Dometic fridge ammonia leak

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praxis

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Joined
Jul 31, 2021
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Tacoma
Purchased a new Forest River Evo 2160 RB in August of 2020 and went RVing for the month. All worked very well. During the winter we kept a heater in it. Now July 2021 getting ready to camp, putting gear in RV over past few days, but all of a sudden yesterday (Fri) noticed strong ammonia smell! Thought must be neighbors vigorously cleaning...this morning (Sat) at 10:00 we opened the Dometic 2872 refrigerator & freezer and vast amount of ammonia gas leaked out causing eyes & throat to burn!! Called local RV repair shop and they said to put a fan in it and air it out. It’s been 10 hrs now, still strong ammonia smell, skin is tingling! In interim, appointment w RV repair in 5 days. Definitely do not want ammonia as the refrigerant!! Extremely dangerous!!! I can only imagine there must be several law suits happening!! And I thank God we hadn’t already started camping at the mountain!!
 

Great Horned Owl

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Feb 10, 2012
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Lake County, Illinois
At the time, I was doing a lot of drafting work too in school, and using blueprint machines that used ammonia as a developer. I remember the students sneaking up and putting that bottle under our noses, so I was sympathetic. That stuff will really make you light headed!
That reminds me that ammonia will attack the printed circuit boards in electronic equipment.

Many years ago, the engineering department that I worked in, had a blueprint machine. I was located in a room where we also kept a lot of lesser used test equipment. It took a while to figure out why that equipment had such an unusually high failure rate, with corroded pc boards.

If you have an internal ammonia leak, you should pull as many of your pc boards as you can get to. If you can, run them through a dishwasher cycle. If not, wash them with detergent and water. Make sure that they are completely dry, before putting them back in service.

Joel
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Feb 2, 2005
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At our Silver Springs FL home
If you don't want an absorption (ammonia coolant) fridge, your alternative is a residential type (electric-powered compressor). That requires a somewhat larger battery bank and an inverter, but quite a few RVs have them. There may be a compressor-conversion kit available for your fridge model too - a company called JC Refrigeration makes them.

Massive ammonia leaks like yours are rare - it's typically just a gradual loss to the outside. Did you possibly poke a hole in the cooling fins or freezer wall?
 

praxis

New member
Joined
Jul 31, 2021
Posts
4
Location
Tacoma
That reminds me that ammonia will attack the printed circuit boards in electronic equipment.

Many years ago, the engineering department that I worked in, had a blueprint machine. I was located in a room where we also kept a lot of lesser used test equipment. It took a while to figure out why that equipment had such an unusually high failure rate, with corroded pc boards.

If you have an internal ammonia leak, you should pull as many of your pc boards as you can get to. If you can, run them through a dishwasher cycle. If not, wash them with detergent and water. Make sure that they are completely dry, before putting them back in service.

Joel
Thank you for the insight!
 

praxis

New member
Joined
Jul 31, 2021
Posts
4
Location
Tacoma
If you don't want an absorption (ammonia coolant) fridge, your alternative is a residential type (electric-powered compressor). That requires a somewhat larger battery bank and an inverter, but quite a few RVs have them. There may be a compressor-conversion kit available for your fridge model too - a company called JC Refrigeration makes them.

Massive ammonia leaks like yours are rare - it's typically just a gradual loss to the outside. Did you possibly poke a hole in the cooling fins or freezer wall?
Hi Gary no holes poked, refrigeratir has been kept like new, used it for one month last summer. Not sure how rare rare is...is that on average 1 gas leak in every 500 units, 1 in every 1000...if you’re that 1...it can change your whole life within a very short time frame! Thankfully we were not sleeping in the RV when leak occurred!! Will look into JC Refrigeration. Thanks
 

praxis

New member
Joined
Jul 31, 2021
Posts
4
Location
Tacoma
Purchased a new Forest River Evo 2160 RB in August of 2020 and went RVing for the month. All worked very well. During the winter we kept a heater in it. Now July 2021 getting ready to camp, putting gear in RV over past few days, but all of a sudden yesterday (Fri) noticed strong ammonia smell! Thought must be neighbors vigorously cleaning...this morning (Sat) at 10:00 we opened the Dometic 2872 refrigerator & freezer and vast amount of ammonia gas leaked out causing eyes & throat to burn!! Called local RV repair shop and they said to put a fan in it and air it out. It’s been 10 hrs now, still strong ammonia smell, skin is tingling! In interim, appointment w RV repair in 5 days. Definitely do not want ammonia as the refrigerant!! Extremely dangerous!!! I can only imagine there must be several law suits happening!! And I thank God we hadn’t already started camping at the mountain!!
Started venting the RV on Saturday w fan and windows open. Also CLOSED the refrigerator doors! Finally today, two days later, not smelling the ammonia gas!
 
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