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Model CTFP14CJD (February 1988): What are the most common /

Customer Question

For Hotpoint Model CTFP14CJD (February 1988): What are the most common / likely causes of very gradual loss of cooling ability, and the repair options and relative costs, where all of the following components are otherwise fully clear, fully functional and operating properly (with no frost or ice build-up or other obstructions): compressor, condenser & evaporator and their fans, cold control / thermostat, air door and control, internal vents, and defroster?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Appliance
Expert:  Tom Goellner replied 1 year ago.

If the fan in the freezer is running and the fan next to the compressor ( the condenser fan ) is running AND the compressor is running and there is no frost build up on the evaporator, then you are looking at either 1. the compressor is low capacity - running but not compressing well or 2. Compressor is good but system is low on refrigerant ( it has leaked some out ) The only way to know is by using refrigerant gauges and installing a valve to check it .

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much, Tom. If you would, please then also answer the second part of the question I originally submitted: what are the repair options and likely relative costs for the issues you identified in your answer? (e.g. install access valve and cost; simple evacuate and recharge with R-12 vs. R134a and costs for each; or replace compressor plus recharge and cost).
-- I am happy to speak by phone if we can arrange a mutually convenient time, and will enter that option as a request in the Just Answer website.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  Tom Goellner replied 1 year ago.

After looking up your model for the compressor part number and seeing the compressor - I remember these . It had a new generation rotary compressor and they ALL eventually experienced these symptoms - the interior wall inside the compressor deformed and the compressor stopped compressing correctly causing too warm of evaporating temps. GE ( they make Hotpoint ) extended the warranty to ten years , parts and labor. That program has been over for many years now and the compressor is now no longer available. Back in the 80's I changed out countless compressors in their refrigerators and haven't run across one for probably 10 years ( until now ) You could replace with an after market compressor - Aspera , Tecumseh, and others but parts and labor would at least over half the cost of a new fridge . This is just a 14 cu ft. and not really expensive new.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, Tom. (I'll stay with online talk, here, instead of phone, due to the extra charge.)
Money is fairly tight, and the unit otherwise seems to have a fair amount of life left in it, so I’m inclined to continue exploring the repair route. I’ll also get some estimates on the indicated likely repair jobs to compare. I’m also interested in doing whatever work I can myself to save on labor costs. (I have a significant amount of DIY auto / mechanical / electrical / plumbing / auto AC / etc experience with tools to match, including a gauge manifold from prior auto AC work.) So I’m interested in installing an access valve(s) and testing pressures to confirm which of your diagnoses is correct, and doing whatever work I can myself, from there. My plumber neighbor has a friend who can properly extract R-12, if that becomes necessary. Question: Could you recommend (1) a top quality professional technical refrigerator service repair manual (either for GE / Hotpoint or just generic), with step-by-step instructions for prior-mentioned repair jobs, as well as where to obtain it (similar to e.g. automotive manufacturer technical service manuals for specific car models, that spell out and diagram virtually all possible repair jobs); and (2) a top quality on-line discount parts distributor for needed parts? Thanks so much.
Expert:  Tom Goellner replied 1 year ago.

Well since you have gauges and are familiar with automotive AC , there really is no difference checking a refrigerator system. Go to an appliance repair store and get a clamp on self piercing valve ( $ 8.00 ). Install it on the large line of the compressor - the suction line and attach the low side gauge and let it run awhile. A properly working system will get to about 3 or 4 pounds gauge pressure after it has ran and cooled the freezer down to 0 degrees. If the pressure stays high - won't get below 10 pounds - low capacity compressor. If it is too low of pressure - goes into a vacuum , normally means low on refrigerant but on this compressor ( go ahead and try it ) you can add refrigerant and it will keep going low. Look at the model serial tag it will say how much refrigerant it takes - not very much 7 or 8 ounces at the most. This will tell you what is happening to start out with and where you want to go from there. There are many compressors that would work , but the foot size will be different , so you you'll have to improvise to make it work - if you can get two of the feet to anchor down , that's sufficient. You can get back to me if you get that far , but you'll need to replace the liquid line filter drier in addition to the compressor and a vacuum pump to evacuate and clean up system before recharging. DO NOT use r134A for the new refrigerant , not compatible with the mineral oil in your fridge. Use R-12 if you can find it or R414 or any substitutes that are available

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks Tom. I'll give it a whirl.
Expert:  Tom Goellner replied 1 year ago.

Get back with results of this.