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Old 07-17-2015, 05:55 PM   #1
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Dometic Fridge Trouble

Airstream Community,
We full time in a 2010 Flying Cloud 23 FB which I love.
However, inside resides a Dometic Americana 2551r which I have come to loathe.
Why? Because it only works only when it wants to. Whenever I disconnect from power, it has a heck of a time starting back up.
It immediately starts trying to ignite the propane, and after several failed attempts Ė it throws the ďcheckĒ light. I have it in auto-mode with propane off. I want it to run on electricity.
Sometimes, after several days, it will start working for no apparent reason. This has happened to us several times now.
Most recently, it was working beautifully, as it always does when it does decides to start. Keeping food cold and ice frozen solid.
I turned off all the power (while replacing the water pump) and of course, itís now throwing its temper tantrum. (Also costing us another fridge full of groceries).
Has anyone heard of an intermittent issue like this? It happens almost every time the power is turned off.
I have done a lot of research on this, and havenít found anything to help me.
Some things to note:
ē The fridge is very level front-to-back and side-to-side.
ē None of the fuses are blown (not even the in-line fuses).
ē The power outlet in the back has full, continuous power.

Iím going to start replacing parts, but wanted some advice on which part to replace first.
Iím considering ordering a heating element for starters, any thoughts?

Any help would be greatly appreciated,

Mr. Strasser
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:28 PM   #2
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Before randomly changing parts I would have a qualified tech take a look at it. it could be something very simple and obvious or it could be preparing to have a total meltdown. Only an experience pro would know after examining the patient.
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Old 07-17-2015, 06:47 PM   #3
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Either the lower control board or the upper 'eyebrow'. Your auto select function has an issue and will be found in one of those.components.


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Old 07-17-2015, 06:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strasser View Post
Airstream Community,
...Why? Because it only works only when it wants to. Whenever I disconnect from power, it has a heck of a time starting back up.
It immediately starts trying to ignite the propane, and after several failed attempts – it throws the “check” light. I have it in auto-mode with propane off. I want it to run on electricity.
...
I may be mis-reading, but it is DESIGNED to work on propane when there is no electric. Many campgrounds, being in remote areas, can lose power for a couple of hours on a fairly routine basis. Automatically shifting to propane is a good thing in that case. It's also handy to preserve frozen food when traveling.

If you're afraid of traveling with your propane tanks open, or if you have to turn them off to go through a tunnel as happens here in Tidewater, then disable the AUTO. That will avoid getting the check light. If you do this, you'll have to remember to reset the refrigerator when you arrive at your destination and turn it on. It SHOULD come on and operate on electric from the OFF position... if it's OFF with a check light that might well prevent it from turning on just because you've plugged in. If it starts unexpectedly days later, perhaps that's because the power blinked momentarily.

One basic rule of all electronic things is if they don't work, turn them OFF, wait 30 seconds and turn them back ON. That "auto" setting is electronic.
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Old 07-17-2015, 07:16 PM   #5
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First some basics:
Assuming you're beginning with the frig (refer) on Auto and plugged into shore power, the frig will default to using the heating element. If unplugged from shore power the refer will default to propane. Either of these requires several hours to begin noticeable cooling and 10-12 hours to fully cool.

Electrical operation:
If you feel comfortable working with 120v AC, you can test whether the heating element is working by unplugging it from the control board and direct wiring it to a 120v receptacle. In 8-10 hours, your refer temp should drop to 30 degrees or so. If it doesn't, the heating element's defective; if it does, it's okay. If it cools, but the temp is on and off as you describe it's likely the control board has gone bad.

Or, it could be the thermistor (thermostat) and you can test that by removing it (the white plastic thingy) completely off the rightmost refer fin to see it it affects the refer temp (up or down). If so, the thermistor is okay.

Propane operation:
The propane requires 12v to ignite and operate. Therefore, if you disconnect 12v or put your 12v disconnect on Store, your refer will not work. If your battery is not fully charged, you may not be getting sufficient current for it to work properly. The clicking you hear is the igniter trying to ignite the burner. If the nozzle or burner are dirty or the igniter tip bent, the igniter spark may not be close enough to light the propane. The igniter will usually try 3 times (3 clicks) to light the burner and if the thermocouple doesn't sense a flame it will stop trying and your display board will show the checklight.

If your propane line is obstructed, there may be insufficient propane to light the refer.

The above will get you started in diagnosing your problem and at least narrow down the source.

Hope this helps.
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:04 PM   #6
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I appreciate all of the replies.

I pulled out the multimeter and measured the heating element's continuity/resistance (hopefully I did this right).

It's putting through 94 ohms. I'm pretty sure that's bad.

Does this mean anything to anyone?
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Old 07-17-2015, 08:13 PM   #7
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Dometic Fridge Trouble

Typically between 350-450 ohms, depending on the actual model.

Sounds like you need a new one.

Quickest way to tell is to connect it straight to a 120 VAC source. It heats very quickly to about 500 deg. F do you will find it's condition quickly.

Remove the leads from the element at the board. Connect directly to hot and neutral, with the ground connected to the fridge grounding lug.

If you ARE IN ANY WAY UNCOMFORTABLE with doing this, find a good RV tech who is.


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Old 07-17-2015, 09:03 PM   #8
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Thank you!

Next question,

My model using a 110v; 125w heating element. Part No: 0173771023 (From the part-list book.)

From what I can tell, Part No: 3850644455 has replaced it. The best one I an find is at:

http://anyrvparts.com/Basket.asp?BID...D=63&SID=46%20

I've never purchased from them, and I'm very skeptical. Anyone use them before?

Any other vendor recommendations?
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Old 07-17-2015, 09:18 PM   #9
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Nevermind, found it at Dyersonline.com!

Thanks all!

I'll post an update after I install it... (or as I install if I get stuck anywhere.)
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Old 07-18-2015, 08:24 AM   #10
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Good reading here,

http://wbccicaravan.wbcci.net/files/...our-rv-iii.pdf
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Old 07-22-2015, 06:10 PM   #11
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Well, time to update!

I replaced the heating element. It was very simple.

Alas, my problem remains. As soon as I turn it on, it tries igniting propane right away.

After doing some more reading, I've now ordered a lower control panel from Dinosaur electronics.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00..._detailpages00

So far I'm out $180.
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Old 07-22-2015, 06:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strasser View Post
Thank you!

Next question,

My model using a 110v; 125w heating element. Part No: 0173771023 (From the part-list book.)

From what I can tell, Part No: 3850644455 has replaced it. The best one I an find is at:

http://anyrvparts.com/Basket.asp?BID...D=63&SID=46%20

I've never purchased from them, and I'm very skeptical. Anyone use them before?

Any other vendor recommendations?
120 Volts /94 ohms = 1.28 A
120 V * 1.28 A = 153 watts

Sounds right to me. When it gets hot, the resistance will go up a little and the wattage will go down, but maybe not too much.

If it works on shore power, the heating element is OK. You seem to have a propane ignition problem. Follow acstokes suggestions for propane operation.

Al
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Old 07-24-2015, 02:33 PM   #13
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Replaced the lower control board with the aforementioned product and boom! Fridge working flawlessly now. Thank you everyone for the advice!
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