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Old 10-11-2019, 11:30 AM   #1
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Did I kill our refrigerator?

Joe Flower here, husband of Jennifer Flower who has been active on these forums for years. Finally got my own account.


You may recall a long discussion the missing parts for our Dometic fridge — only to find out that the parts were not missing at all. So I went to test it on AC and on propane. At first it seemed to work some, at least making the freezer plate quite cold. I decided to leave it running overnight to see if it totally worked. In the morning, though, it seemed it had not worked at all.


That's when Jenni looked glum and remembered what had slipped her mind: These fridges must only be operated on level ground, because they rely on gravity rather than a pump to return the chemicals through the condenser.



Our 345 Classic MH is parked for now on a 6% slope at a friend's place.



You'd think such critical information would be prominent in the operating instructions printed inside the fridge on the bottom sill. Nope.



Obviously, the next step is to get it on level ground at some campground and plugged in to 30 amps, and test it again on AC and propane.


But what do the assembled think? Have I killed it? If so, how possible/easy is it to just replace the refrigeration unit and not the whole box? Any ideas?
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:33 AM   #2
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Our driveway is sloped just enough that if I don't lower the tongue right down to the ground the fridge does not work. I've made the mistake of not lowering it enough several times, left the fridge running overnight and the fridge is still fine. No worries.
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:44 AM   #3
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I had our refrigerator quit once because of a very sloped campsite. We cut it off and left it until we moved. It took 3 days for it to really run properly again. I am not sure that just hooking it up and trying it for 30 mins is a good test. It seemed to me that the best thing for ours to recover was to run it while we were pulling the trailer. It quit a couple of times but finally recovered and has worked for 8 more years now.
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:50 AM   #4
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Hi

Best approach is to go out for an hour's drive on some bumpy roads. If there is an "air block" that should shake it out of the pipes.

Bob
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Old 10-11-2019, 11:56 AM   #5
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You may be just fine.
Get it nice and level, hook up to 120 VAC, turn it on in the "Electric" mode and give it 48 hours to cool down before you jump to any conclusions.
Remember the following:
(1) Ammonia absorption refrigerators accomplish with a tiny flame, or an electric heating element, what your household refrigerator accomplishes with a 1/3 horsepower electric motor and a good sized compressor. It just takes more time.
(2) Good refrigeration depends on very good ventilation and air circulation through the space between the back of the fridge and the inside wall of your Airstream.
(3) Never load the fridge with warm food and beverages. Get them nice and cold in your household fridge before you put them in the Airstream fridge. Only put already frozen items in the freezer. And again, give your RV fridge 48 hours to cool down before you hit the road.
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Old 10-11-2019, 12:13 PM   #6
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There was a thread in Popupportal.com and someone had the similar experience. The solution was to move to a leveled ground and wait 24 hours before turning it on. It works every time.
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Old 10-11-2019, 03:36 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFlower View Post
. . .
You'd think such critical information would be prominent in the operating instructions printed inside the fridge on the bottom sill. Nope.
. . .
I seem to recall that the owner's manual for our 1985 AS 25' was quite clear about needing to level the rig. At the time, I did not understand it.

Getting your coach level, and waiting 24 hours to start the fridge, will hopefully do the trick.

Good luck,

Peter
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:43 AM   #8
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Hi

The street in front of our house is more than a little off level (left to right). We pull up and plug in the evening before a trip. The next morning the fridge is nice and cold. We then load it up with all the "stuff" from the fridge in the house. So far it's worked fine for us.

Indeed if the trailer is there and it is being worked on, the fridge *might* get used longer term to chill an inventory of beverages .... burp .... That also seems to work out pretty well.

Bob
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Old 10-12-2019, 09:01 AM   #9
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Bob, your 2017 fridge is probably more tolerant of "off-level" than the OP's 1985/1986 fridge IMO.

Peter

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Old 10-12-2019, 10:29 AM   #10
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Yep you did BUT it can be resuscitated! Go for a drive to have the refrig stabilized. Make sure you are level then test it our. You will probably find it's OK
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Old 10-12-2019, 10:41 AM   #11
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Our new Dometic refrigerator came with a manual & states on the first page that it needs to be level ...
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Old 10-12-2019, 11:11 AM   #12
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Ditto all those who say take it out and shake it up. The liquids need to get back to the lower portion of the system so the absorption process can get started again

Apparently if you leave a fridge running for a long time off level there is a possibility of some of the refrigerant component becoming crystallized or baked on the coils

Not likely a problem overnight....
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Old 10-12-2019, 12:50 PM   #13
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Thanks for the responses

...they seem quite encouraging. In maybe a week we will take it someplace level, let it rest, then try it again. I'll report back.
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:39 PM   #14
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If none of these very good suggestions work, look up a method of "burping" the fridge. It involves removing it from the coach and turning it first one way and then another to allow the gases and fluids inside to flow where they should be. Some say it works, some say it doesn't.

When I first got my Safari, I had the fridge cooling unit rebuilt, reinstalled it, and the fridge worked fine. Then it sat for about a year (while the warranty on the work ran out) before we tried it again. It didn't work. We tried the burping routine, because we figured we had nothing to lose. It worked, and the fridge has worked ever since.

But, it is possible to destroy a cooling unit by running it off level, because my trailer's PO had done just that. If that's your case, there are several places that can rebuild just the cooling unit. No reason to throw away a good fridge that fits your unit, and a cooling unit rebuild is cheaper than a new fridge by a lot.
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Old 10-12-2019, 02:46 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeFlower View Post
. . .
In maybe a week we will take it someplace level, let it rest, then try it again. I'll report back.
Sounds like a good plan. Moving the coach will be the functional equivalent of Mimi's recent "burping" suggestion IMO. In the meantime, any chance of getting the coach reasonably level right away?

Peter
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Old 10-12-2019, 03:59 PM   #16
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I Too Have Burped

When I renovated a 1976 Sovereign in 2005-2006, I removed the fridge that seemed not work any more. Since I had ordered a new one, I decided to try burping under monitored, test conditions while recording the results.
I recorded the experience somewhere on these fora.
In summary, burping worked great and had the freezer freezing (0-4 degrees F)
and the fridge cooling (32-35 degrees F).
Can't vouch for long term outcome since I had already installed a new unit and gave the old one away.
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Old 10-12-2019, 06:36 PM   #17
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Could be wrong, but I think the “level” requirement is fore-aft rather than side to side.
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Old 10-12-2019, 08:38 PM   #18
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You are correct. Level fore and aft is critical to the ammonia evaporation and absorption refrigerator.
Level side to side is for creature comfort and frying eggs.
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Old 10-14-2019, 12:10 PM   #19
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Burping and its functional equivalents

> In the meantime, any chance of getting the coach reasonably level right away?


We are planning to move it in three days. In the meantime, we are keeping the fridge off. Burping may not be necessary.
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Old 10-14-2019, 09:59 PM   #20
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Before you do any “burping”, get it reasonably level and turn it on for 12 hours.

I suspect all will be well.
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