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Author Topic: Darn it - Ammonia smell  (Read 22781 times)

Dave

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Darn it - Ammonia smell
« on: May 19, 2005, 08:00:07 PM »
Hi all.  Just got started in this forum and already lookin for answers.  Hope this isn't a bad sign. 

Went out to the motorhome today and opened the fridge.  Got blasted with the dreaded ammonia smell. Well, I then hit the ole computer to see what this really means and it looks like either a new fridge or a new cooling unit at the least.  At least that is what the internet says. 

This brings up a couple of questions... 

If I replace the cooling unit, how much work is involved?  Could this be something I can do with some knowledge of mechanics?  Or should I get this over to the RV repairman?  Anyone out there who has done this before?

If I decide to buy a new fridge, which one is best - Dometic or Norcold?  Or is this a Ford vs Chev question?  I currently have a Dometic RM3800. 

Just realized that there were more than a couple of questions but I guess that happens when you got more questions than answers.  Anyway, hope there is someone outthere who can enlighten me.

Thanks in advance.

Dave Jordan

Steve, CDN

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2005, 09:15:24 PM »
Dave,

If the gaz is escaping from your fridge, be sure to turn off the propane tank.  Do not allow the automatic changeover to ignite your fridge, because of possibility of fire.

Usually replacing a cooling unit (new) comes close to the price of a new fridge..and a rebuilt cooling unit has a very short lifespan, in the order of a couple of years.  So depending on your long term plans for your RV, you may want to replace the fridge.

Check out the pricing and installation cost as well as promotions and discounts at Camping World and compare that to the price at a local RV supply house.  You may find a promotion at CW that may be worth the drive.
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Karl

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2005, 05:08:57 AM »
Dave,

If you have a leak and repair it (if it can be done at all and at a reasonable cost), chances are good that you'll be getting more of them in the near future; things are getting corroded and/or stress fractures are showing up. No sense throwing good money after bad. The only exception IMHO is if you knew, for example, that YOU pierced the system while trying to remove ice buildup or something like that, then a repair might be tried. Otherwise, go for new. My only experience is with Dometic, so I have no recommendations as to which is better.
Karl (Cheesehead) Kolbus   Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy cow ...what a ride!"

Bob Flight

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2005, 07:41:54 AM »
Dave,

Look at http://www.dometicusa.com/Market/OS2156%20Refrigerators.pdf to see which model replaces your old one.  We have gone both routes; replacing the cooling unit & replacing the whole refrigerator.  I have no regrets replacing the whole refig.  The costs to replace the cooling unit only may be about 1/2.  Going the route of replacing the refrig you get a new unit that operates using the latest technologies, thus it just works better.  We also realized more storage space due to new insulation technologies.

We looked at switching brands but found a compatable size an issue.  Staying with Dometic, the new unit was nearly 3" shorter than the old unit.  I made a riser to fill the space trimmed it with a portion of the old door panel insert and it looks like it was OEM.  That went smoothly.  Installing the new unit went smoothly.  The new unit is alot lighter than the old unit. 

Getting the old unit out was a pain!  It came out of its opening very hard.  It turned out that during initial install RTV was used between the outersides and the inside walls.  I got it out without damaging the adjacent walls, but I had to go slowly and protect the walls as I used a LARGE pry bar.  The old unit had to stripped of doors, control panels, door hinges, and all just to get it thru the main door.  It was heavy too.  We used a riser to support the old & new units as they slid in & out of the opening in the wall to protect the finished wall edges from chipping & tearing.  It took 2 men to get the old one out.  It took 1 man & 1 woman to get the new one in, due to the reduction of weight.

We went from a RM4801 to a RM2862.  We had to special order the unit & use our minivan to get it home.  No regrets!
Bob Flight, Rochester, NY- '02 Travel Supreme

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2005, 08:50:41 AM »
Yeah, it's Ford vs Chevy. Let fit (dimensions) and best price be the determining factors. 

The advantage of a new cooling unit is that you do not have to deal with dimension changes. But if it is an older fridge, probably only rebuilt cooling units will be available and those do not seem to be a good bet.  Reports from others who have done this suggest that the risk of short term failure is fairly high. Even if the failed unit is replaced under warranty, it's still a lot of hassle and maybe a ruined camping trip.

If you are going to do the work yourself, go for a new one.  The warranty on a rebuilt unit won't pay you to do the labor again.

I agree with RSFlight - a new fridge is the best bet if the budget can handle it.


Gary
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supercab78

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 01:40:40 PM »
Sounds like cooling coils are bad. Most likely rusted out. I replaced my own about 4 years ago, it was time consuming but not that bad of a job. If I remember correctly the rebuild cooling unit had a better warranty than a whole new RV refrigerator. You can do a search, at the time I found two companies that (rebuild) not just repair these units. One of them had a very informative web site.
   If your a good do it yourselfer or know someone who is, as back up help you should be OK.  Back when I did mine my cooling unit cost about $400.00 & that included the return shipping.

Jim Godward

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2005, 04:53:17 PM »
Dave,

There was a comment about the RTV around the Refer.  This is required as the installation is supposed to be "gas tight" and thus the RTV.  Besure and use it and check for leaks after installation.

Good luck and hope it goes in esily.

Jim
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
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Hillsboro, Oregon

Dave

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 07:17:49 PM »
I sure thank all of you for your insights.  I have found that the costs for a cooling unit could be $450 - $550 plus shipping (most likely another $50).  Probably will look into buying new.

If I decide to buy new, then would it be better to get a slightly smaller (dimension) unit than what I currently have.  I still want to try keep the storage size of 8 cf.   Current size is 57"X25" and I'm assuming that it's 24" deep.

Thanks for the info about the RTV.  I'll put that on my watch out for list. 

One other question.  How important is it to have three way vs two way?  Most new coaches have two way.

Now to hit the internet for costs and availability. 

Again, thanks for the information.  You'all are great.

Dave Jordan

Karl

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2005, 07:54:16 PM »
Dave,

If you go here http://www.dometicusa.com/products/default.htm you can download a PDF file for Dometic reefers and it includes a replacement guide for both older Dometic units and other mfg's units by dimensions. Just click on the "Dometic Refrigerators (960kb)" button for the download. I would guess Norcold has a similar replacement document.
Karl (Cheesehead) Kolbus   Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy cow ...what a ride!"

Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2005, 10:16:02 AM »
Few people think that 3-way is an important feature and larger units aren't even available that way.  It is perfectly safe to operate on LP when traveling, but if you aren't comfortable with that you can use an inverter to power the fridge in AC mode or run your generator if you have one.  Inverters large enough to power an Rv fridge are no longer very expensive and probably don't cost any more than the 3-way option on the fridge itself. And the inverter can be used for other things as well.

You can't run a 8 cubic ft fridge for very long on 12V unless the batteries are continuously recharged (or you have a lot of batteries)
Gary
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Dave

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2005, 11:47:19 AM »
Thanks RV Roamer

From what I have read and what you are saying, I too, don't think that having 12V DC is necessary.  I have a very good Onan Generator (6.5) on the coach and have always used the generator when dry camping and traveling.  I think the propane valve needs some tlc as the fridge would never stay on when I tried using it.  Will look into that when I replace the fridge.  Probably operator error.

Found a nice replacement unit (RM2820) at PPL in Houston TX  that is 7.7 CF and the dimensions are approximately the same size (just a tad smaller from my measurements).  PPL has them on sale for $999.  Camping World has them for $1124.  Houston is 225 miles away while Camping World is 25 miles.  I know the folks at Camping World, don't know the people at PPL.  So most likely wil buy at Camping World and let them put it in for an additional $175.

Again, thanks for the info.

Dave Jordan

Tom

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2005, 12:00:40 PM »
Does Camping World match prices? Might be worth asking.
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Steve, CDN

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2005, 03:02:22 PM »
I believe CW matches the price, plus gives you an additonal 10%.  In addition the president's club discount gets you another 10 % and it's worth checking recent flyers or online coupon sites for any additional coupons.
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Ron

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2005, 03:39:40 PM »
I believe that like most businesses that price match they will only match prices in their market area.  I.E. I doubt Camping World in Denton Texas, near Dallas, will match prices with a business in the Houston, Tx area.  Never hurts to try though.

Ron & Sam-home is where we park it. Currently located   HERE

Tom

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2005, 04:06:12 PM »
Good point Ron, although I have found local businesses that will match internet prices. All I had to do was print the respective web page to receive a substantial discount. PPL does have a web presence.
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Dave

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2005, 04:17:42 PM »
Thanks Tom and Ron

I'll give it a shot and see if they'll come down some.  Will let you know....


Dave Jordan

Tom

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #16 on: May 21, 2005, 04:24:58 PM »
Good luck Dave. It will be intersting to hear if you get the price matching.
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rvfridge

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2005, 10:31:53 AM »
Hello.

I would like to disspell some of the rumors and responses that I have been reading on here regarding rebuilt cooling units. While it is true that there are some companies out there that simply "patch" the leak, there are a few who go the extra mile and actually replace the entire evaporator and boiler sections with new tubing. The companies that "patch" the leak have given remanufactured cooling units a bad reputation. If you should luck out and get a cooling unit from one of those companies, then yes, you will not get much service from them. However, if you do your homework and get a unit from a company that completely remanufactures them, including new boiler and evaporator assemblies, then you should get the same amount of service that the original unit provided, while saving several hundreds of dollars that could be better spent somewhere else.

Greg Rogers
World Class RV Refrigeration, Inc.
www.rvfridge.com

John From Detroit

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Re: Darn it - Ammonia smell
« Reply #18 on: October 07, 2005, 05:05:50 PM »
I will address two questions here...

1: Norcold v/s Dometic... As someone else said, The best one is the one that fits best, Essentally the only real difference is size and features,  So if it fits, and you like what it offers, go for it

2: 12vdc/120vac/gas.  12vdc will drain your batteries quickly, Gas is just as good, and modern gas systems are designed to "Fail safe" if at all possible... Though I will warn that a RV tank with a POL fitting likely does not have a built in safety valve... However Marshall Brass sells and "extend-a-stay" adapter and it DOES have a built in safety cutoff valve  Read it's instructions for more info.

I've run mine on gas, and 120... Ice maker don't work so wall (actually it does not work at all) on gas as it's motors are 120 volt ac motors. 

A kilowatt inverter (or more) can be purchased for under 70.00 plus instalation, I think I paid 60 for my KW converter..... Now I have till January to find it and hook it up (Actually, I know w/i five feet exactly where it is... You don't want to know)

I did confirm my rig's Atwood furnance is 12vcd only (read the blooming instruction manual I did)

so all that really needs 120 vac is the computer stuff I will put in and the optional ice maker

Even the freezer is 12vdc about 40 watt tops, not much of a load)
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