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Jimongee

Domestic refrigerator problem. Help!

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I have a 2006 Montana 5th wheel.  I just took I out of storage.  When I attempted. To get the Dometic refrigerator going I found that the upper freezer would quickly cool to 21F.  But the lower refrigerator compartment had absolutely no cooling. I confirmed the gas heater was fully functioning. It presents the same. Problem on AC or gas.  Ithe RV is totally level.  The condenser fins are totally free of debris. I'm stumped. If you can help I appreciate it we are expecting to depart on a cros country 3 month trip as soon as I resolve this project blemish. 

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Welcome to the Escapee forums. Sorry that your refrigator pushed you here but we will do all we can to help.

Your symptoms sound like a loss of refrigerant problem and your refrigerator being 13 years old, it is a strong possibility. Open the outside access cover and look for any signs of yellow residue of any kind or any odor of amonia. Either of those will indicate a leak from the cooling unit. In addition, make sure that the air path for venting the air through the refrigerator is all cleal and not obstructed, especially up near the top outlet. You can boost the heat removal process by placing a small fan where it will blow into the lower opening and thus increase the air flow through the refrigerator and see if that helps.

While the refrigerator takes several hours for cooling to reach normal operating levels in the interior for the refrigerator, I suspect that you already know that and have had it on for some time?  We might be able to help a little bit more if you tell us what model your Dometic is.

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I have a vague memory of something on a fin that moves up and down to determine how much cooling goes to the fridge vs. the freezer. Hopefully, someone with less vague knowledge of this will speak up here.

Linda

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The absorption refrigerators only have one coil, the freezer section cold plate is attached to most of the coil and the lower part uses only the last section and the control to shut down the coiling is on the end of the lower section cold plate. If the unit is cooling at all the controls are working whether it's on electric or gas. After the unit is started and left overnight and it's not cooling properly and everything is clean the unit either has a leak that can be confirmed by the smell of ammonia or the yellow death powder or the heat exchanger has failed both are fatal when it comes to the cooling unit and not repairable in the field. 

If your cooling unit has failed you have 3 choices the first is a new refrigerator, second is having a rebuilt cooling unit installed or the way I went is a Amish new cooling unit. Remeber if you have a flame or electric heater running the cooling unit either works or it doesn't , its off or on and nothing in between. Don't try and access the system because it's under about 300 psi of pressure. I replaced my own cooling unit but I'm a retired refrigeration guy.

Denny

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6 hours ago, sandsys said:

I have a vague memory of something on a fin that moves up and down to determine how much cooling goes to the fridge vs. the freezer.

You are probably thinking of the thermister that senses temperature for the controls, but moving iit about won't do anything for this problem. 

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The last propane fridge I used only had one cooling coil. If the freezer part is cold, the problem is the circulation of cold air within the unit. 

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On an absorption refrigerator, the freezer has to get all the way down to it's operating temperature before excess cooling migrates down to cool the refrigerator section.  If something is causing the freezer to absorb all of the available cooling the refrigerator won't cool down.

It could be something like the freezer door isn't sealing fully or the cooling unit is operating at reduced capacity so there's no surplus to cool the refrigerator.

Is it hot where you're at?  The refrigerator relies on the chimney effect from the hot coils behind the fridge heating the air and making it rise out the top vent to carry heat away.  In hot weather this can break down because there isn't enough difference in temperature between the coils and the surrounding air to establish the airflow.

If this is the case,  you can get improved cooling by using a small fan to help the air flow upwards over the coils.  A $10 clip-on fan will work as a test, or a couple of small 12 volt muffin fans can be permanently mounted for a more permanent installation.

Edited by Lou Schneider

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Seems I read somewhere that a unit on storage may need to drive it down the road to get everything back to flowing. Ammonia block? I would shake it up some before condemning it. As old has it is likely needs replacing but not cost much to shake it up

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Your fridge is 13 years old.  That is a pretty good life out of a Dometic fridge.  

If you have internal corrosion causing intermediate problems that are solved but shaking it up for a bit and it works for a few days and stops.  It is on it's way out.

Give it 24 hours to cool and see if it cools.

 

Ken

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On 6/20/2019 at 7:02 PM, Kirk W said:

It has now been nearly 3 days and the poster has not checked back in. 

I have seen where some folks post the same question on several different RVing forums. I assume they forget what they have done and where.

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