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Refrigerator & Icemaker Repair Foreword

(Please click on "Table of Contents" when you are done reading this page)


This manual will tell you how to fix your vapor-compression domestic (home) refrigerator and freezer units. (This represents 99+ percent of the home refrigerators in service today.)

This manual will not tell you how to fix your gas refrigerator, home air conditioner, industrial or commercial or any very large air conditioning or refrigeration unit. The support and control systems for such units are usually very similar in function to those of smaller units, but vastly different in design, service and repair.

We will show you the easiest and/or fastest method of diagnosing and repairing your refrigerator.

We will not necessarily show you the absolute cheapest way of doing something. Sometimes, when the cost of a part is just a few dollars, we advocate replacing the part rather than rebuilding it. We also sometimes advocate replacement of an inexpensive part, whether it's good or bad, as a simplified method of diagnosis or as a preventive measure.

We will use only the simplest of tools; tools that a well-equipped home mechanic is likely to have and to know how to use, including a VOM.

We will not advocate your buying several hundred dollars' worth of exotic equipment or getting advanced technical training to make a one-time repair. It will usually cost you less to have a professional perform this type of repair. Such repairs represent only a very small percentage of all needed repairs.

We do not discuss the vapor compression cycle, thermodynamic laws, specific heat, latent heat, sensible heat, measurement of heat, molecular theory, cutting, brazing, capillaries and expansion valves, compressor operation, condenser operation, evaporator operation, driers or Freons 11, 12, 13, 22, 113, 114, 134a, 500, or 502. There are already many very well-written textbooks on these subjects and most of them are not likely to be pertinent to the job at hand; fixing your fridge!

We do discuss rudimentary heat flow and airflow, frost, drainage, and simple electrical circuits.

You are expected to know some simple natural laws. For example; when you compress a gas, it warms up; warm air rises by convection; air usually has humidity; water can be found in a solid state (ice), a liquid state, or a gaseous state (steam or humidity).

You should know how to cut, strip, and splice wire with crimp-on connectors, wire nuts and electrical tape. You should know how to measure voltage and how to test for continuity with a VOM (Volt-Ohm Meter). If you have an ammeter, you should know how and where to measure the current in amps. If you don't know how to use these meters, there's a brief course on how to use them (for our purposes only) in section 3-3. See section 3-2 before you buy either or both of these meters.

A given procedure was only included in this manual if it passed the following criteria:

1) The job is something that the average couch potato can complete in one afternoon, with no prior knowledge of the machine, with tools a normal home handyman is likely to have.

2) The parts and/or special tools required to complete the job are easily found and not too expensive.

3) The problem is a common one; occurring more frequently than just one out of a hundred machines.

Certain mildly expensive repairs may be included in this manual, if they pass the following criteria:

1) The cost of the repair is still far less than replacing the machine or calling a professional service technician, and

2) The repair is likely to yield a machine that will operate satisfactorily for several more years, or at least long enough to justify the cost.

In certain parts of the manual, the author expresses an opinion as to whether the current value of a particular machine warrants making the repair or "scrapping" the machine. Such opinions are to be construed as opinions ONLY and they are NOT to be construed as legal advice. The decision as to whether to take a particular machine out of service depends on a number of factors that the author cannot possibly know and has no control over; therefore, the responsibility for such a decision rests solely with the person making the decision.

I'm sure that a physicist or a thermodynamicist reading this manual could have a lot of fun tearing it apart because of my deliberate avoidance and misuse of technical terms. However, this manual is written to simplify the material and inform the novice, not to appease the scientist.

NOTE: The diagnosis and repair procedures in this manual do not necessarily apply to brand-new units, newly-installed units or recently relocated units. Although they may posess the problems described in this manual, refrigerators that have recently been installed or moved are subject to special considerations not taken into account in this manual for the sake of simplicity. Such special considerations include installation parameters, installation location, the possibility of manufacturing or construction defects, damage in transit, and others.

This manual was designed to assist the novice technician in the repair of home (domestic) refrigerators that have been operating successfully for an extended period of months or years and have only recently stopped operating properly, with no major change in installation parameters or location.

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