To freeze or not to freeze

Ah, if we had only guessed at the erratic personality of our Frigoboat freezer as it aged; but looking back, perhaps we did. Huge fans of redundancy that we’ve become led us to purchase that isotherm cooler box that can function as a fridge or a freezer, just this past spring.

A few months ago our stalwart freezer adopted a new personality and would stop freezing; what? you want to be a fridge now? Sorry, we don’t do sex change operations on Ortolan. The compressor would run, the little green indicator light shone brightly but the “boiling” sound of the gas circulating around the condenser plate was not to be heard. Therefore the freezer would slowly warm up. What could be heard was my plaintive voice, “oh crap, what is wrong with this thing? Honey, would you contact someone? What if this continues, blah, blah, blah.”

The help person at Great Water, Inc. tossed out a couple of suggestions and we basically gave no credence to them. Heck, we’ve been intimate with our Frigoboat fridge and freezer for over three years and feel well-acquainted. So, we turned the dial further clockwise to colder and after a few hours the freezer decided to remain a freezer. Damn good choice we thought. Plus, with the isotherm on board we could move the freezer contents into the cooler once we turned it to freezer temp mode.

As the summer wore on the misbehavior became more frequent and more than once we had to enlist the help of our isotherm (a less expensive cousin to an Engel). Each time, by the next morning, the freezer would be working and we’d transfer the food back in.

The other day, our devious freezer, knowing we’d just provisioned for our 2-week Vineyard trip and both house freezer and fridge were full as well as the secondary as a fridge, began to warm up. And it got warmer and warmer. We tried turning it off for 20-30 mins, then back on. That trick worked in the past. No luck this time. Come 6pm we called the Engel (we call it that because it’s easier to say than isotherm :-)) into active service; moved its contents into the house fridge (stuffed it all in is more like it) and once it was down to 19 degrees we had our backup freezer.

Looking down into the empty freezer; at least it received a good cleaning

Looking down into the empty freezer; at least it received a good cleaning

Did I mention this happened at the start of the long holiday weekend?  Oh our Frigoboat is a devious fellow (or maybe a cranky old lady!). Russ continued his online search for information on the freezer-warming problem (I say climate change) and found a PDF page from a Great Water, Inc manual that read like the writer knew our symptoms first-hand.

Armed with this printout and finally giving some credence to a prior suggestion, Russ cleared out the space below the fridge where the compressors and copper tubing reside. He did three things: cleaned some electrical connectors on the compressor wiring , re-oriented a piece of the capillary tube (cap tube) to be more vertical and remounted the temperature probe.

Our freezer may have been experiencing “Intermittent Blockage of the Cap Tube”. Somehow, somewhere, at some point, perhaps during installation at the MC factory, some teeny specks of debris got in to the tubes.  When they get stuck, causing a blockage which prevents cooling, you may get lucky and the re-orienting keeps the debris isolated; or you may continue to experience intermittent blockages.

This morning, we bravely moved the freezer contents back to the Frigoboat as it had been sitting happily at 12 degrees all night and so far today.

To freeze or not to freeze….whether ’tis nobler of the capillaries to suffer debris
and the bemoaning of an outraged Owner
Or to stand bravely frozen solid against a Sea of troubles?

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