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Author Topic: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?  (Read 593 times)

Steve from Indiana

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Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« on: May 22, 2020, 09:56:04 PM »
Last night our Norcold fridge threw a code on its display that indicated the the high temperature limit switch was open. This morning I opened the cover outside on the back of the fridge and immediately smelled ammonia.  Obviously there is a leak in the system. The fridge is 10 years old.  Is this a repairable defect or should I just replace the fridge?

scottydl

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2020, 10:02:20 PM »
The cooling units can be replaced, and you can probably price that assembly easily enough if you have the Norcold model # of your fridge available. Then compare that to the cost of a replacement and decide from there. Either way, there is the labor or removing/replacing the unit and the extra effort of replacing the cooling unit (prior to re-installation) if you go that route. There may be some folks here who have done that job and can comment on the difficulty.
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camperAL

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2020, 11:20:06 PM »
Hi Steve,

Don't know your location, but if you are in northern Indiana a trip to Shipshewana, Indiana and to the National RV Refrigeration would be a very good idea. They are cost effective. They can fix an old refrigerator (rebuild) for about 1/3 of the cost of a new one. See my
report here:

http://www.rvforum.net/SMF_forum/index.php/topic,127177.0.html

Just went to these folks about a month back. They might be able to repair your unit cheaper than a rebuild.
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

Jim Godward

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2020, 12:17:38 AM »
The best solution is to replace with a residential refer.  Better cooling, more reliable and less likely to burn.

Last night our Norcold fridge threw a code on its display that indicated the the high temperature limit switch was open. This morning I opened the cover outside on the back of the fridge and immediately smelled ammonia.  Obviously there is a leak in the system. The fridge is 10 years old.  Is this a repairable defect or should I just replace the fridge?
Jim
Jim & Pat Godward
AC7PO & KD7ZDM
Hillsboro, Oregon

John From Detroit

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2020, 06:13:12 AM »
The Fridge consists of only a few major components. One is the Box (includes the shelves and doors and such) then there is the control system. the heat elements (Electric or gas) and the "Works" the cooling unit. the back of the thing.

The  repair, in your case. is to replace the cooling unit... Only a little bit cheaper than rull replacement but... Less waste and the box nearly never wears out.

Did mine last summer
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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Steve from Indiana

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2020, 07:10:34 AM »
Thanks for all the info and suggestions. I will probably go the repair route to hopefully save some money.

darsben

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2020, 08:33:55 AM »
The best solution is to replace with a residential refer.  Better cooling, more reliable and less likely to burn.

It is ony the "best solution if your rig can support a residential fridge requirements the rig may not have room for the batteries or generator requirements.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2020, 08:39:25 AM by darsben »
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jubileee

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2020, 09:59:19 AM »
Thanks for all the info and suggestions. I will probably go the repair route to hopefully save some money.
  I replaced the cooling unit in our dometic refrigerator in the Bounder completely by myself. This was about 15 years ago. I would have been about 65. Refrigerator is still working flawlessly with new owner..
  Had no idea what I was doing. Bought rebuilt unit from some outfit in Arkansas on EBay. About $400 exchange at the time.
   Layed plastic tarp on floor, pulled refrigerator out, turned 1/4 turn and layed down. Took me about 4 hrs. of which 3 were trying to figure out where and what to unhook.
    I donít know if I was more surprised or elated when it worked.

Jeff in Ferndale Wa

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2020, 07:42:23 PM »
Do RV fridges really run ammonia? I always thought they were freon.
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timjet

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2020, 08:07:02 PM »
Another option is to replace the cooling unit with a DC compressor. That may be a good option if you can't find a replacement to fit in place of the old unit. However, not all units can be changed over.
Personally I would recommend you look at a residential fridge if you plan on keeping the RV for any length of time. They may be cheaper than replacing or fixing your current unit and for the same exterior dimensions will probably have a larger interior.
Tim
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TheBar

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2020, 08:25:02 PM »
I don't boondock so I would go with a residential fridge. But if I did boondock I would not.
Retired factory automation computer programmer
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SLOweather

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2020, 09:33:32 PM »
Do RV fridges really run ammonia? I always thought they were freon.

Google absorption cycle refrigeration.
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Larry N.

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2020, 06:47:40 AM »
Quote
Do RV fridges really run ammonia?
Yes.
Larry and Mary Ann N.
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camperAL

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2020, 09:44:08 AM »
Hi,

I think this might just be a simple repair the National RV Refrigeration in Shipshewana, Indiana can do. Unless Steve from Indiana really wants a residential in his RV, which looks like he doesn't. Why go to so much expense with other ideas to fix or replace. In many cases, I think the resale value of an RV is higher with the original equipment rather than modified system. Best!
CamperAL (Indiana)
(2006 Coachmen Mirada 290 KS )

grashley

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2020, 08:58:30 PM »
Do RV fridges really run ammonia? I always thought they were freon.

In a word, YES.  Freon is used in residential "compressor" units

Absorption fridge uses Ammonia plus other ingredients .  It heats the mixture, then circulate it down through tubes.  As it circulates, it absorbs heat from the fridge.  See the references above for a much better explanation.
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Ineluctable

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #15 on: May 27, 2020, 05:54:48 AM »
I also recommend replace it with a residential refer, it is more reliable in the long run.
..

rbrdriver

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #16 on: May 28, 2020, 02:30:38 AM »
I also recommend replace it with a residential refer, it is more reliable in the long run.
It's what we did.  8)
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blw2

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Re: Fridge lost its ammonia. Repair or replace?
« Reply #17 on: May 28, 2020, 06:49:32 AM »
gotta say if I were in this spot it would be a hard choice.
We don't do a lot of 'boondocking', but we do an occasional overnight ..occasionally 2-3 nights ...and my rig isn't set up for a huge battery bank
I like the 2-way fridge....works well for us
Brad (DW + 3 kids)
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