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Start old spare Fridge periodically to keep Seals, etc. 'fresh'?
Old 05-22-2018, 09:33 AM   #1
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Start old spare Fridge periodically to keep Seals, etc. 'fresh'?

I can't remember where I got this idea. Maybe because cars are not supposed to be left unused for long. I have an old spare fridge I use for homebrew once every several years. I unplug it when not using it. Should I be plugging it back in every year and running it for a day, just for maintenance? I think I heard somewhere that there are seals that 'dry up' over time if not used. It is an 80's vintage, I think. Thoughts ?
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Old 05-22-2018, 09:51 AM   #2
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I'd be curious to know the answer to this one, too. There's an old fridge out in my grandmother's garage. I put it there in 2004, I guess, replacing a circa 1969 Norge that had been there before. This "newer" fridge came from my condo, which I had remodeled with new appliances just before selling. I had bought the condo in 1994, and I think the fridge was from the mid/late 80's...so it's no spring chicken. Alas, I don't think we ever plugged it in, either, so lord knows what would happen now, after sitting in that garage for about 14 years, unused!
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Old 05-22-2018, 09:57 AM   #3
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I assume it is stored indoors, like a garage or other protected from the elements. The refrigerant system is sealed and should be fine with no use. By using it for a short period, you would encourage condensation and moisture build-up inside. That is why it is best to leave the doors slightly open in storage, or have something to soak up the moisture, when it is not being used. It is probably good to ensure the condenser coils and fan are clean. The condenser fan, internal fan and evaporator should not have any problem in storage unless it has moisture where it could develop corrosion.



The seals I think you are asking if they dry up are the door seals, they should be fine. Any internal seals around the internal pieces I would also say are fine.


It won't hurt to run it occasionally, just make sure to let it dry out so no mold or corrosion on the internal parts.
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Old 05-22-2018, 11:50 AM   #4
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No idea if this is still true, but 20 years or so ago the good plan was to run a frig on a regular basis. The Freon/oil mix would stratify in the cooling coils on the back of the frig, an acid would settle at a certain level, and when restarted a line of pinholes would present all at the same level on the coils. After discovering that issue, and after buying several used refrigerators and humping them up to second floor apartments where they promptly died in 2-3 days, I decided to only buy new refrigerators.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:00 AM   #5
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I'd be curious to know the answer to this one, too. There's an old fridge out in my grandmother's garage. I put it there in 2004, I guess, replacing a circa 1969 Norge that had been there before. This "newer" fridge came from my condo, which I had remodeled with new appliances just before selling. I had bought the condo in 1994, and I think the fridge was from the mid/late 80's...so it's no spring chicken. Alas, I don't think we ever plugged it in, either, so lord knows what would happen now, after sitting in that garage for about 14 years, unused!
Most of the folks (but not all, as usual!) on the internet think it will be fine.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:13 AM   #6
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I assume it is stored indoors, like a garage or other protected from the elements. The refrigerant system is sealed and should be fine with no use. By using it for a short period, you would encourage condensation and moisture build-up inside. That is why it is best to leave the doors slightly open in storage, or have something to soak up the moisture, when it is not being used. It is probably good to ensure the condenser coils and fan are clean. The condenser fan, internal fan and evaporator should not have any problem in storage unless it has moisture where it could develop corrosion.



The seals I think you are asking if they dry up are the door seals, they should be fine. Any internal seals around the internal pieces I would also say are fine.


It won't hurt to run it occasionally, just make sure to let it dry out so no mold or corrosion on the internal parts.
38Chevy454, it is stored upright. Now that I remember, it was supposedly seals inside the compressor that were the concern. I do get a chirp from one of the fans, which goes away after a day of running the fridge. I keep the doors closed, since they are already sagging a bit on the hinges, but keep a box of baking soda inside the big compartment, to soak up moisture.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:14 AM   #7
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No idea if this is still true, but 20 years or so ago the good plan was to run a frig on a regular basis. The Freon/oil mix would stratify in the cooling coils on the back of the frig, an acid would settle at a certain level, and when restarted a line of pinholes would present all at the same level on the coils. After discovering that issue, and after buying several used refrigerators and humping them up to second floor apartments where they promptly died in 2-3 days, I decided to only buy new refrigerators.
Thanks for the replies! Calmloki, that sounds like what I heard before. The oil separating. The acid is a new twist, though! Searching the internet implies that you just have to store a fridge upright, avoid turning it on it's side ever, if possible, and keep doors open, if possible, when storing. No mention of freon, oil, or acid. But that sounds like what I heard before, probably from an internet search. Whenever I start it up, every couple of years, it makes lots of squealing, chirping, and bubbling sounds for about 6 hours, then quiets down and runs like a champ.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:24 AM   #8
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38Chevy454, it is stored upright. Now that I remember, it was supposedly seals inside the compressor that were the concern.
Compressors in refrigerators and freezers are hermetically sealed and no damage will be done from lack of use.

A/C compressors in cars and trucks are different but with most manufacturers, the A/C is designed to come on when the defroster is used so the compressors tend to cycle year round.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:27 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies! Calmloki, that sounds like what I heard before. The oil separating. The acid is a new twist, though! Searching the internet implies that you just have to store a fridge upright, avoid turning it on it's side ever, if possible, and keep doors open, if possible, when storing. No mention of freon, oil, or acid. But that sounds like what I heard before, probably from an internet search. Whenever I start it up, every couple of years, it makes lots of squealing, chirping, and bubbling sounds for about 6 hours, then quiets down and runs like a champ.
You can lay a refrigerator on its side for transport. Just make sure to set it upright for 24 hours before plugging it in to allow the oil to return to the compressor which is at the lowest point when setting upright.
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Old 05-23-2018, 07:47 AM   #10
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You can lay a refrigerator on its side for transport. Just make sure to set it upright for 24 hours before plugging it in to allow the oil to return to the compressor which is at the lowest point when setting upright.
Not according to Mrs Scrapr. Proceed at your own risk. YMMV
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Old 05-23-2018, 11:38 AM   #11
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NO It is a hermetically sealed system. no seals involved. Each time you start a refrigeration compressor that has been sitting out of service, it is a dry start on the bearings, Opening the doors occasionally to air it out would be more useful. The evaporator fan bearings may dry out over time in storage, but that is a $15 easy to change part.

Cars and motor homes are another situation. Should be started and brought up to operating temp every 3 days. I say 3 days, because that is about how long an oil film sticks to engine bearing surfaces.

Have a neighbor that leave both a car and a motor home in the yard, starts them once a mouth to " keep the battery charged. Sacrifice the engine bearing life to save a battery, bad trade off IMO. Others my have another opinion.
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Old 05-23-2018, 12:25 PM   #12
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I understand what people are saying about a fridge being different from other A/C units, that it is a sealed system(*), and therefore doesn't need regular use. But....

There might be something to what calmloki said about the fluids separating over time, I don't know.

And.... especially when it comes to matters like this, and especially when dealing with a small sample size (1!) and anecdotes, I look to the pragmatic approach. To me that is:

What's the harm in 'playing it safe' and running it for a day once every three months? It's not hard, it won't cost much. It may not help, but it's not a lot of work.

OK, I guess Lakewood90712 is saying that the start could hurt the bearings, since the fluid would have time to drip away? But a regular fridge runs just about every hour, so no time for the fluid to drip off the bearings? Hmmm.

I'd it were me - I'd just do it. Actually, if it were me, I'd fill it with more home brew! Which reminds me, I have a couple kegs chilled and ready to tap - gonna have to test them.


(*) Why aren't auto A/C sealed? Are home A/C sealed? For auto, is it because they power it mechanically, so they need a shaft through the unit. Could they use a magnetic coupling? I think some cars are going to electric motor powered compressors, so it can be run on demand separate from engine RPM.

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Old 05-23-2018, 12:41 PM   #13
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My late DMIL's 1948 International Harvester Fridge has been continuously running sans power outages, and a 4 hour trip from her old home to my garage. I say keep 'er running.
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Old 05-23-2018, 12:44 PM   #14
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Not according to Mrs Scrapr. Proceed at your own risk. YMMV
Have brought many a new frig from store to apartment on it's side. 24 hours is a reasonable time to allow oil to get back out of the compressor and avoid trying to compress a fluid. In reality I would instruct the tenant to plug in the next morning, or just wait as long as possible with it upright, making sure it was upright longer than horizontal. By the time I got the frig out of it's packaging, the door swing swapped (notice how it's always wrong?), and had it moved into it's new home the timing worked out pretty well.
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