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Old 12-10-2004, 04:34 PM   #1
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reefer madness

hi gang, before i hitch this baby up and head off in search of a repairperson, i thought i'd run my refrigerator problem by you.

i have a newish ('02) dometic which stopped working last week. the airstream is parked by the side of the house, admittedly on a little bit of a side-to-side slant, hooked up to the house's electricity. there is juice to the frig, it just doesn't get cold. my first guess is a freon (sp?) leak. does freon have an odor? i did notice a sort of acridic smell in the pantry on occasion (which is next to the frig). is there a problem related to being on a slant or is that only true with older models? if i do need to have the frig looked at, can any old appliance repairperson do it or do i need an rv expert?

by the way, happy holidays to all of you great airstream forums members. i couldn't have done it (and be doing it) without you
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Old 12-10-2004, 05:01 PM   #2
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Do the sniff test again ... could it be ammonia?

Careful ... ammonia fumes can be flammable.
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Old 12-10-2004, 05:02 PM   #3
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Nice pic Annette! Happy holidays to you too. There are far more knowledgable people around here then me so I will let them advise you. I would suggest that if you do go for service, go to a RV repairman. They are the ones that have the experience. Happy trails!
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Old 12-10-2004, 05:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porky Pig
Careful ... ammonia fumes can be flammable.
Well, they're not necessarily a safety hazard. But you do need to figure out what the smell was before getting $ervice.

Tom
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Old 12-10-2004, 08:01 PM   #5
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Nice photo greeting. You know you made me look with your thread title.
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Old 12-10-2004, 10:02 PM   #6
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so, uh, at the risk of sounding really stupid, is amonia associated with the frig? i don't think it was an amonia smell...have you ever had a lemon sitting around too long? it was like that.

carol...glad my message title got your attention

thanks for the holiday greeting big dee...i'll check with an rv repair place. a few blocks from where i'm staying, someone has refurbished two airstreams - looks to be about 60's eras. i thought i'd cruise by there this weekend and see if the refurbisher has some ideas.
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Old 12-10-2004, 11:19 PM   #7
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reefer madness

Greetings Annette!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
so, uh, at the risk of sounding really stupid, is amonia associated with the frig? i don't think it was an amonia smell...have you ever had a lemon sitting around too long? it was like that.
RV refrigerators do not rely upon freon or compressed gas products as do home refrigerators and our automotive air conditioning systems, rather they operate on the absorbtion principle with amonia as the coolant. RV-Mobile has a helpful description of this process at the following location:

RV Refrigerator Cooling Units - - How They Work

While the more recent model RV refrigerators are said to be less sensitive to the coach being absolutely level, some degree of level is still desirable. There have been a number of descriptions of how level the coach should be - - no more than one-bubble off (measured with level on floor of freezer compartment) - - or the subjective - - if the coach is level enough for comfortable living the coach is level enough for the "safe" operation of the refrigerator. Even with the 1999 model Dometic 3-Way AES refrigerator in my '64 Overlander, I try to be sure that it is no more than 1/2 bubble off-level to avoid problems.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 12-11-2004, 07:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64
Greetings Annette!



RV refrigerators do not rely upon freon or compressed gas products as do home refrigerators and our automotive air conditioning systems, rather they operate on the absorbtion principle with amonia as the coolant. RV-Mobile has a helpful description of this process at the following location:

RV Refrigerator Cooling Units - - How They Work

While the more recent model RV refrigerators are said to be less sensitive to the coach being absolutely level, some degree of level is still desirable. There have been a number of descriptions of how level the coach should be - - no more than one-bubble off (measured with level on floor of freezer compartment) - - or the subjective - - if the coach is level enough for comfortable living the coach is level enough for the "safe" operation of the refrigerator. Even with the 1999 model Dometic 3-Way AES refrigerator in my '64 Overlander, I try to be sure that it is no more than 1/2 bubble off-level to avoid problems.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
hi kevin! thanks for the response. my friend who owns an sob swears that the level isn't the problem but, alas, i disagree with him. however, we will do some further troubleshooting tomorrow. let me ask you this - if being off kilter is the problem, will it resolve itself when leveled?
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Old 12-11-2004, 08:17 PM   #9
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reefer madness

Greetings Annette!

Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
hi kevin! thanks for the response. my friend who owns an sob swears that the level isn't the problem but, alas, i disagree with him. however, we will do some further troubleshooting tomorrow. let me ask you this - if being off kilter is the problem, will it resolve itself when leveled?
My experience with out-of-level operation is limited as my mentors stressed leveling so strongly that I have avoided operating any of my RV refrigerators more than 1/2 bubble off-level. Based upon what I have read, if operating in an out-of-level condition is the culprit of the problem - - there is a remote chance that "burping" the refrigerator "might" provide some degree of relief (it seems that this process has become less successful with the more recent refrigerators based upon reports that I have read).

There are other potential culprits that could include a defective electric heating element, issues with a thermostat, or possibly even a problem with the electronic control circuit board.

Good luck in finding the culprit of your refrigerator's problem!

Kevin
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Old 12-11-2004, 10:37 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander64
Greetings Annette!



My experience with out-of-level operation is limited as my mentors stressed leveling so strongly that I have avoided operating any of my RV refrigerators more than 1/2 bubble off-level. Based upon what I have read, if operating in an out-of-level condition is the culprit of the problem - - there is a remote chance that "burping" the refrigerator "might" provide some degree of relief (it seems that this process has become less successful with the more recent refrigerators based upon reports that I have read).

There are other potential culprits that could include a defective electric heating element, issues with a thermostat, or possibly even a problem with the electronic control circuit board.

Good luck in finding the culprit of your refrigerator's problem!

Kevin
i just heard about the "burping" method today. sounds like fun and i may just give that a try.
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Old 12-12-2004, 05:03 AM   #11
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When I bought my 72' Airstream, the seller claimed that the electric function of the reefer didn't work, but the gas function did. The reefer got cold with the gas hooked up, but not when he switched to electric. So, I pulled out the electrical plug where the reefer was plugged into the socket in the access compartment. I cleaned up the prongs on the cord and made sure that the plug made a good connection in the socket. I also was careful to level the trailer front to back and side to side. Walla! The electrical function then worked! So, I would try leveling the trailer and checking where and how the reefer is plugged in. Hopefully it might be a loose plug or just need a little more leveling. I understand that leveling is quite important to the operation of the reefer cycle. I also saw a thread somewhere on the function of these types of reefer, maybe on AirstreamDreams.com. Tom
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Old 12-12-2004, 11:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMiller
When I bought my 72' Airstream, the seller claimed that the electric function of the reefer didn't work, but the gas function did. The reefer got cold with the gas hooked up, but not when he switched to electric. So, I pulled out the electrical plug where the reefer was plugged into the socket in the access compartment. I cleaned up the prongs on the cord and made sure that the plug made a good connection in the socket. I also was careful to level the trailer front to back and side to side. Walla! The electrical function then worked! So, I would try leveling the trailer and checking where and how the reefer is plugged in. Hopefully it might be a loose plug or just need a little more leveling. I understand that leveling is quite important to the operation of the reefer cycle. I also saw a thread somewhere on the function of these types of reefer, maybe on AirstreamDreams.com. Tom
thanks tom. i think i've convinced my friend that we need to level the trailer so we're going to do that today. we're also going to make sure things like the frig plug, vent, etc. are clean and clear. as i'll be moving out of the guest house for a week or two, it'll be nice to have a frig...and be level. next i need boondocking tips for living in a trailer on a city street
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Old 12-12-2004, 05:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
thanks tom. i think i've convinced my friend that we need to level the trailer so we're going to do that today. we're also going to make sure things like the frig plug, vent, etc. are clean and clear. as i'll be moving out of the guest house for a week or two, it'll be nice to have a frig...and be level. next i need boondocking tips for living in a trailer on a city street
ok, for all you doubting thomases out there....leveling the trailer did the trick. what does confuse me, however, is that my friend's sob was parked in front of mine, also at a slant, and his frig operated just fine. oh well. probably has nothing to do with the dometic per se, just an overly sensitive airstream
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Old 12-12-2004, 08:44 PM   #14
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Congrats 2U but I'm wondering?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nettepdx
ok, for all you doubting thomases out there....leveling the trailer did the trick. what does confuse me, however, is that my friend's sob was parked in front of mine, also at a slant, and his frig operated just fine. oh well. probably has nothing to do with the dometic per se, just an overly sensitive airstream
Glad you found your reefer madness solution! Now I'm wondering if I can find mine. I'm wondering how long the frig takes to cool down when on LP and what is the dial setting?

I have the original issue Dometic M52 5.5 cu. ft in my 64 Tradewind. It has worked great on 120v, so well in fact that it froze the beer and soda, exploded these items and created a biology project inside. So I cleaned it up and pulled the unit out of the trailer to bench test it's use on propane. It fired right up and I let it work for a little over an hour and a half whereby the inside temp remained the same. My story is complicated as the daytime temps here have been in the 30's and 40's. It finally warmed up and I got the inside frig temp to 55. The dial was set at 3. So the questions are; does a setting at 3 only cool to 55? Or does it need to run longer at a higher setting? I started at 3 'cause, if memory serves me, it was set at 4 on 120v and it froze everything.

Anyone got some stats they've experienced?
Thanks,
Ed
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