1948 Montgomery Ward fridge not cooling well


Premium Member
Feb 17, 2023
Model Number
Need some help diagnosing the problem. I bought this old fridge and it was working but now wont cool sufficiently. Only gets down to 48F. The compressor is running and I replaced the temp controller. I’m wondering if there could be a slow refrigerant leak? Or could it be the compressor or something else? The coils are clean. Any ideas? Thanks!


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Usually when the compressor is running continuously but there's little or no cooling the refrigeration system has been leaking. However, if this refrigerator has been sitting unused for a while in a cool/cold location it may take a while for you to see any cooling. This is because the refrigerant gets absorbed into the compressor oil. When this happens the compressor must run for a while to get warmed up so the refrigerant can boil out of the oil, start circulating through the system, and begin cooling. This usually takes about an hour. Are you seeing any frost on the freezer? How long have you let it run?
Thanks for the reply. I let it run for a couple days. I have seen a video on YouTube of someone recharging an old frige and have also seen that there are some refrigants that can also stop small leaks. Would this be something to try? If so, my main question would be, what line do i tap into? I have drawn a red on the lines that go in and and out of the compressor
Ok, definitely sounds like a refrigerant leak. To repair this correctly you need to recover the refrigerant and pull the system down into a vacuum. Pressurize the system with nitrogen and try to find the leak, repair the leak, replace the dryer or install a new one, then recharge the system. Most likely the refrigerator uses R-12 which you need a license to buy, if you can even find any. There are no drop in replacements for the R-12 either. A different refrigerant will not be compatible with the compressor oil. The other problem is you have air in the refrigeration system. If refrigerant has leaked out, air has leaked in. You can try your can of sealant if you'd like but I really don't think it will work. You would want to tap into the large line that goes from the compressor up to the freezer box. That's the low pressure suction line.
Thanks for the tips! Didn’t know about the non-compatibility of different fridges due to the oil. I will try and find the leak with nitrogen
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