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Old 06-01-2020, 03:17 PM   #1
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2006 16' International CCD
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Fridge Venting - So very disappointed!

I have been reading a lot about my 2007 16' Bambi in these forums, and after my latest issue and lots of work correcting it, I wanted to both share and vent a a little. I say vent a little in jest, because it turns out that the Airstream fridge vents are the post pathetic things I have every seen, and have caused huge damage to my trailer.

Backing up a bit, I had some floor softness, and a bad odor, so I wanted to pull up the vinyl and clean it up and then put down interlocking vinyl plank.

However, when I pulled up the vinyl, I found years of problems in leaking around the fridge area, essentially yanking handfuls of wet sawdust where the underlayment had rotted. It was wet, and there had been rain for weaks, so I though it might be the water tank.

In the end, I had to replace about half of my floor - removing everything except for the walls and galey cabinets (couldn't remove), and that was a huge job as you can imagine.

HOWEVER- when trying to find the leak- I found what it was and it had me seeing red. I removed the fridge, and had my son spray a fine mist up in the air to mimic rain. What I saw was amazing- the water went down the side of the trailer , and then curled into the vent and inside the trainer. this was A LOT OF WATER. I though there must be a hole, but I wended up filming this, and the water was streaming through the gap between the plastic surround, and the actual plastic vent- not through the holes, but at the top and also at the bottom.

WHAT a crappy vent. It was not as bad as the bottom one, but then I saw another huge issue- the vent is installed on the side of the trailer which is not perfectly vertical -- that's right, when my trailer is perfectly flat, the vent is canted towards the inside of the trailer! The area inside the trailer is not weather or water proof. Thus-- floor rot happens in the area of the vent on many of these models from 2004-2012.

I'm so very disappointed in the vents that Airstream choose, instead of metal ones. I have ordered and will install the metals ones with a piano hinge and smaller vents that seem to work well.

Because they saved $150 on parts, my trailer had $5000 of damage.

I'm also mad at Airstream because after many calls about this issue, there was no mention of the vents, and that has to be a fleet-wide problem. I sat inside the trailer during the rain and saw huge rivers flow into the trailer.

What a waste.
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Old 06-01-2020, 04:17 PM   #2
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2006 16' International CCD
Front Range , CO
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I had the same thing going on when I had my 2006 16 CCD. Those plastic fridge vents are a definite problem.

I now have a 19 FC and the vents are aluminum. I kept an eye on them the first few rains and haven't had any difficulties. Count yourself lucky you have a 2 way. I decided on a new 2019 vs 2020 because of this (and the gas stove).

In a perfect world, Airstream would use some type of composite material for the floors. Never happen.

This is probably the only place to vent. I think we all love our Airstream trailers even knowing of their foibles. But, I will probably always add a little whine to my repair threads.

Glad to hear that you seem to have the problem fixed.

What is the ultimate fix for the plastic vents?
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Old 06-01-2020, 08:41 PM   #3
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Ok, yes, Airstreams have many problems, most of which stem from the following:

AS really only does one thing half-way well: make aluminum trailers. Everything else, the appliances, the systems, is usually third party, and AS buys and installs the cheapest available. You can love their product all you want, but never kid yourself that the company is in it for anything else than to make money at the highest profit point possible, period.

Best sub-floor: Coosa board, search the forum, its an expensive but virtually water-proof composite lighter than plywood and will last until your great-great grandson dies of old age.

Vents: Vintage AS had a screened-in hole in floor under fridge with a plastic chimney and vent out the roof, no electric biscuit fans necessary, but even the roof vent would still leak in heavy rain or when driving in rain.

I wish someone at Dometic or a brilliant genius would invent a heat pump/combination RV water heater and fridge. It would eliminate the need for leaky vents and be more energy efficient. My web research seems to indicate it's too expensive and complicated to be feasible yet, but it's always impossible until someone like Edison or Wright or Jobs or Musk proves it isn't.
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Old 06-01-2020, 10:08 PM   #4
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Actually, there is another option. Airstream started installing two-way AC-DC fridges without a roof vent. These are compressor units that only draw 5.3A. Theyíre very efficient and larger inside because they donít have the heating element in the back.

Hereís an article about them: https://www.rvtravel.com/a-very-diff...-refrigerator/
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:08 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by jeffmc306 View Post
Actually, there is another option. Airstream started installing two-way AC-DC fridges without a roof vent. These are compressor units that only draw 5.3A. They’re very efficient and larger inside because they don’t have the heating element in the back.

Here’s an article about them: https://www.rvtravel.com/a-very-diff...-refrigerator/
If I were in the same situation I would close the vents and replace it with a compressor unit. The vents besides leaking never really vent the fridge properly. The listed amperage is 2.2 for the Nova Kool 3100. 5.3 listed in Jeff’s post above is for a 9 cubic foot model. The best I can tell mine only runs maybe 10 to 15 percent of the time. It also only registers less then a .5 draw on my appliance amp meter when the compressor runs.
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Old 06-02-2020, 11:29 AM   #6
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The main drawback with a compressor fridge is the inability to run it whilst boon docking, unless you have a multi-thousand dollar solar-lithium battery setup, or want to run a noisy generator all the time.
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:11 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by skyguyscott View Post
The main drawback with a compressor fridge is the inability to run it whilst boon docking, unless you have a multi-thousand dollar solar-lithium battery setup, or want to run a noisy generator all the time.


I agree but I have had it with the poor performance of the regular RV fridges and they are also very inefficient.

I vote for a compressor fridge along with lithium and solar to power it.

Dan
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:45 PM   #8
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2016 16' Sport
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The main drawback with a compressor fridge is the inability to run it whilst boon docking, unless you have a multi-thousand dollar solar-lithium battery setup, or want to run a noisy generator all the time.
How many amps per day are you using to power the control board plus 2 fans to make the propane fridge actually be occasionally useful when the temperature goes above 80f ?
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:48 PM   #9
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My refrigerator has been running for two days now on just the batteries. It’s 245 pm and has been overcast and light rain all day and my two AGM batteries with 180 watts of solar are at 100 percent.
My multi thousand dollar lithium solar system is still in the shop.
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Old 06-02-2020, 12:51 PM   #10
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Scott. I’m not familiar with your older (classic) Caravel. How’s is the refrigerator vented?
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:21 PM   #11
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The only fix I have seen

Hi. In reply to the question about "what the fix is for these plastic vents" I wanted to say that I received the first of my two stainless vents today. I'll install and then use a hose to test, and then reply. In my opinion, the only real way to understand what is happening is to remove the appliance and see where the water is flowing from and to.

I also wanted to reply that I was discussing the case of venting for Bambi style trailer, which use two side vents, and no roof vents. Roof vent have a different problem involving gaskets.
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Old 06-02-2020, 01:26 PM   #12
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Hi. In reply to the question about "what the fix is for these plastic vents" I wanted to say that I received the first of my two stainless vents today. I'll install and then use a hose to test, and then reply. In my opinion, the only real way to understand what is happening is to remove the appliance and see where the water is flowing from and to.

I also wanted to reply that I was discussing the case of venting for Bambi style trailer, which use two side vents, and no roof vents. Roof vent have a different problem involving gaskets.
I previously had a 2016 16 Sport and several times found water. If the stainless ones do not prove better I would seriously consider closing up the vents and replacing it with a Nova Kool. Itís the same footprint of your Dometic but much better performance and about a 30 percent increase in interior space.
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Old 06-02-2020, 04:29 PM   #13
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My Sport 16 Leaked too

I had a 2013 Sport and noticed water inside on the floor. I took the Bambi in (Nov 2015) for service and the service person said there wasn't a good seal on the outside refer compartment. After they sealed the compartment the leak stopped. They also told me to not spray directly on the vents when I washed the Bambi. The outside compartment never seemed to have much moisture possibly because of a drain. The sealing the dealer did must have saved my floor. I just traded in my Sport16 for a Sport22 so I don't have a way to verify the compartment drain. Sorry for your predicament.
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Old 06-02-2020, 05:17 PM   #14
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Scott. I’m not familiar with your older (classic) Caravel. How’s is the refrigerator vented?
Well, in 1969 The dometic fridge is passively vented from an intake of air up through the floor up to a chimney vent overhead. When running on propane it does not use any electricity whatsoever. There is a simple pilot light and thermal couple and that’s it.

Curiously, it is still running well after all of these years. Evidently the newer fridges with the fancy electronic control boards fail more often, and usually the fancy electric control board is to blame.

But yes the overhead vent can leak in heavy blowing rain. I have had to replace a section of floor underneath the refrigerator already.
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Old 06-02-2020, 07:26 PM   #15
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Well, in 1969 The dometic fridge is passively vented from an intake of air up through the floor up to a chimney vent overhead. When running on propane it does not use any electricity whatsoever. There is a simple pilot light and thermal couple and thatís it.

Curiously, it is still running well after all of these years. Evidently the newer fridges with the fancy electronic control boards fail more often, and usually the fancy electric control board is to blame.

But yes the overhead vent can leak in heavy blowing rain. I have had to replace a section of floor underneath the refrigerator already.
The issue with the smaller new Airstreams such as the 16 ,19 and I think maybe the 22 sport is that they are not vented through the roof. They have an upper vent and lower vent on the street side. There is also too much space between the coils and the wall of the Airstream due to the curved sides that traps hot air. They require fans to help move air and ventilate the unit and are still unreliable. Not so much because of the unit but the installation.
With your setup I would probably opt for the propane I think they work amazing and are bulletproof other then occasional control board issues.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:02 PM   #16
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I have a 2019 Bambi sport. Can I conclude from this thread that replacing the plastic exterior side vent with the metal vent will solve the water problem?
Thanks!
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:24 PM   #17
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2020’s have a composite floor. AS just switched this year.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:31 PM   #18
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When I remodeled my Carvel, the factory installed a stainless steel vent to replace the floor vent that was covered when they replaced the rotting floor underneath the fridge.

What I did to mitigate water intrusion through the vent door was to purchase and affix some vent filters such as you might find for home HVAC forced air systems. My thinking was large rain or water drops would be blocked and absorbed by the filter material, perhaps collecting in the lower "tray" of the SS vent frame, while still allowing enough air to pass.

This seems to have helped, if not totally eliminated water intrusion into the trailer at that entry point, though the roof vent still will. Hmmm, maybe I should look into affixing the same filter up there somehow, but if the filter material does catch some water, it would still just drip straight down inside.
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Old 06-02-2020, 09:33 PM   #19
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2020’s have a composite floor. AS just switched this year.
Can this be true? If so, this deserves shouting from the mountain tops! Source?
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Old 06-03-2020, 06:11 AM   #20
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I have a 2019 Bambi sport. Can I conclude from this thread that replacing the plastic exterior side vent with the metal vent will solve the water problem?
Thanks!
That is exactly what I am hoping. I should be able to report back sometime next week. You have to buy two to install, and AS only had one in stock, but the upper one is the real problem- canter inward so that most of the water is from that.
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