Intro: Repairing a Broken Refrigerant Line.
I have this spare ice maker that I gutted out to use the compressor as a diy chiller. Last night when I was carefully bending the copper tubing, one of them broke. Bummer! So much for copper.
I didn't want to throw away a perfectly good compressor so with some spare parts lying around I went about repairing the broken line. This fix was unbelievably easy and if you have the same tools as I do, then for sure you can fix a broken line and even replace a busted compressor.
As always safety first. Wear eye protection and protect sensitive parts from hot materials. Also no debris must enter the open copper tubing.
Step 1: Adding a Valve to the Vacuum and Fill Line.
Newer refrigerators come with Schrader valves but this tiny unit just had its line crimped and brazed. I had an old brass valve so I went ahead and soldered this onto the line after cutting off the end. I used normal electronics grade solder to make an air tight seal between the line and valve.
Step 2: Joining the Busted Lines.
Using my tool set for air conditioning, I cut a length of spare tubing and expanded it. I basically used it as a splice and soldered the whole thing together.
Step 3: Sealing a Cut Off Line.
Using a small piece of tubing to make a crimp onto this line I filled it with solder and sealed off this unused line.
Step 4: Pulling a Vacuum.
With my Manifold gauge set and vacuum pump hooked into the installed valve, pulled a vacuum for 20 minutes and locked off the manifold low pressure valve then turned off the vacuum pump. I let it sit like that for 15 minutes watching for any decrease in vacuum. Satisfied there are no leaks I went ahead to the next step.
Step 5: Adding R134a Refrigerant.
I had a spare bottle left over from car work I did so I put a little into the vacuumed system. I estimate that about 1oz I needed for such a tiny system but I have no scale so I added tiny volumes and watch the low pressure gauge.
Once I was satisfied enough was in the system I proceeded to power up.
Step 6: Testing!
It powered up successfully and the compressor hummed like a dream. I measured the power consumption and opened the can valve to let some more refrigerant in. Once the power consumption reached 69 watts I locked off the can valve. After 15mins and it used approximately 64watts. The low pressure gauge read -4.5 inHg. I let her run while taking a temperature reading.
Below 10C is quite good! I'm very happy here.
Step 7: Practical Application Testing.
The portable thermometer showed down to 4C with a power draw of 65watts. The bottle of water force over after approximately 45mins.
My Handy thermal camera shows a case temperature of 65C which is very good!
Basically anytime I need to refill one of these tiny r134a compressors I only need to make sure the power draw is 65watt and the case temperature is 65C after about one hour of operation. Also the fill line must read -4.5 inHg.
I'm elated at my very first diy fix for a busted hermetically sealed refrigeration system. The system works excellent and there are no detectable leaks. I plan to use this to freeze a 400 gallon tank of water to store solar energy. At night I will pump this cold water into the house to cool a room! I will keep you folks informed of my progress.