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I noticed a fridge I use for home-brewing was running 24/7 to stay at only 10C, and a while later determined it was simply making the inside warmer not colder.

It sounds like it is running flat out, it just doesn't get cold.

It's a modern fridge about 5 years old, nothing fancy. What are likely causes and can I fix this or is it realistically a symptom of "dispose culture" and I need to replace it?

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    A common problem is the evaporator freezing up. Check that before you call in a service tech. If there is ice in the evaporator it may be a faulty sensor that is supposed to turn on some heat to melt the ice.
    – jwh20
    Oct 2 '20 at 16:23
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New consumer-grade refrigerators do seem to be built with the "dispose culture" mindset as it applies to cheap components. I have had electronic failures, compressor failures, and refrigerant leaks.

Whatever your problem is, it is almost always "fixable"; the dilemma you will likely have is that the repair will amount to a significant percentage of the cost of a new unit (oddly, the repair cost always seems to be right in the range of 1/2 the cost of a new fridge...) so you end up doing a "good money after bad" analysis.

I had one with the same symptoms as yours and it was a minor coolant leak. The technician soldered the tube leak, installed a charging point (which the fridge did not have stock) and recharged the freon for $225 U.S.

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  • Given this was pretty much the cheapest full-height unit I could find at the time, I think $225 might be more than it cost new (adjusted for currency). I suppose the other thing is I could buy new, and give away/scrap the old one and someone might fix it up... sounds if you have the knowledge and equipment this is really easy.
    – Mr. Boy
    Oct 4 '20 at 16:55

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