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Old 04-17-2007, 12:42 PM   #1
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Dometic Refrigerator Fires?

Most of us are now aware of the recall on the Dometic two-door refrigerators from about 1997 through 2003. My question is - has there been any actual cases of the affected refrigerators catching on fire??? It just seems strange to me that we're being told to definitely not use them on propane - and if we use them on electric, we're to inspect the back of the refrigerator weekly, and never run the refrigerator overnight with the trailer occupied. Many of us may experience a wait of several months before we can get an appointment to have the retrofit done - and, as I mentioned in another thread, Dometic won't send us the kits to do the work ourselves (---no doubt based on a directive from their legal department.) Unfortunately, this is right in the middle of the camping season for us Northern types - as well as for all of those with school-age children. I, for one, have never seen anything about a Dometic refrigerator catching on fire - and, with close to 20,000 airforum members speaking out on everything Airstream, or remotely related, the question needs an answer. We can't ignore the danger - but it would be nice to be able to put it in perspective. More and more I tire of being "protected" from myself and I long for the youthful days when I could blissfully screw up, or do something stupid all by myself!
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:01 PM   #2
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I know for sure one of the forums members has one of the affected fridges, and it leaked its ammonia out while sitting. If it had been on LP at the time, it could very well have caused his coach to catch fire.
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Old 04-17-2007, 01:27 PM   #3
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There must have been actual fires since the recall was not voluntary as noted in the release below:

The products in question are all refrigerators used in the original manufacture of recreation vehicles or as replacement equipment for recreation vehicles. The total population of refrigerators potentially containing the defect is 926,877. Dometic estimates a potential maximum incident rate of 0.01% related to boiler fatigue cracks that leak and may result in a fire. There have been no incidents of injury or death related to the affected population of Dometic refrigerators.

Dometic became aware of the occurrence of fires which may have involved their products and retained an independent engineering testing laboratory to fully evaluate and investigate any potential defect in their refrigerators which might result in a fire. A number of returned units were analyzed and microscopic fatigue cracks which could release coolant into the area of the burner were identified in the boiler tube metal in the area of the weld between the heater pocket and boiler tube. Tests simulating the cracks were conducted the week of August 18, 2006 and confirmed a possible cause of fire in the refrigerators under certain conditions. These test results prompted the preparation of this notice.

Dometic continues to gather information on the potential defect and will forward additional relevant information as it becomes available.

Dometic has not yet identified a proposed remedy for the potential defect. Dometic will continue a testing program designed to identify and evaluate possible remedies. This evaluation will take place both in the United States and in Sweden. Once a remedy has been identified, Dometic will initiate or participate in a remedy campaign initiated by the original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers who have purchased, sold, and distributed these products. A list of original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers to whom Dometic has sold the potentially defective refrigerators is being prepared and will be provided to the NHTSA upon its
completion.

The following is extracted from the NHTSA response on 9/18/06:

Please provide the following additional information and be reminded of the following requirements:
  • Dometic must provide an estimated dealer notification date as well as an owner notification date including the day, month, and year. You are required to submit a draft owner notification letter to this office no less than five days prior to mailing it to the customers. Also, copies of all notices, bulletins, dealer notifications, and other communications that relate to this recall, including a copy of the final owner notification letter and any subsequent owner follow-up notification letter(s), are required to be submitted to this office no later than 5 days after they are originally sent (if they are sent to more than one manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or purchaser/owner).

    Dometic must file a sample of the envelope which you intend to use to mail the recall notice to owners. The words "SAFETY", "RECALL", "NOTICE" in any order must be printed on the envelope in larger font than the customers name and address.
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Old 04-17-2007, 04:06 PM   #4
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Good information Rick. That's what I was looking for - in adddition to any actual incidents that had been reported. Another way of looking at the potential incident rate is that it is 1 in 1000 units. That won't stop my travels while I wait to get it fixed - and, with a bit of caution, I'll be able to sleep at night.
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Old 04-17-2007, 04:47 PM   #5
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Me, I was a rabbid keep the fridge running on LP when in transit. Won't be doing that until the "fix" is in.
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:04 PM   #6
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rickandsandi

Is there a inclusive serial number list of the effective units?

Is it realy practical to realy consider using a refigerator only during the day and then only while parked? My Dometic has trouble maintaining temperature running 24 hours a day

If it is a mechanical failure in the chimney of a weld, causing a leak in a heated area, how does operating the on electrical differ than running on gas?
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Old 04-17-2007, 08:20 PM   #7
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Based on Dometic's numbers, the failure is 1 in 10,000. I'll keep using my refrig.
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Old 04-17-2007, 11:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE
rickandsandi

Is there a inclusive serial number list of the effective units?

Is it realy practical to realy consider using a refigerator only during the day and then only while parked? My Dometic has trouble maintaining temperature running 24 hours a day

If it is a mechanical failure in the chimney of a weld, causing a leak in a heated area, how does operating the on electrical differ than running on gas?
Too bad they don't use helium in them instead of hydrogen...then they would not have to worry about fire. From what I was told by dometic the cause of the fracture is the over rated electric element, so I would assume running it on gas would be ok, mainly because the chimney is welded on the opposite side of the electric element pocket. But I don't mess with hydrogen, I only recharge using helium. Too risky blowing your head off.
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Old 04-18-2007, 11:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by RV_cool
Too bad they don't use helium in them instead of hydrogen...then they would not have to worry about fire. From what I was told by dometic the cause of the fracture is the over rated electric element, so I would assume running it on gas would be ok, mainly because the chimney is welded on the opposite side of the electric element pocket. But I don't mess with hydrogen, I only recharge using helium. Too risky blowing your head off.
You're suggesting just the reverse of what Dometic is saying. The electric element doesn't have a flame that could potentially ignite escaping hydrogen gas. As for the heat from the electric element igniting the hydrogen - I'll bet that our odds are even greater than 1:1000 of that happening. I do agree with Silvertwinky, however, in that I will probably not run the frig on propane anymore, while underway, until I have it repaired. The other problem is that this "fix" does not appear to be a real fix. It is my understanding that the likelihood of the leak occurring will not have been reduced by virtue of the fix. Somewhere in the future we'll have to prematurely replace our refrigerators.
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Old 04-19-2007, 11:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Cracker
You're suggesting just the reverse of what Dometic is saying. The electric element doesn't have a flame that could potentially ignite escaping hydrogen gas. As for the heat from the electric element igniting the hydrogen - I'll bet that our odds are even greater than 1:1000 of that happening. I do agree with Silvertwinky, however, in that I will probably not run the frig on propane anymore, while underway, until I have it repaired. The other problem is that this "fix" does not appear to be a real fix. It is my understanding that the likelihood of the leak occurring will not have been reduced by virtue of the fix. Somewhere in the future we'll have to prematurely replace our refrigerators.
Even if they crack open they still be repaired.
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Old 04-19-2007, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE
rickandsandi

Is there a inclusive serial number list of the effective units?

Is it realy practical to realy consider using a refigerator only during the day and then only while parked? My Dometic has trouble maintaining temperature running 24 hours a day

If it is a mechanical failure in the chimney of a weld, causing a leak in a heated area, how does operating the on electrical differ than running on gas?
You can go to the link below and type in your model number and serial number and they will tell you if your unit is under the recall or not.

Official Dometic Recall - DometicUSA


Good luck!
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Old 04-19-2007, 12:43 PM   #12
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Well I contacted Dometic and Colonial Airstream and they are both making a Federal case out of this. Called a local one man rv shop and it will be done this Saturday with him already having the parts in stock.

What no one has commented on is there does not seem to be any attempt to determine if a crack or deterioration has started to form just an effert to reduce the chances of failure.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:22 PM   #13
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Hello all,, after speaking with rv repair,, this seems to be a huge can of worms,,, from money to Dometic policy,to customer safety for thousands of units. repair shop is already having trouble,,, have a gut feeling this will be many months in the solution. also found out, newer than 2003 units may be affected,, big WARNING to all with affected refrigerators,, donna
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:30 PM   #14
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If you do a Google there is info out there. The link below has some info with photos of RVs after fires. Significant if it is your RV.
Dave

Fire Investigations Gallery
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