Refrigerator question

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DMurNF

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Another newbie question for everyone. We have a 2021 coleman lantern 262bh, I'm new to rv'ing. I've noticed since I bought the unit when I open the freezer there is an ammonia smell. It does not smell in fridge. We have never used the freezer and it hasn't been on yet other than to confirm the gas and electrical work the fridge. I planned to turn it on today in preparation for a trip this weekend. Is this normal for a new unit and if I clean it and leave the door open will it dissipate? Thanks!
 

donn

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Go outside, open the refer access panels and look. If you see a yellowish residue the refer is toast. Take it back to the dealer for a replacement
 

DMurNF

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Go outside, open the refer access panels and look. If you see a yellowish residue the refer is toast. Take it back to the dealer for a replacement
I did, nothing noteworthy and no odor. Looks normal. I opened the freezer and kept it open and it seems to have dissipated. Is it possible the odor was trapped from when they charged it?
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Is it possible the odor was trapped from when they charged it?
No. An RV absorption fridge cooling system is filled at the fridge factory and hermetically sealed. Nor is it rechargeable. It contains a caustic ammonia-based liquid under high pressure.

If that smell was truly ammonia, the fridge is defective and must have the cooling unit entirely replaced. Turn on the fridge and let it cool to operating temperature, about zero on the freeze and 35-38 in the fridge. Put some jugs of water (re-cooled if possible) in the fridge & freezer to help stabilize temperature. That may take 16-24 hours. If you once again smell ammonia, or the fridge fails to reach those temperatures, return it to a dealer and make a warranty claim. You have both a RV factory warranty and a separate fridge warranty.
 

John From Detroit

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There are two or 3 possible sources of an ammonia smell.. ONE means the cooling unit is toast. the others are... to say the least.. RARE...

You might try firing it up and see if it's cold tomorrow. Use thermometers.

But I'm guessing a new cooling unit is in order.
The new cooling unit, Installed, is cheaper than a replacement fridge. The fridge consists of a few modules.
The box.. a Styrofoam box with plastic lining and a metal frame. This generally lasts forever save for the door hinges.

The Cooling unit (It's on the back of the unit
The control board, heat element and burner system
When I replaced my cooling unit we had to replace the heat element (Wire broke off) new Amish Built from RV Cooling Warehouse was great
 

DMurNF

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Easthampton MA
No. An RV absorption fridge cooling system is filled at the fridge factory and hermetically sealed. Nor is it rechargeable. It contains a caustic ammonia-based liquid under high pressure.

If that smell was truly ammonia, the fridge is defective and must have the cooling unit entirely replaced. Turn on the fridge and let it cool to operating temperature, about zero on the freeze and 35-38 in the fridge. Put some jugs of water (re-cooled if possible) in the fridge & freezer to help stabilize temperature. That may take 16-24 hours. If you once again smell ammonia, or the fridge fails to reach those temperatures, return it to a dealer and make a warranty claim. You have both a RV factory warranty and a separate fridge warranty.
There are two or 3 possible sources of an ammonia smell.. ONE means the cooling unit is toast. the others are... to say the least.. RARE...

You might try firing it up and see if it's cold tomorrow. Use thermometers.

But I'm guessing a new cooling unit is in order.
The new cooling unit, Installed, is cheaper than a replacement fridge. The fridge consists of a few modules.
The box.. a Styrofoam box with plastic lining and a metal frame. This generally lasts forever save for the door hinges.

The Cooling unit (It's on the back of the unit
The control board, heat element and burner system
When I replaced my cooling unit we had to replace the heat element (Wire broke off) new Amish Built from RV Cooling Warehouse was great
So I called the dealer and they said since it has never been used and most likely shut since assembly that it needs to be aired out. So I hope the freezer and left it for the day. I no longer smell ammonia and I turned the unit on about 5 hrs ago and it is definitely colder in the fridge and freezer and no ammonia smell. Could they mean the unit isn't bad? Or wishful thinking.
 

8Muddypaws

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I'm thinking it might be rare for a brand new refer to have a leak. More common are the chemical and adhesive smells coming from the walls, cushions etc.
 

John From Detroit

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It is possible what you smelled is not ammonia.. The "NEW never used" rules out one of the rare sources. Ammonia based cleaners (including some multi-surface cleaners) is the other one.
 

DMurNF

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It is possible what you smelled is not ammonia.. The "NEW never used" rules out one of the rare sources. Ammonia based cleaners (including some multi-surface cleaners) is the other one.
It's possible. I mean to me it smelled like ammonia but I'm new to this so it's possible I'm wrong. Its been on for about 17 hours now with no issues. Freezer is cold and the water bottle is solid ice. Fridge is cold as well. No real noticable odor. Maybe a quick faint odor when I open the door but then it's gone. I guess I'll keep an eye on it and when we get back from my trip maybe I'll take it down and have them look at it.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I suspect the odor you smelled originated from some type of plastic, possibly even upholstery or flooring materials that was outgassing and the aroma got trapped in the freezer compartment at some point. Trust me, if the cooling unit is leaking ammonia, the smell doesn't go away. Nor does it typically get inside the fridge - most leaks are outside the box and behind the fridge, so any aroma is outside.
 

DMurNF

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I suspect the odor you smelled originated from some type of plastic, possibly even upholstery or flooring materials that was outgassing and the aroma got trapped in the freezer compartment at some point. Trust me, if the cooling unit is leaking ammonia, the smell doesn't go away. Nor does it typically get inside the fridge - most leaks are outside the box and behind the fridge, so any aroma is outside.
Great, that's good to know. I did take the exterior panel off and check for the yellow powder and finding none there was also no odor at all on the exterior. I appreciate everyone's input. I'm really glad I found this forum so I can ask my "dumb" newbie questions. Saved me alot of stress.
 

SmokerBill

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Washington State
I noticed an ammonia smell in my 2011 Norcold N611 refrigerator one time during the first year I had my trailer (Jayco 26BH). It was a one time thing, and the refrigerator has worked perfectly ever since. And that includes full time use for the last 6 or 7 years.

There were no signs of an ammonia leak when I inspected under the outdoor panel, and no signs of overheating. It's still a puzzle to me.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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An amateur human nose often incorrectly identifies the various smells in the hydrogen gas family of odors. Ammonia, battery gas, a variety of sewage-related stinks, mercaptan (the smell ingredient in propane) and others are often misidentified.

The ammonia-based refrigerant in a fridge is under extreme high pressure, so even a pin hole or tiny crack bleeds a lot. An ammonia leak in an absorption fridge doesn't go away, nor does the fridge work for long if there is one.
 
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