Because of how complex refrigeration systems can be, tracing down the root cause of a cooling issue can be a challenge. Oftentimes the issue is caused by something as simple as a failing condenser fan, but occasionally an entire compressor may go down or the refrigeration line may spring a leak.
While you may be able to carry out some simple repairs in-house, the majority of refrigeration problems must be remedied by a refrigeration specialist. If your cryostat is having cooling issues, we recommend contacting a local refrigeration specialist instead of a laboratory equipment specialist. The refrigeration systems found in cryostats work the same way as those found in consumer refrigerators, so you can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars by simply hiring a refrigeration specialist to fix your cryostat's cooling issues rather than contracting a field service specialist from the manufacturer. (Of course, if this route would have negative side effects like voiding your warranty, then contacting the manufacturer may be the better call.)
Before you contact a technician, you can do some simple troubleshooting on your own with the steps outlined below. (Note: this step only applies to troubleshooting issues with the chamber, not the cold head or peltier.)
1. Ensure that the condenser fan is spinning
To check if the fan is spinning, hold up a slip of paper to the vent on the side of the unit. If the paper doesn't react, then you should replace the fan and see if that resolves the cooling issue. If the paper is sucked toward the cryostat by airflow, then the fan is indeed working and you can carry on to the next step.
2. Check the date and time configuration
Many cryostats are equipped with automatic defrost functions that can be configured to run at certain times, which is useful for defrosting the cryostat overnight so it's ready for immediate usage the following day. However, if the date and time of your cryostat is wrong, then the defrost protocol can start when you're still trying to use the cryostat during the day. So if your cryostat's chamber isn't cooling, then double-check that the date and time are configured correctly on the cryostat's onboard software.
3. Ensure that the compressor is running
One of the easiest ways to tell if your compressor is running is simply to listen to it. If it's silent, then it needs to be replaced. You'll need to call a field service technician to carry out this repair. If you do hear it making noise but it doesn't seem to be cooling, then the root cause will usually be a refrigeration leak, in which case the refrigeration must be recharged by a refrigeration specialist (not necessarily a lab equipment specialist) and the leak plugged.
Still stumped by your cryostat?
Give us a call at (567)-221-0615 or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and our cryostat specialists will assist you in troubleshooting.