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Old 03-20-2017, 05:13 PM   #1
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Dometic Fridge Problems

I have just purchased a fridge off Craigslist and the freezer works but the fridge doesn't. The heating coils on the back are hot after being hooked up to ac power.

12v is hooked up and fan works.

Suggestions? Thoughts?

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Old 03-20-2017, 05:48 PM   #2
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How long did you let it run before you checked the temperatures? The freezer gets pretty cold before you start noticing much cooling in the refrigerator compartment, especially in a larger unit. It may be that it just doesn't have enough capacity for some reason (the heating element isn't getting hot enough, there's a partial clog in the system, etc.) It might also be that it takes a long time to start cooling the fridge, though.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:37 AM   #3
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How long did you let it run before you checked the temperatures? The freezer gets pretty cold before you start noticing much cooling in the refrigerator compartment, especially in a larger unit. It may be that it just doesn't have enough capacity for some reason (the heating element isn't getting hot enough, there's a partial clog in the system, etc.) It might also be that it takes a long time to start cooling the fridge, though.


We had it running for about 2-3 hours. Is this long enough? The beer was in the freezer as the fridge hadn't started getting cold! We didn't feel the fins inside the fridge getting cold either. Did you notice anything in the pictures/wiring that could be an issue?
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:52 AM   #4
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Give it more time

Wait at least 12 hrs before declaring it non-functional. I always turn mine on 24 hrs ahead of a weekend trip.
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Old 03-21-2017, 07:58 AM   #5
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My frig tends not to feel cold until I feel the things I have put in it getting good and cold.

Generally plug in and turn it on overnight before a trip, freezer is good and cold while the frig is barely if at all noticeably cold.

Load it up and head down the road, hours later it proves to me it is working just fine. The dead, empty space may effect how cold it feels. ?

Some who have posted here put a bag of ice in their frig when they load it, just to be sure it is cold enough.

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Old 03-21-2017, 10:05 AM   #6
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I agree w/ the others... 2-3 hrs is enough time for the freezer section to start being noticeably cold, but leave it running for 12-24 hrs before you decide it needs work. I suspect this is even more true of the bigger fridges, I've had an old small one up to now and even that one took a long time for the fridge section to get down below 40F.

Oh, and it's best if you have a remote-read thermometer so you don't have to keep opening it to check, of course, because every time you open one that's empty it's easy for the volume of cold air inside the fridge to exchange with warmer outside air. When they're loaded up with cold foods and drinks the imact of opening and closing the door is MUCH less. If you just have a direct-read thermometer make the 12 hours run time overnight so you're not tempted to check periodically.

While it's really useful for its ability to cool with propane, the ammonia-absorption cycle is MUCH slower than a compressor-driven refrigeration cycle.
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Old 03-21-2017, 12:29 PM   #7
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I agree w/ the others... 2-3 hrs is enough time for the freezer section to start being noticeably cold, but leave it running for 12-24 hrs before you decide it needs work. I suspect this is even more true of the bigger fridges, I've had an old small one up to now and even that one took a long time for the fridge section to get down below 40F.

Oh, and it's best if you have a remote-read thermometer so you don't have to keep opening it to check, of course, because every time you open one that's empty it's easy for the volume of cold air inside the fridge to exchange with warmer outside air. When they're loaded up with cold foods and drinks the imact of opening and closing the door is MUCH less. If you just have a direct-read thermometer make the 12 hours run time overnight so you're not tempted to check periodically.

While it's really useful for its ability to cool with propane, the ammonia-absorption cycle is MUCH slower than a compressor-driven refrigeration cycle.


Awesome. Thanks for all your help. I just spent time putting it in place, running copper, framing it in and then I freaked.

Does anyone know what the black piece is that I took a picture of? The circular piece that looks broken?
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Old 03-21-2017, 02:25 PM   #8
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It's really just a guess, but it looks like it might be the remains of a themostatic exhaust fan control.

Here's a link to an example.

Is one end of the wire loose? Like they just yanked the whole assembly out of an installation that had a fan, perhaps?
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Old 03-21-2017, 05:36 PM   #9
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Your black circular item is a bymetal switch.
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Old 03-22-2017, 08:41 PM   #10
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The fan is still there and attached to that broken piece.

Ran the fridge for 6 hours yesterday and still no signs of it getting cold.

Will run it all day Saturday and see
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Old 03-22-2017, 09:12 PM   #11
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After 6 hours what was the temperature in the freezer compartment?

Is there a reason you can't leave it running overnight?
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:18 PM   #12
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After 6 hours what was the temperature in the freezer compartment?

Is there a reason you can't leave it running overnight?


Well. We don't have batteries and have it plugged into 110v. We still have a univolt that we need to change out before we FT.

You think it'd be fine to leave it plugged in all night?

I didn't have a thermometer but my guess was probably 35-40 degrees in the freezer.
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:34 PM   #13
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Well. We don't have batteries and have it plugged into 110v. We still have a univolt that we need to change out before we FT.

You think it'd be fine to leave it plugged in all night?

I didn't have a thermometer but my guess was probably 35-40 degrees in the freezer.
With my 1975 refrigerator, I'd go plug it in a few days before a trip (whenever it was convenient to stop by the storage place) and leave it plugged in for days at a time, and of course the whole time I was camping someplace with electric power I'd leave it turned on. As long as you have the battery cables insulated (or disconnected from the Univolt) you should be OK leaving it plugged in overnight. 40F in the freezer section after 6 hrs is not great, but I don't know if I've ever measured the temperature less than 12-18 hrs after turning on the fridge.
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Old 04-05-2017, 07:30 AM   #14
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Just to update, we left it plugged in for 14 hours or so and it was getting cold. So. We have a working fridge!

Thanks for all your hell
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