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Dometic or Norcold not cooling?


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Had an issue with my fridge today. Freezer ok but fridge not so cold. Trying the unplug the thermistor trick. Most of the time the RV owner is being told that the cooling unit is bad and needs to be replaced. ($$$$$$$$$$$$$)

 

I came across this video on YouTube today. Basically most of the time it's really just a bad heater element.

 

Watch the video and those with more tech savvy please feel free to let me know what you think. A $100 to $150 fix sure sounds better than $3000

 

Wt

 

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=txqAHaTpexc

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Thunder, I watched most of the video, unless I didn't hear correct one time he said the current draw was 2.3 amps which computes to 269 watts (insufficient) at 117 volts but another time I thought he said 2.83 amps which would yield 331 watts which is sufficient???

 

If its a combination LP Gas and 120 VAC Electric fridge, the first thing I do is compare the two heat sources. If it works okay on LPG but NOT 120 VAC, then I suspect a bad 120 VAC heating element like in the video. Sometimes if it works okay on 120 VAC but NOT LPG, then I look for a sooty or carboned or clogged up burner causing a cooler smaller then necessary blue flame resulting in poor or no cooling. 2 or 3 times a year I clean my flu and burner assembly.

 

Another question I have is if you measure the voltage at the outlet (like he suggests) instead of right where the element is connected, there could be a voltage drop in the plug or wiring from the plug to the actual heating element. To compute the actual heating element wattage Id measure the volts right where the last connection to the element is made.

 

Sure, if the electric heating element isn't producing sufficient heat and its NOT due to a bad or resistive connection causing voltage drop other then in the element itself, Id say a new element could cure the problem. Yes by passing any thermostat control function can tell you if that might be a part of the problem. Ive also observed insulation problems in those vertical heat tubes and Ive seen poor fridge to roof air flow or clogged up top vents which can cause problems. Operating off level for extended periods can eventually develop restrictions in those tiny gravity return tubes which hampers cooling.

 

YES if a heating element isn't producing enough heat THE FRIDGE WONT COOL LOL

 

John T EE and NOT a fridge expert so no warranty, but what I have observed and believe FWIW, which is exactly what you paid NOTHING

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I'm not sure who is telling you that your cooling unit needs to be replaced, but it sounds as though you need a different service tech. I suggest that the best way to start if you want to do the trouble shooting yourself would be to visit the website of Bryant RV and download a copy of the service manual for the refrigerator that you have.

 

While I would agree with what John has said, it is very rare to have an electric heating element which supplies some heat but not what it is intended to. There are refrigerators which have two elements so one might fail and not both, but resistive heat elements usually either work or fail. There are several things which could account for the problem that you describe, but you give far too little information for me to venture any opinion on what your problem might be.

 

As far as the video, there are far better ones out there covering RV refrigerator trouble shooting in my opinion.

 

Following John's lead, I am not an RV refrigerator expert either, but I have repaired quite a few of them over the years, both mine and those of my fellow RVers. My background is that of 40 years in electrical & mechanical service work and about 36 years of RV ownership.

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Keep in mind that the freezer is the FIRST area to get any cooling. The refrigerator side comes second. If your "system" is operating marginally, you can expect the refrigerator to be the first to notice the problem. Very common for the freezer section to be working fine and poor or no refrigerator cooling.

 

As noted above, verify it works (or does not work) on LP gas. IF it does then the heating element(s) or the 120 VAC supply could certainly be suspect. IF it DOES NOT work on LP gas then the cooling unit certainly becomes suspect. Although (as noted) ventilation or off level operation can very well contribute to poor cooling.

 

Not all RV manufactures do a good job of venting the refrigerators. My last fiver had nearly six inches between the wall and the back of the frig. As I recall the Norcold instructions called for no more than two inches between the wall and the cooling fins near the top. If there was more than that, baffles were recommended. The frig worked much better after installing appropriate baffles!

 

Good Luck!

 

Lenp

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Good Morning Kirk, to expand on your statement: "While I would agree with what John has said, it is very rare to have an electric heating element which supplies some heat but not what it is intended to."

 

Likewise (again NOT a fridge expert but repaired several) I saw problems with a completely bad/burned/open heating element,,,,,,,,,,,Most problems were clogged or sooty or weak LP Gas flame,,,,,,,,,,,Some problems with the plug or outlet or 120 VAC supply circuit (especially including splices) to the actual heating element,,,,,,,,,,,,,HOWEVER I never ran into a situation where the heating element was the incorrect resistance (watt rating).

 

The video would make a novice believe EUREKA the answer to many fridge cooling problems has been discovered. Sure if its burned open there's no current flow and no heat WELL DUH so that may cure the problem and it DOES NOT need a whole new cooling unit, but like you the problems I observed were a completely burned bad/open element NOT its resistance was out of spec (although sure its possible even if not a most likely or typical cause).

 

If the poster checks its LP Gas operation (if its so equipped) and insures its well vented and insures there's adequate voltage at the receptacle and the plug and cord and connections (to element) are all okay, we may be able to proceed. If she cools good on LPG and the receptacle and plug and cord and splices (Ive seen them go bad) are all okay but still she doesn't cool on 120 VAC operation, then it may be time to check continuity and resistance of that heating element. BEFORE ALL THAT I wouldn't run out and buy a new element!!!!

 

Keep "cool" yall

 

John T

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If your refrigerator is located in a slide it may not be venting sufficiently through the heat exchanger located near the top on the rear of the unit. Reportedly refrigerators that vent through the roof rarely have this issue unless some critter has decided to nest there. What happens with the slide mounted refrigerator with a upper and lower louvered opening for ventilation is the air flows out the upper louver before passing through the heat exchanger. To fix this slide related short cycle most manufactures install a baffle to get proper air flow. The baffles I have seen are a simple piece of sheet metal positioned so the air must rise higher before exiting. There are also one or more small 12 volt fans that help with this air flow. Don't pay a hundred bucks for one of these fan as you can find them on eBay for less than $20. So check that your baffle is still up high and that the fans are working. Good luck.

Later,

J

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Kodiak Jack,

 

Even though my roof vented absorption fridge works and cools perfect even when its 100 degrees outside, I bought one of those small external fridge vent fans off Flea bay which supposedly assists cooling air past the rear tubes and the t stat closes at something like 105 or 125 degrees (I forget). I consider it as a waste of money, Ive never seen it kick on (but haven't camped when its real hot) and its so freaking small and such low CFM I don't envision it ever doing much BUT THATS A HARD CALL.

 

HOWEVER I did buy one of those real small double fans you place in front of the top cooling fins inside the fridge AND IT WORKS GREAT as it stops the fins from icing up big time compared to without the fan yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

 

John T

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I recently replace the circulation fans on the back of our refrigerator. The t-stat circuit for them was closed but the fans were both toast. Check with an RV outfit and they wanted $100 buck each and would have to order them. I went to a computer store and bought a couple 120 mm case fans for $8 each (a bit bigger than was in there) and installed them. The refer has been colder than it ever has. Don't know what temperatures they modulate at but they do come on and off.

I have recently read a couple comments on interior fans helping with cooling and if it gets rid of the icing and dripping fins I want one. Guess I look into one and give it a try.

Later,

J

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