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Old 06-13-2011, 10:26 PM   #1
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Dometic working on propane, not electric-just one more mystery

Ok, so when we bought our 70 Overlander the fridge seemed to work, although it didn't seem to get really cold. Then we put it in storage, then took it to the factory, then had a bunch of work done on and finally got it home. Plugged the fridge in and the heater chore(I think that's what it's called) got really hot to the touch but the fridge did not get cold. Left it plugged in for almost two days and no change. Unplugged it and lit the propane and let it run and it got nice and cold in about 5 hours. Assuming this is the original fridge-lloks like it! Anyone have an idea why a fridge that's probably 41 years old wouldn't work on electric but work nicely on propane?
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Old 06-25-2011, 06:58 PM   #2
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I have a 1972 argosy and have the fridge runing on propane and it gets hot to the touch on the back.
Now when I try to run the fridge on electric it does not work. Now I did check the out let the fridge is pluged in to and all is working.
Would it be the HEATING ELEMENT ?? AND WERE CAN ONE BE PURCHEASED ??? IF IT IS THAT ?. Also how is tit removed if need be????????? please advise.
THANK YOU ALL
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:14 AM   #3
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I got just the opposite problem, cools
on electricity but not on propane
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Old 06-30-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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1966 22' Safari
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Great fridge info website

Try

rvmobile.com

Their website has great schematics and tutorials on how fridges work and how to troubleshoot them. Also sell parts and rebuild bad cooling units. They did fine work for us.
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Old 06-30-2011, 08:27 PM   #5
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@ Gosman:
Do you have the electric side thermostat set to at least 5? If so and it's not getting cold it could be the heating element.
First: Get your meter out and make sure there is power to the refer.
Second: With the refer in the electric mode and thermostat (electric) turn all the way to max. If I remember correctly the white cable (held down by a double screw clamp) is the 120 volt AC power to the refer, you can check for power at these terminals.
Third: Check the voltage at the terminals that power the heating element. In the photo I posted, the wires in the rust colored sheath are the heating element wires. You can see they are terminated on stab connectors. If you have 120 volts AC on these terminals, then the chances are good that the element is bad.
You will need to remove the sheetmetal cover(s) on the lower right rear of the refer; also remove the insulation. The heating element is located in a well, follow the wires. It just slides up out of the well.
Caution: Should you decide to remove the element, make sure you have the power OFF.
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Old 06-30-2011, 08:38 PM   #6
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@rayandre
Do you have these controls in your refer? If so check to make sure the electric thermostat is set to at least 5.
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:46 AM   #7
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Thanks everyone-I did meter the outlet and I know the unit is getting electricity so now I'll check the rest. We're talking about an original Dometic from 1970 that is still working on propane, thankfully. At least we can still use it!

When I think about all of that it's actually remarkable. Can't imagine having a 41 yr. old fridge in my kitchen that would still be working!
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Old 07-01-2011, 05:45 PM   #8
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If it is the heating element it is an easy and cheap fix. I think I paid around $50.00 for a new element. I have the same refer in my '74 and it works great.
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Old 07-01-2011, 08:24 PM   #9
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If a heating element is needed were does one purchase one???????? I have check and were the cord from the Frig. is pluged in , and it has electric power their .
I have tried and have set the in side the Frig to max for electric and nothing , was set over night.
BUT REMIMBER THE FRIG. DOES WORK ON PROPANE!
Thanks George
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Old 07-01-2011, 10:48 PM   #10
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@Gosman; Did you check to see if there is 120 volts on the 2 wires that go to the heating element? If there is power there, chances are good the heating element is bad. Just type "Heating Element" for Dometic refer into your search engine. There are a number of places that list the model number of the refer and parts available. I don't have my Argosy book handy at this moment but if needed I can look up the receipt for the one I bought.
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Old 07-02-2011, 12:52 AM   #11
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You guys are making me nervous! My fridge is pushing 40. It works well but at that age---?? one never knows. It seems the average life for most of these things settles in around 15 years.

I am thinking of replacing it regardless of condition in two years when I retire----going to Vegas by way of the Adirondack, the keys, Mardi-gras etc. I really do not need the fridge crapping out on the road.

In the mean time it still keeps the beer cold.
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Old 07-02-2011, 04:44 AM   #12
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so one last question about this heating element issue propane/electric: it is possible for a fridge to have a bad heating element even if it gets nice and cold on one energy source and not the other? or is this bad heating element issue related to the fridge working on propane and not electricity? In terms of replacement and parts-I think it'll be more of an issue of evaluating the condition of the whole unit. In our 41 year old fridge there are small cracks on the inner parts of the door, one spring hinge is shot on the freezer causing it's little door to stay ajar and the door seal is way past it's prime. Ultimately it'll come down to the bottom line as it always does with these issues...$ Another part of this issue for repair vs. replace has to do with our desire to keep things somewhat original while balancing the reality of really needing a little more fridge space. If we were to replace, would we go to the next size up, modify the counter and lose some of it to go with a taller more vertical unit?That's a really tough one since we barely have counter space to begin with and we're traveling with 4 people. I find it amazing that this decision was a no brainer in our kitchen but in this thing it's days of analysis
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Old 07-04-2011, 07:27 AM   #13
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Yes, the gas and electric systems are independent of each other. If it is working on gas that tells me that the Ammonia side of the system is in good shape.
It isn't even necessary to have the refer powered to run it on gas. But it needs power to work electrically. It does take considerably longer for it to cool down on electric because the heating element is only 150 watts as I recall. But you should feel the floor of the freezer starting to get cold within a couple of hours if the element is working.
If it is the original element, I would say it's probably bad.
If you read the @Gosman thread above, I have explained how to troubleshoot it.
Good Luck
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:29 AM   #14
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Once again, I come to this site for answers and find them in only moments. Going to check out my recently failed electric side now.

Thank you fellow travelers!
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