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Is it worth replacing my refrigerator's compressor?

The compressor in my inexpensive, simple GE fridge is about to fail. It’s a GTS18FB and the R134a compressor is DC57C84RCU6.

I’m confident it’s the compressor. I have previously replaced the startup capacitor and fixed this fridge. I could play audio for you and you’d hear it—a big clank when it starts up, a loud whirring while it’s running, and a clank when it shuts off. It’s still cooling fine though, so I have days / weeks to fix it.

It’s straightforward to access and has extra room, so I think just about any compressor would fit in there.

This is one that might work.

 What’s the budget way to do that? I called a random local shop and they said $900, but I feel like it’s just an hour or two of work for someone with the tools.

This refrigerator only cost $600 new, but I’m totally willing to spend up to (and maybe a little above that) to fix it. It would be more of a pain to get rid of this and buy a new one, get it to the house, etc. than to just swap the compressor.

Should I buy the tools and learn how to do it myself?

Related rant: why in the world are refrigerator compressor lines brazed in place? Couldn’t they use removable connectors like auto compressors have? Come on people, this is a mechanical failure part. The lifespan of a refrigerator shouldn’t be limited to the life of the compressor.

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It can be a few hours worth of work, or more, depending. You have to recover the refrigerant, do the change-out, pressure test for least 30min, pull a vacuum (least 30min usually), then weigh in the charge. This isn't something I recommend the average DIY try to do. You need epa certification to legally handle refrigerant. You need a recovery machine. Oxy-acetalyne torch with brazing rods. Tank of dry nitrogen. Vacuum pump. Refrigerant scale.

Also, do NOT just try and stab any old compressor. Ever. The system is designed to run with one particular compressor. Start stabbing other stuff and you'll have big problems. Need the model number off the compressor to replace it with a proper one.

As for the brazing, that's standard. You're dealing with high pressures. Vehicles are done the way they are because they're made to be taken apart. Pulling motors n such would be difficult if they were brazed. Refrigerators and hvac systems etc aren't. They're designed to be put together and left to do their thing.

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Thanks for the helpful answer! I've got the vacuum pump, oxy torch, nitrogen, and a scale that will work. This is a fairly popular fridge so I think I'll be able to get a compressor for it. No way to recover the refrigerant however.

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Your scale reads oz? Because all machines I've worked on have the weight of the charge listed in oz, or lb and oz. Recovery machines are fairly expensive. And require a recovery tank. Problem is that refrigerator doesn't hold alot of refrigerant. So you're going to lose a noticeable amount when you recover, as there's going to be some left in the machine after recovery that there's really no way to force into the tank. So you'll need virgin refrigerant on standby to make sure you get a full charge. Also, before recovery make sure your reco tank has been pulled to a hard vacuum to prevent contamination.

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Looks like the compressor part cost $467.00

https://www.repairclinic.com/PartDetail/...

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Yeah. That's a lot! :sobs: Maybe I should go down to the dump and pull some compressors off fridges there. But I'd need a refrigerant capture system.

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Most refrigerators have a limited warranty on the sealed system. Kenmore Elite is 10 years. You should first contact the manufacturer of the refrigerator to check your warranty.

Most compressor jobs cost between $800–$1200 depending on the cost of parts.

In the US you MUST be registered with your state and hold an EPA certificate to enter a sealed system. Unless you are qualified, certified and registered, you should not attemp to do the repairs yourself

Refrigerators and vehicles have different systems and are not repaired the same.

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You don't have to be registered with the state to work on your own equipment in the USA. However it is illegal to access n a refrigerant system without proper epa certification. For something like this class 1 is all you need. Standard hvac systems require class 2, above 50lbs refrigerant requires class 3.

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@brandon_k Correct. You can do whatever you want to anything you own. There are laws in place to protect the public from getting ripped off, as well as some idiot from blowing themselves up. You must know what your doing when your working with pressurized gasses, torches, and someone’s expensive refrigerator.

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I would buy a new fridge. You can buy a brand new quality brand 600 to 700 dollars with a warranty. It doesn't make financial sense to repair it

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Fair enough. But I really like this fridge! If it's the same price to fix this or replace it, I'd fix it.

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It's up to you. But in my opinion I would replace it. It will need to buy a propane torch, a set of decent ac gauges and they run around 150 dollars. You can buy R134A in a small can for around 15 to 20 dollars each for 12 ounces. You will need a can tap and oil for the system. You need to verify that it didn't send metal fragments into the system so you will need to flush it and weld in an inline filter. So you will be in it for a little more than 600 dollar compressor and you also need to take in your labor. Good luck with with which choice you make.

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Hi @kyle ,

It might depend on your location, but in a lot of jurisdictions the environmental regulations regarding the handling of refrigerant gases require that a licenced repairer is used when working on a refrigerator's, air conditioner's etc sealed system of which the compressor is a part.

How old is the refrigerator?

According to the user manual there is a 5 year warranty on the sealed system which includes the compressor, but not the labour

さんによる

It's a R134A system which he stated in the question and he is not required to recycle or have a license to service or repair the sealed system in the United states. You can buy the refrigerant off the shelf in Walmart or any parts store.

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OK.

I wrongly assumed that since the USA has also signed an international agreement back in 2015 to limit the usage of R-134A by 85% by 2036 because of its' impact on the atmosphere that it would also have some restrictions in place by now as it is here and other places.

The reason I guess that it hasn't, is that two USA companies successfully appealed in the USA Federal court against the USA EPA's R-134A usage reduction implementation timetable on the basis that it would make them uncompetitive against their two main USA rivals who don't use R-134A.

It seems to be on the backburner since. Not to worry about the atmosphere then

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This happened to me yesterday on an LG. I called around and the running rate is $900. He gave me a $40 discount without the tax charges, if I paid cash or Zell. That was $114.25 less which I am so grateful.

It took the guy an hour but it seemed complicated. He had to use the torch to remove the compressor, compressorized the new unit to the required pressure, used the torch to put the new compressor in, changed the attached filter, and added freon. He said that LG purposely put a poor quality compressor in so that customers would have to buy the replacement after five years. I am just glad to get it fixed and it is much colder than before. Best, K.

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Kyle Wiens さん、ありがとうございました!
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