Commercial Bottle Fridge Restricted Airflow - Not Cooling

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  #1  
Old 05-31-20, 12:55 PM
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Commercial Bottle Fridge Restricted Airflow - Not Cooling

I've posted here about my Beverage Air commercial bottle vending refrigerator before. My love-hate relationship with it continues. This is a dual-sided coke branded MT17 vending fridge with glass slider doors.

In June, when my naturally cool basement isn't as cool for a few months, I always notice the unit seeming to run a lot more often. I've tried moving it to a different location but it doesn't seem to work.

Worse, in the summer months especially, if I don't remove the lower front grille, the unit is not able to pull in enough air to cool properly. With the grill attached, cooling stops at around 45 degrees and the condensation pan quickly fills. With the grill off, cooling eventually (slowly but surely) will get down to 33-32 degrees before the compressor stops. The condensation pan is also able to evaporate quickly and rarely holds much standing water.

The inside temperature dial doesn't seem to make a difference in the cycle, but that's ok, it at least does its job of turning on the cooling once I turn it up past 0. I don't turn on the interior defogging fan (don't have a problem with fog-up) or the lights.

The current cycle runs with the compressor going at about 8 hours (using 500 watts of electric) and then off for about 3 hours.

During the 8 hours, the unit cools from 48 degrees down to around 32. Once the temp hits 32, the compressor stops, and over 3 hours (at around 80 watts), the temperature in the unit rises back to 48 until the 8 hours of cooling begin again.

I completely understand these units are not built for efficiency, so mostly just wanted to confirm that cycle and temperature loss (with a full load of bottles) was normal.

The inside is dirty but not terrible, the only area I can't get a good look at is the fan, which I assume is behind the fins, unless I slide this out from the corner and take off the back grille cover.

So, I guess, two questions.

1. Is the cycle time and the time it takes to cool down normal? Is the 16 degrees of temperature loss over 3 hours also normal? Indoor temp is right around 73 degrees.

2. What does the fact that putting the grill cover on that causes the airflow to restrict too much for the unit to run well telling me needs to be fixed / replaced inside?

Thanks as always, I love this forum. Here's a bunch of photos I took:

https://imgur.com/WnjL6SY

https://imgur.com/6RqBjRp

https://imgur.com/KFO5HoI

https://imgur.com/LLnleWf

https://imgur.com/y7hImik

https://imgur.com/IAvetrE
 
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  #2  
Old 05-31-20, 01:12 PM
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Those boxes aren't insulated so they don't maintain the cold to well if they aren't running.
32į is a little cold for a beverage fridge.
Underneath looks fairly clean. Is there a fan down there and is it working ?
 

Last edited by PJmax; 05-31-20 at 03:19 PM.
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Old 05-31-20, 02:42 PM
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Thanks for checking in PJMax.

I believe thereís a fan there behind the fins which I canít see unless I move the fridge out and take the grill off the other side. I guess I need to do that to make sure the fan is turning. I certainly hear noise from that area with the compressor on but I suppose that doesnít mean the fan is turning. If the fan is not spinning or not spinning well I suppose that would explain my issue?

I agree on the 32į however I think unless I find a way to replace that thermostat dial or something Iím stuck with it running in that cycle. It doesnít seem to matter if I set the dial on 2 or 8. The temperature seems to be the same cycle from 32 to 48 then back down again.

I will see how tough it is to slide it out far enough so I can get the back grill off and see the other side of the works underneath to check out the fan.
 
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Old 05-31-20, 03:22 PM
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This should probably combined with the original thread where a lot of this was already discussed.

You should feel a good amount of air movement in the bottom.
I'm not sure which way that fan spins....pushes or pulls.

Sounds like a defective thermostat.
I believe it's a remote capillary type so it probably lost it's charge/seal.
 
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Old 06-01-20, 11:55 AM
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Hey thanks, yeah feel free to delete this or move it over to the other thread or I can repost there. Didn't mean to muddle things up. New issue but possibly the same issue. Last time this happened I just never realized that the airflow was the problem.

The thing is a beast and I'm going to need to empty the contents before I can even slide it out far enough to get off the back grille to look underneath from the back to see what's going on behind the fins where the fan should be. My guess is I'm going to find an ailing fan. I'll post pics and details once I get there.

I figure one thing at a time, if I can at least get the fan in the bottom operating correctly, then I can worry about the temp dial. I assume since the unit is chilling down to 34 degrees it does not need coolant.

I have felt very little airflow down there, tried laying a box fan in front and blowing inside but it didn't change anything (this was with the grille off too).
 
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Old 06-01-20, 03:45 PM
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A few years ago I got the brainstorm to get a small beverage cooler for the garage to replace the little black cube refrigerator.

Similar to what your experiencing, those beverage coolers simply are not designed to chill contents down to the same temp as a refrigerator.

Mine is in the lower 40's and we've just accepted that that ice cold beer is not going to be so ice cold, but it looks cool with the blue LED lighs on!
 
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Old 06-01-20, 06:26 PM
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Hey guys thanks for sticking with me. So I finally got around to getting it pushed out from the wall so I could get the back grill off and took a video. Iím going to post that shortly, it does look like the fan is running and I feel a decent amount of airflow coming out of the back. So this refrigerator is sucking In air from the front and blowing out of the back. But of course the frustration continues.

I had first thought that restricted airflow (grills attached) was the reason that the fridge was falling into this mode of sort of always running and cooling down to about 46į. But now with both grills off and heís behaving the same way. The condensation pan is filling up quickly and the unit just seems to be content to run at about 430 W and keeping the temperature at around 46. Iíve turned the temperature dial max all the way up to 10 to see if the wattage changes but the temp dial doesnít seem to do anything.

When the fridge is in active cooling mode it is running at 500 watts or more so itís not trying really hard right now and the temperature shows. When itís running at this wattage it maintains temp but never cools. And now itís doing it with both grilles off. Airflow theory squashed. Sigh!

Given that the fan is turning, mechanicals are working, so it does seem that it must be time to replace the thermostat. Hopefully that would then allow me to set a proper holding temperature and the unit will cycle properly and not just continue to run where it wants to run. There must be something in this thing that is getting it confused on its temperature and preventing the temperature from holding causing the inefficiency. How difficult are the thermostats to replace in these?
 
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Old 06-01-20, 06:59 PM
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Ok, ordered.

https://www.amazon.com/Beverage-Air-.../dp/B00EMJXTV2

Now to look up how to do it so I'm ready. At least installing a new t-stat will eliminate that as the cause of the weirdness. I'm hopeful, since as I mentioned, the fridge was cooling all the way down to 32 degrees before cycling off before, so it seems capable of cooling quite fine (just maybe has no idea what the temp is inside and hence is confused).
 
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Old 06-02-20, 06:49 PM
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Just popping in to share an update.

The fan inside for the evaporator is in the dumbest hardest to get at spot in the entire fridge. I tried to get a hose in there to get out gunk but now sure how well I did. Man I'd love to really get at that fan and clean and lubricate it. Funny thing is I realized the evaporator coil box is loose and you can move it around (that seems wrong) but due to the tight metal there's not a lot of play and certainly not enough to move it aside to get at the fan. From the back side, there's the entire compressor in the way. Took some photos and attached them.

Also, the famous video. In the video I can' t help but wonder if the fan is lightly rubbing up against the evaporator coil block. This perhaps could explain the issue and since that coil block is loose it might be pushed back to far close to the fan.

https://youtu.be/qj6tGwwkCI4

Fridge today was again sort of doing its own thing, running at around 430 watts which typically puts in around 42 degree temps inside. When it runs at the full 500 watts of power it seems to get the temp inside down to the mid-30s or even less (which is too cold for sure). I have the dial set at 5 now, but I'm going to feel stupid if the thermostat was the problem all along, and the fridge was just doing crazy stuff like going into short cycle or running at a higher temperature because it wasn't getting told naturally when to shut off. I will admit the dial has done nothing over the years, the fridge didn't seem to change inside temp or behavior whether it was set to 2 or 10, so PJMax you could have been right all along.

Waiting on arrival of the themostat and also ordered 1 door seal (just to see how hard they are to swap out, if it's easy I will order more if the fridge works) and a new wick for the evaporator pan because the one in there is gross. I assume I can muck around under there all I want as long as everything is unplugged and not hurt myself.

 
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Old 06-08-20, 06:00 AM
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Spent some more time on this thing yesterday but I may have to call in the professionals. I just don't think I know enough about how these units work to diagnose (or to basically determine if this is just "as good as it gets").

The condensate pan fills almost to the brim or sometimes a bit more, and that doesn't seem to happen until the compressor shuts off. As long as the compressor is running -- which right now has been for around 15 hours straight, maintaining a cold temperature -- I'm happy with the temp inside and the lack of condensate in the pan -- Just not happy with the fact the compressor hasn't shut off for 15 hours.

I'm not even sure if 10 on the dial is warmest or coldest -- The manual says that "5" is the mid setting for 36 degrees. New thermostat is in, the dial is set to 5, and the fridge cooled all the way down to 33 degrees (it took about 9 hours to get there from the 50 degrees inside it warmed to as I worked on it. Maybe I'll try turning the dial to 10 for a while to see what happens. Brand new thermostat and nothing seems to be behaving any differently. There was a lot of water up top that the fans had pulled out when I tilted the mechanism down. I did not fully disconnect the discharge tube on the left (wasn't sure where to) and just propped it up. Have to assume the tube is ok since water at least gets to the evap pan.

Perhaps all of this is just a symptom of low coolant, perhaps just bad seals, perhaps just the inefficiencies of a double glass-sided commercial refrigerator. To me it seems even at its most inefficient it should not be THAT bad.

I wonder if I took some sheet plastic and literally taped shut both sides at the glass doors and saw if efficiency increased if that would tell me anything. I suppose it would need to be something more thermal than sheet plastic. I'd just love to know if leaky seals have anything to do with how it's running.
 
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