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hobopals

Dometic Refrigerator Problem

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I did a search on the forum, but what I read was too technical for me.

 

I tried to reach Dometic, but they are closed. This is a new trailer; well out twice since March. I left to explore and fridge was fine. No check light on. Cold as it could be--ice cubes hard as rocks. I came back and it was warm with the check light on. I assumed it had switched over to electric when I hooked up. I decided to turn the gas off to see if it just stopped working on electricity. I know the manual says that the auto mode will choose electric over gas. Now both lights are on. I'm going to wait to see if it starts to cool over the next couple of hours. Did I do the right thing by turning the gas off?

 

Any advice/suggestions you can provide will be most appreciated.

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The electric mode is 120V & when you're hooked up for travel you have 12v. Make sure you have propane and if so, turn it back on. If not, go buy some & see if it works then.

Ron

Edited by RonMon

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The check light came back on. I'll turn the propane back on. Thank you. I'm not sure, but it seems like it's a little cooler, but I don't want to open it again for a couple of hours to make sure. I am hooked up to electric. The manual says NOT to keep trying to get it started.

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One problem that can occur after manually turning off the gas valve is it may take a while to bleed before it will re light. Then what happens is when its switched to gas, manual or auto, the gas valve opens and then the HV igniter creates a spark to lite the flame. HOWEVER if there's air in the lines it only tries so many times or so many cycles before it gives up quits trying and the check light comes on. When that happens I just turn the switch off and try again and maybe that time or one or two re boots later it will finally light once the air is bled out..

 

To know if it lights when you switch it to auto (with no power) or gas, I turn the switch on and put my ear up to the fridge outer compartment (or remove it so you can see and hear), there's a delay, and then you hear the gas solenoid valve click open and then listen close and you hear a POOF when it lights and/or you may hear the igniter firing its HV spark snap snap snap then the POOF and you can hear the sound of the burning flame. If you never hear the gas valve open when she's switched to gas it may be a circuit control board or voltage problem, but if the valve opens you should hear the HV snap snap and a POOF when it lights. Some models circuit boards have the HV coil igniter onboard with a wire to the HV sparker/igniter others use a separate re igniter that does the same thing with a wire to the igniter. Those tiny porcelain/ceramic igniters can go bad with a crack or carbon trace so they never spark. Regardless, the gas valve has to open then the igniter spark then you hear the poof and the burning flame.

 

You might look here at Bryants to see if they have your manual if you don't already have one

 

http://bryantrv.com/owners.html

 

Of course gas on, plenty of LP in tank, and if switched to auto it should run on 120 when plugged in but gas if unplugged (or if set to gas).

 

As you know it takes a longggggggggg time to cool down so give her some time and check the freezer for the earliest indication. Try her on gas and look and listen for the gas solenoid valve to open then the HV igniter snap snap snap then a poof if she lights then the soft burning sound (or look inside where the burner is)

 

 

John T

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If you have a remote thermometer toss it in next time you have the door openand you'll be able to keep an eye on the temp without opening the door.

 

We never turned the gas off on our rigs, I'd think you'd not want to either as it is designed to save you from warm food if the AC power goes off.

 

You could try some simple stuff to see if you can get the propane working. Blow out the burner area, look for bits of rust from the chimney or bugs/webs. If you changed propane bottles or switched tanks run a couple stove burners on high until you get a steady flame. Then try starting the fridge on propane again, give it a couple shots to purge any air in the line.

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We always run the following thermostat which comes with (2) remotes; one in the freezer compartment and one in the fridge. The main thermostat comes with a magnet back which lets you mount on any metal surface or it also has a built in stand.

 

https://www.amazon.com/AcuRite-Refrigerator-Freezer-Wireless-Thermometer/dp/B004QJVU78/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1472909084&sr=8-2&keywords=acurite+thermometer

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I don't know what happened when I was gone yesterday. I had both electric and gas on. I'm happy to say that all is well and it's very cold this morning. I'm going to get one of those remote thermometer. Thank you all for responding to my panic plea. You never fail me and I appreciate you very much. You have no idea what a comfort it is to be traveling alone, yet know there are people willing to help when something goes wrong.

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Dometic makes a lot of different refrigerators so it is important to know what model yours is? The check light alone only tells us that something went wrong, but it may not still be wrong. Keep in mind that the refrigerator controls are powered by 12V-dc and if that were the problem it would not matter what was supplying energy for the cooling. Cooling in an absorption refrigerator is done by applying heat to a boiler full of refrigerant which then rises by convection flow and then slowly returns to the boiler by passing through first the freezer coils and then through the coils in the chill box and on back to the boiler again, where the process begins all over. The cooling for the chill area comes from the excess capacity for heat absorption of the refrigerant that leaves the freezer.

 

The only thing which is done by the 120v or the propane flame is the heating of the boiler to convert the liquid refrigerant into a vapor to rise out of the boiler. In all cases, the entire control system is powered by 12v-dc and it operates in exactly the same way from either energy source. Your symptom leaves me wondering if the problem could be on the 12v side. If you read your owner's manual carefully, it probably has some error codes that you can read to narrow the problem, as long as the check light is on. If you will share what model you have, I'll be happy to see if I have access to a service manual for it but the error codes should be in the owners manual as well.

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Just to close this subject. I thought the fridge was fixed almost two weeks ago, but it wasn't. Since I last wrote, I had my propane tanks purged, and one filled. The fridge lost all cooling when traveling. I haven't been able to keep any food in it. At first light this morning, after thinking about it during the night, I decided to take the back off the fridge and look, again. I remembered that one of the mobile RV "fixit" guys that had come to my home to fix the slide had been doing something back by the fridge vent or whatever it is. I took the door off and there was a plug hanging. I found the receptacle and decided to plug it in. So far no check light has come on. Crossing my fingers once again.

 

If I've done something wrong and ruined it, I'll return home so that Forest River can cover another warrantee problem. Thank you, again, to always be willing to suggest fixes to problems.

Edited by hobopals

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We have become very tired of the RV refrigerators Dometic and Norcold! Our Dometic has been a pain an a concern since we bought our 5'ver(2012 model). Mobile RV service this past week quoted $1600.00 for new cooling unit part! Told Dometic this is the last one we will own. With that; went to Lowe's got a 18 cubic ft refer for $468.00 on sale and going to have it installed. If need be will run generator from time to time going down the road, but we don't travel many hours at a time anymore(4 hrs is max) and the new refer units hold the cold in reasonably well. Just no long term boondocking for us

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I feel your pain, I have been "dealing" with my Norcold. There was a recall on my unit and it has been one thing after another with this recall. First I took it in and had to wait a few weeks for the parts to get here. When the dealer was finished they didnt put it all back together. It was like they said "hey the circuit boards are in, we're done" When i got home nothing worked, I was very unhappy. I ended up taking it back in so they could finish what they started. After getting it home a week later for the second time, still nothing worked. Not on A/C or Gas! what a $h1t show! I have become very familiar with this fridge and there isnt a lot to them. I have come to the conclusion that the interface board they installed is bad, but they wont replace it because its "new" I am getting a replacement for it from amazon today. We'll see how that goes.

 

I dont think these dealer service centers really worry too much about their tech's ability or knowledge, especially camping world. I will forever avoid them like the plague!

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Finally figured out why the fridge wouldnt cool. Evidently when the "authorized service tech" installed the new eyebrow there was a short (physically too short) wire so he put a crimp on style spade connector and slid the fridge back in. Well it came unplugged or maybe not plugged in at all.

 

I had a time finding that wire, after I checked all the connections on the back of the eyebrow switch for power, and checked the plug to the Interface board, I thought what if I gently pull on the this one that goes to the switch? The whole thing came out! I was relieved that I found the problem. Took a while, but I was getting ready to start over, with a match!

 

I soldered the new connections, no more pulling apart!

 

Everything works as it should now, very strong flame on gas, the check light works, and A/C

 

IMAG0993_zpskrr7olbe.jpg

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I have a similar problem with my Dometic RM2554 refrigerator in my Roadtrek. It works fine on electric and 12V, but will not come on or stay on with propane. It tries several times and then the "check" light comes on.  I took it to an RV service place and they cleaned out the line and were able to get it running and stay running while it was there.  I drove it home, about 2-1/2 hours with it still running and then shut it off when I got home.  Since then I had my propane tank refilled - it was about half empty - and tonight I tried to run it again in propane because I am leaving on a trip tomorrow, but it won't come on.  It clicks several times and then stops.  I turned it off and on several times with no change.  I also lit the stove burner and that works fine.  Now I have it hooked up to electric from my house, so it will cool down.  Any thoughts on what might be causing this problem?  Thanks for any help.

 

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13 hours ago, Susieq said:

I have a similar problem with my Dometic RM2554 refrigerator in my Roadtrek.

First, welcome to the Escapee forums! We are happy to have you here and we are here to help.

Can you tell if the spark is being generated to light the gas? You should be able to hear it. I would leave the stove top burning for at least 5 minutes, just to be sure it isn't an air in the gas line problem. You could also test the water heater to see if it lights. If those work then it is probably in the refrigerator burner. You may want to use a vacuum to suck out any debris from the burner area as that could cause the problem. It may be that the burner flue is in need of cleaning, which requires removal of the top vent on the refrigerator and cleaning from above. 

Edited by Kirk Wood

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Or it could be like what happened to one of mine. The burner itself had rusted and where the propane/air mixture came out and caused a hard light problem. I pulled the burner and cleaned it. Worked great again.

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Well, the propane is now working and I am keeping my fingers crossed.  This morning I shut the propane off then turned it back on slowly, as suggested.  I switched from electric to propane and it has been on ever since.  Thanks for the quick responses and suggestions.  I had tried most of them before without luck, and I still think there might be a problem with the igniter, so I will probably stop someplace along the way to have it checked out.  Thanks again!

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9 hours ago, Susieq said:

I still think there might be a problem with the igniter,

Do keep us posted as you discover the final result. I suspect that the key to the problem was the filling of the propane supply as that has happened to many of us in the past. What I'd suggest is that you watch it closely when shifting from electric to propane for a few days just to be sure. It is very difficult for a tech to know for sure about a problem which is intermittent and chances are they won't be able to tell much if you stop when all is working properly. If your refrigerator has cooled properly on 120v power, it will stay cool all day even if the propane should fail to ignite, so that will give you a chance to test it for several days to be sure. 

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It's still going strong.  Last night I was at a state park with electric, so I switched to that and then it automatically went back to propane this morning, no problem.  As long as it keeps working, I will just leave it alone.  Thanks again to all the good advice and for just being there.

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I was out in the driveway looking and learning again today. My fridge works great on 120v but not on propane.  So here are the specifics.

I did all the button presses like the manual said, that being I turned the on/off to off. I then turned the auto switch to where it was "out". I made triple sure the propane valve was open and the switch ti allow propane to get into the coach was on, tested by lighting burners on the stove. I have 1/2 tank of propane.

Back to the fridge. Know that is is dead silent in that RV. With the auto switch disengaged,  I pressed the on/off. In about 8 second, maybe 10, I heard a relay engage, which I assume was the unit saying "Okay. Time to use gas now for a while." I timed out the 45 seconds the manual said it might take to purge air from the lines. No more sounds, no gas light on the fridge. I repeated the process. Same thing. I heard a relay engage, waiting this time 60 seconds, still no gas light. I did that 5 times in total. The gas light never came on, though neither did the "Danger! Danger!" light come on. I will revisit this tomorrow, though apparently something is going on that I get no ignition, and I am far too new to this to have any idea about what to take out and clean or anything. I looked for some sort of purge valve to let the air bleed out but saw nothing. My fridge is I believe a 2582, though the concept of the propane igniting should be fairly universal.

Any suggestions? Tips? Tricks?

Edited by eddie1261

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Hi Eddie - I have been meaning to get back on here to tell everyone what was causing my problem and how it was finally resolved.  I needed new house batteries, so had 2 new 6V batteries installed while I was in Illinois, on my way to view the eclipse.  The batteries were old and I had neglected to water them, not realizing that they are like house plants!  The propane would work when I first started out and while I was driving, but not when I was parked without electric.  Evidently, it needs a certain amount of energy to ignite, and the batteries were not providing enough to re-light it each time it cycled off and tried to come back on.  I mentioned my problem to a man at one of the RV parks that I stayed in overnight, and he diagnosed the issue because it had happened to him many years ago.  Now all is fine.  I just have to remember to check the water level in the batteries periodically and add distilled water as needed.  I hope this information helps and that your problem is as simple as this!

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I will check that out but while dealing with a battery issue over the 10 days or so I read my voltage and  they were at 13.46. What I will do tomorrow is run the generator for a little while to cap them off if they have come down any and hope that it fixes this. The house batteries are only year old Interstates (purchased by the previous owner) and they should be okay. Always a good thing to check though to make sure that 12v side is up to par. Thanks.

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This can be several things.  It can be low battery voltage as suggested.  

It can be a bad igniter.  When you turn the fridge to propane and wait, do you hear a clicking sound coming from the back of the refrigerator?  If you don't, you should.  This sound is the igniter trying to lite the LP gas coming from the orifice.  There are some simple electrical connections going to the igniter that can be checked to make sure they are still good.

It can be a bad air fuel mixture.  The orifice where the fuel and igniter interact (the exact name of it currently escapes me) needs to be set properly to allow the correct air/fuel ratio.  If the igniter is clicking, I would check this.

It can be the flue.  If the flue above the flame is blocked it also will not allow the flame to stay lit.

These would be the next things I would check.  There is a website that has most of the manuals for RV refrigerators archived online.  It is here:  http://bryantrv.com/docs.html

Locate the manual for your refrigerator and go through the trouble shooting guide (although as I reread your post you said you were following the manual).  There still may be some documentation that may help you here.

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I should add that I bought this used RV on July 10th, and it had just been traded in on June 20th. I tracked down the previous owner and he told me everything worked fine when he traded it in, so unless something went to hell in those 30 days, I don't know that I should be needing to pull stuff out, clean anything, etc... I am either doing something wrong or it is a low battery issue. I will put a VOM on the battery in the morning.

I actually kind of enjoy this kind of thing, because this is teaching me more than just turning it on and having it work. I mean nobody told me that there was a switch on a panel that turned the propane flow on to the coach. I thought just the value being open or closed meant the gas was on or not. But I found out that I need to turn it on and see a little green light blinking and then I was able to light my burners.

What stinks for me is that if the house batteries need water, they are a pain in the butt to get at for me and my ham hock sized hands. There is some weird vertical bracket to take out and then the batteries can move. The outer once I can get to easily, Getting at the inner one will require my pulling the cables off the outer one, lifting it out, pulling the inner one toward me and checking it, all while making sure that the cables that make the parallel connection from inner to outer don't touch anything metal. The last time I did any wrenching was 45 years ago in the Army. I remember WHAT to do pretty much, but I am not as physically able to do stuff like I used to be. I will need help lifting that 86 pound battery. And I have nobody to help me. But I'll get through it somehow! 

You guys have given me a path to investigate and I think it may be the step I need to take.

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10 hours ago, Susieq said:

 Evidently, it needs a certain amount of energy to ignite, and the batteries were not providing enough to re-light it each time it cycled off and tried to come back on.

In your RV refrigerator, the controls for temperature and for power source get power to operate from the 12V system at all times. With no 12V power, the refrigerator will not work on either 120V shore power or from propane. If you think of it, the refrigerator has an automatic selection between 120V and propane so something else has to supply the ability to make that choice and that something is your 12V power. You can get 12V power from your converter when connected to shore power, from the engine's alternator when driving, or from the house battery when parked without electricity. 

10 hours ago, eddie1261 said:

My fridge works great on 120v but not on propane.  So here are the specifics.

Most RV refrigerators have the ability to select what power source they use with choices of electric, propane, & automatic. If you have those I suggest that you start by selecting propane while you are connected to shore power. If the propane works while on shore power but does not work without it, that makes the batteries suspect but a volt meter will help to determine for sure. Another thing that you could do to test both the 12V power and the propane supply is to see if you can get your furnace to light and the water heater to operate. Each one of those uses 12V power to operate the controls and propane for a heating source. If those work, then your problem is not from either the propane source or the 12V power but it must be in the refrigerator. There is a very small possibility that one of those could have a problem near the refrigerator that doesn't affect the other appliances, but that is highly unlikely. 

10 hours ago, eddie1261 said:

I will check that out but while dealing with a battery issue over the 10 days or so I read my voltage and  they were at 13.46.

Your appliances should all be able to operate just fine with a voltage as low as 10.5-11V.

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