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LG fridge - poked tiny hole in coolant line

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Recently both the frige and freezer were not as cold as they should be. Upon inspecting the freezer compartment (LG

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Old 03-26-2010, 11:55 AM
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Default LG fridge - poked tiny hole in coolant line
Model Number: LG   Brand: -other-   Age: 1 - 5 years   

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Recently both the frige and freezer were not as cold as they should be. Upon inspecting the freezer compartment (LG counter depth side-by side, 14 months old) I noticed that there was significant ice build up around the vents where the cold air is circulated through the freezer compartment. I cleared the ice but realized that the ice build up was very substantial behind the interior molding. I removed the molding and noticed that the top portion of the condensor was encased within ice, and the ice extended at least another 10 inches up the back wall of the unit.

While attempting to remove the ice (which I did and amounted to over half a bucket) I ever so slightly nicked one of the copper supply lines for the refrigerant to move from the condensor and an immediate small leak developed. Note that I did not damage the condensor, just one of the two copper line (pictures attached). I immediately sealed the line with a very good tape which seems to have held. I know there is still pressure in the system.

I am wondering if this can be repaired. If the refridgerant could somehow be stopped a small bead or two of solder could seal the copper line, at least that is my novice opinion. Is this possible, and furthermore can more refrigerant be added back to the system? I am afraid that a repair man will come, say that it can't be fixed and then charge me for an entirely new compressor / condensor/ and all that labor!

The other issue, and I have already called LG about this which makes this even more of a delicate situation is that apparently the ice buildup was so bad, that the defrost cycle ran and the hot air could not escape through the condensor, so the bottom of the panel in the freezer melted! (pics attached). I am out of warranty but LG said that they *might* cover this problem (although my futzing around really hampers that possibility). Nevertheless, getting back to the main problem.... I have heard that once there is an issue of coolant or refrigerant leaking out that moisture can enter the system rendering it useless. My older uncle in the appliance repair business said to throw the entire unit to the curb and buy a new frige because "everything is made in mexico these days and is cheap and not worth fixing". I dont know if that is old-man-mentaility speaking or the truth so I am looking for an honest response from the community of professionals. I do not believe that the system has lost much coolant or that it is even possible that any moisture has entered the system since the leak was covered almost imeediately and was expelling gas, not sucking any in.


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Attached Images
File Type: jpg closeup.jpg (59.3 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg melted_panel.jpg (74.2 KB, 27 views)
File Type: jpg panel_front.jpg (40.5 KB, 27 views)
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 03-26-2010, 01:46 PM
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Default Before you decide to repair your own refrigerator

Well, I hate to disappoint you, but your uncle is right. It doesn't matter how quick you put the tape on, as soon as you punctured the evaporator, moisture immediately entered the system. You didn't slightly nick the copper tubing, you punctured it when you were chipping at the ice, with a screwdriver would be my guess, copper cannot be easily punctured, especially by slightly nicking it. The problem when moisture and oxygen enters the sealed system, it breaks down the refrigerant into hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, which then in turn damage the mechanical components. You have a major problem, and I'll save you a house call charge by telling you that the entire sealed system has to be replaced. If you only have the system evacuated and dehydrated, then recharge the system, which even if its done properly and legally, by an EPA Certified Type I Technician, in other words, not recommended for a DIYer, due to the process required, would still be a major repair, and would not last as long as it should due to the acid damage.<br><br>I hope people see this post, and realize why its not always a good idea to attempt a repair of a major house hold appliance on their own. I've had plenty of phone calls from potential customers, who if they had called for service sooner, wouldn't be shopping for a brand new refrigerator, and in the process spending 5-10 times what a repair service would have cost in the first place. <br><br>And one last bit of bad news, because this unit is not working, it is not eligible for the electric company's cash for clunkers appliance exchange program credit either.<br>
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Old 03-26-2010, 02:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FridgeDoctor View Post
Well, I hate to disappoint you, but your uncle is right. It doesn't matter how quick you put the tape on, as soon as you punctured the evaporator, moisture immediately entered the system. You didn't slightly nick the copper tubing, you punctured it when you were chipping at the ice, with a screwdriver would be my guess, copper cannot be easily punctured, especially by slightly nicking it. The problem when moisture and oxygen enters the sealed system, it breaks down the refrigerant into hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids, which then in turn damage the mechanical components. You have a major problem, and I'll save you a house call charge by telling you that the entire sealed system has to be replaced. If you only have the system evacuated and dehydrated, then recharge the system, which even if its done properly and legally, by an EPA Certified Type I Technician, in other words, not recommended for a DIYer, due to the process required, would still be a major repair, and would not last as long as it should due to the acid damage.<br><br>I hope people see this post, and realize why its not always a good idea to attempt a repair of a major house hold appliance on their own. I've had plenty of phone calls from potential customers, who if they had called for service sooner, wouldn't be shopping for a brand new refrigerator, and in the process spending 5-10 times what a repair service would have cost in the first place. <br><br>And one last bit of bad news, because this unit is not working, it is not eligible for the electric company's cash for clunkers appliance exchange program credit either.<br>
What does <br> mean?
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Old 03-26-2010, 05:49 PM
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the previous user was attempting to add an html carriage return except the editor does not support such code, probably for security reasons.

Now back to the real problem.... You are correct on all accounts with the exception that it really wasn't very hard to puncture the think copper line (but thats not the point). Anyhow, the one part that I am having a very hard time wrapping head around is how the system could have been compromised. The system (and please correct me if I am wrong) is pressurized. Matter moves from high pressure to low pressure and the puncture I made was very small, and furthermore was covered up very quickly while the small hole was venting out (implying that there was still pressure in the closed system, yes?) Would the moisture be entering from another location (i.e condensation).

And, do you suggest that I do not have my system fixed, flushed, and recharged? My refrigerator was $2500 just over a year ago and of course wuld rather spend even a thousand dollars or more to get this fixed if necessary. Just trying to avoid a new refrigerator

Thanks for your input and detailed explanation, it is definitely much appreciated!
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Old 03-26-2010, 06:10 PM
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you're right, the point is that you shouldnt have chipped away at the ice, puncturing your system. Instead you should have called an expert to at least diagnose your problem. You are going to spend close to that $2500 to repair everything you need to replace, its not worth it. And that repair wont come with a 5 year warranty either. Im sorry to say, but you cost yourself a much bigger headache than was necessary. An expensive lesson yes, but thats where you are right now.
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:12 PM
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After you removed the ice, does it funtion properly now? If so, (since it's apparently doomed anyway) I'd leave the tape, and find out how long I could get it to last, before spending any more $$ on a new appliance! Good luck!
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