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Son of Samurai's Blog

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Waterproofing Splices in Refrigerators and Freezers

Son of Samurai

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Why is it that manufacturers (such as GE, Electrolux, and others) always recommend that you seal any splices you make in their refrigeration units with silicone grease? The simple answer is that it keeps out water. This is obviously desirable because water can both corrode and short out electrical connections. A splice is already a weak point in a circuit, so especially in wet environments, you want to give them as much lasting power as possible.

And it gets even more interesting when you're making a splice in a sensing circuit, such as a thermistor. It's especially important to waterproof your connections here, because any increase in resistance (such as from a corroded connection) or decrease in resistance (such as from a shorted connection) will change the input to the control board. A thermistor might be in perfect working order, but if there's a corroded splice in its circuit, the board will interpret the temperatures as being lower than they actually are.

So it's a good practice to waterproof your splices. What's the best way to do that? Most manufacturers tell you to use a bell connector and some silicone grease, and this is usually easy enough to do. But some of the clever techs around Appliantology have found their own solutions that work just as well (if not better!).

@David Jero shared his experience with GE's changing recommendations regarding watertight connections and explained his own solution:

Quote

Yes, [using a bell connector and RTV] was GE's recommendation for years. Until we realized moisture still caused the copper wires to corrode and turn green from moisture.  So bad that I could cut off 2 or more inches and the wire would be black under the insulation.  This is when I started using the clear silicone grease.  It seems to work a little better. I would twist the wires and stick them straight into he grease and then fill the bell connector.   But it still causes the wires to corrode.  So now I use heat shrink tubing with glue inside. It's just as easy and seals the wire perfectly.

I just twits the wires together real nice and tight. No connectors.  Twist and fold to one side. Slide over the connector. Yes a lighter works too.  After its all done,  try and pull the wires apart. Just as strong or stronger than any crimp connection.  Remember weak wires connections arc and eventually burn up.  I don't go as far as soldering wires. High voltage, high current connections get wire nuts, but these are usually when it's in a dry area anyway.  These shrink tubes are great for defrost thermisters and even defrost t-stats on refrigerators.  I use to use those bullet connectors. But I don't trust they make a solid bite, even with a good Klein crimper tool. 

And @SANTA showed off his super simple waterproofing technique:

On 11/6/2019 at 9:22 PM, SANTA said:

For years I've been wrapping those connections with rubberized stretchy double sided electrical tape. It seals on itself. Great shit!

 

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There are lots of different ways to waterproof a connection -- these are just a few examples. Which one suits your repair style best?

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KoolPappy39

Posted

I would prefer to do the first trick, with the shrink tubing, as it sounds like a more sound connection. But would probably still join the splice with a bell connector and then slide over the tubing.

However, the rubberized electrical tape that @SANTA showed as his go to.. that appears to be the ticket! I don't know a lot about the integrity of it though. @SANTA, do you just twist your bare wires together and wrap the tape around? Or do you still use a bell connector underneath?

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Stronghammer

Posted

We use heat shrink butt connectors. They have a type of adhesive inside so not only does the tubing shrink down around the wires but the adhesive flows around and bonds and seals everything. I got a crimp tool with the different dies so I can make sure I get a good crimp without tearing up the tubing. (Crimp part of a wire strippers will get the job done if careful, but the crimp tool does it perfectly.) hit with a heat gun or even a lighter will work if you are careful. These make a very strong and completely waterproof connection.  Before I started using them I did some testing with them. I used one to make a loop in a piece of wired and tried to pull it apart and could not get it to break with just my hands. When I used a mechanical device for leverage when the wire broke before the connector failed. I also put one in water and let it freeze and thaw many times and it was still sealed perfectly. 

Some of the high-end manufactures are actually sending these types of connectors with thermistors and other such parts now.

Here is what I get from Amazon. 

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Vince Neibert

Posted

What kind of crimping tool do you use?@Stronghammer

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Stronghammer

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One just like what they show in step 3 box. It’s just a hand held crimping tool. If you look up the connectors on amazon they will come up as related products. The one I got is a whole set with the different dies for different connectors because I use mine for other things as well. 

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Recently, at a training event, the subject of splicing thermistor connections came up.  The instructor mentioned he uses these connectors. image.thumb.jpeg.afcc0b056960e59b9c586a206cd0d380.jpegimage.thumb.jpeg.b2781479abc788fd7ddaee9cf4872c0a.jpeg Apparently, they are used for low voltage circuits in telephone land lines and they seal from moisture.  The ones pictured are from three wires.  The yellow ones are for two wires.  They can be bought at Home Depot.

 

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Never just twist wires together. Bell connector or whatever connector you choose and then wrap the connections with rubber electrical tape.

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