Replace compressor in Northland Freezer

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This is the same post I made in another site. I am using a bit of a shotgun approach to finding a solution.

I have a fridge and freezer. Fridge unit replaced a couple of years ago. Now Freezer seems to be giving up the ghost. The freezer is running but not getting sufficiently cold. Northland seems to have become a bit ghost like as well. I have called a lot of HVAC service companies, but found no one in a relatively wide area who will simply replace a compressor. It would appear times have changed to the popular "if it breaks; get a new one" mode. I have seen offers for a working refrigeration unit at $4000. And the compressor is all that is likely to need replacement. I already have a spare assembly for the refrigerator. It just needs the compressor.

I am trying again to see if there might be better compressors to replace the Northland compressors. These things have been really really annoying over the last 12 years. They sound like threshing machines. They echo through the whole house. I need to keep two solid core doors between the kitchen and my bed to allow me to sleep. Having to buy a whole unit to replace a compressor is just silly. The entire unit lifts off the top or the cabinet, and taking out a few screws exposes everything. Different cabinets are unacceptable to she-who-must-be-obeyed.

The compressors they use are a standard product. I don't remember (and can't find where I wrote it down) the name of the manufacturer, but the part numbers were NM11B 060803-10 and NM13A 060809-08. They use R-134. The condensers seem to be identical. From the run time vs ambient, it would seem to make more sense to put the NM11B in both machines.

Maybe if I get a compressor, someone will install it.

The point- source of a better (quieter) compressor. A technician with the tools and skills around Anacortes WA (98221).
 

WorthFlorida

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For service you may need to call on a restaurant equipment service outfit or a service company that does walk-in type freezers and refrigerators or s appliance service company.

One issue is parts are usually from a supplier that supports that type of brand, not all HVAC suppliers deal with refrigeration. Another is the refrigerant, there are many different types and compressor compatibility. The average AC tech can perform the work but most HVAC companies don’t deal with refrigeration because of parts, supplies and occasionally warranty claims.

Depending on the age of your appliances replacing them may be a good option because the efficiency of new units are almost always better than what you have.
 

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Look for a commercial refrigeration shop that services walk-in coolers and such. If it has service ports, it wont take more than a few minutes to check it and come up with a diagnosis.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts.

The appliances are extremely expensive. Replacement is not an option.

I have tried every refrigeration company I could find on the internet and local advertising. Including commercial large system people. Zero success.

I am hoping someone knows someone in the area that will actually replace a compressor. I am very surprised at the lack of this service. It used to be "just another repair". But that was a long time ago.
 

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Well, for about 1500$ you could buy a gauge set, vacuum pump, refrigerant scale, torch set, silver solder, etc. and you could try it yourself. I have done automobile A/C, but all those lines use threaded fittings and o-rings, and the service ports are already in place.
 

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Thanks for the thoughts.

The appliances are extremely expensive. Replacement is not an option.

I have tried every refrigeration company I could find on the internet and local advertising. Including commercial large system people. Zero success.

I am hoping someone knows someone in the area that will actually replace a compressor. I am very surprised at the lack of this service. It used to be "just another repair". But that was a long time ago.
I am a 76 year old female and I bought my replacement compressor direct from Northland and with muscle help installed it myself. One of the reasons I went with Northland. My units are now 16 years old.
 

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Thank you for the thought. But when I say compressor, I am talking about just the actual compressor, not the whole assembly.

And about a month ago, I had to buy a second cooling unit. I have now replaced both the freezer and refrigerator units. These things are $2500 a piece for something that only really needs a new compressor. Which is significantly less expensive. So if I ever find someone to repair them I will have a full replacement set.

cacher_chick - I have considered that. At some point I may take one apart and see how difficult it would be to replace the compressor. And buy the tools.
 

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......Depending on the age of your appliances replacing them may be a good option because the efficiency of new units are almost always better than what you have.

In refrigeration units, the compressor is all sealed up with refrigerant and the age of your units it is probably R22. By 2020, R22 can no longer be sold except existing inventory. No more imports and right now R22 is going for over $600 for a 30# tank, maybe more. If you want to buy the tools to do it yourself, you'll need brazening torch plus tanks and welding rod. Fittings to add the the lines for evacuating and charging the system, a vacuum pump, gauges, and a spare tank to evacuate the old non reusable refrigerant into AND a EPA license to buy R22 or any other refrigerant.

$2000 into it plus the cost of the compressor and it will cost about the same to replace one entire unit. At the church I maintained the walk in refrigerator compressor went bad under warranty. Warranty only covered the cost of the compressor. Labor, refrigerant, and other small parts cost $1200 and that was five years ago.We had one AC unit hit by lightning. It was a two speed compressor with a SEER rating of 21. Cost was about $3K. Nothing is cheap about refrigeration units anymore.

https://aristair.com/blog/how-will-the-r-22-refrigerant-phase-out-impact-your-commercial-ac/
"As per the US Environmental Protection Agency, R22 will become illegal in the United States on January 1, 2020. After that R22 refrigerant phase out date, R22 can no longer be manufactured or imported into the US."
 

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And just for jollies. I had to replace the new refrigeration unit that I bought a few months ago. I suspect there was a slow refrigerant leak.

I now have 3 broken units in the garage. If I get one more I can stack them up and make a workbench.
 

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Just for amusement - I am now up to 5; and one spare. When they show up.
What’s wrong with your “dead” units?

My AC tech recently fixed my NM11B unit by replacing the evaporator and the heat exchanger/capillary tube (available from Marvel Refrigeration, the company that made Northland fridges before they discontinued the line). It took him about 2 hours to disconnect the leads, get the unit down, desolder / remove the old parts, weld/solder in the new ones (including adding a fill valve), pressure test it (pinhole leak in one new joint found and fixed) and then pull a vacuum (held at <600 microns), add 7 oz. of R-134a, and reinstall. (I also gave the unit and enclosure a thorough cleaning while we had it pulled.) Works like new, and all-in less than 25% of the price of a replacement module.

In looking at my old parts, it’s pretty clear the leak was on the capillary tube where it was soldered to the heat exchanger. Heat exchanger/capillary tube kit is under $75, but easy enough to just replace the evaporator ($350) while we had it torn down.

My tech indicated that as long as the compressor is still good (not leaking, etc.) and the condenser doesn’t have a leak, the units are pretty easy for an AC tech with the right equipment to fix. He says the problem is almost always a leak on the low side.

So . . . might be worth finding an AC tech to check them out, as I suspect at least some them can be fixed.
 

John Gayewski

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What’s wrong with your “dead” units?

My AC tech recently fixed my NM11B unit by replacing the evaporator and the heat exchanger/capillary tube (available from Marvel Refrigeration, the company that made Northland fridges before they discontinued the line). It took him about 2 hours to disconnect the leads, get the unit down, desolder / remove the old parts, weld/solder in the new ones (including adding a fill valve), pressure test it (pinhole leak in one new joint found and fixed) and then pull a vacuum (held at <600 microns), add 7 oz. of R-134a, and reinstall. (I also gave the unit and enclosure a thorough cleaning while we had it pulled.) Works like new, and all-in less than 25% of the price of a replacement module.

In looking at my old parts, it’s pretty clear the leak was on the capillary tube where it was soldered to the heat exchanger. Heat exchanger/capillary tube kit is under $75, but easy enough to just replace the evaporator ($350) while we had it torn down.

My tech indicated that as long as the compressor is still good (not leaking, etc.) and the condenser doesn’t have a leak, the units are pretty easy for an AC tech with the right equipment to fix. He says the problem is almost always a leak on the low side.

So . . . might be worth finding an AC tech to check them out, as I suspect at least some them can be fixed.
The post is 4 years old.
 

Fitter30

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Even though ac and refrigeration work on the same principle pressures are different try to get get a refrigeration person. Your system that is a critical charge 7oz if system is 1 oz of refrigerant short it won't cool properly. To find a leak like that its nearly impossible unless its obvious. Charge the system with refrigerant that contains stop leak. Have had some luck with it.
 
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