If you have a freon leak, it will lead to the fact that your refrigerator will not be cooled as efficiently as before.
However, there are other reasons that the refrigerator is not cooling, which should be studied before trying to eliminate the leakage of freon. Following our guide below, you will learn about freon, why it is best to contact a qualified specialist, how to eliminate the leakage of freon with a cold weather sealant and how to add freon if you choose a do-it-yourself approach.
We also shot 3-part videos about the Sub-Zero refrigerator of a customer who has the same problem.
What is a Freon?
Freon is a synthetic chemical refrigerant that can transfer heat very efficiently. The chemical structure of freon means that it has a particularly high boiling point, which allows it to absorb heat as a liquid and then turn into a gas. The refrigerator condenser then turns the gas back into liquid.
The name Freon was given to the refrigerant, also known as R22, by DuPont. This is usually an odorless, non-flammable gas used in old refrigerators to cool food.
Does my Refrigerator uses Freon?
In the 1970s, researchers discovered that freon is harmful to the ozone layer. As a result of growing concerns about global warming, the use of freon is gradually being phased out in many countries, and the United States and Canada have banned the production and import of freon since the beginning of January 2020.
However, most refrigerator and freezer manufacturers stopped using freon in 1994. Freon was mostly replaced by the more eco friendly R-134a (Tetrafluoroethane). If your refrigerator was made before 1995, probably, it uses freon.
Where to buy a Freon?
Traditionally, freon could be purchased at home appliance repair shops and auto parts stores.
Due to the gradual abandonment of freon, it can be difficult to find. In fact, buying freon in most areas requires a special permit or an EPA certificate stating that you are a qualified specialist.
Before attempting to fix a freon leak, make sure that the problem with the refrigerator is a freon leak (see Leak detection instructions and symptoms below).
If your refrigerator is not cooling, check the following components before looking for a freon leak or starting repairs:
- Condenser coils are cleaned of debris
- The ventilation openings of the refrigerator are not blocked
- The thermostat and other cooling components are not faulty
- The condenser and evaporator fans are working properly
Freon leaking symptoms
If your refrigerator is powered by, then first of all you should take care of your safety. Fortunately, freon does not ignite, and accidental inhalation of the gas itself is not fatal.
However, if freon gets into an open flame, it can create a deadly gas. Exposure to freon can also cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and shortness of breath.
Although freon is odorless, leakage usually causes the smell of mold or freshly cut grass. The leakage of freon also usually leads to the accumulation of an oily substance on the floor next to the refrigerator.
Another symptom is that the refrigerator engine is constantly running, as the refrigerator engine is working overtime, trying to lower the temperature due to a decrease in the amount of refrigerant. Running the engine overtime leads to increased energy costs and will eventually cause the engine to fail if the problem is not fixed.
Of course, the first symptom that you are likely to notice is that the refrigerator is not cooling properly.
Finding a Freon leak
Various leak detectors can be purchased at home appliance repair shops, auto parts stores or online.
However, the leakage of freon can be detected with soap and water. Soap and water should be mixed in a spray bottle, and then sprayed onto pipelines. If there is a leak, freon causes bubbles to form in the soap and water mixture, which will show you where the leak is.
While other types of refrigerator repairs can be performed by following the instructions from online articles, in this case, if you have not been trained in repairing compressors and refrigerant leaks, it is best to contact a qualified specialist. In many places, having a license to eliminate freon leaks is a legal requirement.
Fixing a Freon leak
In addition to the legal requirements and depending on where the leak is located, the time, experience and equipment needed to fix the leak probably make contacting a qualified specialist or buying a new refrigerator the best option.
If you want to fix the problem temporarily, you can use a cold weather epoxy seal to fix the leak. However, the fix usually fails after a year. If a sealant is used to eliminate the leak, the system must be refilled with refrigerant after the leak is eliminated, which, depending on where you live, will most likely require the involvement of a licensed specialist.
Follow the sealing instructions, such as sanding and cleaning the area before applying the patch.
How to add Freon
If you have the equipment and know-how, freon can be added to the refrigerator by following these steps.
- Add a saddle valve. The seat valve should be mounted on a large copper pipe coming out of the compressor. The valve is used to puncture the copper pipe to provide access to the pipeline for the subsequent addition of new refrigerant.
- Remove air from the system. The air is removed from the system using a special vacuum pump. It can usually be rented from tool rental shops or home appliance repair shops.
- Add freon to the system by putting a hose on the seat valve that you installed earlier.
- Add vegetable oil. To lubricate the compressor, a few tablespoons of PAG oil should be added to the refrigerant. The amount of vegetable oil added depends on the refrigerator, so refer to the refrigerator’s operating manual to find out how much to add.
It is best to contact a qualified refrigerant and compressor repair specialist to eliminate the leakage of freon or add it to the refrigerator. However, if you can determine where the leak is, perhaps with soap and water, cold weather sealants can be used to temporarily eliminate the leak.