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Old 06-07-2012, 09:43 PM   #1
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1988 32.5' Airstream 325
Mount Vernon , Iowa
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 7
Dometic refrigerator

Just got into our sweetheart (1988 325) last fall but too late in season to camp. Heading out this weekend for the innaugural run, but found out the original fridge isn't cooling. The lights come on on the front indicating there is power and I can switch between AC and Gas though my lp tank is empty. Ran it for two hours on electric and no luck cooling. Not even vibrating or making any noise like it's trying...

Thoughts? Time to replace and if so any recommendations?

Thanks! I so love these forums and all the folks willing to help. There's nothing like the Airstream community!!!

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Old 06-07-2012, 09:50 PM   #2
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2005 25' Safari
Trabuco Canyon , California
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First thing I'd check is open the outside access after it has run on electric for an hour or so, and see if the chimney is warm. If so, it could be bad cooling unit ($). If not it is electrical or control problem. This type of fridge will not vibrate or make (much) noise, its pretty much thermal only, no motors. Full cooling can take more than a couple hours but you should notice some cooling in freezer by then.

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Old 06-07-2012, 09:54 PM   #3
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1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
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I had the same problem with my ex '83, 310. Put it away in the fall, refrigerator working fine, but in the spring, nada, nothing, gas or electric, even though both were heating the chimney in the back. No ammonia smell, or color, but apparently during the winter sometime it leaked and all traces were gone by spring.

I tossed the unit.

BTW, they don't "vibrate or make any noise" even when operating normally. Sometimes you will hear the gas flame, or ignition cycle but otherwise they are dead silent.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:03 PM   #4
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1966 26' Overlander
Provo , Utah
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I have this same problem. I'll try these ideas, and keep researching to see if I can find an answer as well.
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Old 06-07-2012, 10:34 PM   #5
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Morrill , Nebraska
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The electric side only works when you are on shore power. Make sure you have 120volt AC power to the refer. Then check to see if there is power going to the heating element. If you have power at the element and the chimney is not getting warm. You may just have a bad element. It is relatively easy to replace.
If the burner lights, but won't stay lit. It may be the Thermo couple or the card.
Your refer may require 12 volt DC as well. For the control card.
Good luck!
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:38 AM   #6
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1983 31' Airstream310
Cactus Hug , Arizona
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Is the fridge a Dometic? On a fresh Dometic fridge (ours), it takes at least a couple of hours to get up to speed after defrosting.
"A settled wisdom, plus the itch to be elsewhere"
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:46 PM   #7
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If your fridge is similar to the one in our 1990 there is a rocker switch that can only be seen when the freezer door is open. If I remember right even if this rocker sw is off the indicator panel lights still show it's running, however it will not cool unless this rocker is 'on'. It's very easy to overlook, when the freezer door is closed, so I attached a picture in case yours is similar.

Also here in the desert, in summertime, it takes a good 20-24 hrs. to reach a normal operating temp inside the fridge after inital start-up but after that it works as well as the one in the house. Seems the freezer part always gets colder faster.
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Old 06-08-2012, 08:40 PM   #8
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Boulder , Colorado
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Are you parked in a level area? They will not cool. If you are parked on a slope?

There are recalls on some Dometics. Check their website.
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:01 AM   #9
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Silverton , Colorado
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Be careful when you select an RV repair place...I have pulled our fridge out 4 times...not a job for the weak-at-heart or bad back...I took ours to a 'reputable' RV place in Conway , Arkansas, and it still didn't work...took it back, and they blamed the coil rebuilder...I took it to him, and he told me it was shoddy repair...I camped on his doorstep for a week, and he finally agreed to check...and he showed me the shoddy repair work,...he helped me pull it out, and redid the coil, ran it in his shop, and it cooled just fine, but it quit working again about half way between Arkansas and Colorado...we opted for an ice chest at that point. I went to a guy in Tucson, who sent all his rebuilds to...yep, the guy in Arkansas...this guy took the older coil, rebuilt it again, and it has(cross my fingers) worked since then...the guy in Arkansas is under the name RVCOOL, and while his phone attitude can be a bit gruff, will stand up and behind his work...I would recommend him to anyone...he told me, correctly, that it wasn't his rebuild that was the problem, it was a poor installation of his product. He further stated that the reason he wasn't going to work on my unit was because of dealers who turned inexperienced hires loose on unsuspecting customers' coaches. Now, having stated his gruffness, he DID let me hook up to electric and gave me water, and after about a week, he gave in and helped me pull the box. The box has to be disconnected from the gas line, the electric has to be disconnected, and there are two in-the-floor outside access door screws which retain the unit to the unit. You also have to remove the fridge doors before you manhandle the damn thing out into the interior hall, and it then has to be lifted over the dinette table and couch before you manhandle it out the door...not much space to work with, and it takes two determined people to accomplish this feat. Once the unit has been rebuilt, the process is reverse order, and not any more fun. The guy is honest, correct, and has built a nationwide respect for his work. I would send him flowers, but I think he might hurt me for that...(and I just might need him, further down the road)...don't have the rolodex with us here in Texas, but I think he's got a website...if not, there are many RV shops that use him...he ships, or takes shipment and refurbishes(or what ever you call cleaning, sealing, and fixing)...don't expect a "Hi, how are you, and how are the wife and kids", but his somewhat blunt approach is refreshing in a world where PR seems to be the most important thing on a phone answer...he does one thing, he does it well, and he has done it a long time. There have been threads which address pulling the fridge, turning it upside down to 'burp' it, but my humble suggestion is that if yer gonna pull it out, go ahead and have the work done...pulling one of those buggars out is a chore, and burping may or may not's a temporary solution, and you'll just have to remedy it again in the future, if it even works. No stains(yellowish) is a good indicator that you don't have an ammonia leak.
OK, pre-removal basics should include a check to make sure the vent flue doesn't have stuff blocking the venting. While my fridge was out the third time, I installed a $3 computer fan up top nearest to the vent cap, but inside the space the fridge occupies...used a simple ratshack lit switch so I would know when it was on, tacked into the existing 12 volt supply to the fridge controls, and set a ground wire into the, if I can do this, I honestly believe anyone else can...I'm the mechanical kind of guy that can hurt himself with a pair of pliers...m
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1989 345 Motorhome
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Old 06-09-2012, 03:22 AM   #10
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The switch in the freezer is for humid coditions, i.e. to stop the box from sweating. Sal.
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Old 06-13-2012, 08:10 PM   #11
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
Saint Petersburg , Florida
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Originally Posted by noreen View Post
The switch in the freezer is for humid coditions, i.e. to stop the box from sweating. Sal.
Living in Florida, I guess I need to have the switch in the freezer on all the time. Especially this time of year, where over 90% humidity is the norm, lol.
Thanks for the info, Derek

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