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Author Topic: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze  (Read 3802 times)

Offline danube

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Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« on: October 11, 2016, 11:14:27 AM »

Hi all,

I am new here, and just registered to try to ask some questions so I can repair my Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side fridge. The fridge works, but over the past month or two the freezer stopped freezing. I have no fault codes on the front panel, but it ALWAYS reads -14F and 34F even though the freezer is most certainly NOT that cold.

In forced cooling mode, the vent closest to the freezer evap coils gets to about 18 F overnight, and the fridge gets to about 28F overnight. The overall fridge temp is about right, the freezer is above freezing.

I am beginning to suspect 1) a bad sensor, and 2) stuck 3-way valve. So, questions: In forced cooling mode, if the controller really thinks the freezer is at -14 F, will it ever force the 3-way valve to cool the freezer side?

A month ago I checked the freezer main compartment sensor and it was within the correct limits. Could the defrost sensor and the ice maker sensor be contributing to the wrong reading, or is this a controller problem?

I would like to force the 3-way valve to the freezer side and then force a cooling cycle to determine if the compressor and refrigerant system is sound so that I can decide if it's worth fixing this fridge. How do I do that?

I see "option codes" can be set in other models to force the 3-way valve. How about in this one?

If my 3-way valve *is* stuck in the fridge position, the flow diagram in the fast-track repair guide shows that the fridge and freezer evaporator coils are in series. Why is this set up this way? How cold should the freezer get if the valve is in the "fridge mode"?

So, any help from people with experience with this fridge would be greatly appreciated. I'm hopeful I can fix it if I can learn a little more about how it works. By the way, I have the knowledge and skills to fix this thing, I just need some more information as the service manual is pretty vague and confusing and covers 5 models at once.

Thanks!

Dan

Offline Patricio

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2016, 09:25:58 PM »
If you have the fast tract you would read that the diverter valve only shuts the flow of refrigerant to the Fresh food, otherwise the flow of refrigerant is goes to fresh food side 1st then continues to freezer evaporator.  If valve was stuck in closed position the fresh food would be warm.   sounds like you have a refrigerant leak if the freezer is not down to temperature.

Is your ice maker making ice.  if it is the freezer is fine.  Put a thermometer in both compartments & observe temperatures.  Don't trust the display for actual temperatures.

Finally study the fast tract.  All the information is there to diagnose your refrigerator for proper operation.
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Offline curjones

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2016, 11:23:31 PM »
Checking out your post I saw this one right below in similar related topics.

I would be inspecting frost pattern on evaporator, and then also do voltage test on the thermistor, defrost sensor.

hope this helps

http://appliancejunk.com/forums/index.php?topic=16283.0
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Offline curjones

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2016, 11:32:24 PM »
 I have no fault codes on the front panel, but it ALWAYS reads -14F and 34F even though the freezer is most certainly NOT that cold.

That part sounds like a faulty sensor.

how did you test it?  Ohm out the sensor, or voltage test.

you said (I believe I read) sensor is in specks, what did it read?

and like Patricio said you have to know what the actual temps are, to know if sensor is reading actual, in specs off chart
« Last Edit: October 11, 2016, 11:33:41 PM by curjones »
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Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2016, 12:11:05 PM »
Hi all,  Below is what I cross-posted to the yahoo appliance repair group.   
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi all,

  I've done some more troubleshooting.   Last night, I pulled each of the sensors of the freezer, one at a time, with the fridge running, and "ohmed them out".   I measured the temperature at or near each one with a thermocouple.   The freezer chamber sensor and the defrost sensor were reading roughly correctly and were indicating in the mid 60's, consistent with the fridge being warmed up to nearly room temp.  Both read about 6000 - 7500 ohms.   The ice maker sensor was anomalous.  It was reading about 14 KOhm indicating it was 28F.....  Can't be right.  But maybe in the depths of the (empty and warm) ice maker it was still cold?   But in ALL of this, the damned temperature of the freezer as reported by the control panel was -14F!   This is CLEARLY wrong.   

   If I do a diagnostic scan with any of the sensors pulled off, the front panel reports it.  So the CPU knows when a sensor is totally bad.  It also correctly detected the disconnection of the freezer fan.

I took out the main PCB and inspected if for cracks and trace shorts.  Found nothing.  Put it back in and lo and behold the freezer temp now reports at 61F!!  So, something is up with the main board.  It seems to reset itself when the power is off for a while.  Note, there are a bunch of reports of this sort of behavior on the internet, with regard to this fridge.   I am willing to bet the main board gets screwed up by brief power failures, and those errors are cumulative.  But there is no nice way to solve this.  There is no reset button on the board.  You have to unplug and warm up the fridge.

I left the fridge running overnight, set point at -8 for the freezer.   In the morning, the freezer reported -8 on the control panel, but the temperature at the output of the freezer vents was 34F, as measured by a thermocouple.   Somehow, the controller is still not reporting correctly.  I measured the sensors again, in situ, measuring voltages this time.  They were:
ice maker  2.86V = ~31F
  freezer    2.76V = ~36F
  defrost    3.64V =  3.2F

...so all are perfectly consistent with reality, even the defrost sensor, as it's right on the coils.  So the coils at least are getting to near zero.    Control panel still reports -8F.  WRONG!

  I unplugged the fridge AGAIN.  NOW the control panel reports 32F!!  So, it seems that power cycling the main board resets it and it reads correctly initially, but at some point it fails to track the changing temperature correctly.

   I viewed the "load options" displayed by the control panel in diagnostic mode while "forced cooling" was on.   Observation 1:  The manual is simply wrong.  The "load status" key as shown in the manual for the RSG5K/F/D and RSG257 fridges use only 2 digits.   My fridge is displaying on 3 digits!   If I follow the key for the RSG5V and RSG5B fridges, then the displayed segments make sense.  Observation 2:  If I understand observation 1 correctly, then even though the freezer is too warm, and the fridge about right, the main board is still keeping the step valve in "fridge step valve on".   So, the freezer is not getting maximum cooling.  This is true even with "power freeze" turned on.  Maybe this is intended.   Maybe the main board makes sure the fridge is cooled first and after some long delay it switches to the freezer.  Or maybe this is another sign the main board is defective.   I don't think I will ever find the answer to that.

  So, I am going deeper.  I connected a stepper motor controller directly to the stepper valve at the main board header.   I think I have connected the coils correctly, and I can drive it in one direction and after some steps it makes a stuttering sound, and then drive it in the other direction, and after some steps it also makes a stuttering sound.   So I think I have convinced myself I can drive it back and forth between one state and another all the way to the end of travel.    I am going to see how fast and how deeply the freezer cools in both states in forced cooling mode, with the compressor on full.  That should tell me if fundamentally the fridge is sound, and I will report on that later.

  But, for the experience of those here, do my temperature measurements and the resetting of the main board readings point to a defective main board?  Or is this just the way the thing works - a bit quirky?  I can get a new one for $135 or so, and it's an easy swap.   I still don't want to waste money on it if the fridge won't cool, but it sure looks like at the very least I will have to replace the main board. 

  Suggestions?

  Dan

p.s.  In all of this, I have ignored the fridge side, which seems to be holding reasonably closely to what the front panel set point is.  The food is cool.

Offline baldwinappliance

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2016, 11:35:30 PM »

I would be inspecting frost pattern on evaporator, and then also do voltage test on the thermistor, defrost sensor.

http://appliancejunk.com/forums/index.php?topic=16283.0

All that work and reporting makes my head spin...go to the basics...do you get a frost pattern on the freezer evap?

I think most units default to displaying the set temperature because if they displayed the actual temp they would generate a bunch of warranty calls every time someone brought home a new case of beer...wha the...why's my fridge at 45 degrees?!? I want my beer cold!! I better check to see if it's cold or not...what the...the temp just shot up another 5 degrees! All I did is open the door for a minute and let out all the cold air and let in a bunch of hot air.

If your compressor and fans are on then your computer thinks it's too warm in the unit and is calling for cooling. If your compressor and fans are off then your computer thinks everything is nice and cool (or it is in defrost.)

Offline KeepItSimpleStupid

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2016, 04:48:36 AM »
The fast Track sheet:  http://www.pcrichard.com/images/promos/RSG257AA%20Fast%20track%20R2.pdf

Could it think the freezer door is open all of the time?  Did you check that switch?


Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2016, 07:11:58 AM »
Good morning, and thanks for the replies.

  I think I am well beyond the basics at this point.  The freezer is working - but for how long?

  It's not easy to check the frost pattern in the freezer as the fan is attached to the cover.  I could open it up and get a glimpse.  what should the pattern look like?

  It's not the door switches nor a bad sensor.  I've checked all that.  The door open would stop the fans, and I hear them running.  The status indicator LEDs also show me the fans are running and at what speed.

  I understand what you are saying about the temperature display.  During a defrost cycle, I watched the (actual, thermocoiuple) temperature rise to 65 degrees last night.  Of course the display can't show that or the customers would freak.  But the problem I had is that after running ALL NIGHT, the display temp was -14 and in reality the whole freezer was at about 32.  After a power cycle, the thing seems to be reset.

   I left it running overnight with the 3-way valve somewhere in the middle.  the freezer is now at -8.3 (set point -14) and it even made ice.  The fridge is warming up a bit (44) so I need a better position of the 3-way or figure out if it's working.   I read in the GE manuals that you put your finger on it when you plug the fridge in and feel if it buzzes to the home position when the power first comes on.

Dan

Offline baldwinappliance

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2016, 09:18:29 AM »
-8.3 temp seems to me your sealed system is ok. My benchmark is if it is below +10 and I start looking at other things. Sounds like the valve is ok if you were able to manually override it...i.e. The mechanical part of the valve is good. Perhaps the control telling the valve is bad. Check the freezer fan by closing the door switch but a Samsung should have an error code for that if that is bad. It has an rpm signal for the fan. If it was mine I would replace the main board. It seems like you have tested all the components and they seem to be sending the correct signals. So the brains are receiving the correct inputs but for whatever reason it is not giving the correct outputs. $120 for a board is cheaper than all the man hours you are spending.

Offline KeepItSimpleStupid

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2016, 01:12:24 PM »
You can try something that would do no harm, but sometimes can work. 

I've fixed calculators, bicycle computers, car clocks, an HVAC thermostat and computer mice using this technique. The mouse took overnight to fix.  The thermostat took a week because I didn't follow the normal procedure which normally takes about a minute.

The car clock dies when the car was jumped.  The bicycle computer (not mine) died when it was dragged across the cargo carpet.  The calculator (not mine) used commas instead of periods.  The thermostat kept turning on it's backlight.  I added a bi-directional TVS diode (A transient suppressor) and there has been no failures for 2 years.  It worked for someone on the internet too.   Searching for the post may be tough.  There is scientific evidence why the procedure can work.

Unplug your freezer/refrigerator and monitor the +5 to ground voltage.  When it drops which will probably be immediate. Short those pins for basically as long as you can.  At least a minute.   Remove the short and plug the appliance back in.  I know it sounds like folklore.  There's a connector with +5 and ground on it.  You could pull that connector and use it.

If it does work, I'd recommend a TVS on the 5V supply.  I can select the proper one for you.

Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2016, 08:10:49 PM »
Baldwin:  yes, I think you're right.  I approaching a limit on the man hours I can put into this thing.  I'm thinking now of the final scene in the movie THX 1138, where "Tex" runs out the cost clock to get to freedom.   This morning I plugged the 3-way valve back in and cycled the power.  The valve is driven to one side, and then a good way back in the opposite direction.  It's definitely being turned by the main board.  But I sat near the fridge all day and I haven't heard it turn since.  now the fridge is reverting to its old behavior.  The fridge is cooling, but the freezer is slowly warming up into the 20's while the display panel insists it's -14F.  It's just plain wrong, even if it is taking an average.

I'll take a risk and buy a new main board monday morning and hope for the best when I replace it.   If that fails, I'll have to junk the fridge, because I just can't find the problem.

Last question:  Do three way valves wear out mechanically?   I would be surprised, but is it possible the internal stop wore off, so it isn't quite "zeroed" when it's driven to the end stop?  Or, do they plug up?

Keep it simple:  Yes, EMF discharge spikes are a very real possibility.  I like your Idea, and I will check the schematic to see what's there already if anything.  Can you suggest a device part number?
I note that the ice cream was getting soft in the fridge a few months ago, but the problems got worse after an extended black out during which I ran the fridge from a generator - i.e. dirty power.  It still worked after that but deteriorated further in the weeks since.   The fact that the displayed temperature slowly drifts down while the actual temperature slowly drifts up is an indication to me of some damage to the CPU on the main board.  The inputs from the sensors go straight to the CPU pins.  There's a pull-up resistor, and a capacitor to ground, so not much possibility of the CPU getting the readings wrong, UNLESS there is some damage, say in the way of leakage current into the pins.

By the way, I won't ever jump start a car from my running car for the very reasons you give by example.  It's a TERRIBLE Idea to jump start another car.  When you start your car, the ignition switch DISCONNECTS the accessory wiring and the only thing attached to the battery is the starter and the engine control unit.  But when you try to jump start *another* car with your car running, you've got everything connected while you dump some 100 amps into an inductive load (the starter motor in the other car).  When that shuts off, you get nasty voltage spikes on *your* electrical system.   I've blown out two alternators I can recall after having jumped someone.  In both cases, the diodes didn't fail immediately, but a week or two afterwards.    Best way to help someone out is to charge their battery from your running car, then *disconnect* the jumper cables and let them start their car with their own battery.  If it won't start that way, sorry, you're calling AAA.

  Thanks again for the help and advice.   I hope to have a working fridge in a week or so, after I buy a main board.

  Dan



Offline KeepItSimpleStupid

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2016, 01:55:26 PM »
If it is ESD or a spike, the fault can be non-permanent.  This http://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Vishay-Semiconductors/1N6373-E3-54/?  would be suitable for the 5V supply with the band of the diode to +5.

It looks like +5 and GND are hard to find?

Offline curjones

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2016, 01:20:42 AM »
The -14 temp is what the computer sets the unit to freeze at until Ice bin is full, and older models did not show that temp set point
only user set point..  I am not fully sure about this , but they may have changed it to now read the set point on interface.

Not checking Frost pattern is like trying to guess whats wrong and keep on guessing a long time.

The freezer evap should have a full frost pattern.  Remove the covers and expose the Evaporator.

One problem that has happened on these dual systems  is the Refrigerator evap leaks (WHIRLPOOL) and the refrigerator evap cools that side to 38 degrees just fine, but the freezer evap is starved, only 1/3 full at top..  That is what I saw on a Whirlpool.

The start up Reset process your doing is this.  The unit sends all refrigerant to freezer side first, until temp is reached in freezer.
once that is achieved the three way now allows the frige to cool.  There is now refrigerant trapped in the  frige evap, and  not enough left to fill the coils on freezer.

The thermistor sits on top of the coils of freezer evap and that is getting Iced up and for a short time and can be reading -14 degrees
but the whole evaporator is not full.

Inspecting the evap frost pattern on freezer is a must see.  If its full, passes the test.  Then the control board is messed up and not receiving the message of sensors all the way through its brain circuit, or there is a blockage to the sender to turn off or on.

the temp record memory sector is telling the master brain a lie,  in its data file.  We are cold we are cold , and that is a Lie
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« Last Edit: October 18, 2016, 01:29:47 AM by curjones »
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Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2016, 06:13:12 PM »
  Uh oh.   Please see the attached photo.  Is this what you (curjones) mean by a partial frost pattern?

So, I may have a leak after all.   But where is it coming from?

But as far as the order of cooling goes, I am almost certain that the process in the Samsung is the opposite of what you describe.  It cools the Fridge (or BOTH) first, and only then does it switch to the freezer side.  I have only rarely seen it (by watching the status monitor) set the 3-way to freezer very rarely and not when I first plug it in.  I happened to be monitoring it this afternoon when I saw the status LED change and heard the motor move and then saw the temperature on the freezer side go UP not down.  That was puzzling.  I then took the cover off and snapped the photo.  There is only frost on the top end of the evap coils.  The bottom is barely frozen.

Dan




Offline curjones

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #14 on: October 19, 2016, 01:08:42 AM »
That is a starved, evap.  Its important to give it time to fill up if the system just clicked to it.  I am not looking at a tech sheet, or fast track, but you should be able to put the unit on freezer side only.  and see if evap then fills.

most units I have worked on set the Priority to freezer section first, may not be a ALWAYS

The system appears starved due to a leak.  I related to you the Whirlpool Known problem they had.  Their Known problem was the refrigerator Evap had a leak. They had a service bulletin out on it.

You can have a leak any where as far as that goes.  May be detectable with Dye test, but you have to  put fittings on to get access to sealed system.

visual inspection of lines may show discoloration on the evaporators,  you may want to do a visual on the refrigerator evap.  Will often look black like tarnish.

This UNIT may also BE under a MANUFACTURE WARRANTY for sealed system.  How old is your unit?

don't Tap or go into the sealed system until you find out about this warranty or you'll void it.

My Whirlpool customer got it fixed for free.

There are what we call small, very small factory leaks that you really cant find.  They may take three years to depleted the system.

You'll need to know how to add refrigerant  and do sealed system charge if you have no warranty
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Offline curjones

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Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #16 on: October 19, 2016, 09:17:06 AM »
That is a starved, evap.  Its important to give it time to fill up if the system just clicked to it.  I am not looking at a tech sheet, or fast track, but you should be able to put the unit on freezer side only.  and see if evap then fills.

  Thanks.  Knowing this is helpful.   I took another photo today (not posted) after it had run all night, and there is more frost on it at the top, but none at the bottom.  I will look at the fridge side next opportunity, but we have food in there.  It has been working ok till now, but the temp was 55 this morning.  So, time to take the food out and get to work.  I've found no way to force the fridge to freezer mode only except by connecting a motor controller to the 3-way valve and operating it manually.  But then I am working blind.   Pressing "power freeze" on the panel doesn't do it.  I looked for jumpers on the main board, but there is nothing there.   Finally, I know some Samsungs can control "options settings" which would allow me to control the step valve, but for my fridge, there is no such option.

most units I have worked on set the Priority to freezer section first, may not be a ALWAYS
   This unit seems to rarely set the priority to freezer.  I've only seen it a few times.   But maybe the main board is damaged and also maybe it is trying to adapt to a fridge that won't cool as it expects, so the calculations it does are wrong.

The system appears starved due to a leak.  I related to you the Whirlpool Known problem they had.  Their Known problem was the refrigerator Evap had a leak. They had a service bulletin out on it.

You can have a leak any where as far as that goes.  May be detectable with Dye test, but you have to  put fittings on to get access to sealed system.
visual inspection of lines may show discoloration on the evaporators,  you may want to do a visual on the refrigerator evap.  Will often look black like tarnish.
    This video was helpful, if mainly for the links.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNL-cQAQ5Oc   I'm going to buy a piercing valve like that one on Amazon (because they will deliver it quickly).   I'll look for leaks first, but it's not leaking so quickly that I am concerned yet.



This UNIT may also BE under a MANUFACTURE WARRANTY for sealed system.  How old is your unit?

don't Tap or go into the sealed system until you find out about this warranty or you'll void it.

My Whirlpool customer got it fixed for free.

  Nope.   5 year warranty.   Naturally it started to fail at 5 years and 3 months.  Of course I am pissed about this.

There are what we call small, very small factory leaks that you really cant find.  They may take three years to depleted the system.
    This is the most hopeful thing you've said, because I can work with this.  If it's really such a small leak that it takes 5 years to fail, I am happy to just refill it every 4-5 years.

   I'm going to do a good look-over of the fridge side to look for any leaks, just so I know where they are if they are visible.  There are many places on the outside around the compressor where I might suspect a leak - in fact EVERY brazed joint in the system looks like complete shit.   There are also a few places where the copper tubing is oxidized and green, and has dripped green onto the drip pan at the bottom.  But I think these are places where condensation has dripped onto the plumbing and it's just cosmetic.   I felt all the ugly brazed joints and they are all covered with some clear plastic (?) sealant, but none of them feel oily or leave any residue on my fingers.  So while they *look* like they might all leak, it seems likely none of them are leaking.  I figure if there is a slow refrigerant leak, there is going to be a little oil, right?   


You'll need to know how to add refrigerant  and do sealed system charge if you have no warranty
  Suggestions?  Videos?  I've re-filled my car in the past.  I have a manifold and  a pump if I need it.  I have a licensed friend if I need anything fancier than the automotive 134a, but he only works with R122 typically. 

Thanks for your help! 

Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #17 on: October 19, 2016, 09:28:15 AM »
   Thanks.  yes, that is the manual I have, and I also have the appropriate fast-track, though the link below didn't work.  But I have it. 

With regard to the manual, it's pretty bad.  Note that the "load status" on p 58 shows the various control outputs of the main board for my fridge.  But this is wrong since my fridge is displaying segments from 3 digits, not 2.  I've been using the ones on p 59 instead, and they seem to agree.   They put too many models into one manual.

But as soon as I put that piercing valve on the process tube, I am going "off script" so to speak.

Dan





This should be your manual
http://appliancejunk.com/forums/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=14844.0;attach=9041

or
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BzIiBNwRIV4NQjFNa3hnbGxieHM

fast track

https://drive.google.com/drive/search?q=fast%20track

Offline curjones

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2016, 09:44:07 PM »
From what I read in regard to the  valve, is this.

if it fails on ALL , it means the valve is open to both evaps and in that case,  with a low system, you will notice the freezer evap starved, because its bigger in size.

if it fails the other way, the system will be off, valve to refrigerator evap is off, and NO cooling will be done on the refrigerator side.

This means the freezer side evap is never closed..  it is the Priority section

When you select the power freeze , this would be a force freeze in freezer side only.  All refrigerant will go to freezer side. Unless the valve is stuck in all. 

You have a small leak, and if you know how to Tap system Great.  Add only small amount, gauge reading after you add and wait 3-5 lbs, is all you need and  watch frost pattern.. Take your time, don't let frost get past the end of evaporator.

the only other  possible problem is evap is getting plugged , but you said frost pattern  has moved on down (thats good not plugged) then you've just had a small leak, over the years.
About the icons: The beer is tip link, if a tech saves ya some money buy em a 6 pack(diet coke in my case) . The small green square=personal message.

Offline danube

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Re: Freezer in Samsung RSG257AARS side-by-side wont freeze
« Reply #19 on: October 21, 2016, 12:41:06 PM »
Ok, so yesterday I finally pulled the trigger and pierced the process tube.   I applied one of those bullet valves, then an old R122 manifold I have, then an R122 to R134 adaptor on the yellow line to an automotive can-piercing valve/hose assembly.   I wieghed the can/hose assembly before and after and checked that it did not leak before piercing the can so I could save what is in there for later use in my car.  I pulled a vaccum though the red line just to check for leaks in the manifold (found some bad o-rings) them pierced the can.  I vacuumed and flushed a couple times to get rid of air, then pierced the fridge.

The low side pressure was at -16 PSI (vacuum side) when I first opened it up.   Starved!  I slowly transferred refrigerant while watching freezer temp and topped it off at about 5 PSI.  But, then it cooled some more and I saw a vacuum again.  So I added a little more.  But after many hours, I noticed frost all the way to the compressor.  Ooops.  Too much.  So I vented a little gas and waited (yeah, I know, supposed to recover it - but it wasn't much) and I think it's finally stabilized at 4-5PSI, and just a little frost on the return tube coming out of the compartment.  I figure if there is a slow leak, that will correct itself over time and the frost will retreat into the box.   

BUT this morning, the freezer seemed cold, but my ice cream was mush in the bottom of the compartment (I presume it's coldest there, but maybe it's coldest at the top where the air vents out? - nevertheless it should be cold enough for ice cream.  That's my test).

  I did photograph the frost pattern before putting the evap covers back on and running over night and it looked uniform (must be - it's freezing out the box).   Fans are running.  About 218 grams of refrigerant when in.

   So, I am not sure what else to do.   It could still be a bad 3-way I suppose, but I can hear it turning (it's turned back and forth a couple times during a defrost cycle, I guess to equalize the pressures).   I have no real way to see if it's not plugged though.  I have not been able to feel a difference in temperature in the two output capillaries, for example).

  So, the ONE LAST THING I thought to do this morning is to seal the valve, pull my gauge, and put the rear access cover of the fridge back on.  Without the cover, the compressor fan blows air at the compressor, and then out everywhere.   There is half as much flow (or less) over the condenser coils.   With the cover on, fan air is ducted under the fridge and over the coils.  That's my last resort.  If this afternoon the freezer is cold and my ice cream is frozen, I think I've fixed it.  If not, then I think I've reached the end of the line, having spent about 10 days diagnosing and learning and $170 on a new main board, refrigerant and adapter.

  If I junk the fridge, I'll try to diagnose it a bit more in the garage. 

  Dan