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Old 10-21-2021, 01:13 PM   #1
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Patching leaking fridge cooling unit

So over the past couple of days my house batteries have been having trouble and tend to die through the night causing my fridge to rapid cycle on and off at some point doing this cycling the cooling unit started leaking everything I've read online says the unit must be replaced my basic question is is there anyway to atleast temporarily patch the unit if so what would I need to do to rebuild / repair the unit and get it back up and running ?u can't afford a new fridge I'll be lucky to be able to afford basic hardware to repair said leak if it's even possible any help or insight would be greatly appreciated
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Old 10-21-2021, 01:28 PM   #2
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Our fridge failure came while on a long trip. It was leaking, smelling of ammonia, and not cooling. We bought a small electric fridge for about $150 to complete the trip. When we got home we replaced the cooling unit. The price was less than half of a new fridge. Also, don't buy one made from aluminum as the ammonia and water will corrode the system. Get steel.
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Old 10-21-2021, 01:39 PM   #3
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Sorry, really not "resealable"/rechargeable by home mechanic.


And, if it rusted through in one place, likely there are others in similar condition.


Guess if I were in a $$ bind, I would look for a used house-type refrigerator the right size on Craigslist, etc.


I just went to our local Craigslist and did a search for refrigerator and had over 500 hits. Quite a few at or under $100.
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Old 10-21-2021, 02:06 PM   #4
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No one is going to patch that leaking cooling unit
When manufactured it is filled with liquid ammonia, sodium chromate, water and hydrogen gas under 300#

When they leak they are Done...Dead....No good...not repairable

Off level causes damage....overheating of the cooling solution
That causes crystals to form and plate out....crystals accumulate over time....flow is interrupted/obstructed so tubing gets overheated
Overheated tubing causes fatigue...fatigue weakens tubing causing leaks

Turning fridge on/off due to DC voltage fluctuations didn't cause the leak.
Fridge functions are not that fast.....slow time based process

1994 Vintage RV...27 yrs is pretty good service life for an RV Absorption Fridge

Time for new cooling unit (remove fridge/remove old cooling unit/install new cooling unit
OR...replace with Residential Fridge that can fit in opening
*OK if always connected to shore power or have Inverter/batteries that can run it/solar--generator etc

Either way...that Fridge is done
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Old 10-21-2021, 03:17 PM   #5
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Cooling units are repairable and rechargeable. Ford’s RV Refrigeration https://rvrefrigeration.com/contact-frvrtc in Benton, KY trains people to repair them and they list some people who provide the service on their site at https://rvrefrigeration.com/rv-refrigerator-network.

How the cost of such repairs and the life of the repaired cooling unit compares to a new cooling unit I don’t know.
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Old 10-21-2021, 03:21 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Jkwilson1989 View Post
Cooling units are repairable and rechargeable.

Before even considering repairing a cooling unit, evaluate it VERY CAREFULLY.


Very few of that age just fail on one location with the rest of the system at anywhere close to good condition.


Hate to see a patch paid for and then the next section of tubing fail in a month.
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Old 10-21-2021, 10:52 PM   #7
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27 yr old cooling unit
27 yr old components
27 yr old cabinet
27 yr old door seals
27 yr old failed cooling unit

*leak/failed tube is just the start....how about all of the accumulated scale/crystals throughout the unit
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Old 10-22-2021, 09:46 AM   #8
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OP hasn't replied since the first post. They didn't say if it leaked ammonia, or if they see yellow residue on the unit. With the house batteries going dead overnight, maybe the fridge just stopped working and defrosted, leaking water? I think before everyone writes it off, it'd be better if they clarified exactly what happened. Also if they normally were careful about leveling the motorhome.
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Old 10-22-2021, 09:52 AM   #9
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They didn't say if it leaked ammonia, or if they see yellow residue on the unit.

If EITHER, the cooling unit is toast.
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Old 10-22-2021, 09:57 AM   #10
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If EITHER, the cooling unit is toast.
You don't know that. Those refrigerators can be repaired. It's just like when your generator's carburetor gunks up, you go to an RV dealer and they say you need a new carburetor. I wish people would be stop being so negative when someone ask a question here, and declaring that they can't do anything but buy a new one, when they very well may be able to repair, or have it repaired. There's been very little information about the OP's refrigerator here, and everyone's declaring it dead.

https://youtu.be/513Pt0hZEKg
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Old 10-22-2021, 10:00 AM   #11
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You don't know that. Those refrigerators can be repaired.

OK, is it possible that it could be repaired-- I guess.


But a leaking cooling unit (as OP stated in the first post) in a 27 year old refrigerator-- IMO that would be throwing good money after bad.
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Old 10-22-2021, 10:06 AM   #12
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OK, is it possible that it could be repaired-- I guess.


But a leaking cooling unit (as OP stated in the first post) in a 27 year old refrigerator-- IMO that would be throwing good money after bad.
Again, they haven't clarified what it was leaking. Maybe the condensate line is falling apart and water just leaked out. I'd hate to see a doctor diagnose a problem and declare a person dead on such light information.

Not to mention that a unit can be refurbished. I've installed appliances for decades, and many years ago one warehouse where I used to pick up appliances had a large side business of refurbing absorption refrigerators, that they would then send up to places like Alaska. We've become too much of a throwaway society, and things can be rebuilt and recharged. Whether the OP has the skill to do it, I don't know. Maybe they do, or maybe there's a mechanic nearby that does?
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Old 10-22-2021, 10:42 AM   #13
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OP nor does the regular RV Tech have the skill set or specialized equipment to repair a leaking cooling unit....inspecting the inside of the cooling unit tubing for obstructions/crystals plating out---removing bad section/rewelding new tubing in it's place (which is tube inside a tube)---handling liquid ammonia, sodium chromate (toxic), hydrogen gas--mixing the solution in the correct volume pumping it into the cooling unit and then pressurizing it to 300# pressure while sealing off the injection port.

It is specialized and Certified for a reason....which is also the same reason few offer that service and NOT done routinely

27 yr old RV absorption fridge has run it's course.....not really a throw away concept, just time to replace.

OP stated Leak.....
Not hard to accept that meant cooling unit

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Old 10-22-2021, 11:30 AM   #14
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27 year old RV fridge is probably built much better than new ones. OP didn't even say if he had an absorption fridge. Depending on his location, it may be more or less likely that it suffered from corrosion from exterior forces. No mention of an ammonia smell or any yellow residue. Simply not enough information to make a judgment. If my Dometic went out from suffering an ammonia leak, I would pull the refrigerator out, lay it down inside the RV, and replace the cooling unit myself. However, again, if a tech was nearby that could refurbish the cooling unit, that would be an option as well. The tubing can be sandblasted and cleaned, and pressure tested after repairs.

I just checked the price of an Amish cooling unit for my fridge, it would be $705. I know OP stated he's low on funds, but $705 is a lot more affordable than a whole new fridge.

https://rvcoolingunit.com/DM2652-Bra...-P2172678.aspx
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