Whenever grasshoppers have a refrigerator that’s warming up, the first thing they think is that the compressor is bad or it “needs a shot of freon.” In fact, the compressor, copper tubing, or freon (collectively called the “sealed system”) is at fault less than 20% of the time when a refrigerator is warming up; usually, the culprit is something simple, like the cold control, condenser fan, or a problem with the defrosting system.
So how can a hapless grasshoppah, who doesn’t own any fancy refrigeration tools, like manifold gauges, know for sure whether or not the sealed system is the problem? Usually you can tell by simple observation. Unplug the refrigerator and disassemble the freezer compartment to expose the evaporator coil– that’s the coily tubey thingy with fins in the freezer that’s supposed to get really cold. Then plug the refrigerator back in and let it run while you suck back on a can of PBR, just like yo’ pappy used to do. Then open the freezer up and feast your blood-shot squinties on that evaporator coil. It should be lightly frosted on about 2/3 of the coil. If the coil is wet and clammy or if you see just a patch of frost on one corner, like this, then, ding-ding-ding, you got yo’self a gen-u-wine sealed system problem. Could be a bad compressor or a leak somewhere in the tubing that circulates the freon around the refrigerator. Either way, it’s trouble in doggie land. Sealed system work is expensive and, unless you paid so mucho dinero for the box that you’re married to it, you’re probably better off just buying a new refrigerator.
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