Kenmore fridge: not very cold

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Old 07-27-17, 02:25 PM
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Kenmore fridge: not very cold

I have a 16-17 y.o. Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator.
Recently, I discovered that the temperature in the freezer is not as low as it always has been: about 10F (-10C). With that the temperature on the fridge side has also gone somewhat higher then before: ~52-54 F (+10 C) instead of 42-46F (+5 - +7 C). Setting Freezer setting to "colder" didn't seem to have any effect.
I've checked:
1. Condenser coils are not dirty.
2. Evaporator fan is running.
3. Condenser fan is running.
4. Evaporator doesn't have any excessive frost on it (was mostly clean).
5. The defrost thermostat is not popped (I've replaced it about 1.5 years ago).

I am suspecting that it is the time for the refrigerant to be refilled. But before calling a technician (and it is a painful as well as costly process in our small town), I'd like to make sure I am not missing something more simple that I could fix myself.
Besides, if it is something more, I might consider buying a new one.

I am not sure if it is relevant, - but I see that the "open bath" where the water from the automatic defrosting gets accumulated and evaporated from has white-and-light-brown colored deposit which color and texture reminds me of stalagmites, and the water in it is brown-colored. When I was replacing the defrost thermostat 1.5 years ago, it didn't have that color and deposit (or there was very little.) I wonder if that could be an indication of what the problem is.
 
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Old 07-27-17, 08:51 PM
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"open bath" aka the drip pan.

You wouldn't believe what I find in those pans.
Even a small bit of meat drippings/blood can make a mess.

Usually the drain gets clogged and when flushed.... all the "stuff" ends up in the pan.
A cleanup of soap and bleach will clean it up.

To your problem....
It does sound like you are low on refrigerant.
What does the compressor do.... does it cycle or run continuously ?
A good indicator of a low charge is the compressor runs non stop.

As a rule..... the fridge is not normally a rechargeable appliance. If you're low on refrigerant.... there is a leak. There are no charge fittings. Some techs may add a fitting and charge it and some will tell you not to bother.

At 16-17 years old you could have a leaking evaporator (cold) coil. That's typically what leaks. It could be a coin flip to having it repaired.
 
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Old 07-28-17, 02:12 PM
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Thank you, Pete, for your response.

Yep, the drip pan... I thought of that term later last night but was too tired to go back and edit my posting.

So, the fact that these deposits are (most likely) calcium-rich doesn't indicate spark any ideas about the source of that? Here the photo:
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I am a little bit surprised by your comment about recharging the refrigerant (R-134a). All the techs I've called so far (all 2 of them :-) ) were happy to recharge it. Over the years, I've seen it done many times (and in several countries, not just here).

There are even youtube videos of different levels, from novices to technicians, that show how to do it.
(E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNL-cQAQ5Oc ,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMmbF4PBc2Q , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyHdWzN2ZAg )
It is often done by adding a fitting, either by soldering it in, or by using a piercing valve.

Moreover, I wonder if some technicians can work with the sealed "appendix" as the one you can see on the photo below.
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By the way, - one more symptom: it seems that the compressor is running non-stop (at least after I tried to set it to the "coldest" setting), - and both lines coming out of the compressor are above the ambient temperature: one is very hot (I wouldn't hold my hand on it for longer than a quick touch), the other one (the suction line) is sometimes slightly above, sometimes a lot, but at the place where it enters the cabinet, - it is sometimes slightly below the ambient temperature, sometimes at or very slightly above.
Is this consistent with the low level of the refrigerant?

Re: leaking evaporator. Yes, that's what I've been thinking about... I am hoping that it is a slow enough leak that would allow to hold over for some time (a year? 2?).
 
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Old 07-28-17, 02:25 PM
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I realize that systems are recharged all the time. Many techs won't bother because then they are tied to the fridge for further work when the refrigerant leaks out again.

What you describe sounds just like a low charge problem.
 
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