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Old 06-26-2010, 06:28 PM   #1
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Question Fridge won't turn on

Hi there everyone! We are the proud owners of a 1999 Safari 25' Airstream as of yesterday. We got what we feel is an awesome deal and we are really excited about it! We inspected everything as well as we knew how following guidelines we read here and from my parents who have an RV. The people who showed us the RV did not really know exactly how to operate the systems, but we did get almost everything going eventually.

However, the Dometic fridge did not ever begin to cool. We had it plugged into shore power and did not test operation with LP. We followed the instructions inside the freezer for turning on the unit using the Auto mode, but it never began to cool. We bought this trailer with the worst-case assumption that we needed to replace the fridge, but we may just be dumb about how to turn it on. We are having everything gone over at an RV service place in a week - but can you offer any hints on how to test it? I don't want to test it on LP because the tanks are very low and I want to test the lines for leaks first as well - just would love to see it cooling on shore power.

Thanks for any tips!

Karen.
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Old 06-26-2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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Ours doesn't start on electric but once cold using gas, I can switch it over to electric and it works fine. Ours is an ammonia system so gas is moved by heat. I figure it gets more heat from a gas flame than the electric coil. I think we might have the same fridge.

Easiest test for gas leaks is soapy solution in a spray bottle, open valve at tank, and spray all joints. As a precaution make sure your lp gas detector is working and don't smoke or turn on electric switches.
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Old 06-26-2010, 07:57 PM   #3
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Go get those tanks filled!
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Old 06-26-2010, 09:53 PM   #4
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One fact to consider is that absorption refrigeration systems take quite a while to start cooling once heat is applied. Almost an hour. Therefore, if you only waited a few minutes, it may be that more time is all you need.

Otherwise it should just be a matter of turning on the switch.
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Old 06-26-2010, 10:19 PM   #5
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Thanks, I will try both of these things - waiting longer for the electric to cool tomorrow and then using the LP next week after it is filled and checked. Any other ideas?
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:38 PM   #6
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My 89 Dometic needs to be spot on LEVEL.......In addition the knob/switch to go from gas to electric has a very narrow sweet spot for the electric to work. I have made pencil marks on the knob and background to tell me where.....1/8" either way and no electric fridge.............Dennis
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Old 06-27-2010, 03:49 PM   #7
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An 11-year-old Dometic should not have any problem at all cooling. Ours is from 1983. With electric, it will be slow, maybe two hours to start getting cold, but you should be able to make ice in 4 or 5. Check that there's power at the outlet and then just leave it on. Ammonia-cycle refrigerators are another of the family of house pets you adopted, like battery systems, black water tanks, water pressure regulators ... they work quite well and live a long time if you pay attention to how they work and take care of them
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Old 06-27-2010, 05:42 PM   #8
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Smile power

Hi there - thanks for replying. Today we got our trailer where we want it and leveled it, then plugged in. The air conditioner is working fine. However, I don't think we are running ANY electric off the shore power - only off the battery. As far as I can tell, there is only an on/off switch for the battery powering the lights, etc. We are kind of dumb about the systems at this point, but my husband is out there with a detailed repair manual now and he's going to try to figure out how it all works, if a breaker is bad, etc...I'll also read up on it later. The manual that comes with the trailer is surprisingly sparse in its information for some things.

It appears that the fridge is trying to light up the gas (I can hear the clicking on auto,then it gives up after a minute or so and lights the "check" light). Hopefully, when we understand the electric system the fridge will work and we will not have that item on our "to be repaired list". Keeping my fingers crosses - it was considered in the budget that it might not work when we paid the seller, so a functioning fridge would be awesome!

Thanks,
Karen.
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Old 06-27-2010, 10:42 PM   #9
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Fridge works!!

Thanks to you all for helping. My husband studied all the wiring diagrams and stuff to understand how the electricity works. He said that it had something to do with the fact that the 12V battery was low - but anyway, now the fridge is cooling on AC power! yippee! It sure is taking a while for the fridge to get cool, but I can see that it would be cold enough after a 24 hour (or less) "pre-cool." I'm glad you told me it is normal for it to take a while to cool down. For the price we paid, I'm amazed that everything seems to work well. We are having the wheels, axels and brakes examined and serviced this week - they appear to be in good shape as well, so here's to hoping we only need minor repairs all the way around.
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Old 06-28-2010, 12:31 PM   #10
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Glad to hear things are starting to make sense. RV refrigerators require a bit of getting used to. Indeed, the newer ones won't work unless there is 12 volt power to run the controller. That's why a lot of Airstream owners prefer the old ones, that have no controller, just switches and valves that you run yourself. Another thing to keep in mind, most of these refrigerators have no thermostat. There's a control for how much cooling, numbers like 1 to 5, but if you're in a place where it's hot in the daytime and cold at night, you will need to adjust the setting to avoid freezing your food at night. In time you'll know, for instance, that for a certain weather pattern it's set at 4 in the daytime and 2 at night. You need an easy-to-read fridge thermometer that will help you do this.
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Old 06-28-2010, 07:49 PM   #11
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Thanks - We haven't noticed any temperature controller in the fridge or in the manual. It IS very cold in the fridge now - at freezing on the top shelf.
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Old 06-29-2010, 01:55 AM   #12
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What model is it? You will either have a "thermostat" knob, which controls the strength of the flame on LP, or a pushbutton that cycles the display from 1 to 5 or so. Should be near the controls for switching between LP and electric.
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:52 AM   #13
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Even with the newer type, an indoor-outdoor thermometer adds a lot of confidence to it's operation, I was able to get outdoor probe thru the back opening for the coils, it shows temp changes faster when starting up without opening door.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:56 PM   #14
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This model is RM2652. To my knowledge there is no controller for the temperature in the fridge, neither a knob or a push-button display as described by others in this thread.
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