Kegerator Repairs

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Kegerator Repairs

Postby dhempy on Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:34 pm

The other night I discovered that my kegerator wasn't cold. Now I'd been having problems with the Ranco on this unit .. it has flashed an E2 error with every power outage and didn't remember the differential setting (it would always go to a 17 degree differential versus the 1 degree I kept it at) ... but after resetting the Ranco, the compressor wouldn't come on ... at all. Given the age of this freezer unit, I was beginning to think I was in for a major rebuild as the cost of a new compressor was well over 50% of a new unit.

So after sulking a bit I made a call to an acquaintance in the appliance repair business. He talked me through the diagnosis and I figured I'd document what I remember here for the next guy. My unit is a whirlpool 22 or 24 cu ft freezer (for those of you that don't know, the pic at the top right of this page is my kegerator) ... but most of these types of units are very similar so the diagnostic process should be basically the same.

Compressor_wired.jpg


Open the access port (if there is one) so that you can see the relay, overload, start-up capacitor, and connections on the side of the compressor as in the pic above. In the shot above, the white lines are the 120vac carriers (the very top is Neutral and the one paired with the red line on the right is load) and both red lines are the capacitor. The first thing to check is that you have 120vac to the compressor. Take a VOM and test from the top white wire to the other white wire ...and then to the both Red wires. In my case, I had 120 at all connections so I knew that everything upstream was functioning ... obviously if you don't have 120 here, look upstream .. like your controller or the freezer's internal temperature control.

compressor_stripped.jpg


Next, unplug the unit and remove the wires and pull the relay (red wires are connected to it ) and the overload protector (just the top white wire is connected). The relay takes two pins and the overload takes one. On my unit, the relay had to come off first. I was told not to worry about the capacitor having a significant charge on it. When everything is off, the compressor will look like the pic above. The parts will look like the pics below.

parts.jpg


The relay (on the right) and capacitor are connected with the red wires and the overload is the white unit. My friend told me that in most cases, the relay goes bad and you can tell by shaking it .. if it "sounds like maracas" it's fried. Later at the parts store the clerk tested it with his VOM looking for 6-8 ohms across the terminals ... this one measured at 6.8 and it was silent when shaken.

The overload protector functions like a fuse ... my friend said that he hasn't seen many of these go bad and these are tested with a simple continuity check. (This was confirmed at the parts store). In my case, there was no continuity (measure resistance with the VOM). To confirm the diagnosis, I reassembled the relay and wires and then connected the neutral directly to the top pin. After resetting the Ranco, it came to life. Whew! Now this was 9:00 at night so I unplugged it until I could get parts (it was strongly recommended that I NOT run without the overload protection!!! Direct connect was OK for Testing only!)

So the next morning I called Miracle Appliance up in town and the guy there said to bring everything in (relay, overload, and capacitor). He tested all 3 ... I mentioned the relay and overload tests above ... but now I will try to describe the capacitor test ... he set the VOM for low DC volts and took a 9 volt battery and applied a brief charge to the cap and measured the voltage ... I believe he did both a positive and a negative check ... I didn't see it clearly ... I did see that his VOM registered around 6.5 volts which he said was good. Maybe someone with a bit more electronics knowledge can expound on how to test these ... the important thing to know is that it can be tested with a VOM and a 9v battery ... I think the test criteria is that they hold the charge. Of course if you have a good appliance parts place close by, you can simply take the parts in and they should be able to test it for you.

So after all was said and done, I was out the door for $9.00 with a new overload protector.

Of course, since I did the repair the Ranco has gotten very flakey and just goes into E2 error randomly (and does shuts off power altogether). I'm going to swap over to a BCS to control it ... tomorrow I'll swap in another Ranco until all of my parts arrive because I'm having to check it every couple of hours ... I'll try to remember to document the BCS changeover for any that are interested.

Hope you all never have to face the dead freezer issue ... but if it rears it's ugly head, you may be able to recover fairly quickly and inexpensively.

Cheers!

Dan
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby lexuschris on Fri Apr 11, 2014 11:17 pm

Awesome detail Dan! Thanks!

But, if my freezer ever dies, I'm just going to haul it up to your place for a quick fix! :D

:cheers:
--LexusChris
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby SamIam on Sat Apr 12, 2014 7:56 am

Nice write up Dan!
"I feel sorry for people who don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day!"
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby dhempy on Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:12 pm

Ok Chris ... no guarantees but I'm willing to try once.

Thanks for the kudos ...

I've been in appliance hell lately ... about a month ago our range started acting up and I had my friend out and he replaced the ignitors and burners ... and that is why I didn't feel like I was taking advantage of calling him for the freezer.

Two weeks ago it was a water heater ... replacing that took the better part of a full day ...

Then the kegerator ...

This morning our washing machine threw a water sensor code ... after several hours of futzing with it it appears to be back functional ... 4 loads and counting... after getting the sensor out and polishing all of the hard water deposits off of it ... it tested in range for 32 degree and 212 degree water so I put it back in ... thankfully it happened because I discovered that our hoses needed replacing (if you haven't checked yours lately ... I highly recommend that you do so! ... Failure wasn't imminent ... probably would've happened while we're away this summer ... and I would've forgotten to turn off the valve D'oh!) Retrieving new hoses and cleaning everything up took longer than anything else.

So now I'm just waiting around for the next failure ... :happybeer:

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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby dhempy on Mon Apr 21, 2014 7:39 am

Well, kegerator converted to BCS control ... relatively easy to do, biggest learning is that the BCS needs to be grounded to common to improve temperature probe stability.

Coolest thing is having control of it via my phone!

I miss being able to see the temperature on the front via the Ranco though ...

I'm going to do a proper writeup and submit to BYO ... I'll post it here for comments.

Dan

Forgot to mention that it was a dishwasher repair that started this whole mess several months ago ... so now I've had more than my 3 things ... maybe I'm off the hook :shh:
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby brahn on Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:48 am

You can have the temperature displayed on the front, you just need to pick up one of the I2C displays and wire it up. Just make sure you ground that to common too!

https://www.oscsys.com/store/product/188
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby JonW on Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:19 am

The PID displays are nice. You see the set point and actual temp. If you're going to add your fermentation control to the BCS also (which I highly recommend), then get a couple of the displays.

Image
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby lexuschris on Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:19 am

dhempy wrote:Hope you all never have to face the dead freezer issue ... but if it rears it's ugly head, you may be able to recover fairly quickly and inexpensively.


Dang it! I've been jinxed! :)

My fermentation freezer is no longer working. The compressor comes on, but after the whole day ... its still ambient temp inside.

My fermenter (sanke keg) has the round middle bung/ring, so is a bit wider than the fridge likes. I can only close the door if I turn the keg with its dented side in front. Its worked well for over a year that way.

When I came back from vacation, I noticed the fridge was ajar a half-inch, and was unable to close it again. I gave the keg a little nudge inwards, pushing it further against the back wall sheet, which is already indented a bit from this awkward shape. Now, it only blows hot air. Perhaps I cracked a cooling tube and leaked the refrigerant??

Looks like I'll need to keg this ale without a cold crash, then call an appliance guy to inspect & diagnose it. :(
--LexusChris
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby dhempy on Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:01 am

Bummer ...

Blowing hot air does sound like a refrigerant issue ... hope it is inexpensive.

Jon and Brent .. thx! I'll check that out!

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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby lexuschris on Thu May 22, 2014 12:26 pm

I had an appliance guy come out and diagnose my freezer. The compressor is dead. Repair is just over $500 .... however, I bought the unit new for $400 (floor model) .. normally it sells for $649.

I'm going to try and see if the manufacturer has a recall on it or if the compressor vendor has a longer warranty. This Frigidaire freezer came with a 1-year warranty but I just hit the 2 year mark on ownership.

We'll see...
:shock:
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby JonW on Thu May 22, 2014 12:33 pm

lexuschris wrote:I had an appliance guy come out and diagnose my freezer. The compressor is dead. Repair is just over $500 .... however, I bought the unit new for $400 (floor model) .. normally it sells for $649.

I'm going to try and see if the manufacturer has a recall on it or if the compressor vendor has a longer warranty. This Frigidaire freezer came with a 1-year warranty but I just hit the 2 year mark on ownership.

We'll see...
:shock:
--LexusChris

If you are WITHIN 2 years, check with your credit card company. Many double the MFG warranty, up to one additional year.
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby lexuschris on Thu May 22, 2014 5:05 pm

That is an excellent idea!

However, I am exactly 2 years and 2 days past purchase date... Guess I should have called this in last week...

BTW, they tried to get me a good-will *free* compressor part, but because it was over 2 years since purchase date, no luck.

I'm currently in the market for a new freezer...
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby lexuschris on Sat Jun 21, 2014 1:07 am

* Update *

I ended up finding a new upright Frigidaire freezer, but a larger model (21 cu.ft). This is the same manufacturer as last time, but it was on sale for $580 .. which was just a tad more than the cost of replacing the compressor on my old 17 cu.ft model.

I like the Frigidaire because the shelves are all removeable. Even the door shelving. This allows me to make the most space for my Sanke keg. As a bonus, this larger freezer is 3" deeper, and will now fit the Sanke without touching the front or back. Much better! :happybeer:

Also, as I was researching this issue, I learned about the dangers of short-cycles on your compressor. I pulled up my Johnson A419 digital controller manual, and realize that I had my differential set too low. Even though my anti-Short-Cycle Delay (aSD) was set for 5 minutes, my differential was set to 1 degree. (e.g. after reaching my set-point of 67-F, it would cool down to 66-F and turn off... then within 5 minutes, it could start cooling again) That may very well have contributed to the very short compressor life in my old freezer.

I have now set my differential to 3 degrees, and my aSD to 10 minutes. Hopefully this will help extend the life of my new freezer...
--LexusChris
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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby ocluke on Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:00 pm

lexuschris wrote:* Update *

I ended up finding a new upright Frigidaire freezer, but a larger model (21 cu.ft). This is the same manufacturer as last time, but it was on sale for $580 .. which was just a tad more than the cost of replacing the compressor on my old 17 cu.ft model.

I like the Frigidaire because the shelves are all removeable. Even the door shelving. This allows me to make the most space for my Sanke keg. As a bonus, this larger freezer is 3" deeper, and will now fit the Sanke without touching the front or back. Much better! :happybeer:

Also, as I was researching this issue, I learned about the dangers of short-cycles on your compressor. I pulled up my Johnson A419 digital controller manual, and realize that I had my differential set too low. Even though my anti-Short-Cycle Delay (aSD) was set for 5 minutes, my differential was set to 1 degree. (e.g. after reaching my set-point of 67-F, it would cool down to 66-F and turn off... then within 5 minutes, it could start cooling again) That may very well have contributed to the very short compressor life in my old freezer.

I have now set my differential to 3 degrees, and my aSD to 10 minutes. Hopefully this will help extend the life of my new freezer...
--LexusChris

My differential is 1 degree as well. Hmm...I much prefer 1 degree over 3 for keeping things stable, but if it's killing my refrigerators, I may bump it up. Thanks for the tip. Do you know if short cycles on compressors is dangerous to refrigerators and freezers alike, or just freezers?
Luke

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Re: Kegerator Repairs

Postby bwarbiany on Tue Jun 24, 2014 2:03 pm

ocluke wrote:My differential is 1 degree as well. Hmm...I much prefer 1 degree over 3 for keeping things stable, but if it's killing my refrigerators, I may bump it up. Thanks for the tip. Do you know if short cycles on compressors is dangerous to refrigerators and freezers alike, or just freezers?


It's dangerous to both. One way to avoid this, however, is to consider putting the temp probe in a thermowell and into some liquid. With the added thermal mass, the compressor will cycle MUCH less frequently than if you're putting the sensor into open air.
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