Why We Replace Old Compressors, Instead of Fixing Them
Sellers will often say one of two things to lure buyers into considering their machine that they know is likely not cooling correctly.
The first is “machine is in great condition, it’s just low on freon. Get a little freon, recharge it, and you will be good go, you can do it yourself.”
The second is “I have not plugged it in, but it worked the last time it ran”
The sellers try to give hope that the machine is still cooling or can be easily fixed without admitting it is not cooling. We often see these listings on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. The cooling system is not like a lock or a spring, it is a major investment, so I’d like to help on this issue today.
“It does not get cold. But it just needs "a little Freon" and you will be fine"
Sure there are some sellers who don’t know about cooling systems and they don’t want to invest more money in the machine. They just want to sell. But they could get more money for machines that are cooling than ones that are not.
So, I always want to ask them, if this is truly all that is needed, why don’t you plug it in and tell me for sure if it is cooling? Or spend a few dollars to put the freon in it?
Here are a couple of things to consider.
First, Freon alone does not fix the issues I see present in most 70-year-old cooling systems.
In fact, I would say 50% of the cooling systems we take out have plenty of freon!
What I see are frozen fans, kinked lines, rusted-out systems, locked up compressors, power cords eaten by mice, burned-out electrical terminals, wires with the coating rotting off, and the like. Yesterday I took one that had had mouse who came to his death many years ago while exploring the cooling system. Most of these older machines should not be plugged until the wiring is inspected.
If there is a freon that can fix all these issues, I would like to get some. After all, if freon can free a locked-up fan or make a burned-out capacitor start again, who would not want to get some?
I am speaking tongue in cheek, the point is most sellers are not diagnosing the cooling system issues and assuming it just needs a “little juice”. This leads me to the second point.
Second, cooling systems are sealed. If its out of freon, there is a leak.
Cooling systems do not consume freon. It is not like a car that consumes gasoline. If a system is low on freon, then it must have leaked. And that leak must be fixed. Then the system must be vacuumed and refilled and tested again. The old R12 freon used is not cheap, if your state allows it at all, which means you have to consider changing to the newer 134a freon. If the leak is tiny enough, it can take some time for it to get low again, much alike tiny leak in a car tire. Just it will eventually push out.
Third, after one replaces the fans, thermostat, wiring, fix the leak, it is still a 70-year compressor and coils.
It may run 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 years. This is why we do not recommend fixing old compressors unless it is something basic like a thermostat or a fan. (If you are a purist and want the original system, we understand. It can be done if you find the right person and money is not an object for you, but we do not offer repairs on old systems. )
Bottom line: We put in new systems and recommend that you put in a completely new cooling system as well.
And please be careful when buying that you don’t take the bait and overpay for a machine by assuming it is cooling or just need freon.