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cooling off

Posted by on May 27, 2012

refrigerant gauges used as a guide for adding refrigerant

Over these past few days, we’ve been trying to cool off in more ways than one.

As we are rapidly approaching full-time liveaboard status, the weather is getting warmer, and there’s no end in sight for the amount of work to be done. Although, today we were able to see a big dent in the chores.

Our new refrigeration system has needed a bit of work. Even though the freezer was cooling to about 25 degrees Fahrenheit, it was unable to get down to the preferred zero degrees Fahrenheit. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that the evaporator plate was only partially frosted. This was an indication that the refrigerant level was slightly low.

After searching for a possible refrigerant leak, Wil was not able to locate one, and found that the system just seemed to be undercharged. The frosting on the evaporator plate or the refrigerant level never changed over a period of about 3 weeks. Frigoboat claims to double and triple check the refrigerant before shipping their product, but we are thinking that the level was low when we received the refrigeration system.

In order to be able to service the refrigeration system ourselves at any point in time, Wil had purchased the necessary gauges, refrigerant, and vacuum pump. As he monitored the low pressure side of the compressor, the frosting on the plate, and the temperature of the freezer, he slowly added more refrigerant. Gradually, the plate became fully frosted. After the refrigerant reached an appropriate level, the freezer still only achieved about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and no lower. It is possible that the insulation may not be up to par. But, for the time being, it’s working well enough for us to use it.

Warmer weather, with the constant presence of scattered showers, has made working inside the boat a bit sticky. We figure it’s just gearing us up for our time in the tropics! For the past two nights, we have been quite restless due to the heat, so today Wil installed two new Hella fans in our cabin. We are very much looking forward to sleeping with a little more air flow tonight!

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