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Oily water underneath my refrig

GSS22WGPD oily

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7 replies to this topic

#1 BarefootTech

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:03 AM

We have a GE side-by-side refrig (Model GSS22WGPD WW) that was new with the house 8 years ago (2004). It was almost 4 years before it stopped keeping our food cool.

With the help of the great wisdom shared by you folks on this forum/web site, I determined that that big block of ice surrounding the cooling coils was due to the over-temp thermostat having opened up. A mere $16 later, after I wired in a new thermostat, I was back in business. :)

Then, at around 6 years into its life, I found another big block of ice surrounding the cooling coils. This time, the defrost heater had opened up. A mere $41 later, after I wired in the new defrost heater, I was back in business once again. :)

Now we're 8 years into its life, and we recently began to notice that items in the freezer weren't staying rock solid frozen. The main compartment was doing okay, but not the freezer. Fiddling with the temp controls didn't seem to help. The temp gauge showed that the freezer was hanging around 20 degrees F whenever I happened to check (instead of the just below zero F that I was accustomed to seeing). Last night I noticed that the temp had climb a bit higher, so I figured that I better investigate more thoroughly. I removed the cover in front of the cooling coils, expecting to find another big block of ice...but no such luck. The refrig is cooling...just not enough.

So I decided to pull the refrig forward and clean things up in the back. There I found some water that had accumulated below the compressor...but it didn't look quite right, as it appeared that there may have been some oil blobs in it. As I sopped it up with a paper towel, my suspicion was confirmed...it most definitely felt oily. My gut said this wouldn't be a simple fix.

We've always felt a bit cramped for space with this 21.8 cu. ft. refrig, but I just couldn't justify spending a bunch of money on a new model when I could repair it for so little. However, I threw in the towel this time, and the wife & I went out today and purchased a new Whirlpool 29.7 cu. ft (GSS30C6EYY). We're looking forward to having a bunch more room in it.

Was my gut instinct, that this wouldn't be an easy fix this time, a correct assumption?

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#2 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:08 AM

if you could post pictures (somewhere) of the frost pattern on the Evaporator
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#3 kdog

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 12:11 AM

Oil could indicate a system leak in which case your assumption is absolutely corect that it is not an easy fix or inexpensive. There should be an even coating of frost throughout the entire coil - when leaks occur that frost pattern is diminished
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#4 BarefootTech

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 02:18 AM

I should've taken a picture, but I failed to do so. The refrig is all back together at the moment, keeping items reasonably cold in the main compartment (and what few items we have in the freezer barely frozen). I do recall that the coils were more frost covered on the bottom half than the top half.

I presumed that the oil must've come from the compressor, as the water/oil mix was most noticeable directly below that. However, I didn't feel any oil on the compressor's underside...but then I didn't examine it all that closely as I was a bit distracted as I managed to cut some skin off the back of my hand while sopping up the water/oil mix. :(

Out of curiosity, that area where I found the water...it is supposed to be an area for water to collect, right? I'm presuming that after a defrost cycle, some water drips down there, and is intended to collect on that bottom portion of the refrig, so as to eventually evaporate. Is that correct?

#5 DanInKansas

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 06:20 AM

You are correct in that last question, by the way.

Water from a cracked defrost pan can be pretty gross, but what you're describing -- loss of cooling with oil on the floor -- sounds like "game over" to me, unless you're willing to get your EPA refrigeration certification to fix this. It doesn't take much in the way of tools -- you just need a vacuum pump, a refrigerant pump, a cylinder for used refrigerant, gauges, a charging scale, some solder, and either an oxy/acetylene torch or an electric line heater. You can get those all on eBay for about two grand.

So yeah, new fridge was your best bet there.

#6 BarefootTech

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:36 AM

Actually the oil and water mix was not on the floor, but rather on a bottom metal portion of the refrig. I recall wiping up water (no oil) in this area the previous times, so I was presuming it was specifically designed this way so as to allow a reasonable amount of moisture from defrosting cycles to evaporate naturally.

To think...instead of spending a couple grand on a new refrig, I could've spent it all on tools and an education! :)

BTW, what is the likely future of the old refrig that hhgregg will be taking off my hands? Is there a place that old refrigs are typically taken to, where they get disassembled and recycled?

#7 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 09:50 AM

... Is there a place that old refrigs are typically taken to, where they get disassembled and recycled?

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#8 BarefootTech

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Posted 01 June 2012 - 03:48 PM

That video was impressive!

I curious if you that are very familiar with refrig maintenance consider the breakdowns my GE side-by-side had (at 4 years, then 6 years, and now at 8 years) is worse than average, average, or better than average? Do refrigerators last any longer than they used to 2 or 3 decades ago?




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