Having a working refrigerator in your home gives you the ability to purchase perishable foods and keep them fresh over a specified period of time. The cool environments created within your fridge and freezer are made possible by a liquid refrigerant that runs throughout a closed system in the appliance. While most homeowners don't think to check the status of the liquid refrigerant, any loss of this liquid could render your fridge useless.
Here are three simple tests that you can perform to determine if your appliance's liquid refrigerant levels need to be topped off.
1. Visually inspect the fridge's condenser unit.
One of the easiest ways to check the liquid refrigerant level in your appliance is to conduct a visual inspection of the condenser unit. This unit is comprised of a series of copper tubes that overlay one another in a grid-like pattern. The condenser is typically located at the rear of a fridge, though yours may be on the side or at the bottom of the unit (check your owner's manual for the specific location).
When liquid refrigerant levels are optimal, the condenser will function properly. Any signs of frost on the exterior of the copper tubing in your fridge's condenser could mean that you need to contact a refrigerator repair specialist to add more liquid refrigerant to your fridge's cooling system.
2. Listen to the sounds your fridge is making.
Another great way to check the liquid refrigerant level in your fridge is by listening for certain sounds. Unplug your refrigerator from the wall, then place your ear against the side of the appliance.
A fridge that has enough liquid refrigerant flowing through its cooling system will make gurgling or hissing sounds. These are the sounds of the refrigerant settling and equalizing within the fridge's cooling system. If you do not hear any gurgling or hissing sounds once you cut power to your fridge, contact an appliance specialist to check the liquid refrigerant level in your fridge.
3. Look at your freezer's evaporator.
Before you plug your refrigerator back in, remove the cover from your freezer's evaporator. Ensure that there is no frost present on the evaporator before plugging your fridge back in and programming the temperature controls to your desired setting. Let the fridge and freezer run for a few minutes with the doors closed tightly, then take a look at the evaporator once again.
If there is enough liquid refrigerant in your appliance's cooling system, the evaporator will immediately begin to work to cool the freezer. Evidence of proper function will take the form of a light frost appearing on the evaporator. Contact an appliance repair specialist to top off your liquid refrigerant if no frost forms on the evaporator.
Knowing when your fridge needs more liquid refrigerant will ensure that you are able to keep your perishable foods at the right temperature well into the future.