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So my fridge sprung a refrigerant leak and leaked out a bunch of its freon, I I thought I could Easily fix it by refilling it witth R134a with leak sealer. However it continue to leak and this eventually caused the compressor to grenade itself (presumably due to the oil absorbing water from the air). Now I know how to install a new compressor however, if I simply install a new compressor and recharge it all of the refrigerant will leak out, I also suspect that the compressor will die fairly quickly as the old compressor probably sent metal bits though the system. My question is how I would go about Flushing the system and patching the leak? Buying a new refrigerator would not be practical as the one we have is a bit of a special size.

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  • " if I simply install a new compressor and recharge it all of the refrigerant will leak out," You are supposed to pull a vacuum on the lines first and it should maintain that vacuum for a 24 hour period with out falling - if it does fall out of vacuum you have a leak . If it maintains vacuumt - you can then be assured to fill.
    – Ken
    Apr 1 '18 at 10:39
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I would say this is not a DIY project for at least 3,4,5+ reasons the major ones opening a HVAC/R system requires a license, yes you can find R134 In less than 1 lb cans for cars or a duster or electronic troubleshooting freeze spray if you can find the adapters and it would work if you could install new parts and remove all the compressibles (air) and dehydrate the system (a vacuum pump to pull the system to at least 500um). A new filter dryer on the suction line would pickup any metal from the old compressor. I have seen techs "get away with" 1000um but this is risky because any moisture in the POE oil will become acidic and that eats the varnish off the motor windings in the new compressor and then it shorts out. Bringing me to the point is the oil already acidic? We know it is contaminated because of the leak stop being used (leak stop may work on high temp AC like automotive but will plug the capillary tube on most refers). UV dye and or leak stop will void the warranty on almost every compressor I have purchased. Now another non DIY reason you want to repair the leak, how and where did it start leaking? My bet would be in the evaporator, almost all refers have aluminum evaporators and sealing a contaminated aluminum line that has been punctured is almost impossible, I don't do service calls on fridges but have Tryed to help friends that have tried to solder the aluminum lines to watch the line melt (had to replace the evaporator) another friend had a vending machine he tried to use some special 2 part epoxy and thought it was working until he unplugged the system loaded it up and took it to a break room, that warm day caused the Freon pressure to go (calculated) to 275 or so and blew the plug out and sprayed oil and Freon inside the machine (did I mention it did not cool at that point). Now for the last point, did you know there are fines up to $25,000.00 for doing this kind of work without a license?

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This will not be an easy fix to do it properly which is why most just buy a new refrigerator. If using leak fix you need to be sure the system is totally dry or it will make a mess. It works in a dry system and when it finds a leak it is exposed to moisture and coagulates around the leak since there is moisture in the atmosphere. You will need to remove the capillary tube or you will get all sorts of crud stuck in it. Better yet, replace the tube with a new one in case it got clogged. Flush the system with a flushing kit. I usually use R11 (not the refrigerant, the flushing kit) they coined the term R11 since back before EPA regulations R11 was used to flush systems. At any rate there are several brands and they all involve injecting their fluid under nitrogen pressure and allowing it to exit out an open tube. You will then need to fill the system with nitrogen and look for the leak using soap bubbles and or a sonic leak detector. If you do not find the leak you can not properly vacuum the system and you will be left with moisture in the system. Vacuum the system >500 microns and charge to the exact weighed in charge. Yes, changing a compressor properly really does take all this work which is why many techs take shortcuts and have repairs that don’t last. Do it right and the system will last for years.

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  • Seems a bit daunting for a diyer who has only ever worked on automotive HVAC systems... Those are a bit easier as the piping is bolted together. Not sure what I'm gonna do. I suppose I should try and see if a local place can do it. Mar 31 '18 at 22:18
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1: How do you know the refrigerator was leaking ? You possibly over filled the system - that is one reason the compressor may have exploded.

2: Your refrigerator may not have used R134a - did you verify the type of refrigerant it used as marked on the label? Samsung uses R600 I thinkothers I am not sure. You did not specify make/ model so we can not know - please add that to your post.

If you mixed and matched - pressures are different - things can go blam into bits and they did so I am guessing either you overfilled or you mixed and matched.

3: Now you will need to do quite a bit - as there is a capillary tube , and I am not sure if it will have an orifice tube.

Replace these items with new - but I would attempt a flush first. Use a nitrogen flush through the system much like when you change out from R22 to R410.

Or you can buy the replacement condenser coil, evap coil and capillary tube along with that compressor and be certain. You will need to pull a complete vacuum on the system let the vacuum sit for a 24 hour period make sure that the vacuum has been maintained during that time period - if not you have a leak and need to find and fix it first.

After verification of Vacuum .. fill the unit to the proper pressure don't overfill sometimes your compressor may be pre-filled - verify if so and what refrigerant.

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  • The system was definitely leaking, it was not getting cold and when I put a pressure guage on the line it read zero. And yes I verified the pressures and refrigerant. They we're listed on the side of the fridge. I think the issue was that I waited too long to fix the issue and the oil in the compressor absorbed water from the air as the compressor didn't fail suddenly rather it became nosier and nosier before failing. Apr 1 '18 at 21:25

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