Simple Ways To Know If Your Fridge Is Low On Freon

After almost eight years, this blog will be phased out. On May 5, 2016 approximately 25 posts were removed. The full content of the blog has been compiled into an e-book and is available  here . The e-book will be available free until the 15th of May 2016.

Technicians who work on central air conditioners and heat pumps use manifold gauges to find the Freon pressure and indirectly the evaporator and condenser temperatures by connecting to access fittings on the unit. These gauges have hoses of various lengths and when they are removed from the access fittings some Freon is retained in the hoses. This is not a problem with systems that contain pounds of Freon since the amount retained in the gauge manifold hoses is a small percentage of the correct charge.

Household refrigerators and freezers usually do not have access fittings. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Some refrigerators work with as little as eight ounces of R-134. Connecting gauge manifold hoses to the high-side of the system could leave a large percentage of the charge in the hose when it is disconnected. To connect to the system and read Freon pressure one must use a piercing-valve, which clamps on the refrigerant tubing and punctures a hole to allow pressure readings. These valves must be left in place afterwards and provide a place for refrigerant to leak if they are not clamped tightly or if the seals deteriorate over time.

I only install piercing-valves on a refrigerator or freezer as a last resort. Despite the common belief that almost every refrigerator problem is due to the lack of Freon that is just not the case. Most refrigerator malfunctions are caused by the failure of electrical components. An insufficient Freon charge is one of the last things I consider when troubleshooting a refrigerator that does not cool. FREON LEAKS OUT; IT DOES NOT WEAR OUT. It is unlikely that your refrigerator will suddenly start leaking just sitting in your kitchen UNLESS it is manual defrost and you recently removed the ice from the freezer compartment by using a knife, screwdriver, chisel, or pry bar and punctured the aluminum evaporator coil or an incompetent service person installed piercing-valves that are leaking.

Conditions which may seem like lack of Freon but are not:

Evaporator fan not running which ices up the evaporator and raises freezer and fresh-food compartment temperature.

Condenser fan not running which raises temperature of freezer and fresh food compartment.

Dirty condenser which raises temperature of freezer and fresh food compartment.

Defrost problems (if automatic defrost) which ices up evaporator raising temperature in freezer and fresh food compartment.

Old compressor with worn valves that raises evaporator pressure and temperature.

Worn door seals that allow hot air to leak into the freezer or fresh food compartment (Note: Some Haier refrigerator doors won’t seal even when new.)

Clogged filter dryer or capillary tube which keeps the Freon from circulating properly.

All the above conditions make the compressor run continuously or almost continuously, but so does a lack of Freon. The compressor runs continuously because the refrigerator cannot reach the set-point on the cold-control. Keep in mind that if you set your cold control to mid-range and it can’t cool to that setting, turning it to max (which asks it to make the temperature even colder) does absolutely nothing.

The fastest and easiest way to find out if the unit has Freon is to turn it off and listen. When a compressor pumps Freon the evaporator pressure decreases and the condenser pressure increases (thus we have a high and low side of the system). When the compressor stops running the refrigerant pressures in the system slowly equalizes through the capillary tube. This can take several minutes. Turn the cold control to the off position and put your ear to the side of the unit. If you hear hissing and gurgling noises the unit has some Freon, which is equalizing through the capillary tube (it may not be a correct charge). If you hear nothing, the unit contains little or no Freon or has a clogged filter-dryer or cap tube OR the compressor is running but not pumping (worn or broken valve). None of these conditions are as likely as having a defective fan, dirty condenser, or defrost problem.

If you hear the hissing and gurgling of Freon, but the unit won’t freeze ice or the ice cream is soft, unplug the refrigerator and remove the cover from the evaporator. The evaporator is in the freezer compartment near the evaporator fan. Each model is different so spend a few minutes to figure out how to expose the evaporator. Some GE and Magic Chef models place the evaporator in the bottom of the freezer compartment which makes repairing the defrost system difficult. On an upright freezer the evaporator may be tubes that are part of the shelves so nothing needs to be removed. Chest freezers have the evaporator beneath the inner lining and usually cannot be exposed.

If you remove the panel covering the evaporator and find a big block of ice, you either have a defrost problem or the evaporator fan wasn’t running. Sometimes a defrost problem will form so much ice that the fan can’t run. Thaw the evaporator and see if the fan will run before condemning it.

If the evaporator is not encased in ice arrange the cover so that the unit can be restarted. This may be difficult if the fan is attached to the panel. The capillary tube is a small copper tube entering the evaporator. The suction line at the evaporator outlet will be much bigger.


Liquid refrigerant (freon) entering the evaporator begins to boil into a gas because of the sudden drop in pressure created by the compressor. This change of state absorbs heat. The temperature inside the evaporator coil may be -20 degrees F. This will condense and freeze moisture in the air in contact with the coil (which is why we have to defrost). If there is freon boiling inside the evaporator this frosting will occur within minutes. So if we run the unit with the cover off the evaporator and no frost forms we can know that there really is no freon or the the system is clogged. If the unit runs for several minutes with the door closed and the freon charge is correct, the frosting should form all along the length of the evaporator.

Other signs of the presence of freon is heat in the condenser. If the unit has been running for several minutes and the condenser is cold, there is either little or no freon or the system is clogged or the compressor is not pumping.

This article and blog are available in ePub and Kindle format at Fridgeman’s Refrigerator Repair



Filed under appliance, diagnose and repair, refrigerator repair

147 responses to “Simple Ways To Know If Your Fridge Is Low On Freon

  1. Another technique I have used is to feel the line on the high side. It should be so hot as to be uncomfortable to touch. This sometimes helps as looking at the evaporator takes more time to get to it, but it also is more accurate in determining if the charge is sufficient.

  2. Alex See

    This is really great information. I do have a problem with the fridge since I decided to defrost it. If there is a puncture in the evaporator coil, is it possible to repair it? DIY?

  3. godner

    hi,im n pookwane,the seems to be no where i can learn the refrigeration cource.i the anything you can do for me pleae.i want ton know this!

  4. phil

    Recently have bee smelling strong gaseous odor near fridge area. Burns eyes and smells like nail polish remover. Could it be freon leaking from refridgerator?

    • fridgeman

      Freon has a slight odor, but it does not smell like nail polish remover. Refrigerators contain less then a pound of freon, most less than a half-pound. It isn’t likely that an odor would be detected unless the full charge vented.

  5. Mikee

    Thanks for all your great info. I have determined that the refrigerant is low in my under counter fridge, and not one of the other problems. I have all the manifolds and piercing valves. My question is, is it best to add refrigerant to the high side or the low side? (On a car it is the low side, but that’s a different set of operating conditions.) Sorry if you have covered this elsewhere.

  6. We moved here 17 months ago & took our fridge with us. It was working fine till about 4 months ago. Then I started getting water in the bottom of my fridge under the two veggie drawers & inside of them ruining my veggies ! I also noticed there was ice built up in the freezer. It’s self defrosting. Also got water on top of other foods on the shelves. Now it just doesn’t seem to get cold enough. I defrosted the whole thing 2 wks. ago real good. We even took the bottom thing out of the freezer. There was ice built up under it, too. I make my owm ice cubes with trays. Did it last night, & it’s still not completely frozen. Is it out of freon? And it still leaks water in there. Had to put a meatloaf pan on the bottom shelf to catch most of the water.
    Thank you
    Mary Sanchez

    • fridgeman

      I would check that the drain line from the evaporator drain pan is not plugged. Water produced during the defrost cycle could be dripping into the refrigerator section rather than draining. A plugged drain line will also cause ice to freeze in the bottom of the freezer section. Another cause of water collecting in the refrigerator section is bad door seals.

  7. Grove

    this is a great site. We just returned home from out of town. while we were gone it was a record breaking 111 degrees. I noticed the freezer food was all defrosted and wet but the freezer was still a little cold and the fridge was just barely chilled. It keeps making a sound like it is struggling to get to the reached coldness like every 2 min. Is this a condenser problem or freon? condensers are pretty expensive right? This is a Amana stainless steel fridge on top and freezer on bottom.

    • fridgeman

      I would first check the compressor and compressor starting circuit, then cold control, and defrost problems before considering freon and sealed-system components.

  8. Doug

    I recently did a compressor swap in a chance that I might save my old fridge. I’m not sure how much pressure should be on the low side when it’s running. I did notice that the evaporator is only frosting up about 1/4 of the evaporator coils. the low side pressure is running at 30psig. does this mean I need slightly more freon? and the system is using r22 freon

  9. Brian

    Our freezer quit working on our 12 year old side by side. It remains cold but won’t freeze. We called a serviceman who opened the doors asked how old it was and decided the compressor was out. He didn’t fix them himself but said it was old and we would be better off buying a new refrigerator. He did suggest a store that had a great deal going on new models.

  10. Eddie

    Is it possible to run R22 in a Kitchenaid built in designed to run with R134A?

  11. John Crass

    I brought home a GE side-by-side refrigerator that had been abandoned by the previous tenants of an apartment. I plugged it up and waited a while and noticed it wasn’t cooling. After running it a few hours, it still wasn’t cooling. Before I was going to get rid of it, I installed a self-piercing valve on the low pressure line and added a can of freon. It started cooling after that and is making ice cubes. The only thing now is that the low pressure line and the side of the compressor is covered in a layer of thick frost. Does this indicate too much freon or could it need more?

  12. Merle Galindo

    Yesterday afternoon, I noticed the food in my freezer was all defrosted and the temperature in refrigerator was 60 degrees. So I immediately,
    set the temperature controls for the freezer and refrigerator for the coldest setting. This morning I noticed the temperature in the refrigerator is now 42 degrees and the freezer is starting to freeze the food. Should I wait and see if the refrigerator begins to keep cold again for a few days…or should I call a repairman anyway to have it checked? Also what would have caused the refrigerator and freezer to loose it’s coldness in the first place as I have had the refrigerator setting at a medium setting for years and never a problem.

    • fridgeman

      I would look for defrost problems or evaporator fan problems although there are the strange ones like the interior light staying on from a bad switch.

  13. Nurseman

    Spectacular information. Descriptive, intelligent, and thorough in your explanation of what is likely a commonly encountered and mistreated problem. Using your blog as a clue to your disposition, your thorough and neutral responses to some of the more redundant questions posted do not come as a surprise but deserve further commendation. One thumb up from Caesar is infinitely better than two from siskel or ebert.

  14. Noman

    my refrigerator is a forst unit the old type one without the inner fan or defrost or heater or such things which are prensent in the no frost units, so my question if someone would like to answer me so i have a sealed evaporator and an outer condensor i’h checked out there is no refrigerant present in the system by removing the charging valve cap afer that i have given and air pressure of 150psi from my homemade compressor to confirm if my consealed evaporator got leakage, it drops down afer one hour so i would like to ask you people is anyother way to comfirm that conslead evapotor leakage,some scanner type equiments or some laser type if you would like to help me out so please tell me
    thank you

  15. what can you do if a fridge has been turned on its side and stopped working when uprighted again.

    • fridgeman

      normally if you leave it upright for 24 hours to allow the oil to drain back into the compressor, the compressor will start with no problem. if not, there might be other issues than being on its side

  16. Tony

    I have a stand up freezer. I just defrosted it because there was a lot of frost build up on the second shelf but all other shelves are warm. The evaporator coli is integral with the shelving, I plugged it back in and it it has been about 30 minutes and only the same location where the frost had built up is getting cold enough to freeze the moisture in the space of the freezer. The rest of the coil is warm or should I say not cold enough to freeze the residual moisture left over from the defrost I just did.The section that is freezing had a small tube coming out the end which appears to go back to the compressor. I think this portion is at the end of the line but not sure. Do I have the situation where the R134A has leaked. I have one spot near the compressor which is underneath he freezer where there was some green powder residue collected on the tube. This looks like to location where the compressor was soddered to the coil. This is not in the freezer compartment but next to the compressor underneath the freezer. Is this an indication of where maybe the R134A has leaked? Perhaps I have a totally different problem. We bought the freezer new 10 years ago. Should I just go buy a new one?.

    • fridgeman

      From your description, I would suspect a lack of freon (leak), partially clogged cap tube, or worn compressor valves. A check of freon pressure is probably the only way to provide further insight into the cause. I hope this helps. The green residue at the brazed joints was likely caused by brazing flux not being cleaned after brazing. It should have no impact on the units operation.

  17. Shawn

    I have an old fridge, believe it’s a hotpoint, but not 100% sure. Anyways I have turned it into a kegerator, installed casters on it, custom paint job, two tap handles in the door. Everything is ready to go, accept when I plugged it in, it freezes everything no matter what setting I put it on. Someone suggested that it was low on freon, but from what I am reading that would make it not cold enough. Any suggestions on what I should check? The door seal is worn, but I dont think it’s that bad, kind of at a loss here

    • fridgeman

      yes, someone always thinks refrigeration problems are freon related. Low freon would make the unit run constantly and not cool properly. If it is freezing everything, that isn’t the problem. Does it run constantly? I would be looking at the cold-control to see if it was defective and not cycling the compressor on and off at the set point.

  18. Lulu

    This is so helpful. Thank you, Fridgeman! Love your site and am sharing with all my geeky DIY friends…

  19. Steve Rude

    Not sure you are still maintaining this site but will see. Very helpful!
    Have a Westinghouse about 14 yrs old. We do not use it all the time. Last year it seemed to run all the time but still cooled. This year when we tried it the compressor, and fans run and it is clean but it does not cool. I was guessing low on Freon but the clogged filter and worn compressor sound possible too. I assume there is no way to test the filter. I will try the listening for the Freon but just wondering what you would think with these symptoms. Thank you very much! steve

    • fridgeman

      A clogged cap tube or filter dryer would cause the unit to run constantly with little or no frost on evaporator, but so would refrigerant shortage. Gauges might be required to know which.

  20. joe

    This is the most helpful website I have seen in my 10yrs of searching for true honest help online from a good person. I’m here looking at my fridge schematic and am a do it yourselfer. When the job is too big and I do not have the tools then I hire the professional. I learn from the whole experience. Kudos to you Mr. Fridgeman for your knowledge, expertise, sincerity, candidness and professionalism. You are dedicated to your craft and seek to help others outside of what is tangible to you. May the good Lord send you many blessings.

  21. igor

    I have maytag side by side 9 yr old. Compressor will start only after it was unplugged for a while to the point that its completely cold. Sometimes takes 1 hour. After its plugged in, it will run and produce cold fine but when compressor stops, it will not start again. The relay will click, compressor will make some buzzing-humming noise for about 5 sec, and stop. I replaced relay… the same. Ohmed out compressor looks good. The only thing is i can think of is low freon. I just dont know where else to look for this problem. Any advice is appreciated.

    • fridgeman

      Sounds like an overheating issue. Compressors have internal overloads to open circuit if they run too hot. Why hot? Could be bad bearings, lack of refrigerant, or lack of oil, although that would not happen unless the freon had leaked.

  22. ang

    I have a 2009 Frigidaire side by side. The unit runs nearly all of the time. I hear what I believe is the compressor quick on followed by another click/motor which I assume is the fan. I am being told by the service technician that the unit is keeping temperature, the seals are good and all else checks out as fine. The refrigerator thermostat has been replaced, the ADR (?) unit has been replaced and there has been a service technician to the house 11 times to look at the unit. I feel like everything has been replaced with the exception of the freezer thermostat but the food is remaining frozen. The fridge seems cool enough and I actually have the settings just a little below normal with the hopes that actually this would prevent the unit from running constantly. I am being told there is nothing wrong with the unit that it is “normal operating procedure” for the unit to run 24/7/365 (which is what my unit is doing). Is there a possible freon issue? I am running out of options and just do not feel like it should constantly run like this. My previous side by side unit never ran this much. All I can see are $$$ and the cost of my electric bill climbing. Any guidance, suggestions, or actions I can take?
    Thank you in advance for any advice.
    ~ groves14

  23. Bridget

    I have a side by side frigidare that we bought about 5 years ago. Last week the freezer stopped working so we unplugged the frig and since we saw the frezzer was covered in Ice. We defrosted it and turned it back on and it was running great. this morning I woke up and the refrigorator is at 65 degrees and the frezzer is at 35 degress. needless to say everything in the frig that I could fit in the freezer went in the freezer and thankfully the frezzer was almost empty from defrosting it. It is staying at those tempts and it has been about 3 hours. what should I do and roughly how much will it cost if I have to pay some one?

  24. Merrit

    Our fridge has stopped cooling, but the freezer seems to be working fine. The panel between the fridge and freezer is really hot. The doors are sealing fine, any ideas?

    • fridgeman

      if you mean the bottom of freezer is hot, it could be a defrost heater not turning off (although that usually melt plastic parts). Have you checked that the refrigerator light goes out when the door is closed (see the 1350 dollar switch post).

  25. Michelle Jaylo

    we make our own ice but sometimes water leaks from the containers which makes the bottom of the freezer like a big block of we defrosted it but didnt get to drain the water as soon as it was thawed..and then days after when i already cleaned it i noticed that the freezer is not cooling as easily as it did before it got my question is whats the worst scenario of problems my freezer is having?i have it check and the repairman told me it could be the freon..but hes not sure either..please help thank u so much

    • fridgeman

      could be water ran down drain (for auto defrost) and froze forming an ice block at bottom of evaporator coil. Repairmen love that freon excuse…pay the call and buy a new one…see ya.

  26. tommy lobue

    i own an appliance company (repair) – you are very smart and god bless you for your patients… go texans

  27. We have a 12-year-old Inglis, and about a month ago, we noticed the freezer wasn’t cooling properly. I opened up the back part of the freezer and the entire thing was caked in ice. I defrosted it, assuming it wasn’t draining because the hole was blocked with ice, and it was good for a couple weeks. Then it happened again. I figured there was a clog in the drainage tubing itself, and sure enough, after a defrost again, and a bit of hot water poured down the tube, it started draining into the drip tray and I figured the problem was solved. Again, a couple week later and ice is building up. This afternoon I opened the fridge to grab something out of it, and it wasn’t cold at all. My husband suggested maybe it needs freon? I’m skeptical that this is actually the problem, but I’m not sure what else to try. As enticing as a new fridge sounds, we really don’t want to spend money on a new one if we don’t have to. Any idea what might be causing it?

  28. Good information in your posts. I have an Amana side by side less that 10 yrs old and my fridge goes down to around 40* and the freezer, while colder wont freeze ice cream. So there are 2 fans and not one?. It runs continuously but only drops down in temp so far. I have one fan visible in the back at the base of the unit, so where might the other on be? And how would I check the defrost unit? TIA

    • fridgeman

      The fan in the back at the base is likely the condenser fan. The evaporator fan to circulate air inside the unit is in the freezer compartment. If it fails the freezer temp will rise to near freezing point and refrigerator section will be too warm.

  29. Kelly

    I just wanted to thank you for all the great information. I was ready to run out and buy a new fridge but I figured it out after reading your site. Thank you!!

  30. Steve

    Hi Fridgeman. I have an old Frigidaire Elite (FPE-18TCL-0) that comes on for 4 minutes then goes off for 7 min and does this cycling all day long. I don’t think it is low on freon since the fridge and freezer are both cold. The evaporator and condenser coils are both clean (no dust or ice buildup) and the evaporator does get frosty when in use. Do you have any ideas as to why the compressor keeps coming on like this?

  31. Wayne Defenbaugh

    Hi fridgeman, I have a 1950 International Harvester model U-95. Problem is not cooling in freezer or refrigerator. When plugged in condenser will get very hot and it makes hardly any noise. Does not seem to cycle in any way. I am positive it has never been recharged. It has no fan that I know of, just a simple condenser unit. My thoughts are to purchase bullet piercing valves and recharge myself. Questions, do I need the big manifold gauge kit? Should I put R12 in or R134? And how much does it take, like 6oz to 12oz?

    • fridgeman

      R-134 was not used before the early 1990s. R-12 was used in 1950 although some older units from 30s used sulfur dioxide. R-12 went out of production in 1995 and is likely not available at any price. R-134 is not compatible with the compressor oil in an R-12 system. R-409 would work although you reduce the charge by about 10%.

  32. I have a ge GSS22WGMDBB side by side neither frig or freezer areas are cold both warm for a few days now opened back lower panel fanis running it seems frig makes a sound as if attempting to turn on but quickly turns off after few seconds any suggestions…thks

  33. Tim

    Question: Fridg and Freez not cold enough. Both fans running, no ice build up, compressor seems to be on (vibrating), compressor is warm, condensor is not. Evaporator cool, not cold. You indicated compressor may not be pumping. Can the start / overload relay cause this? Also, if there is a clog somewhere how would you find it and clear it? Thanks.

    • fridgeman

      Sounds as if start/overload are okay if compressor starts and runs. Other symptoms sound like bad valves, clogged system, or lack of freon.

  34. MI

    I’m not sure if this is still active as the date now is a full year, but my fridge has been acting up. I came home one day from work to find things melted int he freezer and the fridge around 50 degrees. Some things were spoild and some tulip bulbs I had kept cold were sprouting. Apparently it has been in the 40-50 range for a while.

    I had a maintenance worker change some settings. Now after a week, half of the fridge is freezing stuff hard. Below 32 degrees. The other half is in the 30-35 maybe closer to 40 range depending on where I put my thermometer. This is not a half and half fridge. What would be causing it to act like one when it isn’t? Also I think the fridge is running constantly. The maintenance person claims it is some energy saving feature. I don’t believe this, but then again I have no access to the model number. It’s a Frigidaire. That’s all I know.

  35. Antiar

    While in the process of moving the old refrigerator from the kitchen into the garage, the moving men noticed a shiny stain on the floor behind the unit. They commented that that kind of stain is made by freon leaking. I thought freon was a gas…Can a freon leak be responsible for the stain?

  36. Tim

    Kenmore top freezer model. Just cool, not cold in either freezer or refrigerator. I have cleaned the grill under the unit, replaced the motor next to the compressor (it had stopped running). When i first noticed the problem I checked by feel and the compressor was very hot. It has been off several days while waiting for a replacement fan and when I restarted it the condensor stays cool. both lines in and out are both almost the same temperature. Removed the panel in the freezer and the motor is running. There was a very little amount of ice/frost on the unit at the top right side. The technician who maintains my ghome ASHV system said it sounds lioke it is low or out of freon. Any idea what might be wrong.

  37. Robert Lehrer

    Our 7 year old Frigidaire side-by-side model’s freezer that normally runs at 0 degrees F now won’t drop below 28 in spite of my efforts to reset it. The refrigerator seems fine, running around 37 degrees F. The repairman who looked at it today says that it’s got a freon leak and I shouldn’t spend money trying to locate the leak because even after I refill it, there’s no guarantee that the same problem won’t reoccur in 4-12 months. He recommended that I buy a replacement unit because it’ll cost too much to fix my current model with no guarantee of longtime results. Your thoughts??

    • fridgeman

      Trying to keep it polite…if he was omnipotent enough to know when his repair was going to fail, he should have known what was wrong. Being not so polite…i have never seen a unit pull the refrigerator section down to 37F without freon. 28 degree freezer and 37 degree refrigerator section sounds like defrost or air-flow problem. How did the tech determine low on freon? Did he connect a manifold gauge?

  38. Laurie

    My husband and i recently leased a restaurant, we found that one of the refridgerators leaks freon and has to be charged about every 4 months. We were told that it is safe, but i have been getting very sick just trying to get the place open. I have severe sore throat, dizziness, heart palp. I a trying to tell them all that this is not normal but they insist it is a safe level. I am not sure if any of the other refridgeration units are leaking as well, is there a simple way for me to tell if they are leaking..and is it safe?

    • fridgeman

      I cannot know if there are other conditions inside the building leading to your symptoms, but sore throat, dizziness, and heart palpitations are symptoms of refrigerant poisoning. A refrigeration tech can test with an electronic detector.

  39. John

    Hi, I have a Maytag side by side NDZ2766GEM, compressor was replaced in 2006, and had a defrost problem in 2010 and a relay was changed in 2010.. Recently, foods in feezer was defrozen, I moved out all foods, and found
    thick ice layer on inside fan and thermstatat, so I clean the ice, plug in
    but lowest temperature only reach 20F ( compressor is always warm and cooling is working continously) and I can hear “liquid flow” sounds in
    freezer. Does this is because of shortoge of coolant? Thanks a lot

    • fridgeman

      I would first pull cover from evaporator to check for ice around evaporator coil blocking airflow. I believe that model has two defrost heaters so one may be defective.

  40. John

    Hi, Thanks. It probably got clogged. After testing followed your description, only one end of copper tube connecting evaporator coil had forst, the evaporator coil and another end of copper tube had not forst at all.
    Clogg may happens at the joint of copper tube and Aluminium tube.

    Can I do something for this situation

    Thanks again

    • fridgeman

      Sounds as if the evaporator coil is ‘starved’ as in lack of refrigerant. This can be caused by a clogged filter-dryer or cap tube (R-134 is notorious for clogged cap tubes). Is the filter dryer frosted over indicating a partial clog?

  41. John

    Thanks again. It seems filter dryer frosted ( the first part entering the freezer, the next is the copper tube (also frosted) and then Al tube/coil (not frosted).

  42. turnandwalkaway

    Hello Fridgeman! And thank you for sharing your valuable experience. Hope your ebook does very well.

    We were just given a 15-year-old 7 cu. ft. chest freezer that has but one control – a bulb thermostat that has a temperature gauge outside. The donor assured us it has worked for years and worked just before bringing it to our place. Now it doesn’t.

    Powering it results only in a 0.6 amp draw (spec is 3 amp) and no cooling anywhere along any exposed tubing (the evaporator and condensor coils are hidden). It sounds like a faint sewing machine – whirring smoothly, but maybe too quiet. Initially, I thought it was low on freon (which is how I found this page of yours!), but I’m not at all sure now. It has no piercing valve installed.

    We maintain a 41-year-old GE refrigerator so we’re not completely unfamiliar with the components of direct expansion refrigeration. I do not however know the details of compressors, like the valves I’ve seen mentioned.

    Any thoughts you have about what our chest freezer might be suffering from would be appreciated. I now suspect “compressor valve” problem since it lacks any of the symptoms you have described for low freon or blocked cap tube or filter/drier. Not having an auto defrost or any other control certainly limits the possibilities.

    Thank you for any help you can toss this way!

  43. brian

    I have whirlpool standalone refridge (w/matching separate freezer). Recently noticed fridge is not cooling as much as previously. Turned temp control down which increased cooling some, but, not to degree as normal. Compressor runs continuously and is very hot to touch. Evaporator fan is clean and running. There is partial frost build up on some but not all coils. Evap is cool to touch but not fridgid. Checked start relay and it “appears” fine. Is it low on freon or need to replace compressor?

    One other note: gaskets are worn and need to be replaced, although I don’t believe root cause of problem as the lack of cooling is recent event.

    great site – thanks for help. Brian

  44. jimmy d

    hello, have two year old whirlpool freezer on top. fridge temp50`s freezer 38 .starter relay for compressor replaced. it had rattle noise. compressor runs constant ,unit is laboring to cool. opening doors causes significant drop. long recovery. replaced cold control thermostat , no change. removed evaporator back wall of freezer ( inside) food compartment. found ice accumulation where copper tubing enters unit, all around defrost thermostat. circulating fan air not cold enough. can hear a gurgling noise as though siphoning is present. defrosted using hair dryer ,no improvement, you mention possible cloggings like filter dryer or cap tube . could you give some details like where theses items are and what to do about them? I don`t see a defrost timer any where on this unit I think it `s controlled by the mother board ,automatic defrost control? I can pick another m. b. up at low cost . I`m getting tired of fixing by replacing. I have a limited knowledge of using a test meter. so, where would you start? my next move was adding 134a and using a bullet pc. valve on low pressure side. that leads me to .can you use a stop leak product? not the auto type due to no seals or o rings I gathered that. and where`s a leak likely to occur? not ruling out a weak compressor, I like your site. thanks for helping others, I hope you can help me ,j.a. dianna

  45. Bill W.

    yesterday i noticed my side by side kenmore was not cooling as it should on the fridge side, then i checked the freezer side and everything was completely defrosted. i don’t hear the normal buzz or humming on cycling on and off of the components either. What should I do?

  46. Dave T.

    Great Site Very Informative. I recently got a great deal on a samsung side x side fridge but it was because it has an issue. I had to clean it out really well and then i plugged it in to start to get it cool. the fridge is not getting cold after 24 hrs. the compressor is running but the evap coils are not cold and the condenser coils are clean and room temp. I can hear a bubbling on the freezer side in the coil but its not getting cold at all. what do you think would be causing this. I also get a “pc er” on the doors led readout when i plug it every once in a while.

  47. Maytag MBL2262KES. is currently reading 52 freezer, 62 fridge. It started going up about a week ago. Compressor is warm to touch and appears to be running constantly. At those temperatures I would suspect that I don’t have to worry about any frosting issues. I think it’s low on R134 and bought some IDQ EZ Chill R134 with oil and leak sealer. Is it OK to use this in a fridge? Fridge is about 10 years old and from what I’ve read are prone to leaks. Hoping what I bought might fix any leaks and get it working again. I have 3 tubes coming out of the compressor, one is pinched off; that’s the one I’m planning on using to recharge, it’s on the bottom and I think it’s a low side. The other line on the bottom is warm to the touch and the top one is cool to the touch, so I’m thinking the bottom is the low side and that pinched off line could be used to recharge. I don’t have all the gauges other than the one that came with the R134 can. It’s supposed to hold 5 oz, so I’m going to fill it for about 15 seconds which I hope will be about 3 oz and I’ll do this after I hook everything up and plug it back in. Hope it works, or I get an answer back from you before I do it. Right now I’m more concerned about the R134 with oil and leak sealer, than anything else. Not sure I should use this in my fridge. Any suggestions would be appreciated and I love the info you’ve put out here. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • fridgeman

      134a made for automotive use is not suitable for use in refrigerators. If one line to compressor is cool (suction line from evaporator) and one is warm (output to condenser) there is Freon circulating. Have you pulled the cover to evaporator to confirm there is not a block of ice restricting airflow? The pinched-off stub is called a process tube and is used for evacuation and charging at factory. It is on the low side of the system.

      • turnandwalkaway

        Oh, dang it! We were about to use some 134a we bought for the car in order to add a charge to our (probably leaking) old chest freezer. I thought that all R134a was the same! Thanks for the heads up, fridgeman.

  48. bill

    Fridgeman, you mentioned above that R134a is not suitable for use in refrigerators. I have a 20 yr old Kenmore unit and the tag on the compressor says it uses 134a. Can you kindly explain what you meant?

    There is no tag on this unit stating the oz of charge. My model number is 596.58392890. Is there any way to look up the amount this sealed system is supposed to hold? Any help is appreciated!

    • fridgeman

      R-134a made for use in automotive air-conditioning is not required to be the same purity as the R-134a sold in 30 lbs tanks (blue in color) for use in refrigerators and freezers. An EPA certification is required to recover refrigerant or purchase tanks of R-134a from supply houses for use in domestic refrigerators and freezers. There is a separate certification for automotive systems. Automotive air conditioners use a metering valve rather than a small-bore capillary tube to control refrigerant flow to evaporator. Also, automotive systems do not operated below the freezing point of water so trace amounts of water will not freeze to block system. Therefore, automotive R-134a can be ‘impure’ and still work in a car A/C.

      • ken

        I used 134 shot cans for autos to charge up my frig and had no problems. If you have moisture, non-condensables, etc. your going to have problems in any system.

      • fridgeman

        Good. I didn’t say I hadn’t seen it work. I just wouldn’t risk it or recommend it to anyone.

  49. Bill

    Fridgeman your site is terrific! so thanks for helping those of us who know little!

    I’ve heard that on a typical household refrigerator with 70 degrees ambient and say 50 degrees inside the box, a common suction pressure is around 5, using R134a.

    Do you think that is a good target?

    • fridgeman

      Sounds about right. 5 psig would indicate a temperature of -3 degrees F inside the evaporator. In most ‘hot’ pull-downs R-134a will drop to around 7 psig fairly fast and then decrease to 2psi (-10 degrees F) at cut-off

      • So, who has used auto R134 and how has it worked or not worked? Despite recommendations not to use it, I’m tempted to give it a try because I can’t justify buying a 30 lb can to do what 12 oz can do. My fridge only holds 5 oz, so a short 5 second squirt might do the trick since there is still some in the system. I do plan on trying this today and will let you know how it works.

  50. Bill

    I agree with you Rich on not wanting (or even being legally able) to buy 30# of R134a.

    I think the main difference is that the auto version has some stop leak in it. I can’t see how that would be a problem since household refrigerators have no accumulator.

    If you are not going to buy the 30# or can’t, you really don;t have a lot to use.

    Most service guys I have used refuse to add freon or even check freon in a refrigerator so it it’s automotive 134a or dumping it, the choice should be pretty easy. I have see the automotive type added to a refrig and it worked fine…..not saying it always will though.

  51. I have a 1998 Amana (BRF20TW) and the compressor runs all day long. the only time it stops is for about 20 to 40 minutes. I would assume it stops to run the defrost cycle. There is no ice build up and the freezer is at 15 degrees and the fridge is at 40 degrees. I have removed the panel to confirm the coils are clean and dust/debris free. The only thing I can come up with is low refrigerant? Got any ideas before I call in a pro?

    • fridgeman

      That model has a condenser fan. Is it running? Temps and constant running sound like a dirty condenser or non-operating condenser fan.

  52. andrew

    I’ve got a ocean chest freezer it don’t say. What type feron to use pls help

    • fridgeman

      Prior to 1993 there was no reason for a manufacturer to list the refrigerant with data like voltage, amperage, watts, and locked rotor current of motor. R-12 had been it for almost 60 years. After 1993 with all the alternative refrigerants, manufacturers began listing refrigerant type also. Most chest freezers I have repaired had a plate near the compressor with this information. If you find a plate with voltage and other data that does not state refrigerant type, I would suspect a unit made prior to 1993 that uses R-12.

  53. Kory

    I have a Jenn-air brand refrigerator that is building ice in the frig part but melts as well. We have turned down the temp. And made sure the food seals. What should we check next?

  54. my first time on this site all I can say is fridge man you a awesome person .

  55. Hi i have a Frigidaire side by side the freezer side works fine but the fridge side is up to 52 degrees any ideas

  56. I keep asking how much does freon cost if you need it for your refrigerator/freezer and I can’t get an answer.

    • fridgeman

      Price per lb varies depending on refrigerant type and amount purchased. Supply houses sell at wholesale in 30 lb tanks to contractors and repair shops. Repairmen usually mark up the price per pound or add a fee per pound for charging the system so stating a price is difficult.

    • Thank you very much for this valuable information! ! I’m just upset after paying $140 just over a week ago
      for freon to this company that has a bunch of different ph #’s my refrigerator/freezer is doing the samething all over again not freezing and getting warm on the refrigerator side!!

      • fridgeman

        Did the repair person leak check the system before adding freon? Install a piercing valve and take pressure readings?

  57. I have a 6 year old LG refrigerator that runs well, but periodically I find water on the floor. I pulled it away from the wall today to vacuum the coils, and noticed a coating of ice on the freon lines near the compressor. I had unplugged the unit first, and within a couple of minutes water began to drip from the melting ice. I removed all of the ice I could see or feel. Is this a normal condition? It concerns me because there is a small section of the adjoining pantry base that has rotted due to exposure to water.

    • fridgeman

      Ice or frost on the suction line (the line with larger diameter usually) indicates an overcharge of refrigerant. Frost on the filter dryer and cap tube (small line from filter dryer which is normally brazed to suction line) indicates a partially clogged filter dryer or cap tube. IT is doubtful the unit is overcharged if it is six years old unless there was recent service done to it.

  58. Angel

    Ihave a magic chef and the fridge fan is running I know that for a fact, its not blowing cold air though. It blows, just not cold….. Any ideas or advice before I scrap a perfect fridge??

    • fridgeman

      Have you done the checks listed in the post? Checked for a dirty forced-air condenser? Made sure the condenser fan is working?

  59. Rocket

    I have a 4 year old Frigidaire upright freezer that recently quit getting cold. The compressor runs constantly and the evaporator coil freezes to about 3 inches from the expansion. There is a thick greasy spot on the return side of the evaporator at a joint. Also it seems that the compressor recently has been running much quieter. Any thoughts?

    • fridgeman

      A large refrigerant leak will carry oil with it so if by greasy spot you mean oil, it could be a bad joint which vented much of refrigerant change. Lack of refrigerant will make the compressor run constantly. Do you mean only three inches of evaporator has frost (indication a staved evaporator)? Is the condenser warm? Condenser on an upright freezer can be under metal skin so the unit would be warm on sides and top if it is transferring heat. When the unit is turned off do you hear gurgling indicating equalizing of refrigerant between high and low side?

      • Rocket

        Yes oil around the joint where dust has collected makes it feel greasy and yes just 3 inches of the evaporator has frost. The condenser does not appear to be warm as all surfaces of the freezer are the same temp as surrounding objects. When the unit is turned off I do hear a slight gurgling for about 10 seconds.

      • fridgeman

        Gurgling in a charged system can last two to three minutes. May be time for a piercing valve and pressure check to see if refrigerant has leaked.

      • amanda

        Fridge man can you help me out. My fridgerator is freezing things. The settings are correct. I just unplugged it over night and there was no water on the floor . After plugging it back in and re setting the the controls i believe I heard the fan shut off. My water filter was cracked also. So I took that out and left it out when I plugged it back in. What could be happening for the fridge to freeze

      • fridgeman

        Is compressor running constantly? Defective cold control not cycling compressor?

      • Jim

        My Whirlpool all refrigerator was freezing everything a few years ago regardless of the thermostat setting. It turned out to be a very slow leak in the refrigerant and it had gotten low enough that only part of the coil was freezing up with frost. While it sounds strange that low refrigerant would cause everything to freeze it makes sense after understanding where the thermostat senses the temperature. In my case the thermostat senses the temperature right above the evaporator coil instead of inside the actual refrigerated area. Right above the coil the temperature is much colder than in the main food storage area so to get the temperature set to 35F for example, the temperature over the coil needed to get to about 13F when the fan was running. With the refrigerant low it could only get to 14F even with it running continuously. So, with the thermostat set to about 35F, everything was freezing and the temperature inside the food storage area was below 30F. I replaced the thermostat but that made no difference. Then, I bought a “ROBERTSHAW CC-1 Universal Cold Control” thermostat on Amazon which senses the temperature right inside the food storage area and connected it to the wires that connected to the original thermostat (easy to do). That fixed it. It has been working fine for years now. About a year ago I was concerned that the refrigerant might be getting too low so I purchased a piercing valve, a pressure gauge and a can of refrigerant (<$50 total) and recharged the system. Our refrigerator is a side-by-side unit with an all freezer next to it and we would have to replace both units even thought the freezer is still working fine if one went out (both going on 12 years old).

  60. I was very upset after I was told that my side by side refrigerator was low on freon. I payed $140 to have freon added to it only to see water coming down the freezer side from the ice maker side. My freezer side was thawing out my food all over again!! I had just bought more food to go in the fridge and freezer again!! I decided to go ahead and just get another refrigerator!!! I wouldn’t do business ever again! The man at Sameday apppliance was so Nasty when I told him that my freezer was defrosting again. First thing he asked me was how did I pay. I guess since I payed all but $10 in cash he felt it was ok to be nasty too me on the phone. All I can say is be careful who you have come to your house! Based on this bad experience I would have to recommend using a credit card bec. I would have been able to have them fight for me!!

  61. adams

    Hi fridgeman, I have an LG refridgerator that has a fridge at the top and a freezer at the bottom, the freezer has 3 compartment. I changed the condenser about 6 months ago and the system was refilled with refrigerant. Just about 1 month ago I noticed that the bottom most part of the freezer freezes with little hours but the middle takes almost 11hrs to freeze while the top most takes even more hours. The fridge doesn’t cool at all, with a kind of condensation on a small part of the wall. Whenever I touch the condensed I could feel the upper part is hot but the bottom is room temp. Also when the condenser was newly fixed until about 1 month ago I could hear giggling sound when switched off but can’t hear the sound now. Will like to ask a question and the question is; how long does it take a leaky refridgerator to loose all its refrigerant even with the tiniest leak. Thanks. Look for to your response.

    • fridgeman

      A small leak might take a year or longer to have a noticeable effect…a punctured or broken line could empty the charge in seconds. Was there a piercing valve placed on the unit to performed the recharge? A valve brazed on process tube? A bad braze on high-side (ie condenser) can leak charge much faster than a bad braze on low side. The condenser install could have left contaminates which clogged filter-dryer or cap tube. In this situation taking high and low side reading may be necessary after a leak check with a handheld refrigerant leak detector.

  62. Stephanie Quick

    I have a 1988 refrigerator the freezer fan and the fridge fan are blowing warm air what could this mean???

  63. Glenn X

    Fridgeman, I have a 8 yr old KitchenAid side-by-side (KSSC36QMS02). Over temp flashing, freezer and refrigerator not cooling. Technician diagnosed as defective main control board and replaced the unit. The same problem occurred again after 24 hours. Replaced the bi-metal thermostat/defrost sensor and thermistor hoping these were the culprits but no luck. 2nd technician diagnosed refrigerant leak based on compressor and condenser coils are cold. Is this true? Is it a faulty defrost timer instead?

    • fridgeman

      With the compressor running and proper charge of refrigerant, the condenser coils should become warm/hot. A cold condenser can be caused by a clogged filter-dryer or cap-tube trapping liquid refrigerant in condenser. If the compressor is running and charge correct, there should be heat in condenser regardless of defrost timer (however, when system is in ‘defrost’ the compressor should not be running.)

  64. Bruce Beauchamp

    Hi there, Our refrigerator seemed to be running longer than it should. I suspected that the cool control was sticking, as I could shut it down by just a small turn counter clockwise. I only removed the control from the refrigerator door, oiled the shaft and It is working much better. Perhaps this idea will help others. Bye for now…

  65. djisas

    I’m surprised this place has been running for so long, it’s a big help…
    I have just bought an used Eletrolux euf27391w freezer, after the moving it rested for a little over 24h and we turned it on this morning, set temp to -18ºc and it was all good until some 12h later temp started rising until stabilizing at around -10ºc with the alarm ringing every now and then.
    Changing around the setting did not help, so i looked for some signs, it sounds as if it’s running constantly with slightly warm coils, the freezer actually feels pretty cold and looking at the evaporator noticed a decent layer of ice after just 14h running.
    Could it be the defrost not working, the evaporator fan, or something else?
    Also when i checked the back of the freezer i noticed some brownish sticky stuff on one of the compressor tubes…

    • fridgeman

      the brown sticky stuff could be refrigerant oil from a refrigerant leak. defrost problems do not ‘show-up’ until the unit has runn long enough to form a block of ice around evaporator (usually at least 3 days or longer). the condenser coil should be almost uncomfortably hot to the touch, not just warm.

  66. Joe Woods

    what a fantastic site, and I wonder if you can help me? I have a Hotpoint RSL80 upright larder fridge which I bought in Scotland some 10 or so years ago. I moved to the Philippines about 3 years ago and brought said fridge with me. Up till a few weeks ago it worked very well and I had no problem but then I moved a short distance and now the fridge seems to frost up all the way in the back of the unit, the shelves are covered in water and the items stored inside do not seem to be as cold as previously. What would you think is the problem?

    • fridgeman

      If automatic defrost I would look there first…or check for a clogged drain from freezer to drain pan. Sometimes the defrost heater will melt ice from evap and water is trapped so it refreezes into an ice dam in back rear of freezer compartment. While defrosting some water can leak into refrigerator section due to plugged drain line.

  67. Joe

    I have a Maytag fridge. The compressor short cycles. When it’s turned on, compressor runs for 5 seconds then shuts down for about a minute and repeats this over and over. Fans are working, capacitor on relay checks good. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I suspect low freon.

    • fridgeman

      Compressors have startand run winding. The relay ensures both are in circuit to bring compressor motor to approximately 75% of rated rotation. If the run winding is bad the motor would stop abruptly when the start winding dropped out. Another possibility is the external overload relay opening due to over-current (this could be due to internal shorts, bad bearings, etc). I would disconnect power and check the resistance of the windings to see if there is an open run winding or a short. If no problem was found, I would consider testing with a new start circuit such as a 3-in-1 universal start relay/capacitor commonly known as a “hard-to-start”.

  68. Kim Lee

    I have a Kelvinator Refrigerator-Freezer Model C340RF & it has been working fine for 38 years, except for needing a new control switch 2 years ago. I switched it off for 2 months when I went overseas. Came back & switched it on and worked OK for 4 days. Then the freezer & fridge will not get cold although I can hear a humming sound of a motor.

    I rang a repair man and he told me that my coolant has all leaked out. It cannot be repaired as it is such an old fridge, & told me to buy a new one.

    He could send a repairman to confirm his conclusion for $100, being the call out fee.

    From your replies I feel you are a knowledgeable, helpful & sincere person. Therefore I am seeking a second opinion as to the truth of his conclusion.

    Thank you.

    • fridgeman

      I doubt a refrigerant leak occurred while the machine was off and home alone. Is the compressor starting? The motor sound could be the evap or condenser fan. I would verify the compressor was running before proceeding.

  69. susan

    Hi mr fridgeman. I have a 7cubic no frost 2 door problem is the pitchers water is not cold even at high. And tha freezer the ice we make takes 3 to 4 days to form and every time we add raw foods like pork or chicken the ice thats already formed will thaw again. Why is that is it low in freon. Pls. Advice us.

    • fridgeman

      Lots of possible causes…could be refrigerant or auto defrost or poor door seals or worn compressor or evap fan or blocked air flow…or

  70. Hi, This is a GREAT SITE I have a repair or replace dilemma? Woke up in the morning to find both fridge and freezer compartments are room temperature (warm). Compressor running hot constant (clicking off and on every two mins or so) clearly overheating, I reckon? Last night cleaned up coils (they were very dirty) after turning off for a few hours. Started up fine and seemed to be working again temperature dropped down to appropriate level within a few hours. But overnight the temperature then crept back up. Thinking that Compressor is worn out or is it something else? Maytag GC2227CDFB side by side, not sure how old it is but long long way out of warranty.

    • fridgeman

      It usually takes the internal thermal overloads in a compressor a couple of hours to reset after they open from overheat. The every “clocking off and on every two mins” sounds like starting circuit issue or system pressure not equalizing between attempts to start (which would cause external overload to open). The fact that the unit started after being off a few hours and pulled down temperature could be due to a partial clog or defrost problems if automatic defrost.

  71. Carl

    I have a 3 year old kenmore French door fridge, not keeping ice cream frozen and not making ice. Fridge stays around 44 and freezer 32. Cleaned the condenser coils and checked the defrost sensor and defrost element. All was ok. Evaporator coil was not frozen, just a little frost. Compressor is pretty hot. I can’t think of what else to do to it. Has to be low charge, no?

    • fridgeman

      Do you hear the tell-tale sound of refrigerant gurgling when the unit is turned off while running? This will last a minute or two while the pressures equalize if the system has sufficient refrigerant and is not clogged.

  72. willy alfonso

    Thank you for the learn I get

  73. Kim

    Hopes you are still running this site. I have a Woods refrigerator that is 11 years old. Yesterday when I opened up the door a smoky vapor came out of the fridge that smelled like melting plastic. Since then it has been happening off and on, but not every time the door is opened. Otherwise the fridge is still working fine. Any ideas?

  74. Peter Hou

    “The e-book will be available free until the 15th of May 2016.”

    How can I to get this e-book before May 15, 2016? Today is May 11, 2016 already.

    Thanks Mr. Lewis.

  75. roger

    Hi fridgeman,

    I have a 5 y\o GE side by side that has stopped freezing and the compressor runs constantly. I just know that it’s just going to stop cooling completely if I don’t resolve soon.
    Any thoughts on where I should begin troubleshooting? What to check?Thanks

    • fridgeman

      Automatic defrost system, condenser and condenser fan. evaporator fan, filter dryer, and refrigerant (in that order)

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