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Old 04-25-2004, 05:54 PM   #1
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Fridge Fire!!

The owner of this Unit did not say if it was ammoina or propane that caused this fire and it is probably too late to tell now. I have a Dometic RM-100 OE Fridge in my '80 Excella and it works PERFECTLY. I do not want to replace it since it works so good BUT.............

I am considering pulling the fridge out to clean and paint the coils as they are quite rusty. Has anyone done this before?
-Jason
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:21 PM   #2
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To be on the safe side, you may want to replace the cooling unit with either a new or rebuilt one. At least you'll have peace of mind.

Just a thought ~ John
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:41 PM   #3
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Thanks John,
I didnt know that was an option to consider. I live in Central NC, Who does that kind of work? Where should I look?
-Jason
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Old 04-25-2004, 06:45 PM   #4
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Does anyone know how the fire started, a leak? We have a '69 Landyacht we are restoring, and sure want to avoid that happening to her. Plan to check and double check but knowledge beforehand is a good thing since we are AS newbies. Wow, my heart breaks for the poor guy can you imagine the tongue lashing he got. Then they went on vacation without him... :-(
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Old 04-25-2004, 07:04 PM   #5
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Lassie,
The fridge was on propane operation at the time. The cause of the Fire was either a Propane Leak or a Coolant (Ammonia) Leak.
If your Fridge Coils are heavily rusted I would run it on 120VDC if I were you.
-Jason
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Old 04-25-2004, 09:27 PM   #6
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There is a place in Escanaba, MI that redid the coil units in my parents 22 year old SOB with a Dometic. I seem to recall them charging about $400.00 to recondition the unit and a month for them to get to it and complete it. Of course, they had to remove the unit and bring it there (the coach was in the U.P. too so it worked out well).
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Old 04-25-2004, 10:07 PM   #7
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BTW...after seeing that pic...I'm rethinking leaving the fridge on when I'm not around and the pooch is left behind to man the coach.....wouldn't want to come back to roast pooch.

When we boondock, LP is all that is running.......besides 12v, but the fridge doesn't run off 12v and wouldn't for a week even if it did run on 12v.
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Old 04-25-2004, 10:18 PM   #8
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Anyone ever see a fire extinquishing system in an Airstream. A few strategic automatic heads and a central tank. Like in computer rooms.
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Old 04-26-2004, 09:46 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjonesnc
The cause of the Fire was either a Propane Leak or a Coolant (Ammonia) Leak.
OK, I wondered about the flammability of 'Refrigerant Grade Anhydrous Ammonia'
so I looked up the MSDS sheet on it and I quote:
"This gas is usually considered non-flammable due to the difficulty of ignition"
The Auto-ignition temperature is 651.1 C or 1204 F That is really hot and you're not going to light it easily, it will have to have a sustained heat source to keep it lit.
I think we can rule the refrigerant out as a flammability problem.
Everyone should be performing a leak check on your Propane system each year as part of your de-winterizing procedure. Go down to the local Welding supply store and purchase a bottle of commercial leak check fluid. It is specifically made for this type of use. It is easy to use and non corrosive on your system. It will take you about one half hour to do a really good job at checking all the joints in your system.
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Old 04-26-2004, 10:44 AM   #10
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Thumbs up Gary gets the prize

Quote:
Originally Posted by Janet's Husband
OK, I wondered about the flammability of 'Refrigerant Grade Anhydrous Ammonia'
so I looked up the MSDS sheet on it...
Kudos to Gary! I would give him extra karma if it was still around. I had had a hard time believing there was a serious fire hazard associated with ammonia.

While we may never know exactly what caused this refrigerator fire, my first thought was a dirty flue. If the pilot light is adjusted too rich, it will soot up the works and present a fire hazard.

Everyone should include cleaning the flue, and checking the flame color as part of dewinterizing AFTER doing what Janet's Husband recommended.

Tom
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Old 04-26-2004, 11:14 AM   #11
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Block exhaust vents are a major threat. During nest building season this could happen in a matter of days. While the ammonia is not a fire issue these units do contain Hydrogen gas. You have to wonder if something else wasn't in the area of the ignition source. The LPG only burns in a limited concentration range. I could see a leak collecting until kaboom but not feeding an ongoing flame large emough to do that damage. Needs air and a mixer. Had to be another fuel source to generate the BTU's to do that to two layers of Aluminum. How flamible is this vinyl wall covering with 20 years of cooking oil on it.
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Old 04-26-2004, 12:40 PM   #12
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I though I would include a copy of a MSDS sheet for Anhydrous Ammonia so that everyone could take a look.
I agree that the Flue should be cleaned each year.
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Old 04-26-2004, 01:04 PM   #13
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VERY interesting read. Thanks Gary. I've downloaded a copy. I use about 65% liquid ammonia solution to color white oak. The piece of furniture is put into a' "tent" with a small glass tray of Ammonia, the fumes will slowly darken the oak imparting a beautiful light brown to an almost black-brown color depending on the length of exposure. Of course I use respriatory, eye and skin protection. It's a technique that was widely used around 1900 to color Arts and Crafts furniture.
Jack
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Old 04-26-2004, 03:26 PM   #14
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Thanks for posting the MSDS Gary, I was wondering about the Ammonia myself. Im considering taking my fridge out and painting the coils still tho, Its the original fridge and works Great!!!
-Jason
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