Filling the refrigerator with freon at home: the algorithm of the work

Evgenia Kravchenko
Checked by a specialist: Evgenia Kravchenko
Author: Elena Pykhteeva
Last update: June 2019

Refrigerant leakage is a common problem with refrigeration equipment. The elimination of this malfunction is usually entrusted to masters specializing in restoring the working capacity of refrigeration equipment.

But filling the refrigerator with freon is quite affordable for home masters who are willing to carefully study this process and put knowledge into practice.

The role of freon in the operation of the refrigerator

If compressor Some consider the heart of the refrigerator, then the refrigerant can be considered his blood. Without enough of this substance, no refrigeration equipment can work. A colorless and odorless gas is necessary for the transfer of thermal energy.

Freon easily passes from a liquid to a gaseous state at relatively low temperatures. The circuit through which it circulates consists of two parts: internal and external.

Liquid refrigerant enters the internal circuit of the refrigerator and absorbs particles of thermal energy scattered in the air, turning into gas. Then it moves to the external circuit, passes through the compressor and evaporator, gives off heat to the surrounding air and returns to its liquid form.

The cycle repeats again and again, as a result, the air in the refrigerator chamber becomes colder and the grill of the rear wall constantly generates heat.

Freon filling
To fill the refrigerator with freon, you will need a gas station, a set of special tools and materials, as well as a cylinder with a refrigerant

These properties of freon are also used in other devices, such as air conditioners, heat pumps, etc. Gas circulates in a hermetically sealed circuit. It does not pose a great danger to human health even with a complete leak of substance from an ordinary household refrigerator.

In total, 16 types of these saturated fluorine-containing hydrocarbons are used in industry.For refueling a specific model of the refrigerator, one brand of freon is suitable, usually it is indicated directly on the compressor housing.

Causes of refrigerant leak

In short, the cause of the leak of freon is a violation of the tightness of the refrigeration circuit. But the reasons for this situation can be very different. Accidental mechanical stress on the components of the refrigeration circuit or on the compressor can cause this malfunction.

Damage to the compressor almost inevitably necessitates the filling of freon. Even if the refrigerant remains in the circuit, it will still have to be charged when replacing a faulty element. The low quality of the capillaries along which freon moves, or their wear also often causes a depressurization of the system.

If the connection points of the individual elements of the refrigeration circuit are not mounted correctly, they may weaken over time, the refrigerant will flow out through the gaps that have appeared.

If the contamination of the capillary tubes has occurred due to the freezing of moisture that has entered the circuit, it is not difficult to clean them. But sometimes such a blockage occurs as a result of the accumulation of contaminants from particles of burned-out engine oil. The filter drier does not trap these substances, they gradually accumulate inside narrow tubes and form an obstacle to the free circulation of the refrigerant.

Compressor replacement
If a broken compressor needs to be replaced with a new one, you will have to open the refrigeration circuit and, after replacing, download a new portion of freon

Although a freon leak is not observed in such a situation, in order to normalize the system, it is necessary to open the refrigeration circuit.

After cleaning the capillaries, it will be necessary to restore its tightness, and then introduce a new refrigerant into the system instead of the lost one.

Before starting refueling, the cause of the leak should be identified and eliminated. To do this, you need to inspect the circuit to understand exactly where this is happening.

Freon leak location
To identify the leakage site of freon using a soap solution, you need to examine the condition at the junction of the tubes, as well as where traces of oil pollution are noticeable

If the examination did not give results, you can use a soap solution. In this case, air is supplied under a slight pressure.

Soap solution is applied to the surface of the tubes, joints, etc. It will bubble in places of leaks. Processing the entire circuit in this way is impractical and unsafe.

It will be easier to first check the weakest and most suspicious areas: the joints, as well as areas where there are traces of contamination with industrial oils.

Freon leak detector
To accurately determine the point of damage to the circuit and refrigerant leakage, a leak detector is used - a device that responds to a specific brand of freon

If the soap solution does not give results, you should use a leak detector or invite an experienced technician to determine the location of the refrigerant leak. This is not a universal tool, a particular device is usually configured to respond only to a specific brand of refrigerant.

It can be used to identify leak points not only before eliminating them, but also after the filling of the circuit is completed, in order to ensure a sufficiently high quality of the operations performed.

If you don’t do this, you may miss a flaw. Poor repair will appear in about two weeks, all work will have to be performed anew.

In addition to eliminating leaks, it also helps to check the functioning of other elements of the system. An insufficient amount of freon often leads to increased wear of individual parts. If the causes that cause leakage are not eliminated, very soon it will be necessary to start repairing again, pump refrigerant, etc.

The procedure for the work on the replacement of freon

Before proceeding with the replacement of the refrigerant, you must make sure that you have at hand all the necessary tools and materials for the work.

Step # 1 - diagnose the problem yourself

Refrigerants do not burn, but their absence or insufficient amount in the system can cause premature wear and damage to other parts.

In addition, violation of the set heat transfer will cause the refrigerator to become too warm, the products will deteriorate, and bad smell etc. Therefore, it is important to learn to quickly identify signs of leakage and eliminate them.

Signs of a Freon leak
The presence of snow inside the refrigerator may be a sign of malfunction, especially if the snow cap appears again after defrosting

Here are some points worth paying close attention to:

  • the temperature inside the chamber is too high;
  • significantly reduced interruptions in engine operation;
  • the compressor runs continuously;
  • condensation appears inside the device;
  • an unpleasant odor emanates from the refrigerator, not associated with the presence of spoiled foods;
  • the evaporator is covered with a snow cap or ice, etc.

Sometimes a leak can be detected right away. If the ice is not carefully removed from the evaporator, the circuit tube may be accidentally pierced.

As a result, gas with a characteristic hiss will come out of the narrow hole. If you pay attention to this moment, you can quickly fix the problem.

Corrosion Corps
Corrosion of the housing can be a sign of a lack of refrigerant in the circuit: inside the chamber, the temperature rises, condensation builds up, moisture acts on the metal, and rust appears

Step # 2 - preparatory work before replacing

Before starting repair work, of course, the refrigerator should be disconnected from the power supply. All heating appliances and open flame sources should be turned off or removed away from the place where the freon refueling is performed.

The electrical equipment that will be used during the repair must be grounded in accordance with the operating instructions.

When carrying out soldering, fire safety should also be taken into account. Although freon is not dangerous for people, it is better to ventilate the room during the conduct, as well as at the end of the work.

Repair Preparation
First of all, you need to disconnect the refrigerator from the network and prepare the whole set of necessary tools

Before starting repairs, it will not hurt to find and re-read the instruction manual for the refrigerator in order to take into account the features of a particular model. When refueling the refrigerator with freon, you should focus on the information indicated on the tag, as well as on the labels on the filling cylinder.

Step # 3 - remove the remaining refrigerant

Before pumping gas into the system, you must remove the remaining refrigerant from it. To do this, you need to find a filter dryer, it is clamped with a needle grip.

After that, a hole is drilled in the filter in a section of copper. An element damaged in this way will have to be replaced with a new one in the future.

Dryer replacement
When filling with refrigerant, the filter drier will be damaged, it will have to be replaced with a new serviceable element. In addition, you will need to unsolder the circuit and install additional valves

The place for soldering the valve is better prepared in advance. It must be removed from the fitting and cut off the extra length. Then it is recommended to solder the valve immediately to the compressor.

After the remaining refrigerant exits the system, all pipes will need to be purged with nitrogen. This will remove moisture from the circuit, which may have got there.

For gas injection into the working circuit of the refrigerator, a Schroeder valve is installed, which excludes the outflow of freon in the opposite direction.

Do not use cylinders for such work in which the gas pressure exceeds 6 atmospheres, as this may damage the system. Information about internal pressure is usually indicated on the tank.

If a cylinder with suitable characteristics is not available, you need to supply gas to the system using a reduction gear.

Freon cylinder
The refrigerant cylinder shows the brand of freon, as well as the operating pressure.If the gas inside is compressed to more than six atmospheres, a reduction gear must be used.

The system must be purged for about 10-15 minutes. After that, the valve on the needle grip is closed and the filter is cut off next to the capillary tube.

Then purge the circuit again. At the end of the purge, a new drying filter must be installed instead of the used one.

This should be done within 15 minutes after the end of the last purge, since the refrigeration circuit cannot be left open for a longer period.

Professional craftsmen use a whole set of special tools to perform this type of work: leak detector, tester, vacuum pump, wrenches, thermometer, pliers, pinch pliers, etc.

To carry out soldering, you should stock up on protective shields, and you will definitely need a Schroeder valve and a new filter dryer.

To make a one-time refueling of the refrigerator, it makes no sense to buy a separate set of equipment. It will be cheaper and easier to rent everything you need.

Step # 4 - download freon

To perform this operation, you need instruments that allow you to control the pressure in the system. Home appliance repair masters use a gas station that consists of two pressure gauges with shut-off valves and three hoses.

Manometers differ in color: red and blue. Using the first, the discharge pressure is measured, and blue determines the suction pressure.

Freon fueling scheme
This is a simplified diagram of how to connect a gas station and a refrigerant cylinder to the refrigeration circuit. In this case, the red hose and pressure gauge are not used.

When working with an ordinary household refrigerator, only the readings of the blue manometer are usually taken into account.

The hoses to which the pressure gauges are attached also have different color codes: red and blue, which are connected to the pressure gauges of the same color, and yellow, located in the center.

Before starting work, make sure that the valves on the hoses with pressure gauges are completely closed. After that, the yellow hose is attached to the gas cylinder.

The blue hose is connected to the pipe through which refrigerant will be supplied to the circuit. To do this, use a special fitting.

The red hose is mounted on the other end of the system. For it you need to attach the Schroeder valve.

Connect a gas station
A blue pressure gauge is needed to control the suction pressure, red - to monitor the pressure at the outlet of the system, freon from the cylinder is supplied through the yellow hose

When all the necessary elements are connected, you need to open the stopcocks on the blue and red hoses. After that, open the valve on the cylinder with the refrigerant and begin filling the system, observing the readings of the pressure gauges.

When the pressure reaches approximately 0.5 atmospheres, the gauge valves should be shut off.

Power is now supplied to the compressor for approximately 30 seconds. Instead of a cylinder, a vacuum pump is connected to the yellow hose. It is turned on for about 10 minutes.

Evacuation allows you to remove air trapped in the system and improve the quality of the charge. Now you need to reconnect the yellow hose to the freon cylinder.

Vacuum refrigeration circuit
A vacuum pump is necessary in order to remove any foreign gases from the refrigeration circuit and to ensure high-quality filling

In this case, make a small gap between the manifold and the hose so that the incoming refrigerant displaces air from the hose and apply a small amount of gas to the hose.

Then the yellow hose from which the air is vented is securely fixed to the manifold. Again you need to open the blue valve and continue filling the circuit with freon.

At this stage, the compressor is turned on again and the pressure gauges are monitored to verify that the system is operating normally. If the pressure remains stable, the pipes are kinked and sealed thoroughly.

Do not pinch the service pipe and solder it before a test run of the system.At this stage, the needle of the blue pressure gauge should be constantly in the zero area.

Freon filling with scales
At home, when filling the system with freon, you can use a household scale to control the amount of refrigerant transferred to the circuit

Some craftsmen fill the circuit with freon using only one pressure gauge. In this case, the amount of refrigerant that was transferred to the circuit is determined by weighing the cylinder with freon on a household scale.

The rest of the injection process is practically no different from the method described above.

Conclusions and useful video on the topic

Here is the process of repairing leaks and pumping freon into the refrigerator using weights:

The general procedure for performing this type of work can be seen in the video:

It is relatively easy to fill the refrigerator with freon if you have the necessary equipment and the appropriate skills. However, it is necessary to take into account a number of nuances: to comply with safety requirements, to identify and eliminate all malfunctions that caused a refrigerant leak, to perform high-quality final soldering, etc.

Inexperienced masters should first observe the work of specialists in order to learn how to perform this operation on their own.

If you have experience in self-filling refrigerators with freon, please share it with our readers. Tell us how you managed to diagnose the problem and what was done to solve it. Write your comments, share your experience, ask questions - the contact block is located under the article.

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Visitors Comments
  1. Sergei

    We have an old refrigerator, released in 2004. Every year we have to fill it with freon, especially if it stays frozen for 24 hours, then it is very difficult to start it. It seems that everything is described simply, and my hands grow from where I need to, but I myself would not have decided to fill the refrigerator with freon. And yet, not everyone has a gas station and gas cylinders. It is easier to call a person who is not the first time to do this.

    • If your hands grow from where you need to, as you write, then there can be no problems with filling the refrigerator with freon. Since such a charge was needed at all, it means that a micro-leak and a refrigerant in the refrigerator will have to be refilled almost every six months. Will you call the master every time and pay?

      • Expert
        Evgenia Kravchenko

        Apparently, the masters “correctly” explained to Sergey that the refrigerator was an old pier, so now it would have to be freon charged every year. Whereas, in fact, the problem is that somewhere there is a leak! There are Soviet refrigerators in which freon is still from the factory, 30-50 years old and nothing needs to be refilled.

        By the way, the author of the text is lucky that now in the gas for refrigerators there are no harmful impurities, as it was before. And then gas leaks every year would greatly affect the health of the whole family!

        Here are the main reasons that can cause freon leaks in the refrigerator:

        - Locking compounds, there may be natural deformations or factory defects;
        - The “crying” type evaporator, an aluminum element, may suffer from corrosion;
        - “Warm” steel circuit, the material is susceptible to corrosion, over the years, the likelihood of leakage increases.

        Attached photos:
  2. Flexx

    My parents didn’t really freeze the old refrigerator. They called a master who diagnosed a micro leak. He soldered the shredder valve, refilled it and advised in the future simply from time to time to refill the refrigerator with freon itself. This is not very difficult - about once every six months with the refrigerator turned on, you attach the hose to the cylinder and valve, start the gas for 10 seconds. Then we wait half an hour and see if the grill of the refrigerator heats up. If after half an hour or an hour it has not warmed up, then we repeat the procedure.

  3. Alexei

    This is all of course good when the freon leak occurred in a visible place. But when it happened in the foamy area of ​​the refrigerator, then hemorrhoids begin. As far as I know, not every master takes refueling, not like an ordinary person. IMHO at the gas station it is better to call a knowledgeable person. In the end, it is not so expensive - in the regions from 3 to 7 thousand, as far as I know. In Moscow, Pobol, but also not critical.

  4. Gas freon. He called the master, he did not know which refrigerator and which freon was needed. He changed the filter and simply refilled it, but I don’t remember the freon, something like 404. And they did the refrigerator in the USSR, it’s been 10 years already, everything works.

  5. Daniyar

    If there is a leak, then it must be determined by pressure testing the evaporator (we pump air into the evaporator 15 kg and control it for 5-6 hours). So we find the leak and fix it by soldering.

    Some fill up old refrigerators by weight, I think this is wrong, because the cooling capacity of the old compressor is much less than the new one. Therefore, you need to refuel a little more.