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Old 05-02-2015, 09:38 AM   #1
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Exclamation URGENT HELP NEEDED - Found Melted Wires This Afternoon

Wife and I keep smelling something, couldn't tell if it was pot ( not from us, other people outside ) or propane, decided to check around the Airstream, turned off the propane and when looking in the refrigerator compartment, found this:

A good portion of the plastic drain hose was melted/burnt on these two red wires. Honestly, don't know if it was the drain tube touching something hot and melting onto the wires, or if the wires burned the drain tube.

I'll have to dig out my Dometic manual, but if anyone can provide any immediate advice it would be helpful since we're 3 days into full-timing.

Touching the wires and they do not feel hot. But we are running on electric right now.

However, we where on propane all of Thursday and for 5 hours on Friday before arriving at our first destination.

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Old 05-02-2015, 09:51 AM   #2
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I would be checking for a propane leak. This appears to be possibly the result of a small flame in that if the wires had heated from resistance one might think they would be burned their entire length.

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Old 05-02-2015, 10:06 AM   #3
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I can't tell from one pic, might not be able to tell from 10 pics either. But that is a very interesting observation and would bear strong merit if any adjacent non electrical items were scorched also, especially if they happened to be away from the wires.

Tommie gets 3 points for this one even if its wrong.

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Old 05-02-2015, 10:14 AM   #4
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I think those large red wires are ones which go to the 120 volt heater in the refrigerator chimney. There is another little red wire at the bottom which also looks to be burned.

Since they are all burned in about the same spot, the guess of a propane leak causing a small flame fire in that area is a good one. Wires overheated from too much power running through them don't melt and burn that way.
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Old 05-02-2015, 10:32 AM   #5
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If those are 110vac wires to the heater and they shorted, I would think the breaker would have tripped first. As you and everyone else pointed out, the drain hose is melted so that means there was a small fire there that caused it. I would get some soapy water and start looking for gas leaks and also look at the orifice on the burner to see if its possible there is something blocking it or causing it to shoot a flame back. You can splice in some new wires to the heater or at least get some heat shrink around them to keep them insulated.

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Old 05-02-2015, 10:49 AM   #6
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I am running with the blocked or clogged orifice, however, if I remember the igniter is behind the metal piece or flap on the lower right side of the picture and I don't see any sign of having been heat or flame anywhere near that area?

On the other hand a short as noted would trip a breaker and a fire in the wiring would have probably burned through. Did the drain hose come in contact with the refrigerator coils by any chance, they can get pretty warm, usually not hot enough to cause an issue, but possible as noted earlier melted the drain which dripped onto the power wires.

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Old 05-02-2015, 12:36 PM   #7
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check for a blocked chimney.
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Old 05-02-2015, 12:47 PM   #8
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I second the blocked chimney. Look for spider webs that could be blocking the chimney affect. It may allow some exhaust to get by but not enough, forcing the flame to back up and heat up things that should not be getting hot.
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Old 05-02-2015, 01:19 PM   #9
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Hello BoldAdventure:

I had a similar experience. My burned wiring looked a lot like your photo. - My experience may give you some ideas of where to look for your problem.

I first replaced all the burned wires, but sure enough they promptly burned again. I traced all the wires and still could not find the problem.

I removed the refrigerator from the trailer and took it to an RV repair facility. They took several days to bench test the refrigerator and told me (and showed me) that the refrigerator worked perfectly in their shop.

Now I needed to search elsewhere within the trailer. I isolated the problem to the 12 volt circuit. After several days of searching individual circuits with a meter I found where several ground wires were gathered into one with a gigantic wire nut. The short was within this connection. I cleaned the wires, bought a new wire nut and wrapped everything with several layers of electricians tape.

That fixed my problem.

Good luck with yours!

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Old 05-02-2015, 02:35 PM   #10
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It looks like a flash back from the gas burner, something you'd more typically see in the water heater (where they have a high temp fuse in the gas valve power line to cut off the gas flow in exactly this type of situation). The gas flow to the 'fridge is much less than the water heater, though, or should be. As suggested by others, check the chimney for blockage. Weird.
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Old 05-02-2015, 03:53 PM   #11
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Something has heated the insulation to melting temps on those wires, as shown by the uneven red blobs mixed in with the black stuff. Replacing the bad portions of the wires should be a high priority--right up there with finding out what burned them in the first place. That red insulation can no longer do its job. Touching the wires not a good idea until they're re-insulated.

I agree with all above about checking for propane leaks, blocked chimney, etc.

You might also check the condition of the electric heating element for the fridge. If it shorted out internally, that might explain a high current flow in those wires--but didn't you say you were running on electric now? That should mean the element is working.
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Old 05-02-2015, 04:12 PM   #12
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I have an '07, yours is an '07. Mine had the recall baffle shied installed, by your pic yours does not have the recall performed. Look for Dometic recall info in fridge forum.

Can't prove it right now, but red wires I think are going to a temp sensor in the chimney not the primary element feed.
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Old 05-02-2015, 05:55 PM   #13
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Those two red wires are 12 VDC and run from the control board to the thermal safety that can be seen in the right of the photo. It is the temp. sensing disc with the reset button in the center. This was part of a Dometic safety recall a few years ago.

Use soapy water to check the fittings of the LP solenoid (foreground). Also, remove the cover to the burner chamber (lower right) and put the fridge on LP.

Look at the flame and watch for flashbacks. Also, if you want to be on the safe side, you can cover the LP burner with tin foil ( OK, aluminum IS an Airstream!) and run a brush up the flue tube to check for a blockage.

You also might pull the fridge and run the brush from top to bottom in the flue tube after you remove the thin piano wire with the spiral baffle attached to it.

For electrics, those burnt wires should be totally replaced and not spliced. If you DO find a bad ground in a bundle as described above, ditch the wire nut (they have NO PLACE IN AN RV......... IMHO) and replace with a marine terminal block.

Keep us posted!!!!!


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Old 05-03-2015, 08:41 AM   #14
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Flash back from a leak at the LP connection. I used to soapy water, and also noticed that our 1 full propane tank is now empty today. 30lbs gone with minimal use.... yup. I'm just glad I decided to keep spare wire, solder and my heat gun. Going to replace the wire completely this morning as Lew suggested.

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