We’ve Got Great Stuff in the Fridge

April 28, 2015:

No really, we do.  See?


As good as that stuff is (tis me!), that’s not the really “great stuff.”  We’ll get there.

So, we had been having a little trouble with our fridge for quite some time.  Beads of condensation would form around the lid during the hot summer months and we were always battling a thick wall of ice that would form on the freezer after 4-5 days, which told us we had an air leak around the lid.  We bloggled™ it and tried some commonly recommended cruiser remedies–a yoga mat on top of the fridge lid, a solar blanket inside the fridge, etc., which helped some but made access to the fridge a bit trickier and noisier.  (The solar blanket was a complete crinkle fest!)   This also did not slow the ice ring around the freezer, which was forcing us to empty the entire fridge and defrost it after every weekend trip.  That was the real hassle, but, this was just for our condensation problem.

Knowing the fridge was likely going to be our next boat project, we threw a handy, dandy little fridge thermometer in during our Bon Buffett Voyage to see if we had a temp problem as well.  Sadly, our suspicions were confirmed.  It seemed our beloved fridge was struggling to maintain “fridge temp” (35-38 degrees Farenheit).  Honestly, though, I wish we had never gotten that dastardly thermometer.  Perhaps our chilled items weren’t quite 38 degrees, but they were perfectly chilled for me.  We never had anything spoil before it’s time and we never got sick from any insufficiently-refrigerated poultry, so why mess with a good thing?  “Because you want to catch a problem before it arises,” Phillip tells me.  But, I’m still on the “if it ain’t broke,” wagon …  

But, when we started monitoring the temps in the fridge, it was pretty appalling.  We usually would click our fridge back on 24 hours before we planned to stock it for an outing.  24 hours later it always felt chilly, had a bit of ice forming already on the freezer, so we would throw in our provisions, thinking we were good to go.  That is, until we started in with this whole thermometer business.  With the thermometer in there, we learned even after 24 hours of running, the fridge would only get down to about 50 degrees.  Yes, fifty.  That made even me a little nervous.

So, we called in a professional.  Cue Bill Nye the Fridge Guy.  (Okay, that’s not his real name, I just like calling him that).  It’s Bill Costello with Sea Air Marine and he’s awesome.  He came highly recommended by several of our boat buddies as the most trusted marine fridge guy around, so we were happy to have him and his son come aboard and take a look.

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He checked the temp in the fridge with a super handy laser thermometer.


Whatever you shoot the beam at, it registers the temperature.  I wish he would have let me borrow that.  I would have spent the afternoon taking the temperature of my eyeballs, tonsils and toenails.  I wondered if the ricochet beam off the mirror would register temp.  I was captivated by that little contraption.

Then Bill pulled out his wizard machine!

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This was equally fascinating.  You watch the bubbles in the cylinder to determine the level of freon in the fridge and how much freon has been added.  Our fridge only holds 4 ounces of freon, and Bill, with his magic machine, determined two ounces needed to be added.  Meaning, our fridge was running on half the freon needed to cool it.  Bill advised that amount could have been lost over a long period time (we have no idea when the freon level in the fridge was last checked) or we could have a freon leak.  He told us we would know we had a freon leak if the fridge still struggled to hold temp after he added the additional two ounces.  We were hopeful Bill’s bubbles and lasers solved our temp problem, but we also wanted to fix our condensation problem as well.  What was Bill’s suggestion?

Great Stuff.


Bill said he had seen this issue a lot when the top of the fridge is not sealed well to the cavity (or the seal has deteriorated over time), this causes an air leak around the seam.  He suggested we spray some Great Stuff along the seam to stop the air leak.  It sounded simple.  It was anything but.  To even see the seam, you essentially have to get inside the fridge and look up.  And that’s just seeing it.  That speaks nothing of actually aiming and spraying foam into it.


We followed the instructions on the spray can:


After running a quick practice line of foam on a paper towel, I set to it.

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The seams where I could actually get halfway into the fridge to do the spraying were easier.  The ones along the port side of the boat required some wicked circus bending that I’m pretty sure ripped my pancreas.

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It took some maneuvering, but I finally got a solid bead around the seam.  It wasn’t pretty, but I doubt any air will be getting through.

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I’m lucky I didn’t get any of that stuff in my hair.  I’m sure it would have to be cut out.  That would not be so “great.” Phillip somehow managed to get some on the ceiling.  Don’t ask.


Thankfully, we managed only a few extra swipes and puffs of Great Stuff in places we didn’t intend in the fridge, but I don’t think they’re going to affect our enjoyment of any chilled items.  If anything, I take comfort knowing we’ve always got some great stuff in there!

And, we accomplished the fridge project just in time for another trip over to Pirate’s Cove.  This time in full costume.  Next up, a swashbuckling rapscallion adventure.  Stay tuned!



Thanks as always, to the many patrons who help make these posts just a little more possible through PATREON.


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10 Responses to We’ve Got Great Stuff in the Fridge

  1. cj says:

    Great Stuff! This is just like a train wreck. You know you shouldn’t look, but you just can’t help yourself. So here it comes: what does a serving of Annie come with? Seems tempting and decadent, but likely to be too rich for my blood. Like a veritable butcher shop; legs, thighs, etc, etc. Does it keep well or does it spoil quickly? I could go on, but now I’m bored. Just too easy. Nice write up on the storm last issue. The minute you think you have it wired… you don’t. You can always get better, but you can always be bested. You will survive being bested…maybe…However, I did note that you might try using a windless, so you’ll never be win less again. We’ve got eighty feet at the waterline, nicely making way…

    • anniedike says:

      A serving of Annie comes with brussel sprouts and a rich sweet zin. Oh and cheesecake for dessert. Always. Glad you enjiyed the storm write-up. It was a pretty enlightening experience. Being bested, you don’t just survive, you improve.

      • cj says:

        Hmmm. Love me some Brussels sprouts, but I was thinking potatoes au gratin topped with truffles with a dry merlot (I expect the entree to be a bit more gamey and dark), and french style green beans with a light white sauce. Oh, and a tiramisu for dessert. Maybe you improve. In this instance I’m sure you did, but it depends on the level of bestation or is it bestedness?

  2. Annie, please let us know if you notice an improvement. We’re dealing with a similar issue on Eagle Too. We installed new freezer and refrigerator seals during our last mini-refit, but we still have to defrost the freezer at least once a month, and more often if we spend any amount of time out on the hook. It developed over three quarters of an inch of frost in the four days we spent at Pensacola Beach for the airshow.

    Robert & Rhonda
    S/V Eagle Too

  3. robertsapp1809 says:

    Annie, please let us know if you notice an improvement in the performance of your refrigerator. We have a similar problem on Eagle Too. We only need to defrost our freezer about once a month when we’re on the dock with the air conditioning running, but we recently spent four days on the hook at Quietwater Beach for the Blue Angels air show and we built up almost an inch of frost on the evaporator. We replaced our freezer and refrigerator door seals during our last mini-refit, so we’re pretty sure that’s not the problem.

    Robert & Rhonda
    S/V Eagle Too

    • anniedike says:

      Hey Robert. We have definitely seen an improvement on the condensation and freezer-ice build-up, so I think the Great Stuff worked well. A friend of ours recommended not turning the fridge off to defrost but simply melting a bit of the ice with warm water as turning it off and on makes the fridge struggle to stabilize and increases the energy consumption. We will probably try that next time we get a good bit of build-up (which if it’s according to schedule will be Friday – ha!). We believe the added freon helped but we have to run our fridge at the 6 setting (as opposed to 2 where it used to reside) to maintain “fridge temp” now with the thermometer. Perhaps, before, the 2 setting wasn’t really cutting it and we just didn’t know because we didn’t have a thermometer in there. But, we’re going to let it keep running at 6 and try to turn it off less until it dies. That’s the plan so far. I’ll keep you posted otherwise. Hope you guys are doing well.

      • robertsapp1809 says:

        Sorry for the dual posts, I posted the first one yesterday and when I checked this morning it still wasn’t displaying so I just assumed it got lost somewhere and I posted again. The wifi here at Palafox Pier is so wanky and unstable that I never really know if our messages or emails truly make it through. Regarding defrosting techniques, when we’re out on the hook (which is when we really seem to have the problem with frost buildup) Rhonda gives the evaporator a daily scrape with a spatula to try and stay ahead of it, and when it gets too bad, I borrow her hairdryer and give it ten minutes on high, which is usually all it needs to be completely frost free. Our freezer is in a separate compartment from our refrigerator though, so we can defrost the one without messing with the other. I’ve already verified that we have the same seam in our boxes, but I think I’d rather try to find some rope caulk to press in instead of shooting foam, it seems like it would have less potential for mess. Unless you’d be available to do the job, now that you’ve perfected the technique? 🙂

      • anniedike says:

        Nope, go with the rope. I’m not sure I’ll ever do that again. The pancreas is still recovering. Ha!

  4. Pingback: Instant Pirate — Just Add Rum | Have Wind Will Travel

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