A little over a year ago I saw the remains of a burned out motorhome caused by a Norcold refrigerator. I have a Norcold 1200 that had the recall done in Oct 2010 and I was searching the internet to see if this last recall has been effective in stopping the fires. What I found out is that the fires continue. So what can I do to detect the problem before a fire, suppress a fire if started, or replace the cooling unit or entire fridge? My goal with this thread is to relay some info I've garnered.
I spent an hour on the phone with the lawyer that represents a couple from Northern CA, whose Norcold caught fire in the middle of the night, burned the rv, which was next to their house that caught fire. The husband that was seriously injured trying to save his Harley Davidson in the garage.
In court depositions this lawyer has interviewed Norcold engineers & management and was given copies of quality records of reported customer rv fires. Since 1999, over 2000 customer complaints of fires. And he said Norcold continues to use the same design in the burner where the tubing wall thickness is too thin and develops cracks over time which leaks out the highly combustible ammonia and hydrogen gas.
Additionally he said, Norcold continues to install recall ineffective kits which detect high temps, that is too little too late. The rv fires keep on happening (even with the latest recall). He said a more effective way to prevent a fire is to detect abnormally high pressure and shut down the fridge and set an alarm before the temps get too high. Of course the best recall would be to replace the burner tubing with a more robust design, but that would be very costly.
He said there are two tell-tale signs of a cooling system leak, besides the acrid smell of ammonia. One is to look for a yellowish white powder residue around/under the burner area. The other is to listen for a gurgling sound when the Norcold is running.
I hope this helps folks understand the issues related to a very serious fire potential.