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Dave Harnish
CEO: Sadie
Dave's Repair Service
1911 Heath Hill Rd
New Albany, PA 18833

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The DRSNews
May/June 2008

(Everyone once in a while - like right now - I fall WAY behind
and have to make an issue serve for two months. Sorry there's
no separate June issue this year! Back in July, Lord willing!)

Published by 'double opt-in' subscription only,
by Dave's Repair Service, (c)2008 All Rights Reserved

If you enjoy this issue, you're welcome to forward its link
to any friends or associates who might find it useful.

(There's an unsubscribe link in every issue if they decide
it's not their 'thing') Thanks!


In this issue:
Installation Quick-Tips, Part 2: Refrigerators


1) We talked about washer and dryer installation last time, and it got
me thinking it might be a good idea to do a quick run-through of some
refrigerator installation details this time.

Some of this applies to upright freezers, too, and we’ll get into others,
like ranges and window air conditioners, in upcoming issues.

Installing Frost-free Refrigerators in Cold Rooms

It's really handy to have a backup refrig out in the garage, but I regularly
hear complaints about garage refrigerators with freezers that aren't running
cold enough in the winter.

Keep in mind that most refrigerator thermostats are sensing fresh food
temperatures, ‘looking’ for approx. 40F. This is significant because when
the temp in your garage falls below 55F or so, the thermostat won't run the
compressor enough to keep the freezer food frozen (0-5F).

If the garage or shed temperature hovers around 40F, the unit won't run at
all and the freezer food will start to thaw. Note this doesn‘t apply to freezers,
but only to refrigerator/freezers.

A few refrigerator models years ago actually sensed freezer temps and
avoided this, and newer units made just for garages are also engineered to
do it, but that's not the norm. So be aware of this, and just empty the freezer
section before winter if you live where temps fall below 60 or so.

Also, compressor oil thickens in cold weather, and in theory that should cause
hard-start problems. But I never see it happen, at least not in domestic units.
My own chest freezer has spent well over 25 years on an unheated enclosed
porch with no ill effects, and I find that's pretty common.

There are clamp-on electric compressor heaters available for this if necessary,
but I've never had to install one.

Leveling Issues

I get a lot of questions on this subject.

The short answer is that a refrig doesn’t have to be absolutely level to
operate correctly, so I recommend you concentrate on door-swing. I did
a lot of installing when employed by appliance dealers over the years, and
only rarely used a level. We always used door-swing to set up new units.

You'll hear it said that you should set doors to swing closed by themselves,
but I’ve never recommended that. The first time you bring home groceries
and try to transfer them to the refrig, you'll know why. Can be a real

Set the cabinet feet/rollers so the doors stay wherever you put them, and
you'll be a lot happier.

Water Supply Lines

We’ve talked about this before, but it’s been a LONG time. The first thing
I’d mention is the choice of water line materials. A lot of installers use plastic,
but I definitely stay away from it. Over time it gets brittle and cracks, and
out here in the boonies, our mice love gnawing on the stuff! Either one of
those scenarios equals water on the floor – and lots of it if no one’s around
to catch it early!

The heavier gauge copper is more expensive, but well worth it. I’m not the
only one who’s seen thousands of dollars worth of hardwood flooring ruined
because a refrig installer or homeowner wanted to save a few dollars when
buying tubing. My good friend and neighbor is a professional hardwood
flooring installer, and can tell plenty of horror stories on this subject!

I always recommend using ¼” OD ‘refrigeration’ copper, available at plumbing
& heating supply houses. The icemaker hookup kits sold today nearly all use
‘water line’ copper, tubing with a thinner wall that doesn’t last very well in
some water conditions. I’ve seen it ‘pinhole’ and leak within two years, and
it has a troublesome tendency to kink, as well.

Our ‘frig up here on the hill turns 30 this year (it’s ‘Harvest Gold’, but refuses
to die!), and is still using its original coil of refrig. copper that we started out
with. Pretty amazing.

When connecting to the back of the ‘frig, remember to leave 3 or 4 large coils,
some 8-10 feet, of tubing looped behind it like a giant spring. Plenty of slack
makes it easy to pull it out, and service techs will love you for it!

Saddle Valves

The other tip I’d mention on this subject has to do with locating the saddle valve
on your water pipe. Whether it’s a self-piercing or drill type valve, always install
it with its access hole on the top, or the side, of the pipe, rather than the bottom.
I’ve seen some really tight spots where the side was all that’s possible, but the
top is definitely best if there’s any way to do it.

The reason for this is sediment. It’ll surprise you how fast the refrig water valve’s
sediment screen(s) will clog when the water supply is coming through a saddle
valve mounted to the bottom of a pipe, where the sediment all collects. The hole
itself will eventually clog completely.

With many newer valve screens not accessible for cleaning any more, this becomes
a critical issue.

Setting that ‘Energy Saver’ Switch

Another little installation detail that can be confusing is that little energy saver switch that salesmen love to emphasize when you’re shopping for refrigerators.

The front 'divider mullion' between the upper and lower sections on most top-freezer
refrigerators has a tiny electric heater behind it. This heater prevents condensation
on this surface in high humidity, and ever since energy consumption has been more
of a concern, they've been 'switchable'. On many brands, you'll see an 'energy-saver'
switch that turns this heater on/off.

Too many of the refrigerators I see have mildew destroying the top seal and rust
attacking the mullion because this switch has been used to turn the heater off. It's just too easy to forget to change this from winter to summer, so I always advise you leave this heater 'on'.

Manufacturers and retailers have done a good job of confusing the issue, and your
'energy-saver switch' may say 'on' when the heater's actually turned off. What we
want is this heater turned ON year-round, unless you happen to live where the
humidity stays really low 24/7/365. Running this little heater year-'round will cost
several dollars in electricity annually. But it will save you more in the long run, from
mildew-damaged door seals and rusted divider mullions, etc.

It's very easy to figure out. Just feel the front face of the divider; if it’s warm to the
touch, you're in business. If it’s not, flip the switch the opposite way, and check it
again in a half hour.

Thanks again for allowing me into your inbox! I’ve said it before, but it’s absolutely true: your trust and friendship are my most treasured assets!

May God richly bless you and yours,

Oh, and go call your Mom! ;-)

Dave Harnish
Dave's Repair Service
New Albany, PA

“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because
they are more certain they are their own.” - Aristotle

Proverbs 31:10-28


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"Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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