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The most common problems for MARINE REFRIGERATION SYSTEMS not working are:
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Often the fridge is making all the normal noises but it’s taking its time to cool down. Note, if you’ve just filled the box for a boat trip, it will take a bit longer to cool down. But let’s assume the cold box load is the same as usual. And let’s say that where the fridge was originally running 15 minutes per hour to maintain temperature, it now takes 30 minutes.

If you have a water-cooled system, the first thing to check is water flow. Any restriction causes inefficiency, and it’s easy to check and correct. It may need a back flush or rinse with muriatic acid (available at Sailor’s Corner), a cleaning of the sea strainer or maybe it’s a pump issue.

For an air-cooled system, check that the circulation fan is functioning and whether the cooling fins have been bent, crushed or are full of lint. If so, use a “fin comb” to straighten or clean the fins (see picture above). Also check that there is a clear air-flow around the fins. Any restriction will compromise performance.

Next, look at the sight glass. It’s a window into the inner workings of the refrigerant. If you see a long string of bubbles, the system may have a leak. This means finding the leak and a recharge (and usually means calling in a technician).

Lastly, compare all the new temperature readings with the base-line tests. Any significant difference will point to the troubled component. For example, if the base-line test showed a 3oC rise in sea water temperature through the condenser, and the new test only 1oC, this could mean a clogged condenser, or an insulating residue such as oil building up inside the condenser.

No noises? You don’t hear any clicks, nor the typical hum of the compressor in operation. The first step is to check voltage at the fridge electrical junction box. Compare this reading to the base-line reading.

If there is no voltage at the junction box, check the fuse or breaker. If the breaker has blown this could mean the compressor is drawing too much current.