broken fridge

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garyjessica

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I turned our fridge on when the rv was way out of level.  What should I do next.  It will not cool.  Thanks
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Was it cooling OK when off-level but then did not work the next time you turned it on?  If so, I'm inclined to think there may be a different problem than off-level operation. Hard to say, though. 

Some further info would help.  (1)  How far off-level and for how long?  Periods of off-level operation typically reduce cooling efficiency but it usually take quite a while to totally stop cooling.  (2) What make of refrigerator and what year?  Newer fridges can withstand off-level operation much better than older models.

Does the fridge gurgle or make any noises?  Any smell (like ammonia) inside or out?  Same problem whether in gas or electric mode?

One classis solution is to take the fridge out and turn it upside down for several hours, then right it again.  IF the problem is a vapor lock somewhere in the refrigerent tubing, this may break it loose. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It's a lot of work, though.  But if the problem is a build-up of scale over the heating element, the "upside down" trick probably won't do anything for it.
 

Jim Dick

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garyjessica said:
I turned our fridge on when the rv was way out of level.  What should I do next.  It will not cool.  Thanks

Is the coach level now? How long has it been on? Sometimes they take a long time to cool down though they should be getting cold in a few hours. Did you smell ammonia in the coach? If so, the cooling unit is shot. If not, it could be the board or bad thermistor which senses the temp in the refer. Lots of things can go wrong.

One way to check the cooling unit, IF YOU KNOW ELECTRICITY, is to connect the AC heaters directly to the outlet. If the cooling unit is good the temp will head towards freezing in the whole refer. There are leads going to the heating element from the control board. I wouldn't recommend doing this unless you are familiar with electrical stuff.

 

RVWizard

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Did you remove the outside vent cover and invetigate if there was any heat on the boiler of the cooling unit? If so you do not have a control problem but a cooling unit problem. If you have not already, turn the unit off, level the coach and let the cooling unit cool down. How long did you have the refrigerator on while not level? The longer you "cook" the sodium chromate (corrosion inhibitor) the worse the situation. What happens is that this compound will crystalize into flakes and these will block up ports that are in the cooling unit stopping the flow of the refirgerant. This is why we level the coaches; it is so the refrigerator will operate properly without damaging it. The rest, (although it may not be comfortable) of the systems will work on an unlevel condition.
You may get lucky and the unit may come back to life if you can clear the blockage for a period of time. Eventually if you have crystalized much of the sodium chromate the blockage will return. There was an old trip to dislodge this restirction and that was to "burp" or "Roll" the refrigerator from upright to on it's side for awhile and then upside down and so forth. This may dislodge the flaked chromate and it could start to work again but no one can say for how long before the flakes block it up again. Sodium chromate once crystalized will not disolve on it own; the damage is permanant.
If this is the only cause of it not performing as it should, it may work again. If however, the unit has a leak it will not and the only fix is to replace the cooling unit or the entire refrigerator.
 

fredethomas

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If you troubleshoot to the point that the only thing you think is a blockage - before taking the unit out to "roll it over" try driving up and down a place where the RV will rock forward and back - the drive on and off an area that rocks it side to side.

Look at the burner and see if it is clean and ignites.  If it does not unscrew the jet and clean it with a swab and alcohol.  Do not use anything sharp that might scratch the ruby orifice.  Try the unit on electric.  Check that the gas pressure is at spec's.  Look for yellow powder.
 

Blues Chaser

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Hi, folks.  Am I to understand that the ammonia smell means the fridge is completely shot?  I just pulled my unit out of storage and almost keeled over when I, opened the fridge.
 

Woody

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Blues Chaser said:
Hi, folks.? Am I to understand that the ammonia smell means the fridge is completely shot?? I just pulled my unit out of storage and almost keeled over when I, opened the fridge.

Yep, its shot.

Woody
 

Betty Brewer

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Blues Chaser said:
Hi, folks.? Am I to understand that the ammonia smell means the fridge is completely shot?? I just pulled my unit out of storage and almost keeled over when I, opened the fridge.

If it is a Dometic, I'd order the new cooling unit ASAP as it took them 3 weeks to get one to our service center.  We live full time in our motorhome and it was VERY inconvenient to be without  frig for a month. The cooling units come from Sweden and are not packaged well.  Our first unit came damaged and was sent back but no one ordered another one.  We were not happy campers.  Hope your fix works more quickly than ours.  Lesson learned ... call the service center every day.

Betty
 

Blues Chaser

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I accept Woody's verdict and Betty's advice.  But I'm curious - it was working the day I buttoned the rv up last fall.  I turned everything off, winterized according to the manual and left her in outside storage. Any thoughts on why the fridge gave up the ghost?  To the best of my knowledge its the original in a '91 Itasca.  Thanks as always.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Quite possibly one of the tubes simply rusted through, either from the outside or from internal corrosion. 15 years is probably an average (or better)  life for one of those units and newer ones seem to be even less.

If you defrosted it when you shut it down, it may have failed then.
 

Blues Chaser

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I removed and interred the dead Domectic.  Is there anything new in the RV frdge world I should know about, or do I just buy an exact replacement?
 

Jeff

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The greatest improvement is larger sizes but replacing your frig with the same model will simplify installation.
 

Blues Chaser

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Thanks, Jeff.  I agree and found a good deal on price and shipping for the same model.  Removing the old one from its cabinet was easy, but I had to break it up a bit to get it out the Itasca's door.  I'm curious as to how I'm going to get the new one in, its about an inch too big according to the specs.  Might be fun.
 

Ron

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It is not uncommon to take the old fridge out and the new in through a window. This will require removing the whole window assembly.  Usually at least one of the windows in the living area will be large enough.

 

Blues Chaser

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Ron - the new fridge arrived.  I stripped it down as best I could, but its still a hard half inch too big for door and for the opening of the sliding  half the living space window.  I can't see how to remove the center post and fixed window side.  Do you mean the WHOLE assembly, as in breaking the seal on the outside of the unit.  I feel like the guy in the commercial whose doctor tries to get him to do his own surgery.  I don't think I'm up to that unless there's somethging I'm missing.
 

Betty Brewer

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Blues Chaser said:
Ron - the new fridge arrived.? I stripped it down as best I could, but its still a hard half inch too big for door and for the opening of the sliding? half the living space window.? I can't see how to remove the center post and fixed window side.? Do you mean the WHOLE assembly, as in breaking the seal on the outside of the unit.? I feel like the guy in the commercial whose doctor tries to get him to do his own surgery.? I don't think I'm up to that unless there's something I'm missing.

Yes, you do have to remove the WHOLE window assembly or have you considered taking it in through the front win-shield?  Many times the windshield  is the only way to install.  We have  have had ours done twice through a side window but it was under warranty so it was done by a "professional."  Not sure I'd like to do it on my own. My husband thiinks RV refrigerators are the biggest piece of c**p made in the motorhome. The local RV repair place here in Yuma replaces 9 refrigerators a month and he is only one of many dealers in town.

Betty Brewer
 

John From Detroit

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Before you bust out tools and remove windows......

Is one of the living room windows an emergency exit? 

If so you may be able to trip the emergency latch and really open the window

(My coach has two sliding windows that can be fully opened (Hinged up instead of slid) in an emergency or to put something in/out of the coach that won't easily go through doors)
 

Ron

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Yep the whole window assembly has to be removed make sure it will fit the opening after the whole window assembly is removed.  Otherwise in might be the windshield.  On our coach one set of windows are larger then the others so I would use the largest.

 
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