Vintage Servel Refrigerators Homepage

SERVEL - The SILENT Refrigerator!


    Hello! I get a LOT of questions about Servel refrigerators. Many of them are the same, so I've compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions and placed them here in one place to assist people who own or are interested in the vintage SERVEL refrigerators to know more about them. If you have a question that isn't addressed here, please free to ask by Clicking Here To Email Me. - Todd

 What type of gas does a Servel run on?

    ANSWER: Natural gas or LP gas - all that is needed is to change the orifice spud on your burner. Correct orifice spuds and turbulators are available on our PARTS & SERVICE PAGE

  Are parts still available for the older Servel?

    ANSWER: YES! Well, yes and no. Most of the functional parts - the ones necessary for the proper operation of the older Servels, are available, either new or used. However, because of the ill-named "recall" (see below), many of the cosmetic parts are getting hard to come by. There is also a brand new retrofit burner for the Servels that is available from Art at MAINE GAS REFRIGERATOR - tell him I sent you.  

  Can a vintage Servel lose it's charge, and can it be recharged?

    ANSWER: Yes it can lose it's charge, BUT YES it CAN be recharged. However - do NOT try this yourself! It is dangerous to do so, as the contents of the cooling system are under pressure! Have it done by a qualified service technician. For a list of them, go to my PARTS & SERVICE PAGE .   

  Aren't the newer gas-powered refrigerators more efficient than the older Servels?

    ANSWER: Yes, but it's all relative. I did the calculations a while back, and, though the prices of energy have changed, the rate of use hasn't. If you want to re-calculate it using current prices you can see the math and crunch the numbers yourself here: SEE THE MATH LINK .
        Otherwise, here is the important data, distilled down to where anyone can understand it:
        * A modern, 12 cubic foot gas-powered unit costs $0.63 per day to operate on LP gas, and $0.45 per day on natural gas.
A modern, 18 cubic foot gas-powered unit costs $0.78 per day to operate on LP gas, and $0.57 per day to operate on natural gas.
        * The older Servel, like mine, costs $1.15 per day to operate on LP gas, and $0.83 per day on natural gas.
        * A modern, General Electric electric (compressor operated) 12 cubic foot unit costs $0.52 per day to operate.
A modern, General Electric electric (compressor operated) 18 cubic foot unit costs $0.54 to run.
       So -
          The smaller, modern-built refrigerator operating on natural gas is CHEAPER to operate than an electric model, and the larger modern ones are just barely more expensive than the electric model! AND the older Servels are really not THAT much more to run on natural gas either! Either way, it's not a lot of expense, especially when you take into account that you're getting added heat in the winter from either unit. If you operate your older Servel properly and don't open and close it a lot - only when you need to - it won't use too much gas. There are also newer style, more efficient burners available for the older models, if that's an issue to you. Not only that, if the compressor goes out on an electric refrigerator, you DON'T want to know what it would cost you to replace it! Most folks just buy a new one. 

  Are the vintage Servel refrigerators safe to operate in my home?

    ANSWER: I believe that they are, BUT - they have to be installed and serviced properly and regularly. Most of the people who have had problems with them haven't maintained them correctly. While not difficult, it IS necessary, and many people simply didn't do it, or they messed with it without knowing what they were doing. This led to the government getting involved (of course). Properly installed and maintained, they are perfectly safe, in my opinion. That said, I advise anyone who wishes to use one of these indoors to get a GOOD Carbon Monoxide detector and place it in the same room with it - it's a small price to pay to be SURE you are safe!

  I WANT ONE! Where can I find a vintage Servel?

    ANSWER: Craigslist is your best bet to find one. You can also try asking one of the people who service them. They often have some.   

  Are there things I can do to make my Servel work better?

    ANSWER: Yes! There are many things that you can do to make your Servel work better. Here are a few suggestions:
       1. GET THE SERVICE MANUALS! The Servel is a precision device designed to work flawlessly for many years, BUT it has to be installed and maintained properly, or it won't! Get your Service Manuals from one of the sources found on our Servel Literature Page .

         2. PROPER AIR CIRCULATION - There has to be adequate circulation around the unit, and especially around the cooling fins. Make sure they're clean and the clearances are in keeping with the instructions found in the Service Manuals.

         3. Make sure it is LEVEL - this isn't as hard as it may seem, but is a LOT more important that one might think. The cooling system is operated using gravity, and an out-of-level Servel won't cool properly.

           A. The Orifice Spud and Turbulator have to be the right ones for your unit. These get changed over time by people who may or may not know what they are doing. Get the Service Manuals, determine what you need, then go to
our Parts & Service Page and order what you need, if you don't have it.

             B.  The Burner has to be clean and properly assembled. Again - get the Service Manuals and learn how, or hire someone to do it for you.

C. The Burner must be properly installed and adjusted. Again - get the Service Manuals and learn how, or hire someone to do it for you.

5. Make sure the Flue System is CLEAN! Next to a dirty/out of adjustment burner, a dirty flue system is the biggest reason for having problems with a Servel giving off Carbon Monoxide, which is what got the government involved in the recall of vintage Servel refrigerators (see FAQ below). Follow the instructions in the Service Manuals about cleaning the Flue System TO THE LETTER, and, if your Burner is properly set up, it is my experience that you won't have any problems with Carbon Monoxide.

6. Install an Air Circulation Fan inside the refrigerator cabinet - This is a neat little battery-operated fan that you place on the bottom shelf of your Servel. It gently blows the cooler air inside (cold air falls - warm air rises) the lower portion of the cabinet up and around the food. The savings of gas and uniformity of cooling of the food is noticeable. These can be purchased at any good RV supply house for less than $20, or online at merchants like this one: FridgeCool Refrigerator Fan .

7. Do not "pack" the food inside your Servel so tightly that the cold air cannot circulate properly around it - A common mistake, jamming the refrigerator with food, or putting very hot food in it before it has time to cool adequately, will overwork your Servel, use more gas, and cause your food to spoil. Go to our How To Arrange Your Food Page to learn more about how to do so.

8. Be sure your thermostat is properly set - The thermostat will need to be adjusted, depending upon the ambient temperature outside the refrigerator, how much food is inside, etc. Check the Service Manual for how to properly adjust your thermostat. 


  What about the recall of older Servel refrigerators?

    ANSWER: Well, the "recall", really isn't a manufacturer's recall at all! In reality, it came about as the result of an investigation of the vintage refrigerators by the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Because a few owners didn't properly maintain and operate their older Servels, the CPSC decided that they were "dangerous", and set up something called the "Servel Action Committee". This Committee wants your old Servel destroyed!
Now - although the Servel Action Committee has NO authority to force people to turn in their old Servel refrigerators, it DOES have the authority to force the company that ended up with Servel's liabilities as the result of a purchase in 1969 to PAY for the recall (unbelievable, huh?)! This unfortunate company, Gould, Inc., of Eastlake, Ohio, is a maker of medical and electrical components. Though they have never made refrigerators, they are being FORCED by the CPSC to pay $100 PLUS disposal costs to anyone who has a Servel and applies for the money! To  date, this government intrusion has cost Gould, Inc. well over $20,000!!!!

There is a brand new retrofit burner for the Servels that is available from MAINE GAS REFRIGERATOR that eliminates the problems the CPSC has with the original burner design, so destruction is really NOT necessary in most cases, in my estimation.  
What's so sad is that Americans are falling for this "recall" and sending their Servels in for destruction, even though they are not required by law to do so!
If you really feel that your Servel MUST be destroyed and want to know about the "recall", follow this link:
CPSC Servel "Recall" Link .

1930's Servel Refrigerator

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Servel is a registered trademark of the Dometic Corporation.
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If you own a pre-1960 Servel refrigerator, the Federal Government's Consumer Product Safety Commission would like you to have your Servel destroyed.
Go HERE to read their reasoning for wanting you to do so.

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