Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

Discussion in 'General RVing' started by Calgary Dave, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. Calgary Dave

    Calgary Dave Member

    My Dad has a camper from 1970, never maintains a thing and the fridge works like a charm. My son's '79 camper is practically falling apart...fridge works perfectly.
    I buy a 1999 Four Winds, perfectly maintained, and has a beautiful 6 cu ft 2-way Norcold fridge that, I kid you not, is my most prized comfort of having an RV.
    Well after working most of the summer and canceling three different camping trips we finally decide to go next week. Loading up the trailer today and all of a sudden the fridge wont work! Its been plugged in the past few weeks, loaded with food and frozen meats. yup...all the meats ruined and its warm. I check the back and its warm. I switch it over to propane...fires up, maintains the flame...still nothing cooling inside the fridge. I talk to two different RV technicians. First one says "doesnt sound like the cooling unit, but the powerboard". $400 fix. The other tech says "doesnt sound like the powerboard, sounds like the cooling unit" $1300 fix.
    Why, why, WHY do these things happen to ME?!!! Dont know what to do. we're going to a remote campsite, that's an hours drive from any gas station or store. And supposed to leave Sunday morning.
    Im so upset. Just really, really dejected. :(
     
  2. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    If your chimney is warm while on Elec. and the Flame on gas is working, sounds like your board is OK. I think the cooling unit is bad. It is just like an artery in your body...closes up and you have a heart attack.

    Sorry for your luck.
     
  3. Calgary Dave

    Calgary Dave Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    *sigh*....I knew it wouldn't be the cheap option for me. and I guess they cant be "repaired"? An AC/Heating guy told me to take the whole unit out....sit it upsidedown for a day, to let the coolant flow the other way through the tubes will "sometimes" fix it. Should I bother trying that? ahh who am I kidding....Im not gonna attempt that. damnit. Guess Im gonna get a couple of large coolers for this trip. No way I can afford a new fridge for a looooong time.
     
  4. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!



    That is called "Burping". Might not work at all....might last a week...might last a year...

    I tried it on 2 Refer. Worked a few days for both. Sorry, not a FIX
     
  5. Calgary Dave

    Calgary Dave Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    First of all, thanks for sharing your knowledge, Ken. Now...I found a great site for info on exactly how an RV fridge works (http://www.rvmobile.com/Tech/Trouble/cooldoc.htm) including instructions on how to change them yourself. The one point that stood out was:
    I've always known to keep your unit level...but HOW level is the key? And this, I suspect, might be where I failed. This is the first time the fridge has been left "on" for an extended time, over a month. Its sitting in my driveway and its "fairly" level. But that is a relative term. Only using a small bubble level, it COULD be an inch or so out of 26 feet...would this be enough to ruin the fridge, seeing as its been running for so long? I'll kick myself to eternity if this was the cause.
    On a positive note I found a couple of reputable dealers who sell new and used cooling units for around the $500-600 range. And Im fairly confident I could install it myself. Also, Im curious to see if, when we go on our trip (tomorrow morning) loaded with half a dozen coolers worth of cubed and block ice, if all the motion of travel just might be enough to "jog" the amonia solution through its tubing...even if just enough for one more trip of the season. I'll keep you posted and, once again, thank you Ken.
     
  6. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Usually the rule of thumb on level is within 3 degrees going left and right as you look at the Refer. Laying backwards or forwards is not as critical.
     
  7. C Nash

    C Nash Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Now you got me worried Dave :( I have had mine on for 7 years most of the time and so far no problem. Always try to level as near to exact as possible when stopped. Really doubt that is what caused yours if you are close to level JMO. You might want to put a good level in your cooling compartment to check your bubble level.
     
  8. big bilko

    big bilko Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Ken,My Mirada has to be parked on a steep slope between trips and it is not possible to level it safely.We do not leave the fridge on and only switch on when we park level. Last trip the electric did not work so we switched to gas. It worked perfectly but we kept trying to switch back to electric with no luck.Any clues what to look for? Regards Big Bilko :) :) :) :)
     
  9. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Setting off level while off, will not hurt it.

    As far as yours not working on elec. last trip, dunno. Who made your refer.? What did it do exactly?
     
  10. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Calgary Dave,
    The old burping trick did sometimes work in the past, but almost never does today as the cooling units today are designed quite differently than in the past. That is also the reason why they are not as sesitive as they were in the past to level. To use the figures of the Norcold service manual, the refrigerator should be within three degrees of lever, side to side and within six degrees from front to back. They finish by stating that "if your RV is level enough for comfortable living it is probably level enough for the refrigerator." Dometic has similar information in their service manuals.

    You can replace the cooling unit in your RV refrigerator, but it is a major job and does require the removal of the refrigerator from the RV. Since your RV is ten years old, I would hesitate to spend the money to replace the cooling unit when it would cost only about 1/3 more to buy an entire new refrigerator with a warranty and all new electronics. Of course, that is just opinion but it is based on more than 40 years of similar service work. There is one big problem that I have with what you have been told. I see no way that any qualified tech can say for sure what the problem with your refrigerator is with no more information than you have posted. What you are getting is a best guess and I question the skill level of any tech who will give a strong opinion base on so little information. Your problem could easily be something as simple as a nest or some other thing that is blocking the flue of the refrigerator or even the roof vent for it. It clearly does have some problem with the cooling, but a simple cleaning may very well sold the entire problem. That should be the first thing checked!

    big bilko,
    You do not say what refrigerator you have so I can't look in the service manual, but there are a number of distinct possibilities. Since both the electric and the propane use the exact same control circuitry and the very same cooling parts, it is very safe to say that all of that is working. That then leaves only the parts that relate to electric functions. First of all, if you set it to auto control, does it try to shift to electric power if available? If it does so, that would mean that power is available to the refrigerator. Since the control circuitry is powered by 12V, it would not change but would stay in the propane mode if it were not there. If the auto function does not shift, check to make sure that power is available at the outlet that is in the rear of the refrigerator and which it is plugged into. If power is there, next check the fuses on the control circuit board. With no knowledge of what brand or model you have, I can't tell you where to find that board, but they are usually clearly visible when you open the rear of the unit. Typically there will be two fuses, one for 12V and one for 120V. If in doubt, check that both are good and a meter is the only way to know for sure.

    If fuses are good you then need to check to see if there is power to the heating element and if that element is good. You should be able to locate the connections to the heater by the fact that there will be two leads that leave going into the area of the burner and boiler. Once you locate them, lift the leads and check for voltage with a meter. If it is present and the fuse is good, check the heater by reading the resistance through it. Most RV refrigerators use a heating element that is around 50 ohms when proper and there should be infinite resistance between each lead and the frame of the refrigerator. Those elements do fail and open and are not difficult to replace.
     
  11. H2H1

    H2H1 Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    WELL my refer works great,however my ice maker don't. I was working before we went to SD, but since we had trouble with the electrical system it has not worked. I did find where the plastic line was melted and shut off the water. I replace that, still not working. I replace the water valve still not working any glues? :( :( :( oh BTW I paid a guy who was repairing the other stuff to look at it and fix it. didn't do it :( :( HE SWORE HE DID, YEA RIGHT, GOT ICE? NO
     
  12. Calgary Dave

    Calgary Dave Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    ^ Thats a great description. Then, that probably wasn't the cause, like you said. I make a living off of having things level (tilesetter) and I can spot a picture frame out of level within an 1/8" just with my eye. The trailer is definately within a 3 or 6 degree. So if it is ruined...maybe it was just its time.

    I was thinking along the very same line...however up here in Canada, the retail cost for the same model fridge is $2200. The trailer is only worth about 8 or 9 grand. If I can get a new cooling unit for 6 or 7 hundred, Im pretty much forced to go the cheap route. much as I hate to do that. The re&re job doesn't scare me, but it will be a project to tackle over the winter when I have time.

    Hmm..good advice, Kirk. I will definitely check all the simple solutions first. Things are quite clean in and around the chimney as well as the vent...but I will make sure before any large purchases are made. I think I will probably take the whole unit in and have them do a proper diagnostics on it, just to make sure. They said it would cost only $150 for an inspection..so I'll do that at the end of this season.

    Thanks for help and the wealth of information, from all of you. Nothing beats experience and proper knowledge. Now I'm off for 8 days of dry camping and fly fishing!! (and 23 bags of ice)
     
  13. Kirk

    Kirk Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Dave, before you take the RV in, consider checking from the vent up above to me sure that it is not blocked. A very easy way to do that is to place an ordinary household electric fan in the opening of the rear of the refrigerator and turn it on, pointing up into the back of the refrigerator. Then go up to the roof and see if there is a nice flow of air coming out. More than one refrigerator has stopped working because some insulation or such inside of the RV has shifted to block the exit of the air from the unit. It is a very simple problem and easy to check. If the air movement is good, next try the refrigerator again, with that fan in there moving the air. If it then works, the cooling unit and controls are fine but the flue needs to be cleaned.

    Hollis,
    I don't know if you realize it, but the ice makers in RV refrigerators will only work when 120V shore power is available. The cooling can be from propane but the icemaker get's it's power from the 120V side. In addition, there is a solenoid valve that opens to supply the water. I would first check to be sure that the water is turned one, as most have a shutoff valve so that you can turn it off in cold weather. Trace from that to the electric valve and remove the connection there and test to be sure there is water to it. If that is OK, you can then use a jumper to power that valve to try to open it. I would suggest that you first check for power to it with your meter and before you use a jumper, verify that I am correct that the power to the valve is also 120V, as it could be 12V, but I have not seen one which was. We don't want to supply the wrong power source.

    Assuming that you do verify the 120v power, you can make a jumper cord with two spade connectors on the ends of a cheap power cord with plug and connect the spade connectors to the place where the present leads are, and then use the plug to supply power to see if the valve then opens. I would do that with the water line removed from the side which goes into the ice tray area, just to be sure that you do not over fill it. If you get water out of that connection, reconnect the water line and briefly open it with the jumper and then check in the tray for water. It doesn't fill that fast so you can leave it open for 10 to 20 seconds to see if water does get there.

    I am assuming that you have made sure that the tray is not full of ice. If the ice should fail to exit for some reason, or if the tray should over fill, it can prevent the ice from exiting and could be the cause of this problem. If you have not already done so, make sure that the tray is not over filled with frozen ice that can't exit. If it is, just defrost it and try again. Most ice makers do have a way to adjust the fill level and if it is too high it will cause exit problems.
     
  14. H2H1

    H2H1 Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    well Kirk, it is level and plug into shore power. So I guess I have a little more work to do. Thankd for your reply
     
  15. big bilko

    big bilko Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Thank you for your replies both you and Kirk. Refer is a Dometic. Worked perfectly until last trip and would not switch on .Check light keeps coming on. When we switched to gas it worked straight away. Parked now on big slope and we have switched off everything until we go again. Regards Big Bilko. :) :) :) :)
     
  16. Grandview Trailer Sa

    Grandview Trailer Sa Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Big Bilko,
    Since you said your check light comes on, I think you have a bad board. You can check it if you can do some trouble shooting. There are 2 wires that run to the Elec. element in the chimney. Pull those wires off the board and see if you have 120 volts on those terminals. If not, there you go. If you do, the element could be bad, but that usually does not throw the check light.

    Kenneth
     
  17. big bilko

    big bilko Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Thank you Ken,I will try your suggestion and let you know the result as soon as I can get time . Regards Big Bilko :) :) :) :)
     
  18. Ice Czar

    Ice Czar New Member

  19. big bilko

    big bilko Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Thank you for your help. Most helpful and should get me going. I will have to wait until I move van next as it is a major job parking it in the space I have,Also it is on a steep slope which will not allow me to switch on refer until I level it. Slope too severe to use the jacks to level.Regards from down under and thanks again. Big Bilko :) :) :) :)
     
  20. brodavid

    brodavid Senior Member

    Re: Fridge problems...Im SO upset!

    Is that the one thatlooks like you are going up a mountain?
     

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