Author Topic: slow leak in a WP sidekick  (Read 2044 times)

Offline cobjob

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slow leak in a WP sidekick
« on: April 15, 2011, 02:30:38 PM »
I have a pair of WP sidekicks, refrigerator and freezer in separate units.  I built them into my cabinetry.  A few weeks ago I discovered that the fridge was ~55f.  Thinking it was probably frosted over I pulled the access panel for the evaporator and found that only an inch or two around the expansion valve was getting cold (frosted).  The rest of the coil was not even cool.  My wife told me she has been turning the control down over the past several weeks/months.  It is now set at coldest.  I thought that we were still under warranty so I called WP and they sent a tech.  He spent no time with diagnosis.  He immediately installed a tap valve and put a few ounces of 134a in.  Within 10 minutes the entire coil frosted over.  That was 8 days ago.  Today the entire coil remains frosted over and the compressor doesn't seem to be running more than it should.  So I have a slow leak.  The tech did a very quick visual inspection looking for oil spots.  He didn't find one.  So he just assumed that the leak is in the evaporator. Which it probably is but you'd think he would have done some additional investigation before ordering a $200 part.

As it turns out, my warranty was expired by 3 weeks and 6 days.  I got an estimate from them for $623+ tax for a new evaporator, dryer, and $125 for refrigerant ?!?!?!?!!  The system holds 4 oz at most.  That's $31 an ounce!  Are they using cocaine or freon? Not to mention that he already put it in once from a $4 can of auto parts store stuff for the $80 service call fee.  The labor is ~$300.  The unit was $800 5 years ago.  It is now $1000 and it's built in and half of a matched pair.  I'm feeling seriously screwed.

Sorry, you don't need to hear all that.  It just seriously pisses me off and I have to tell somebody.


Anyway, I sprayed the whole circuit down with soap.  I didn't expect to see bubbles with such a slow leak and I didn't.  The leak could be anywhere.  I used UV dye in a car system that lost charge in 3-4 days and never found the leak.  I have no confidence that I will find this one.

My question is; can leak stop 134a intended for cars be used in a non automotive system?  I have found a product intended for residential HVAC (as opposed to automotive) applications.  But it doesn't include refrigerant.  And I can't find instructions for it on line.  I have a pump and can vac the system down.  If I then connect the the sealant, won't that occupy the space that is required for the 134a?  Or, will it only fill to neutral pressure and the 134a charges to 100 psi or whatever?  If I can use 134a+leak, do I  need to replace the dryer? The system has never been completely empty of refrigerant, it was still able to frost the exp valve at the time it was recharged, so presumably the internal pressure never got below ambient.  I can solder braze and weld but would rather not open system unless it's 100% necessary.

Link for the compressor http://industrial.panasonic.com/www-cgi/jvcr21pz.cgi?E+MR+4+AAA2012+4++WW

I've read several threads on here and you guys seem to give realistic advice instead of just automatically saying "buy a new one", or "leave it to the pros moron".

Thanks for your time, and thanks in advance to anyone willing to give me advice.

Offline jumptrout51

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2011, 04:58:19 PM »
It may not be a leak but a restriction in the system,usually in the filter drier.
A charge of refrigerant could have pushed the restriction through.
Yes,you could use a stop leak formula.
NO,I do not recommend these products.
Since you have gauges use them to add refrigerant from an automotive can as necessary.
Evacuate the system completely and use you vacuum pump to pull the system down,then recharge to factory specs.
Sometimes a good vacuuming will dislodge a restriction.
You can also check for a leak as the pressure will rise if a leak is evident.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2011, 05:00:33 PM by jumptrout51 »
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Offline krazytech

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2011, 07:27:36 PM »
First I would Call WP ... and make a big stink about your sidekick... call many times and very often... in other words.. make them want you to go away...I have seen them pay of the oddest thinks . parts only / labor only/ parts and labor and Brand New units all out of Warranty

if you give up before they do... as it will take time to make them pay....

I have used superseal stop leak formula...with success as long as the leak is small....it works!!
the hardest part is getting it into the system....the cans are not under pressure.


quickest way (if you feel  lucky)
1) if the system is in a vacuum you can use the compressor to pull the superseal into the system on the low side. then charge the system with 134a. charge to 3-0 add 134a slowly it will take some time to make sure you don't over charge it... you will do not need to change the drier. after you have charged the system clamp off the access stub and weld your hole...


if you can't get the compressor to pull in the superseal

2) recover the 134a, weld on access valve on the low side. cut and weld on a new dryer with an access valve on the high side. evacuate the system fully.  put the superseal on the low side and the vacuum the superseal the superseal into the system...I always try to get it all into the system most can are 3oz..I think the instruction say that you need at lease 1 oz charge the system normally.. watch the valves when you remove the hoses.. the superseal can keep the valve open and you can loose the charge...

Hope this helps
 
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Offline cobjob

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2011, 09:40:16 PM »
Jumptrout51 thanks for your time and help.

I hadn't even considered just topping it off every once in a while.  Though I would probably forget until it was flat empty and then I'd have air and water in there.  We'll see how long it takes for the charge to bleed down.  If I can get away with just topping it off a few times a year I might do that.  We are at nearly 9 days now and it seems to be holding strong.  I can't say whether it runs more than when it was new or not.  I'd say it runs 10 minutes out of an hour when left closed and I'm sure he didn't fully charge it.  I also never took its temp before.  At the coldest setting it now hovers at 39.  A little warmer than I'd like but not the fault of the heat transfer system.  I'll have to see if the thermostat has an adjustment.  I plan to wait 2 full weeks and see if it stays good.  If it does, I planned to vacuum it down and recharge it with leak stop pend advice from those wiser than myself.  But should I  maybe just vacuum it down and recharge it with straight refrigerant to see if a restriction was the problem?  It hasn't been moved and it's old enough to have made it past a bad factory solder but new enough that tube rot can't have set in.  It makes sense that a bit of something broke loose and plugged a valve or something. But what do I know?

Thanks again for your help

Offline cobjob

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2011, 09:44:06 PM »
Krazytech thanks for helping. 

I have gone the nag route with corporations before.  I have a Maytag Neptune washer.  After 18 months it started squealing like a proverbial............ something.  Then it started smoking and stinking up the place.  Warranty 12 months.  Bad seals led to water infiltration in the bearings.  It had started leaking long before the warranty expired.  New bearings are not available from Maytag and they are pressed together with the powdered metal races they sit in and can't be knocked out anyway.  You have to buy a new tub assembly @$600 per.  Even though there are web sites devoted to this exact issue, and there is even a song you can download called 'Neptune Sucks', and that they issued a recall on the seals before I bought mine- I got nothing from them.  I was hung up on, got threatening replies to my letters, and ignored.  They wouldn't even give me a percentage discount or free shipping on the $600 tub.  It took me over 8 hours to cut the old bearings out with a dremel and hundreds of those useless Necco wafer cutoff disks.   I will try it with WP.  But considering the fact that I have no faith in the technicians at the repair outfit they use, I feel better about fixing it myself without opening the system if I can. 

Are you referring to the cliplight product?  I read good things about it in HVAC and Automotive apps.  I just couldn't find anything about using it in such a small system.  What do you mean "charge it to 3-0"?   Would I add the sealant by weight?  I haven't been able to find what factory 134a fill specs are.The link above only gives electrical specs.  Should I add the sealant and recharge it and see what happens, or just recharge it without the sealant and hope for the best?

Thaks again

Offline krazytech

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2011, 10:27:19 PM »
sorry to hear about your Neptune. You can call any authorized service company do the repair. when you get the concession from WP.

You will have to open the system to get the sealant into it. The instruction tell you to add at lease 1 oz but I always Add the whole can..3oz...It is a oil additive most likely it will mix with the oil in the compressor. I add the sealant then charge normally. Low side pressure 3lb to 0lbs .
If it was mine. I would first call WP.. many times.... then if all fails... I would add sealant ...without sealant you are pretty sure you will leak...

good luck with Wp


I would add the cliplight, Quest, Interdynamics all are the same to me I have used all ... there is also one with red dye to help find the leak but I still was not able to find it but after 3-4 years the refer is still working...
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Offline krazytech

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2011, 11:39:28 PM »
BTW is the unit you are working on the all refrigerator or all freezer ?

if the all refrigerator pressures should be are 18-20 psi on the low side....

freezer at 3-0 psi
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Offline cobjob

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Re: slow leak in a WP sidekick
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2011, 11:48:24 PM »
Krazytech,

I will call them tomorrow and start the process of making them sick of me. I've got some time now that it's cold again.   I'm not hopeful about getting any help.  Corporations are formed to satisfy their shareholders, not their employees, and definitely not their customers.  The problem is that you get get a different uncaring phone jockey everytime you call.  They give you the same canned reply you got the last time you called.  Asking for a supervisor doesn't help and they don't answer mail.  And eventually they will say in a threatening letter NO MEANS NO.  At least Maytag did and Maytag is a WP brand.  Anyway I plan to try.

Assuming they give me no help, I guess I'll hit it with the leak stop.  I like the idea of the sealer being added separate from the refrigerant.  Since this is a refrigerator only, I'd be surprised if the system is rated for more than 300 BTU/HR.  When the whole system uses such a small amount of freon (~4 oz I'm guessing) I'm not sure enough of the sealant will get in if it's just mixed into the freon.  I don't find a sealant only product from Interdynamics or others.  Only the cliplight seems to be sealant only.  The one ounce is by weight I assume? I've meant to buy a new scale for months.

What I meant by "opening the system" was actually cutting large chunks of it out (evaporator, dryer) not just tapping it.  I feel fairly sure that no significant amount of air has entered the system at this point.  It had pressure before the tech recharged it and then, at my insistence he flushed the manifold and hose with refrigerant before connecting it to the tap valve.

More thanks for the help.

 

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