out.
 

Bob_E

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 2, 2008
Messages
53
Reaction score
0
Location
Southern Michigan
is the fridge constantly running?
If not then you might be hitting the limit of the thermostat in the fridge.
If it is, something else to look at would be to make sure the door seal is in good order and sealing properly. If there is duct between the freezer and fridge make sure it is unobstructed. If you've got some kind of insulation sitting around you could line the fridge with it.
 
OP
J

JDbeerfan

New Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Have you tried blowing a fan across the coils on the back?
I haven't tried that, but will give it a go. Thanks.

Why is 38° so special?

The only thing you can do for your garage is install a roof vent and insulate.
I'm new to all this so could very well be wrong, but I thought that keg beer had to be kept at or below 38° in order to keep it from spoiling and not come out all foam. Would 40° actually be ok?

I've insulated the back of the garage door and the other walls are all cinderblock. As far as venting, I have an active vent with the window AC unit. Thanks for the input.

You may want to look underneath and clean all the coils, that way it can dissipate the heat easier. Also make sure the fan that blows air across those coils is running.

Did you transport the fridge standing up or laying down? Sometimes when you lay a fridge down wrong the lubrication oil will flow up into the cooling coils and ruin the fridge.
I will check underneath and give it a cleaning. As far as the transportation, it was delivered upright but as for before that, I have no idea.

Sometimes those cheap fridges on Craigslist are there for a reason. I'm sure the ad said, "runs great".
All the advice above is good for things to help it out.
Hehe, I hear ya. I'm only out $75, worst case scenario on the fridge. It does at least get to 40 though, so it could be worse.

I am curious why you need to hit 38. I keep my keezer at 45, and wouldn't want it any cooler.
Hmm, sounds like this magical idea of 38 may be my mistake. 40 degrees will be fine, then?

Thanks for all the replies/help.:mug:
 
OP
J

JDbeerfan

New Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
is the fridge constantly running?
If not then you might be hitting the limit of the thermostat in the fridge.
If it is, something else to look at would be to make sure the door seal is in good order and sealing properly. If there is duct between the freezer and fridge make sure it is unobstructed. If you've got some kind of insulation sitting around you could line the fridge with it.
No, the fridge is not constantly running. Is there a way to adjust the thermostat other than the controls within the fridge itself? I have it set to 'coldest'.

The seals look good on the door but I haven't checked the duct. Thanks for the ideas.
 

conpewter

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2007
Messages
5,077
Reaction score
59
Location
East Dundee, Illinois
Checking the seals is a good idea. I had an old craigslist fridge (that I transported badly...) anyway it worked for a few months but then kept getting warmer. I'd taken off the inside of the door so there was a bit of a gap in the seals. The moisture from the air had gotten in and frozen the coils in the freezer. I defrosted it but could not get it down low enough to keep food frozen in the top anymore (I could get down near 40 in the fridge portion I was using as a kegerator) so I gave it away on craigslist and got another one (free!) and that one is working very nice :eek:)
 

david_42

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2005
Messages
25,582
Reaction score
189
Location
Oak Grove
40F is fine and many ales are even better at 50F. Commercial light lagers are served very cold to mask what little flavor they have.

You can insulate cinder block by firring the wall and putting rigid foam between the strips, then drywall over that. Even 1" will make a major difference. There are also insulating foams that are bonded to OSB or hardboard that can be glued to concrete & block.
 

sigmund

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2008
Messages
417
Reaction score
5
I've insulated the back of the garage door and the other walls are all cinderblock. As far as venting, I have an active vent with the window AC unit. Thanks for the input.

:mug:

If your walls are cinderblock, they hold heat nicely, thus the need for insulation on them. The roof vent allows the heat trapped in the high points of your garage to escape, it's not the same type of venting as what you are refering to.
 

slimer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 2, 2007
Messages
688
Reaction score
3
Location
Westmont, IL
I drilled a small hole in the side of the door and filled it in with Great Stuff to improve the insulation of the door.
 

johnlvs2run

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 31, 2008
Messages
57
Reaction score
1
Location
western u.s.
You need to have the vents on the roof. My garage used to get hot, then I put a wind turbine on the roof and now it is fine. I got the idea from a fellow who used to live near Bakersfield where it got up to 120. He put 4 wind turbines on the roof of his house, and floor vents at the bottom of the north wall, so the hot air would stay out of his attic. After that his house stayed cool with no more a/c, which previously had been running all the time to no avail.

The issue you're having is that your garage is sealed up in the attic, so it functions like an oven instead of a cave. Letting all that heat out should make a major difference.

Also make sure the windows are not picking up radiant energy from the sun.

Cinder block is a great material for keeping the heat out of your house, and garage. If you do insulate the cinder block then I'd put the insulation on the outside, which will help to maintain a moderate temperature inside.
 

Homercidal

Licensed Sensual Massage Therapist.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Feb 10, 2008
Messages
33,310
Reaction score
5,717
Location
Reed City, MI
+1 on venting the attic. I built a garage last year and it was fairly pleasant below, but when I crawled up top it was almost unbearable. I'm living with it for now, but for next summer I'm putting the vents in. Until then, I don't have stairs anyway, and it will be winter here before long.
 

EdWort

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 14, 2006
Messages
11,894
Reaction score
446
Location
Bee Cave, Texas
38 degrees is recommended for dispensing draft beer. Warmer temps will give you more foam. You can dispense a pitcher and let it warm up a bit easier than pouring a pitcher of foam at 40 and waiting for the beer to settle.
 
Top