Refrigerator Gas [Questions, Problems & Solutions]

Your refrigerator works with gas as a coolant to keep it up and running. There are different issues and questions about refrigerator gas, and we will discuss them in this article.

Refrigerator Gas
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What Is a Refrigerant Gas?

A refrigerant or refrigerant gas is a type of gas that helps to move heat in a sealed system from one area to another. Typically, fluorocarbons such as chlorofluorocarbons and hydrofluorocarbons are used as refrigerants. And you will find this gas in systems such as air conditioners and refrigerators. In other words, the refrigerant gas is used in cooling systems.

Refrigerator Has Gas Smell – What to Do

If you notice a gas smell from your refrigerator, unplug it from the wall outlet. Then, find and hire a licensed technician to check the refrigerator and verify a gas leak.

Here are other signs that your refrigerator is leaking gas:

1. Refrigerator Compressor Constantly Runs

A refrigerator’s compressor tends to run and shut off from time to time every day. The defrost timer shuts it off so that the defrost cycle can run. Even in refrigerators without an automatic defrost system, the compressor shuts off from time to time.

However, if a refrigerator’s compressor constantly runs, it is an indication that the appliance is not cooling as it should. The compressor is trying to make up for the rising internal temperature. And one of the reasons it happens is loss of gas or freon. The danger is that the compressor will wear out quicker than it should due to the strain of constantly running. Replacing a compressor does not come cheap.

2. Refrigerator’s Internal Temperature Rises

If you don’t notice the compressor running non-stop, you will notice an increase in the internal temperature. Apart from a constantly running compressor, warmness is another tell-tale sign of a gas leak in a refrigerator. Food and drinks won’t be cold at all, or not as cold as they should be.

Another way to check using the temperature is to check the cooling evenness in the freezer. If only one shelf in the freezer is cooling, there may be a sealed system leak. The same applies if only one section of the evaporator coils has frost on it. There should be an even spread of light frost on the coils.

A gas leak is not the only cause of a warm-temperature refrigerator. But a gas smell and a refrigerator that stops cooling may equate to a gas leak.

3. A Hike in Electricity Bills

While a hike in the electricity bills you pay tends to happen during winter and summer months due to extra cooling or heating, an unusual and constant hike indicates a problem. A refrigerator with a gas leak will constantly run to maintain a cool temperature. But it is at a cost; it uses a lot of energy to run.

You may want to check other appliances that use a lot of energy, apart from the refrigerator. If you are not sure how to do it, hire a qualified electrician to check the appliances for you.

Refrigerator Gas Blockage – How to Fix

To fix a gas blockage in your refrigerator, try to repair or replace the following:

1. Valves and contaminants

Different valves control the flow of gas and determine which refrigerator component is in use at every point in the cooling cycle. If the gas has contaminants, though it is rare, the pollutants can wear the valves out and cause clogs. The clogs prevent the smooth flow of gas to different chambers, and the blockage reduces cooling in the refrigerator. 

Typically, replacing the valves in the case of clogs is your best bet, but you also have the option of cleaning them. However, you need to know how to take the system apart, locate the valves, and change them.

2. Gas Filter

There is a filter in the refrigerator’s sealed system that sieves particles and contaminants out of the gas. It is not usual to have contaminants or particles in the gas or freon because the system is sealed. But they may find a way in, so the filter is there to remove them from the gas.

If the filter fills up, it clogs the gas line and eventually prevents cooling. The only fix here is to find and replace the filter. It may be a job for a qualified refrigerator technician.

3. Compressor

A failing compressor can cause the gas it pumps to clog the line. It can block the gas and cause it to run too slowly. Over time, the gas builds up, and flowing would become almost impossible. A buildup of gas will block the line and reduce cooling. 

Check the compressor’s run time. If it runs longer than it should, it may indicate a failure. And strange noises from the compressor alert you to a fault. You will have to test the compressor. If it is not in good working condition, replace it.

Important Note

A leak in the sealed sometimes imitates a blockage. A leak reduces the gas line pressure, creating similar symptoms to gas blockage. Also, too much gas in the line will inhibit the gas flow. So, it would seem as if there is an obstruction. Therefore, test the sealed to determine if you have a gas leak, a gas blockage, or too much gas.

If you are sure there is a gas blockage, this video demonstrates how to clear it…

Check out these other articles…

Refrigerator Compressor Making a Knocking Noise [How to Fix]

Refrigerator Compressor Shuts Off [How to Fix]

Refrigerator Evaporator [Problems & Solutions]

Refrigerator Gasket [Problems & Solutions]

Refrigerator Smells [Issues Solved]

Gas Refrigerator [Guide/Problems Solved]

Refrigerator Compressor Relay [How to/Issues & Solutions]

Refrigerator Gas Check – Guiding Steps

To check whether or not your refrigerator needs gas, take the following steps:

Step 1

Find the condenser coils on your refrigerator. Typically, they are next to the compressor, but some condenser coils are underneath the refrigerators. When you find them, put your hand close to them. 

They should emit some heat; it is part of the cooling process, as the refrigerant absorbs heat in the evaporator coils and dissipates it in the condenser coils. If the condenser coils don’t emit any heat, it may indicate that there is no gas flowing through them. It may also suggest that there is a gas blockage or the coils are no longer working.

Step 2

Disconnect the refrigerator from electric power and turn off the temperature control. Next, put your ear to one side of the refrigerator’s cabinet. Typically, you should hear gurgling or hissing noises as the gas is flowing and equalizing. The noises will be apparent if there is no other sound to interfere with them.

However, if you hear nothing when the refrigerator is off, it may indicate that the gas level is low. But it may also suggest issues with the defrost system, capillary tube, compressor, condenser fan, condenser coils, or even the filter-dryer.

Step 3

Open the inside back panel of the freezer compartment, where you have the evaporator coils. Reconnect the refrigerator to electric power and, with the compartment still open, turn on the temperature control and set it to the correct point.

Give the refrigerator some time to run and check the coils. If there is no light coating of frost on them, or the frost is just on one side, the gas in the refrigerator is low.

Other Ways to Check Gas in a Refrigerator

Items in the refrigerator or fresh food compartment start freezing. You can start by checking the door seal and replacing it if it appears to be weak. Then, adjust the thermostat to a slightly higher point and wait for a change. If the refrigerator continues freezing everything, it may point to a drop in the gas level.

Next, check for a moldy smell in the refrigerator compartment. While it is still freezing, if you smell a musty odor, no matter how faint, the gas level may have dropped. After some time, you may see large ice chunks in different corners of the compartment. This issue goes beyond just freezing everything.

The freezer compartment may also have large ice chunks and overflow with ice, so much so that you cannot fully close the door. If a constant clicking noise accompanies this development, hire a licensed refrigerator technician to refill the gas.

But if you are still not sure, or you assume your refrigerator has simply picked up the cooling pace, wait a little time. You will notice the excessive ice starts melting, the clicking noise increases, and the freezer smells even moldier, in increasing measure. The refrigerator will constantly drip water because the ice is melting, and there is no gas left to make more ice.

Finally, the refrigerator will stop working, and all the frozen food will start to thaw. You should not wait for it to get to this point before refilling the gas. Otherwise, you risk damaging the refrigerator and having to purchase a new one.

Refrigerator Gas Change – What to Do

Most refrigerators have a sealed system, meaning they are soldered shut. It is near impossible to change the gas. The system can spring a leak, which can be fixed by a professional. And if the gas depletes, it can be refilled. But if you are looking to change the gas, contact the manufacturer or hire a certified appliance technician for professional assistance.

In any case, you don’t need to change the gas or refrigerant. If the gas leaks or you replace the compressor, simply use a machine to recover the remaining refrigerant. After sealing the leak or installing the compressor, recharge the system with the recovered gas. Vacuum the system and top up the lost gas if there is a shortage. That is why a professional should do the job.

Refrigerator Gas Filling Procedure

To fill your refrigerator with gas yourself, do the following steps. Note that it is a complex procedure and will require some technical skills.

Step 1

You will need to gather all the tools and equipment for the job. You need a bottle of refrigerant. Ensure you buy one that corresponds with your refrigerator brand.

Other things you will need are:

  • A station for vacuum pumping. The station will help you to crimp, evacuate, and inject the gas. You may get one from your friends or rent one. Due to the fact that you may not be needing it after this job, buying one will not be cost-efficient.
  • Solder, flux, and a welding machine. The type you get will depend on the manufacturing materials of the tubes.
  • Schroeder valve, for creating high pressure and a vacuum in the system.
  • Filter drier. The drier is to remove moisture from the system.
  • Nitrogen. A cylinder of nitrogen will be used to cleanse the system.
  • Libra scale. It is needed to weigh the exact amount of gas a specific brand of a refrigerator should have.

Step 2

Find any leak in the tubes. Inspecting the tubes with your eyes may yield results, but the leaks tend to be too tiny to find that way. You may need to use a tool or go the old way of mixing soap and water and applying pressure.

Rub the soapy water on the tubes and joint, and add nitrogen to the sealed system. Depressurize, and you will see bubbles appear in the areas where there are leaks.

You can also use a leak detector, though the tool may not work if the particular one you have is not configured for the refrigerant in the system.

Step 3

Empty the system of any remaining gas. Then, get a filter drier near the compressor and, with a needle grip, make a hole in the section made of copper. You cannot use this filter drier after making the hole; purchase a new one.

Next, wire the circuit and prepare the area so that you will install the Schroeder valve. Remove the fitting and cut off the excess. Then, solder it to the compressor. At this point, the system has no gas, but you need to remove any leftovers with nitrogen.

Step 4

Purge the system with about six atmospheres of nitrogen for about ten to fifteen minutes. Afterward, the valve closes, and the filter cuts off. Repeat the purge to ensure the system is clean.

The sealed system should not be open for too long without a vacuum. Otherwise, there may be internal damages, and replacing it will be the only fix.

Step 5

Get a vacuum pumping station. The tool has two blue and red gauges and three hoses. Connect the yellow hose to the gas cylinder and connect the blue hose to the pipe that feeds the system. You may need a special fitting to secure it. Connect the red hose to the opposite end of the feeding system. Use a Schroeder valve to secure it.

Open the pressure gauges valves to inject the gas. You may have to place the cylinder containing the gas on a scale so you can correctly measure the amount of gas that flows out. When the pressure reaches 0.5 atmospheres, close the valves and turn the compressor on.

Allow the compressor to run for about thirty seconds before connecting the yellow hose to a vacuum pump. Turn it on for about ten minutes, then pull the hose out and connect it back to the gas cylinder.

Step 6

Open the valve on the blue gauge and continue filling the system with gas. Turn the compressor on intermittently to ensure it properly runs and maintains the correct pressure. When the system has the right amount of gas, disconnect the hoses, close the valves, and seal the system.

This video illustrates filling a refrigerator with gas…

Note: You can follow these steps to add refrigerants of any type to your refrigerator. But ensure you use the right type of refrigerant as specified by the manufacturer. You will find details on the compressor or at the back of the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Gas Explosion

The gas that flows through a refrigerator to cool it is highly flammable and hazardous. Inhaling it is not the only hazard it has; it can also cause an explosion.

Poor air circulation around the refrigerator can cause a heat overload on the compressor and condenser coils. The compressor pushes the gas through the condenser coils, and from the coils, the gas flows to the evaporator coils. 

There, it absorbs the heat in the refrigerator, leaving it cold. Then, it flows down to the condenser coils carrying the heat. And in the condenser coils, the heat is dissipated. 

But if there isn’t enough space to release the hot air, it remains trapped and heats everything up. The overload of heat causes the coils to contract and trap the gas. The hot gas eventually bursts through the coils in an explosion.

The only way to fix such a problem is to buy a new refrigerator. If you are going to buy a new one, look for one of those that come with a heat shield, made specially to prevent refrigerator explosions. The refrigerator may cost a little more, but it is an investment in your safety.

But you can prevent it from happening. First, ensure the condenser coils are clean. The recommended cleaning timeline is every six months. If they don’t attract much dirt, clean them every twelve months. Don’t leave them for longer before cleaning them.

Then, create space at the back and sides of the refrigerator. One or two inches will do; the space prevents heat from getting trapped around the coils and compressor.

Which Gas Is Used in Refrigerators?

The following are different types of gas used in refrigerators, both old and new models:

R22 Chlorofluorocarbon

This gas was popular in older model refrigerators. But its potential to deplete the ozone and contribute to global warming was high. Therefore, it is in the process of being phased out.

R438A Freon

This freon replaced the R22 chlorofluorocarbon because it did not deplete the ozone layer and contribute to global warming. Currently, many refrigerator manufacturers use it and you are likely to find it in refrigerators that used to run on the R22 gas.

R134A Tetrafluoroethane

You will also find this gas in newer model refrigerators and is quite popular. However, it is a greenhouse gas with high potency, even though it is ozone-friendly. And though refrigerator manufacturers currently use it, it will soon cease to be available.

R600A Iso Butane

Iso Butane is highly flammable but is used in smaller newer model refrigerators.

Is Refrigerator Gas Harmful?

A refrigerator gas can be harmful if it is inhaled in large amounts at the same time. Modern refrigerator gases may have little or no odor, though some have reported that they get a nail polish remover-like smell when there is a freon leak. However, most of the time, the leak goes undetected. And by the time you detected, you may have inhaled lethal doses.

If you inhale a large amount of refrigerator gas or refrigerant, you may have symptoms. Some of them are:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Irritation in the throat, ears, and eyes

Severe symptoms include:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Confusion
  • Vomiting blood
  • Seizure
  • Coma or death

Contact the office of the US Poison Control if you notice several of these symptoms. It helps to get a person suffering from gas poisoning to an area with better ventilation. Currently, there are no known drugs to counter the effect of the poisoning. But a doctor will know what to do if it is detected on time.

Recap

Freon or refrigerant is an essential part of the refrigeration process. A refrigerator gas does not deplete, but sometimes, the system may leak. If you find that there is a leak, it is crucial to hire a professional to check the system and recommend a fix. Simply sealing or patching the hole does not always solve the problem.

You have the option of contacting the manufacturer for assistance or reaching us using the chatbox to your right. We have experienced and qualified appliance technicians ready to offer immediate assistance.

Refrigerator Gas – Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Does a Refrigerator Gas Last?

A refrigerator gas lasts as long as the refrigerator lasts. You never need to refill the gas unless there is a leak. And then, it is the job of a licensed technician to handle and refill the gas, according to EPA laws.

2. Can I Use 407c in an R22 system?

You can use R-407c refrigerant in a system that typically uses R22. Compared to R22, 407c has a low loss in capacity and is more affordable than other replacements for R22. But if the system already has R22 in it, don’t add any replacement refrigerant to it, 407c or others.

3. Why Does a Refrigerator Leak Gas?

A refrigerator leaks gas because there is a hole in the gas line. A refrigerator usually comes with a closed system, meaning that the tubes are soldered shut and nobody can interfere with it. But if you have excessive ice and try to scrape it off using a sharp object, it may damage the sealed system and cause gas to leak. The same applies if you try to fix a complex refrigerator problem.

4. Refrigerator Gas Emission – What Gas Does a Refrigerator Emit?

A refrigerator typically emits hydrofluorocarbon at the end of its lifespan. The gas is 3,400 times more potent than carbon and is a potential contributor to global warming. Chlorofluorocarbon and hydrochlorofluorocarbon refrigerants are highly potent greenhouse gases and can contribute to global warming.

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