Refrigerator

The friendliest place on the web for anyone with an RV or an interest in RVing!
If you have answers, please help by responding to the unanswered posts.

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
Hello RV community! Have a question about our dometic RV refrigerator that is going crazy at the moment.

Our family had arrived in Tennessee early on Thursday and noticed that our refrigerator which we had put on electric was not cooling anything. What was happening was that the electric would just shut off and the entire frigerator would shut off. I looked around on YouTube and took a look at the fuse panel inside which did not have any blown fuses, and then I went to the outside and removed the back panel off of the refrigerator and the fuse Box in the back did not have any blown fuses as well. I unplugged our 120 V cord from the refrigerator and tried to see if there was a short in the electrical outlet.

I tested the circuit and we did have power. I switched it from electric to propane and the propane did go on without any problems and did stay on. In the morning we noticed that the refrigerator was not getting cool nor was the freezer so unfortunately we had somebody come out who was local and take a look at it for us. Now I am a typical Di y'er and did the best I could to troubleshoot and I even got the thermal coupler reset switch pushed which actually did restart the electric, however it automatically shuts off from electric after about 10 minutes. When we switch it's a propane it does stay on and the boiler does seem to get hot from the back however it is just not cooling either way from gas or electric. The guy we had come out said that it is possible that it was the Heating element so before I decided to buy the part I wanted to make sure and see if anybody else was having a similar issue because the guy said he checked for continuity , and
he checked all of the appropriate wiring and it seemed like everything was working OK.

So in conclusion each time that we reset the thermal coupler button the refrigerator does go back on and we can turn it on either electric or propane. If it's staying on electric then after about 10 minutes it shuts off altogether. Running it on propane we don't seem to have an issue with the flame starting because I can see it and throughout our trip to Florida it had been on the entire time however the refrigerator just is not cooling either way. I have checked the thermister, it is in the upward position on the cold part in the refrigerator and it seems to be working OK because prior to Thursday we had no issues with the frigerator.

What we don't know is that if there is anything else that could be wrong with it before we end up taking it in to our dealer but since we are still in Florida I'm just trying to troubleshoot as much as possible to save some money.
 

JayArr

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2020
Posts
1,421
Location
Mission British Columbia Canada
If it's not cooling on propane then the heating element may be a waste of money. It's not used when in propane mode so if it was the only problem I would expect the fridge to get cold when on propane.

That's not to say that you don't have two problems but I would get it working on propane first and then see if the electric comes back into operation.

Model of fridge from inside label will help and year of trailer would be useful information.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
3,382
Location
Full-time , Escapee
Since the boiler is getting hot but no cooling, that sounds like it is probably the cooling unit has failed. I really don't understand why your tech suspected the heating element as a problem since it doesn't work in either electric or propane mode. If the tech were qualified, it is very easy to check the heating element with an ohm meter (the service manual for the make/model of refrigerator will give the resistance it should be) and using the volt scales it is also pretty easy to check the power to the fuse and the element. This leaves me suspicious of the qualifications of the tech you had look at it. Both Dometic and Norcold refrigerators typically have 1 fuse for the 12V supply, usually 3a and another for the 120V to the heating element, usually 5a. In either brand the 12V must work for the refrigerator to operate in any mode because it supplies power to all of the control circuitry. In all RV refrigerators that I'm familiar with the thermistor can be easily checked with an ohm meter and the service manual tells how to check it and what the value should be.
So in conclusion each time that we reset the thermal coupler button the refrigerator does go back on and we can turn it on either electric or propane.
I don't know what you refer to as a thermal coupler? I have worked on many different RV refrigerators and this is a term that I have no knowledge of. Modern RV refrigerators use a thermistor to measure the inside temperature and to control the amount of cooling, but those have no reset as they are a solid state device. Are you moving it's location, or.............. ?
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
If it's not cooling on propane then the heating element may be a waste of money. It's not used when in propane mode so if it was the only problem I would expect the fridge to get cold when on propane.

That's not to say that you don't have two problems but I would get it working on propane first and then see if the electric comes back into operation.

Model of fridge from inside label will help and year of trailer would be useful information.
Yes, sorry that would help. We have a 2016 Apex by Coachman. It us a 28 foot BH.

Our fridge is a 2015 dometic model # 2652 RBX.
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
Since the boiler is getting hot but no cooling, that sounds like it is probably the cooling unit has failed. I really don't understand why your tech suspected the heating element as a problem since it doesn't work in either electric or propane mode. If the tech were qualified, it is very easy to check the heating element with an ohm meter (the service manual for the make/model of refrigerator will give the resistance it should be) and using the volt scales it is also pretty easy to check the power to the fuse and the element. This leaves me suspicious of the qualifications of the tech you had look at it. Both Dometic and Norcold refrigerators typically have 1 fuse for the 12V supply, usually 3a and another for the 120V to the heating element, usually 5a. In either brand the 12V must work for the refrigerator to operate in any mode because it supplies power to all of the control circuitry. In all RV refrigerators that I'm familiar with the thermistor can be easily checked with an ohm meter and the service manual tells how to check it and what the value should be.

I don't know what you refer to as a thermal coupler? I have worked on many different RV refrigerators and this is a term that I have no knowledge of. Modern RV refrigerators use a thermistor to measure the inside temperature and to control the amount of cooling, but those have no reset as they are a solid state device. Are you moving it's location, or.............. ?
Hello, thanks for helping. I a tally was going off what was labeled on the wire for the "coupler" term. When I went back and checked the online manual, the reset switch which ibwas referring to was the thermal switch to the exhaust fan. Has two red wires that feed to the unit that has the push switch which does click and reset and start the unit.

In terms of our tech, since we were not local to Tennessee, the RV park gave us a list of people they've already dealt with. We did check reviews and the one we choose had good ones from many different people.

You are right in which we do not know his full credentialed work history, however we had to have someone look before our final trip to Florida. It is unfortunate that by the time we realized the LP did not cool either, he left town for another call, and we were leaving in just a few hours. It's been a nightmare for us.

I plan on buying a multimeter while down here to see myself if I can test some things. I do not have a great deal of experience with fridges or electrical components, but I feel confident enough to give it a try from what I am hearing.

If indeed the cooling unit it has failed, is there any way to test specifically for that?
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
How long are you letting it run on propane before concluding it’s not getting cold? These things take a long time to get cold from a warm startup and in a warm ambient temperature.
We ran it all day, which was greater then 6 hours. Also we let it run the 7.5 hours on our trip to Florida yesterday.

It felt exactly the same temp inside. Typically when we get to whatever campground, we put it on electric and overnight it is fully cold.
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
Welcome to the forum.
Just a tip. Anything you put in the fridge try to have it cold already. If things are going in the freezer try to put in pre-frozen food especially if you are just starting up the fridge.
Hey Rene T...thanks for the tip. Yes, my wife always has things super cold from our wonderful Yeti cooler being transferred to the fridge.
 

HikerBob

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 26, 2021
Posts
84
Location
Hartland mi
We have problems with our refrigerator also. Sometimes you just have to shut it off for a while. In the off position. And also sometimes we have to jiggle it to make sure it's making contact with the buttons.
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
We actually have left it off several hours yesterday after I decided the LP was not cooling. I figured I would give it one more try, and still nothing.

I can go back out and make sure all wores and buttons are making contact. Thanks for the tip.
We have problems with our refrigerator also. Sometimes you just have to shut it off for a while. In the off position. And also sometimes we have to jiggle it to make sure it's making contact with the buttons.
 

JayArr

Well-known member
Joined
Jun 13, 2020
Posts
1,421
Location
Mission British Columbia Canada
Put it on Elect and then go in the back and see if the pipes are getting warm. If they are then the element is working.

It's starting to sound like the cooling unit has become plugged inside. It can be replaced but it's not easy - you have to pull the fridge. It's also not cheap but it's still half the price of a new one. If you always have shore power or a good battery system you could pull it and put in a small household fridge, like for a dorm room. Lots of people do that. If you like to boondock and want to keep the propane operation you can exchange the cooling unit at several places including

RV Cooling Unit Warehouse


I got one from them last year and it works great. I was able to replace the whole thing in one day, pull the fridge, exchange the cooling unit and replace the fridge. No special AC tools require.
 

Ray-IN

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 16, 2014
Posts
925
Location
North America-somewhere
We ran it all day, which was greater then 6 hours. Also we let it run the 7.5 hours on our trip to Florida yesterday.

It felt exactly the same temp inside. Typically when we get to whatever campground, we put it on electric and overnight it is fully cold.
Are you telling us it now works OK on 120VAC?
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
Are you telling us it now works OK on 120VAC?
What I am saying is that it always turned on with the 120 volt on electric, and then would just shut down after 15 min. The LP does always light, and the boiler does get hot, however it does not cool.

What is interesting to me and I keep spinning my wheels on, is that the only time it shuts down, is when we flip to electric. LP continues to work and the fridge has power. The only commonality between both, is that they all fail to even cool whatsoever.
 

Kirk

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 30, 2005
Posts
3,382
Location
Full-time , Escapee

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
If the boiler gets HOT and the fridge does not cool my bet would be on a bad cooling unit.
These folks are in Indiana
Thank you very much. Are you aware if there is any specific way to test the cooling system beyond what I have been mentioning in our situation?
 

John From Detroit

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 12, 2005
Posts
26,472
Location
Davison Michigan
So in conclusion each time that we reset the thermal coupler button the refrigerator does go back on and we can turn it on either electric or propane

Ok sounds like the Flu (Chimmney like tube) is clogged likely with an insect or bird nest..
HOW TO CLEAN.. Good question. It is described in the fine manual and in a book or two I've read but I never figured it out.
 

Cak family

Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2022
Posts
15
Location
Indiana
Ok sounds like the Flu (Chimmney like tube) is clogged likely with an insect or bird nest..
HOW TO CLEAN.. Good question. It is described in the fine manual and in a book or two I've read but I never figured it out.
Good point. I was planning to look at that this week, and blowing with some light compressed air. Another camper said they did that.

Thank you!
 
Top Bottom