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Old 01-16-2008, 07:04 AM   #1
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Frig at 72 degrees, needs to be level ???

Well, I learned something new already today, hopefully not too late....

Came back to the Airstream yesterday (2006 Bambi 19) and the frig temp was at 72 and all food inside melted/junk. It was set to auto, seemed normal but just not cooling. I switched it over to gas only and it fired up and seemed ok, but still no cooling. The fins outside on the rear top of frig were nice and warm as usual but no cooling. So I shut it all off and figured I would look in the manuals today and see what was up.

So, this morning I make some coffee and pull out the manual and it says:

"the tubing in the evaporator section is specifically sloped to provide a continuous movement of liquid ammonia, flowing downward by gravity, through this section. If the refrigerator is operated out-of-level when the vehicle is not moving, liquid ammonia will accummulate in portions of the evaporator tubing. This will slow the circulation of hydrogen and ammonia gas, or in severe cases , completely block it, resulting in a loss of cooling."

I guess you never know what you don't know, but I had never heard of the need to be level for the frig. I am not off level by much, see pic 1, but we have been here at this campground for going on 2 weeks now, with just parked and frig running.

I am probably off-level side-to-side by maybe 2 inches, with curb side being high. Front-Rear is exact level. I searched thru the frig threads and read a bunch about being level etc, so I put my little level inside the frig (see the blurry pic 2) and you can see the bubble is high and considerably off center with the high side being the rear of frig (the frig is mounted on the curb side of Bambi so the rear of my frig is what is the "high side"). But it is certainly not uncomfortable off-level, but slightly.

So, let me finish my coffee, I will hitch up and pull forward onto at least one, maybe two, 2x6's and get dead-on level. I'll then start frig back up, cross my fingers and hope I didn't fry anything, and then will watch the frig temp guage....

I will advise of my success or failure....

:-) Dave
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Dave&Shari Wagner
2006 Bambi SE,
2008 Ford F350 Diesel 4x4
" I am lost and have gone Airstreaming to find myself, If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait..."
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:11 AM   #2
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Yeah, our new fridge is really sensitive, too. During our fall trip, we were just a little off level, and the durn thing wouldn't cool properly. We had some frozen garlic cloves in the freezer compartment, and when those defrosted, they really caused a smell!

I really miss our old, original fridge, which would work in just about any position and which was a lot bigger anyway.


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Old 01-16-2008, 07:17 AM   #3
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They way I understood it, or I should say it was explained to me is that older units are more prone to this than newer units and that newer units, if it's comfortable enough to reside in the trailer, it should be good enough for the fridge.

Though I am a little shocked that the newer Bambi had issues like this, one thing that the Bambi doesn't have is a flue like most of the larger units. It has two outside doors, and a fan. I had an 03 Bambi and currently have an 04 Safari, I followed the rule of getting the RV in both circumstances as level as possible....mind you I was never really far off "zero bubble" as you've described and I did not have the same exp, even in very warm outdoor amb temps.
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Old 01-16-2008, 07:22 AM   #4
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I have heard multiple times leveling older fridges is more critical than newer ones, refering to them as "old amonia units". Is there another system in use than amonia in newer units. It sounds like some of the newer units may even be more sensitive to being level.
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:05 AM   #5
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"Dead-on, balls-accurate, level"


The trailer is now "dead-on, balls-accurate, level"....

I also rocked the trailer side to side as much as I could and went up/down on the jack a couple times to maybe see if there are "ammonia pools" in the lines that maybe they will shake loose.

It's 10 AM and the frig temp is 74.7 degrees so I have fired the frig back up and "crossed my fingers".....

I'm not even going to look at the thermometer until 11 AM cause I don't want to jinx it....

regards, Dave
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Dave&Shari Wagner
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" I am lost and have gone Airstreaming to find myself, If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait..."
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:28 AM   #6
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Success !!!

All Right !!! Success !!!

This is 1 hour later and down to 48.6 degrees.....

I still can't believe being off level by just one 2x6 (see pic 2) made the difference. I guess though, since we have been here so long without any real movement, that the being just a little bit too much "off-level" was the issue.

So so much for the theory that newer frig's are not as sensitive. This is a 4 cu ft Dometic.

Anyway, live and learn... I will be much more aware of levelling anytime I stay more than one night in the same place.

best regads, Dave & Shari....

now I have to go out and buy some more steaks to replace the ones I had to toss...
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Dave&Shari Wagner
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" I am lost and have gone Airstreaming to find myself, If I should return before I get back, please ask me to wait..."
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Old 01-16-2008, 10:08 AM   #7
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That's a real surprise - that such a small difference can affect cooling. Thanks for the warning.

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Old 01-16-2008, 11:03 AM   #8
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I heard the same thing that Eric pointed out, that the newer units were more tolerant of the level not being perfect. However with all of that in mind, I always have attempted to get the trailer as close to dead center as possible.

Keep in mind that if the temp is affected by running off level, it's also a situation that can damage the cooling engine of the it's more than just the situation of food spoilage. You can cause a clog or build up of materials within the tubes since the gases and liguids are not traversing the system properly.

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Old 01-16-2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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I think it was mainly an issue of being here lots of days with no trailer movement. The frig stopped cooling after 9 days at the same campsite with no movement, so if the gasses tend to "pool" up I guess it sort of makes sense that after a lengthy time they eventually puddle up enough to plug off a line. Sort of like the "S" bend in a drain pipe.

Anyway, looking good now so I'm happy and hopefully didn't hurt anything. Sort of makes me wonder though about what other things I don't know. I honestly had never heard or knew anything the issue of a frig needing to be level in order to work properly. I always thought levelling was just a creature comfort thing.

Anyway, did I mention that we are in Key West ??? So there is only a limited amount of work I can do in a day, and I think I have now reached my quota so we are done... Shari is already in her beach chair - I am heading for mine...

best regards, Dave & Shari
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Dave&Shari Wagner
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Old 01-16-2008, 12:13 PM   #10
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nice pic wagnerda!

if you've not read artstream's fridge thread, it's pretty funny...

he found BEATING on it with a big stick greatly improved performance.

no foolin'

imo new fridges are less prone ONLY because they are new.

once deposits and changes occuring inside the coils level really matters.

also IF you look at the back side of the fridge it's easy to see which direction of unlevel...

is gonna be more problematic.

I have always kept a small bubble level INSIDE the freezer compartment..

and us that reading as the primary goal when parked more than a day or 2...

but you are correct there are SO MANY little issues to deal with on these babies...

you've got the ideal spot now for reading the manual...

all of the true things that i am about to tell you are shameless lies. l.b.j.

we are here on earth to fart around. don't let anybody tell you any different. k.v.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:30 PM   #11
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Old 01-16-2008, 05:54 PM   #12
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I think the new ones tend to protect themselves in ways the old ones didn't. The auto shutdown may have needed a bit of persuasion to get unstuck or something.

Generally, if the rig is level enough to be comfortable then it should be OK for the fridge. See Leveling for some more on this.
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:42 PM   #13
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Thumbs up

Thanks for the heads up, Dave. I had also heard that the newer ones were more tolerant than the older units, so this is good to know. Based on my experience with the 68 Trade Wind, I always shoot for perfect level. I've had the refrigerator in the 05 Bambi running almost constantly since we bought it with no problems.

Nice pic. I haven't been to the Keys in over 30 years. I'm sure things have changed. It's 28 degrees here.
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Old 01-18-2008, 09:25 PM   #14
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Hey Dave and Shari...glad you are enjoying the Keys...2 weeks! Good for you...what a life, eh?

I am surprised by the frig problem that developed...I had also been told that newer units are not as sensitive to being level and that if it's comfortbale to be inside that the frig will be just fine...though I was aware of the need for "levelness" in general...

You are probbaly right that length of time not moving might be a contributing factor. We leave our frig running at home when it's under the Bambi port on a shore line since we try to get out about at least every other weekend for a long weekend if we can...and we have never had any problems. Thank goodness, it is pretty level there or we might have a similar problem.

Being level is relative sometimes, we've found...depending on WHAT you are going by as level. We found this to be the case particularly in our former SOB motor home... We finally started using the floor as our reference point since the sink counter, the counter over the frig, and the dinette table never seem to agree...perhaps we should change to the freezer compartment as out "level" point like 2air' suggests. Another trick I've used is to fill a glass (one you can see through the side of) 1/2 full of water and sit it in varioius places to see if the water is level...(glasses with designs of horizontal line of some sort are particulalry useful).

At any rate, glad you got it resolved...and you could get back to the task at hand...vegging out on the beach. Sounds nice.

This weekend we are hold up in Gilbert Ray Campground on the west side of the Tucson Mountains...just 15 miles from downtown Tucson...looking west to sweeping desert views and gorgeous sunsets...days in the 60s and nights in the 30s...chilly for us.... No water in sight, so enjoy your view for us!


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