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RVing message boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: Campfire RV on August 20, 2012, 08:36:28 AM

Title: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 20, 2012, 08:36:28 AM
The propane stopped supplying fuel to the refrigerator while dry camping at Mammoth Lakes this past weekend so much of the food in our ref spoiled and we had to throw away. I had just a little under 1/2 tank of propane in the tank and the gas light on the ref was solid when we left the house. Shortly after setting up camp at the campground is when I noticed the gas light flashing on the ref. I turned off the gas and turned on the generator for a while to make sure the ref would turn over automatically to electric and it worked just fine. I turned the  gas back on and the generator off about 15 minutes later and gas light began flashing again. Has anyone had this problem before and if so what are some of the possible reasons? This MH is still under warranty but the nearest service location for warranty work is nearly two hours away so I would like to see if this is something I could take care of myself or take to a local shop if it will be something simple that won't cost as much as the gas to drive to the service location for warranty work.

Thanks,
Josh 
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Water Dog on August 20, 2012, 09:00:36 AM
If your other gas appliances are working Josh, I would suspect the fridge gas valve or a bad connection in the wiring to it first.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 20, 2012, 09:39:02 AM
We didn't even try the stove, we did all our cooking in the microwave and campfire. I'll try the stove tonight see if it works. I didn't think about that, that is the reason I asked on here.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: BigDfromTN on August 20, 2012, 12:53:30 PM
The propane stopped supplying fuel to the refrigerator while dry camping at Mammoth Lakes this past weekend so much of the food in our ref spoiled and we had to throw away. I had just a little under 1/2 tank of propane in the tank and the gas light on the ref was solid when we left the house. Shortly after setting up camp at the campground is when I noticed the gas light flashing on the ref. I turned off the gas  and turned on the generator for a while to make sure the ref would turn over automatically to electric and it worked just fine. I turned the  gas back on  and the generator off about 15 minutes later and gas light began flashing again. Has anyone had this problem before and if so what are some of the possible reasons? This MH is still under warranty but the nearest service location for warranty work is nearly two hours away so I would like to see if this is something I could take care of myself or take to a local shop if it will be something simple that won't cost as much as the gas to drive to the service location for warranty work.

Thanks,
Josh

Is there a reason for turning the gas on and off?

All the modern fridges I have heard of will switch automatic if you set them to the Automatic setting.
Make sure you have gas and the lines bled out.  You can do this by lighting the stove (quickest way to bleed the line.  And then try the hot water heater.  Once these to are working properly your fridge should also.  As mentioned, If you have good gas flow then check the back of the unit for dirty connectors (not likely on a new unit) or possibly a spider web or something around the gas outlet behind the fridge.

good luck!!
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Icemaker on August 20, 2012, 01:23:00 PM
Is there a reason for turning the gas on and off?

All the modern fridges I have heard of will switch automatic if you set them to the Automatic setting.
Make sure you have gas and the lines bled out.  You can do this by lighting the stove (quickest way to bleed the line.  And then try the hot water heater.  Once these to are working properly your fridge should also.  As mentioned, If you have good gas flow then check the back of the unit for dirty connectors (not likely on a new unit) or possibly a spider web or something around the gas outlet behind the fridge.

good luck!!

And don't open the tank valve too fast...in fact be VERY slow when you open it [there's a safety device that greatly restricts flow if it trips]....I know from first hand experience...and learned the answer from this forum...
If the stove & water heater work than it has to be a issue at the refrigerator ...could be the gas valve..a lite off issue..bad connection
Mine always gets blown out when traveling..not sure why as My Elandan never did..but is fine after I park...I don't have a 12v heater in this one..

George
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: SeilerBird on August 20, 2012, 01:29:34 PM
You should have had Coachnet. You could have called them up and talked to an RV technician about the problem. He might have been able to figure out the problem and saved your food. Coachnet is only $109 per year. No RVer should leave home without Coachnet IMHO.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Water Dog on August 20, 2012, 02:13:18 PM
One time when we were out, the dog laid against the switch on the propane detector which was on the cabinet face at floor level. With the detector turned off, it shut down the propane supply and I thought I had run out of propane. Not until I had it filled and it only took 3 gallons, did I finally figure out what it was. Check the switch if none of your gas appliances are working....maybe someone inadvertently hit it.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Alfa38User on August 20, 2012, 03:15:50 PM
The OP's rig is new, so the propane detector, that (I think) WaterDog is referring to, does not likely have a propane shut-off valve associated with it. This detector/valve combination has not been a requirement for some years now and detectors with the necessary apparatus inside are not readily available any longer.

In most cases, those equipped with this older type of detector that is failing will have to remove/bypass the associated valve and install a new detector before the propane system will be function-able again.

This detectors usually have a finite life of about 10 years (there is usually a date stamped on the back)  so most of them should have been replaced my now.... but not many of us ever think about it until the detector starts causing a problem.


As far as mojavesky13's original problem is concerned, following Icemaker's advise first and then BigD's you should have the problem cleaned up.

But as to the reason the gas went off originally, it is likely that the circuitry failed to detect the flame at one point and thus shut down the cooling,  and lighting the CHECK light. Leaving it on AUTO, will cause the fridge to cycle to 120V or Gas depending on the availability of 120V. Maybe your cleaning will find a reason for the failure, like a cracked detector probe, cob webs etc. (The propane burner normally cycles on and off as cooling is needed.) Just turning the refrigerator itself OFF and then back on should re-initiate the gas lighting cycle.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Just Lou on August 20, 2012, 05:40:01 PM
One time when we were out, the dog laid against the switch on the propane detector which was on the cabinet face at floor level. With the detector turned off, it shut down the propane supply and I thought I had run out of propane. Not until I had it filled and it only took 3 gallons, did I finally figure out what it was. Check the switch if none of your gas appliances are working....maybe someone inadvertently hit it.

LOL Dennis,

I had a similar experience except I couldn't blame the dog.  It was I who had turned the detector off.

Very embarrassing to have the CG Host drag out the fefill hose for a 2 gallon propane sale. :-[
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Water Dog on August 20, 2012, 05:53:28 PM
Very embarrassing to have the CG Host drag out the fefill hose for a 2 gallon propane sale. :-[

Yes it was...! Almost as embarrassing as not remembering that those tpyes of systems are no longer used on the newer rv's, like the one we have now...! ::)
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 20, 2012, 09:39:32 PM
Thanks for all the great advice and sharing your experiences IRT the propane gas and refrigerator. I took the advice from BigD by opening the tank valve slowly then gave it a few minutes before turning on the refrigerator. I turned the ref to "Auto" and so far there is no flashing light and it has been 60 minutes. In my ref operating manual it mentions that at altitudes higher than 5500 feet that you may experience reduced cooling performance of the refrigerator and you may experience burner outages. Is something that any of you have ever encountered before? I thought everything on RV's today were made for all climates and altitudes. I checked the lights before we left home Thursday and the lights were solid when I had it plugged into the house and when I switched to gas.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 21, 2012, 08:36:33 AM
Well, I checked the ref in the MH this morning before leaving for work and the gas was working like a charm. The water I left in the freezer over night was frozen and the refrigerator was cold too. I think I may go out drycamping this Friday night at Lake Isabella to test it out again and see if it happens again, plus it gives me another opportunity to go out in the MH again. ;D
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: BigDfromTN on August 21, 2012, 09:49:04 AM
Glad to hear it worked out!!

Not sure about the elevation situation.  We never go that high and would have to travel for days to test it. :P
I seem to remember that certain things on Propane (and other fuels) can have problems above certain elevations due to lower Oxygen content of the air. 
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: n7qvu on August 21, 2012, 09:54:25 AM
I live at 6600' and often camp at higher spots. My favorite place to camp is at 7800'. No issues for my '98 Bounder. I haven't stayed there, but many folks camp at Green's Peak at 9500'. Never heard them complain. I have heard of issues with propane flow when temps get really cold?

My .02
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 21, 2012, 10:37:37 AM
This wasn't the first time I've traveled above 5500 ft. We traveled through Lassen Volcanic National Park and Mt. Shasta back in June and had no problems during our entire two week trip. and they were both higher elevations than Mammoth. 
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 21, 2012, 10:39:09 AM
What do you spray on your lines to make sure you don't have any leaks in the lines or at any fittings?
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Molaker on August 21, 2012, 10:49:17 AM
What do you spray on your lines to make sure you don't have any leaks in the lines or at any fittings?
I usually just use soapy water.  But, it sounds like maybe your regulator might not be up to snuff.  Most any propane service could test it for you.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: BigDfromTN on August 21, 2012, 10:51:38 AM
What do you spray on your lines to make sure you don't have any leaks in the lines or at any fittings?

I use a soapy water mixture.  simple Dish Washing Liquid and some water.

Served me well this past weekend.  We got to the camp site and I noticed the fridge had the gas light blinking.  Went and check and the bottle was empty.  Glad I did not have both bottles open!!   Leak was at the outlet of the regulator where the rubber hose connects the reg. to the black pipe at the frame.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Seajay on August 25, 2012, 07:50:10 AM
REMEMBER THIS.   Lp gas will leave a residue on your orifus that produces the flame in your ''refer''.   this jet must be cleaned about twice a year if you use your refer on gas very much.  the hole. in this jet is slightly bigger than a human hair and can be stopped up easily.... DO NOT USE A WIRE TO CLEAN THIS HOLE.   You must unscrew the jet after shutting down your LP system.  Soak the jet in alcahol for about 30 minutes and take a Q Tip, stick it in the back of the jet and twirl it.   Stick the jet back in the alchole and pump the q tip up and down to draw the alcahol thru the jet hole.  You will get a ''varnish'' looking substance out of the jet.   Peek thru the jet and if you see daylight, its clean......  Put the whole mess back to gether and turn on your L>P. gas at the tank.   Because you may have blead the line it may take several tries for the ''refer'' to light off on gas.....

I would bet a six pack this is your trouble if the jet has never beeen cleaned...
This informATION will cost you ten cents and you can pay me the next time you see me.....
remember this ....... if this dont work for you .. I NEVER KNEW YOU......CJ...
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on August 25, 2012, 08:56:42 AM
Quote
REMEMBER THIS.   Lp gas will leave a residue on your orifus that produces the flame in your ''refer''.   this jet must be cleaned about twice a year if you use your refer on gas very much.

Hmmm. Can't say that I've ever heard of propane leaving a residue on the jets in normal operation. If it did, I would suspect either an improperly adjusted air inlet to the burner (poor air/fuel ratio) or LP fuel that is contaminated with other chemicals. LP itself burns extremely clean and should never leave a varnish behind. It's one of the few advantages of propane over gasoline or diesel.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Icemaker on August 25, 2012, 12:02:53 PM
Hmmm. Can't say that I've ever heard of propane leaving a residue on the jets in normal operation. If it did, I would suspect either an improperly adjusted air inlet to the burner (poor air/fuel ratio) or LP fuel that is contaminated with other chemicals. LP itself burns extremely clean and should never leave a varnish behind. It's one of the few advantages of propane over gasoline or diesel.

Correct [as usual] ...sometimes a orifice gets plugged but it is not varnish as far as I have ever seen...I have special cleaning wires just for that job...very fine... in a pinch I have taken a strand from a small gauge stranded wire and got the job done...copper wire is softer than the ss of the orifice so I doubt it will scratch or mar the opening...
As a world famous man says ... ".. if this dont work for you .. I NEVER KNEW YOU.." ...
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Seajay on August 26, 2012, 02:27:32 AM
Hmmm. Can't say that I've ever heard of propane leaving a residue on the jets in normal operation. If it did, I would suspect either an improperly adjusted air inlet to the burner (poor air/fuel ratio) or LP fuel that is contaminated with other chemicals. LP itself burns extremely clean and should never leave a varnish behind. It's one of the few advantages of propane over gasoline or diesel.

with respect ..... try this link please
http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com/Gas_Orifice.htm
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Trailer traveler on August 26, 2012, 08:29:04 AM
I have experienced the Norcold refrigerator not working on gas on several occassions after travelling rough roads. The symptoms have always been that when the frig trys to run on propane, it will go through the startup: gas valve clicks open, ignitor sparks several times (sometimes there is a little puff as gas tries to ignite) then stops, ignitor sparks several times and frig locks out with yellow light blinking. The ignitor on our model frig is a single wire rod that sparks to the metal tube at the gas orifice. It is held in place by very flimsy bracket. The cure for this problem has always been to reset the gap between the ignitor and the gas orifice.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Ned on August 26, 2012, 09:09:01 AM
with respect ..... try this link please
http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com/Gas_Orifice.htm

That article says nothing about propane leaving any residue in the burner orifice.  It merely describes how to clean it.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on August 26, 2012, 09:11:57 AM
Quote
with respect ..... try this link please
http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com/Gas_Orifice.htm (http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com/Gas_Orifice.htm)

Seajay: I don't see anything at that link that suggests a propane burner needs regular cleaning or suffers from routine varnish build-up.  It describes how to clean one and why you must avoid enlarging the orifice.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Seajay on August 26, 2012, 10:40:10 AM
Once more and then I am through guys...........  Respects to all.... I am just trying to help, not cause an argument.....cj......
I also would strongly suggest that the man read this article before attempting to clean the burner orifice ............. 

try this link    this is where I got my information and this is what I did when my ''refer'' stopped working...
http://www.rvmobile.com/tech/trouble/burner.htm

Orifice. The orifice is the very last component in the propane system before the burner, and has a very precise hole manufactured into it. The orifice and the pressure of the gas passing through it set the size of the burner flame. If one or the other is incorrect, then the flame will not be correct. Usually, if there is a problem, the orifice is dirty. Microscopic debris has accumulated around the hole making it smaller and therefore not the correct size. Also, oil from the propane tank and other propane components can be deposited on the orifice, making it easier for debris to stick to it.

To clean the orifice, first remove it. Sometimes blowing air through the orifice will clean it, but since you already have it out, you should soak it in alcohol or paint thinner (some non-oily solvent) for a few hours to dissolve any oil build up. And, then blow air through it. Do NOT poke anything into the orifice. It is such a precise hole, that you will either accomplish nothing or you will enlarge it and ruin it. There are no orifice bits for RV refrigerator orifices. In fact, there is no apparent logic in the numbering of orifices between manufacturers. A Dometic #58 orifice is roughly equivalent to a Norcold .16 orifice. Sometimes, even after repeated cleanings of the orifice, the flame is still not right and in your heart you feel everything else is right. This is possible. Sometimes an orifice seems to be uncleanable or can be defective. If you can, replace the orifice. If you can't replace the orifice -- keep cleaning. One important thing to note is that if you enlarge the orifice, you will increase the heat output of the flame and ruin the cooling unit Another, rarer problem on metal orifices is that the flow of propane over the years can actually erode the orifice and either make it out of round or enlarge it. In the either case, the orifice has to be replaced.


Nuff said on my part  .......... cj........ GOOD LUCK

God bless the troops that fought in Desert Storm.......
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Mopar1973Man on August 26, 2012, 08:08:32 PM
I think what SeaJay is talking about is the odorant that is added to propane that might have a oily residue.

An old mobile home that a buddy hauled off had propane appliances and everything but when we open the propane line it had a oil like substance in it but the line smelled of propane. Maybe he's right... ???
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Campfire RV on August 26, 2012, 09:25:36 PM
We just returned from another drycamping weekend trip to Lake Isabella and we had no problems with the gas and the ref. I turned on the gas at home for a couple hours before leaving and the ref worked fine then I turned the gas off before getting to the gas station to fill up then drove to the Exchange to pick up some last minute groceries and turned the gas on again. This time the ref gas light was blinking again so I turned the gas off then turned the gas on slowly and the ref worked great the rest of the trip.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: firehose on August 27, 2012, 03:38:52 PM
These propane fridges seem to require the most effort and maintenance on the RV's.  I had issues with mine, would shut off randomly while running on propane.  It was very frustrating, because it was random.  The fridge would run for several days, then shut off.

What I did, was clean the heck out of the back (outside part).  I took a wire brush, and cleaned the 12 v connections.  I then removed the thermo couple.  It was covered in dirt/dust.  I cleaned that, reinstalled it, and viola!  Fridge hasn't shut off once since then, has been working great.

This will be routine fridge maintenance for me, dust gets in there.  The area needs to be cleaned out occasionally. 
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: DailyDriver on August 29, 2012, 02:27:21 AM
Regarding the effects of altitude on a refrigerator....  a couple of weeks ago, we spent the night in Fairplay, CO (elevation 9950').  The old Norcold worked great with no apparent detrimental effect due to altitude, and was kicking out ice cubes as per usual.

The problem with opening the valve too fast sounds perhaps like a regulator malfunctioning. 
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: BigDfromTN on August 29, 2012, 07:19:58 AM
Regarding the effects of altitude on a refrigerator....  a couple of weeks ago, we spent the night in Fairplay, CO (elevation 9950').  The old Norcold worked great with no apparent detrimental effect due to altitude, and was kicking out ice cubes as per usual.

The problem with opening the valve too fast sounds perhaps like a regulator malfunctioning.

Actually it is a regulator Functioning correctly.  Many are designed to sense an excess flow and then restrict that flow as a safety feature.  If the gas rushes into and through the regulator too fast it will enact that safety feature.  The fix is to release the pressure on the tank side and then open valve slowly to restet.
Title: Re: Propane stopped serving the refrigerator
Post by: Gary RV_Wizard on August 29, 2012, 07:23:31 AM
The excess flow shut-off function is not part of an LP regulator.  It is built into the tank valve on DOT-approved portable LP bottles. It is NOT present on ASME-approved fixed tanks used in nearly all motorhomes.