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aero_reefer777

Chiller issue - diagnosis?

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aero_reefer777

I have had my 1/15 hp mini-arctica chiller for about 7 years now. It has always worked great for cooling the water, however the thermostat was problematic enough that I added a Apex controller a couple years ago. My problem now is that the chiller does not cool the water anymore. The unit is now making a slight hissing sound when it's trying to chill (when the condenser is on). The unit is not leaking at all however. The chiller also seems to be running hotter than usual. I performed the standard maintenance routine last weekend of cleaning the cooling fins and flushing the chiller with reversed flow. Alas, the chiller issues remain.

 

My questions:

 

Has anyone else had similar issues and successfully repaired their unit ? (at what cost?)

 

Is 7 years a lifetime in chiller years, should I just bite the bullet and get a new one?

 

Thanks in advance for your feedback.

Matt

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jamescstein

No experience with chillers at all. But honestly it sounds like its low on refrigerant.

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Daveluce

Does it turn off after the hissing sound? Is the hissing sound constant? Make sure the fan is functional and the fan side of the coil (fin tube) is clean. If its not the fan or coil, could be a bad thermostat, bad compressor,or low on refrigerant. Any hvac place should be able to service it pretty cheaply since you can bring it to them.

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aero_reefer777

Thanks for your feedback. The hissing sound is constant when the compressor is on.

 

Last night I did some more investigative work and discovered the fan is not functional. The internal housing of the chiller is clean as a whistle, per my maintenance over the weekend, so I suspect the fan motor is burned out. I think the fan assembly is $100 part, which would be worth it if I was sure the problem was isolated to the fan. Leaning towards a new chiller at this point.

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MikeTR

7 years is pretty good lifespan. If it doesn't have a service port to even check the refrigerant level then you'll be hard pressed to find an hvac company that will service it. Do you have a plug-in fan you can sit in front of the chiller and blow air across the fins?

 

http://www.marineandreef.com/JBJ_1_15HP_Arctica_Aquarium_Chiller_Mini_Arctica_p/RJB07005.htm?gclid=CJGB0IjXxsMCFaHHtAodf04ACw

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Lawnman

I am leaning towards the compressor is going out to hot from the fan not working. No reason to check the refrigerant levels because a unit only needs more refrigerant if theres a leak. If the unit was low on refrigerant it would ice up as well.

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aero_reefer777

Thanks Mike and Lawnman for your feedback.

 

I ran the chiller last night with a plug-in fan blowing directly into the radiator cooling fins. That was effective in reducing the water temperature about 3 degrees over an hour (79 F to 76 F - We have seahorses). I have a standard RedSea 130D with ~10 gallon sump, so total water volume is around 45 gallons (standard power compact lighting). So it seems the compressor is functioning well enough to facilitate the heat exchange process, and the fan is the primary issue. That said, the compressor could be on it's way out and contributed to the fan burn-out in the first place (as Lawnman suggests). The unit runs noticeably louder than before, and the compressor is the only component that could generate significant noise with the fan out of commission. I am still leaning towards spending $400 for an easy guaranteed fix, vs. $100 for a new fan assembly, another fish tank project, and hoping the fan was the issue.

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Daveluce

Thanks Mike and Lawnman for your feedback.

 

I ran the chiller last night with a plug-in fan blowing directly into the radiator cooling fins. That was effective in reducing the water temperature about 3 degrees over an hour (79 F to 76 F - We have seahorses). I have a standard RedSea 130D with ~10 gallon sump, so total water volume is around 45 gallons (standard power compact lighting). So it seems the compressor is functioning well enough to facilitate the heat exchange process, and the fan is the primary issue. That said, the compressor could be on it's way out and contributed to the fan burn-out in the first place (as Lawnman suggests). The unit runs noticeably louder than before, and the compressor is the only component that could generate significant noise with the fan out of commission. I am still leaning towards spending $400 for an easy guaranteed fix, vs. $100 for a new fan assembly, another fish tank project, and hoping the fan was the issue.

100$ for a fan seems outrageous. See if you can remove the fan unit and find some numbers on the motor. If you can't find any info, see if you can figure out the cfm and wattage of the fan, and shop around. Might have to get creative with mounting it, but it's definately do able

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aero_reefer777

** Update**

 

I just spoke with JBJ, and they believe the problem is isolated to the fan unit based on the symptoms described above (I should add that they were quite friendly and helpful). I was wrong about the fan assembly price, it's only $50 for the arctica mini. This sounds like a high probability cheap and quick fix, so I will be picking up the replacement in the next week and hopefully extend the life of the chiller. Not sure if anyone has documented this repair on Nano-reef, so If anyone is interested speak up and I will document the process (hopefully a simple one).

 

Thanks again all for your inputs

:)

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aero_reefer777

*Final Update*

 

The new fan assembly has the chiller cooling like it's early days again. So glad I went through the troubleshooting process, $50 repair instead of at $450 replacement. The fan assembly swap is not a difficult process. Start to finish 20-30 minutes depending on how many beers you require to get into project mode. Thanks again to all who chimed in.

 

For future chiller trouble shooters, I would suggest the following steps: (for a chiller that powers on, but does not reduce tank temp)

 

1) Verify water flow through chiller circuit

2) check if your chiller fan is functional

3a) Fan functions: perform recommended maintenance (clear all dust from internal parts, vinegar solution reverse flow - 60 min)

3b) Fan does not function: place plug-in fan in front of chiller, observe if chiller is effective (via tank temp reduction)

 

4) If chiller is not effective after steps 3a or 3b, the reefer of average handiness and income should seriously consider buying a new chiller. The next level of repairs are generally all in the $100+ range and are not always guaranteed fixes

 

Ok, I am sure I left something out. Please chime in with any other steps you suggest or perhaps a change in the order of operations.

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Catzeye913

I believe we have the same chiller. I noticed today that the tank is heating up and the chiller is constantly running. It does appear to be making a hissing sound, which reminds me of when my car was almost out of freeon and the A/C died shortly after. The main difference it that I have only had this chiller for 5 months! I bought this from Amazon so how on earth would I get it warrantied??

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