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Author Topic: Refrigeration newbie - question one  (Read 504 times)

Online andersenappliance

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Refrigeration newbie - question one
« on: November 24, 2012, 09:59:37 PM »
Hi Guys:

I've been doing pretty well at this appliance stuff; meaning that I have not p.o.'d any of my customers.  I got into this - well, its a long story.  But along the way, I looked at a contractor's license for HVAC, and took a class or two.  Learned a lot, and scored my cert. for handling refrigerant, but decided that I was too big (6'6"/285lbs) to crawl in attics and under houses.

I picked up a field piece meter, a few books, a couple of tanks, and a promax refrigerant recovery machine.  I also got some gauges from e-bay, but they were trash so I pitched them.

So now I'm at the point I want to start putting into practice the refrigerant side of things.

What other tools should I get?

What brand / spec of gauges do you all suggest?

What brand / spec of vacuum pump should I get?

Do I need a scale for the refrigerant?

Do I need fancy leak detection gear?

I've got an oxy/acetylene torch set up, is this overkill?  It seems that most of this can be done with mapp gas or propane for hooking up tubing, etc.

Also, I've run into a few refrigerators that weren't any good.  The compressors ran - sometimes.  In general, the readings from the windings showed continuity, but not equal.  (i.e. 5.5 on one side, 4.3 on the other, and 9.6 across run/start)  No grounding or infinite (OL) readings.  My understanding is that these readings show a compressor that is done, or on its way out.  Am I right?  Is there any fix? 

And finally, how often do you guys open sealed systems, or replace compressors and, or filter/dryers?

Offline Wedgeman55

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2012, 03:16:36 AM »
     I used to do sealed systems back in the 70's and 80's.   If your a one man show,  like I am now,  it may not be worth the time and effort to do sealed systems.   Hi probability of failure,  difficult repairs and time consuming,   lots of money in tools,  and think about this.   If you do 3 easy repairs - belt on dryer,  coupling,  ERC on stove you can probably make as much or more as the sealed system repair with way, way WAY less headaches.   

What I would do is think this out.  Do I have enough work to continue without doing sealed system?   Around my area, we have several companies that have one guy doing sealed systems.   I just refer the work to them.    If you are short of work,  you might want to give it a shot but it's a big commitment in tools,  money,  and your amount of work time.    I would weight it out carefully.   

All that being said,   I put a compressor in a refrigerator someone was getting rid of for my garage.    I forgot what a pain in the ass it is.    Had to jack up refrigerator,  lower compressor enough to silver soldier lines in.   Had to loosen condenser to drop it down.    I just have an Acetelyne/Air torch.   You don't really need Acetelyne/oxygen,  overkill.   I have a tip that is circular on torch and heats line equally works well,  After doing this job for myself this summer, I realize there is no way I want to be doing this for domestic refrigerators on a regular basis.   GOOD NEWS - Beer and other junk in refrigerator is ice cold now.

Years ago,  when I worked for Laundry company,  I did a lot of side work on walk in coolers,  commercial refrigerators, etc.   Semi-hermetic compressors.    Lots of them in basement under units,   and most of time just needed a shot of R-12.    Those were easy to work on ,  easy to access,  easy to fix lines,  all in open.   Domestic refrigerators,  on the other hand - for the amount of headache they can possibly give you,   in my opinion aren't worth the effort.  And If you get a callback,  you lose all of your profit and then some.   

Good luck on your decision.   This of course is my opinion,   and others may think differently.   But I know a lot of Techs in my area who have given up doing this also,  so I am not alone.   
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Offline RAH52

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2012, 05:01:34 AM »
I do lots of fridges for various issues but sub out sealed system work also .Can't  charge enough for the time involved and too much strain on my old creaky 60 year old bones .If i wanted to be a cortortionist I'd join the circus .Bottom line if you don't do systems on a daily basis, your too slow to make any money .

Offline dentdaddy

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2012, 07:35:31 AM »
I'm with these guys. After several years, I have only seen a half dozen refrigerators that were worthy of a compressor replacement. These were Subzero's and 1 Viking. One of the Subs needed a compressor that was under warranty and Sub wanted the evap replaced as well. The company I referred the customer to charged labor to the customer (unit was 9 years old and under parts only labor at that point) in the amount of $1800. They had to drive 85 miles one way, but still...if this had been out of a parts warranty your looking at another $500-700 in parts.

My point is very few customers are going to spend the amount of money you need to charge to make these worth while. Especially when they can buy a french door stainless ref with ice and water for $1500.
Good work isn't cheap. Cheap work isn't good.
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Online niobrara

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2012, 11:04:06 AM »
I do them. That said I do them for a company that I work for,I agree not worth the time and money.Many leaks can't be found with leak detecters and so you have to tap the unit to add dye dryers or dye,Vac it down, charge it.Come back again to find the leak and order the evap, or condenser.Then another dryer.Then there's plugged heat exchangers ?Way to much time.

Offline AJ

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2012, 11:20:15 AM »
I have not done any sealed system work since going out on my own, about 5 years now.
Even back when I worked for the man the only sealed system work I did there in about the last 10 years was warranty jobs.

Anything out of warranty we would end up giving a high estimate. It made it easier for the boss to sell the customer a new refrigerator and get me back on the road that way. ;)

Offline JWWebster

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2012, 02:07:01 PM »
I will occasionally do one for family and friends. Freezers and refrigerators I charge to 5 psi. You need a oxy acetylene rig, sand cloth, R-134a, gauges, and vacuum pump. Most importantly you need time. It takes time and patience. I don't weigh the gas. I do it by slowly adding in gas till it stays put around 5 psi. My brother in law thawed his mini frig out with an ice pick. I fixed it typically like you would fix any refrigerator or freezer with a leak.

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Offline dab147315

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2012, 02:33:51 PM »
Always better to weigh gas in.In old days at G.E, they had freon cans like cans that you would use on a car with the exact charge for the model Refrigerator you were working on.Made that part of doing a system repair go faster.Each can had its own part Number.WR something.

Offline Johnnythefridgeman

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2012, 04:46:19 PM »
I currently do all the refrigeration for the company I work for and my back kills me because of it.
I am looking to get out on my own and I can promise I will not be doing sealed system. The risk is to high as everyone has pointed out ! One tool i think you could use is a pipe bender wow makes nice lookin bends without da kinks ! paid 29.95 for mine and i can make some pretty art work back there. LOL not that anyone is looking.

Online andersenappliance

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Re: Refrigeration newbie - question one
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2012, 07:14:03 PM »
Thanks for all the input!  Here I was thinking that I was only half an appliance repairman, 'cause I haven't been doing sealed system repairs.  Now it turns out that not many of you do, and those who do, don't want to! ;D

I think I've already put most of the money into the tools, by buying the recovery machine.  Another $400, and I'll have pretty much the rest that I need.

I don't anticipate much need for repairing residential refrigerators, but I thought I'd do it for the practice.  The cost to the customer would be prohibitive.  However, I do anticipate possibly going into commercial appliance repair after I've built up some years behind me.  This would include restaurants, laundries, and other.  It seems that commercial work will pay more because the equipment costs more.  This definitely would include refrigeration.  I hate to think that my call average tops out at $200 gross, because beyond that, they'd just buy new. 

Maybe its just a numbers game. 

Anyway, uneven winding resistance readings are pretty much indicative of a dying compressor, correct?

Thanks for the input.


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