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Old 09-08-2010, 11:41 PM   #1
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refrigerator / freezer making HEAT!

Our Dometic fridge was working fine on our 06 Safari bunkhouse until just this weekend. I leveled rig, plugged in, opened gas, turned fridge on "auto", and left for day.

Came back at end of day and thought fridge was awful warm, so I checked freezer...only to find it was hot (bottom of freezer was VERY warm) to the touch.

I emailed Dometic, and they said I should get it checked out by technician...you think!?....but offered no suggestions to help me narrow the options. I'd like to make some headway myself and want to make sure it wasn't a random one off problem b/4 I haul it in.

Any thoughts would be great! Thanks a ton.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:47 PM   #2
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I'd tell ya but I don't want to be the bearer of bad news.
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:54 AM   #3
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what kind of refrigerant is in the cooler?
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyL View Post
Our Dometic fridge was working fine on our 06 Safari bunkhouse until just this weekend. I leveled rig, plugged in, opened gas, turned fridge on "auto", and left for day.

Came back at end of day and thought fridge was awful warm, so I checked freezer...only to find it was hot (bottom of freezer was VERY warm) to the touch.

I emailed Dometic, and they said I should get it checked out by technician...you think!?....but offered no suggestions to help me narrow the options. I'd like to make some headway myself and want to make sure it wasn't a random one off problem b/4 I haul it in.

Any thoughts would be great! Thanks a ton.
First, you never level the rig, but you do level the freezer plate. If the tailer is then level too, great.

But start off with the freezer plate.

It sounds like the reefer has "vapor locked".

Shut the reefer completely off, for at least 24 hours.

Then tow the trailer 10 to 20 miles, with many turns.

Then park the trailer, and level the freezer plate.

Next, fire up the reefer. If the bouncing around released the vapor lock, then the reefer will now cool.

If the reefer once again gets hot, then the cooling unit is done, and a replacement cooling unit will be the only fix.

Andy
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Old 09-09-2010, 07:18 AM   #5
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What, or where is the "freezer plate"? How do I know if it's level?

Paula
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:16 AM   #6
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Don't buy a new one yet!

Set a level on the floor of the freezer and check for level. Are you sure the burner came on when you started the fridge? Does it have an electric mode? If so, set it to the electric mode and see if it gets cold. Again it must be within a half of bubble of being level. Fore and Aft (front to back on the trailer) is more critical than Port to Starboard (left to right) when it comes to level. Open the access door on the outside and check for the smell of ammonia or see any yellow dust. With this trailer only being 4+ years old, I don't think it would be the cooling unit itself. I don't have one of the new refers with the circuit boards and auto light functions, but I've read here on the forum that these can be a problem. It will take longer to cool down in the electric mode, but try it and see what happens. Let us know what happens.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:17 AM   #7
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What, or where is the "freezer plate"? How do I know if it's level?...
there is NO FREEZER PLATE in the o.p. fridge.

your 70s unit might have this but newer boxes don't have this,

so YOUR 04 and the o.p's 05 don't have freezer plates.
_______

our fridges rely on circulating heated ammonia which then evaporates, cools and drains back into the boiler...

on older fridges the cooling coils were often HORIZONTAL and located like a PLATE in the freezer floor.

((there by called 'freezer plates' ))

so to get good drainage, circulation and cooling it was important that the freezer floor be VERY level.

many of us kept a bubble level IN the freezer to guide this process.
________

the o.p. like most of us with norcold/dometic units made in the last 15+ years have a different arrangement.

the cooling unit is ON THE BACKSIDE of the insulated box with doors...

(with fins that extend INTO the fridge box and a real COLD area on the freezer floor/back wall)

the process is still the same (heating/circulation/evaporation/cooling/condensing/driaining)...

and LEVEL still matters but not with the sensitivity of older food/ice boxes.

it would appear the o.p.'s box is vapor locked or the cooling unit has failed.

"burping" the coils after turning it OFF might restore normal function...

this burping is done with movement, vibration, WACKING the coils, or REleveling and restarting the fridge on gas or electric.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...dge-28534.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...ork-50502.html

make sure the ventilation is clear/open and the flame chamber free of webs, spiders, carbon and so on...

the o.p. report of actual HEAT inside the box suggests a LEAK in the coils or major blockage.

((there was/IS a recall on many of the boxes from ~ 2004/5-07 with the potential for leaks AND fires...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...ced-29739.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...ard-45959.html

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...all-43455.html

looks like the recall is upwards of 1,000,000 units...

the official recall site includes a way to insert your serial/model numbers and check for inclusion...

_______

IF the cooling unit has failed terminally there are several options....

1. repair/rebuild it (skip this idea)
2. replace the cooling unit (price out parts AND labor)
3. get an entirely NEW rv fridge/freezer unit

often option #2 is close to the price of #3, so folks just buy a new one.

we've got no details in the o.p. like positioning, maintenance, hours left BLOCKED and so on...

once these things have been plugged up and heating awhile replacement is probably the best solution...

but many fridges have been saved for more years of use by beating, flipping upside down and other gyrations...

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:40 AM   #8
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What, or where is the "freezer plate"? How do I know if it's level?

Paula
Paula.

The freezer plate is not the bottom of the freezer, but it is the shelf that's in the freezer.

Andy
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:58 PM   #9
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don't know

thanks though....looks like I have a good answer/suggestion from Island View....and an outside chance to shake the problem.....but more likely a fried unit

thx
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Old 09-09-2010, 03:15 PM   #10
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Thanks for great responses.

In terms of some of the other details: I'm afraid unit had been used quite a bit prior to me buying it a year ago. It did have the recall solution in place and an RV dealer certified it in a good shape. It has worked great for me on the couple occasions I 've used it this past year...and was very surprised to find it not work the other day when my set-up was very level and I was clearly plugged into 30AMP power. How good of power I don't know, but it was a decent RV park, and no lights ever flickered. I discovered the condition about 8 hours after turning the unit on, and obviously shut it off right away....and have no driven 50 miles through a ton of twists and turns through the mountains.

I think I'll bang the coils and try it again. Otherwise, sounds like I'm toast.

Thanks!
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:45 PM   #11
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Can you check a few things?

Don't give up yet! Open the access door and check to see that there is a flame in the burner in the gas mode. No flame, no cooling. The electric heating element is near the burner chamber, when in the electric or gas mode the piping that runs vertically (mine is on the right rear) should feel warm to the touch. Are you sure the thermostat(s) for both gas and electric are set high enough to cool the refer. If you have experience troubleshooting electrical equipment, you could check for voltage at the terminals that the heating element is connected to. If you have 120 volts and there is no heat, the element is bad, kinda like a burned out light bulb, it is a relatively inexpensive item to replace, less than $100.
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Old 09-09-2010, 08:56 PM   #12
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If you have the time and want to tow the trailer north about 180 miles, I'd be happy to help trouble shoot it. Before you lay out big bucks to replace it. I live 8 miles east of Torrington, WY. which is 90 miles NE of Cheyenne. I am retired so have no specific schedule. And would be happy to help if I can, No charge and no guarantee. Just trying to help a fellow Airstreamer.
When I bought the '74, the PO said the refer crapped out. I asked if he still had it, he did, I was able to repair it for less than $100.00. It didn't work in either mode when I started. So we may get lucky if you want to take a chance.
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