RV Refrigerator Stop Working? Tips For Repairing vs Replacing It

rv-refrigerator-repair.jpg The most important appliance in your RV is the refrigerator.

When you gave up tent camping, putting the ice coolers away in the garage for good was a moment to enjoy.

But what if the refrigerator in your RV seems to have lost its cool?  What are your options?

RV refrigerators can fail for a number of reasons. See when to repair versus when to replace your RV refrigerator…

 

How RV Refrigerators Work

There are 2 brands of refrigerators commonly found in RVs:

Both operate under the same principles.

RV refrigerators operate by heating a sealed cooling element either with a gas flame, or an electric heating element.

The cooling unit amounts to a series of tubes filled with an ammonia-based liquid.

As heat is applied, the fluid circulates through the cooling unit drawing the heat out of the refrigerator.

Here are the repair manuals for both types of RV refrigerator:


Troubleshooting An RV Refrigerator

When an RV refrigerator starts failing (not cooling as well as it should), it means the fluid is no longer circulating properly through the cooling unit.

The nice thing about RV refrigerators is there are no moving parts.  There are no pumps to wear out, and no compressors either. All the work is done simply by heating liquid — like in your coffee pot.  When it boils, it perks the coffee.  When the ammonia is heated, it circulates.

If the cooling unit develops a leak, you will smell ammonia in a big way.  This isn’t a very common occurrence, but if it does happen, you will immediately know where the problem is.


When RV Refrigerators Aren’t Used

More often, the problem with an RV refrigerator is time combined with lack of use.

As RV refrigerators age, the ammonia liquid can create sediment that settles to the bottom of the cooling unit.  This sediment will hinder the ability of  the ammonia to circulate properly through the cooling unit.  As the sediment builds up, the refrigerator will cool less and less.

A refrigerator that is used once or twice a year over a period of 5 or 6 years is much more likely to plug up than one that is in continual operation.  Fluid movement keeps any sediment suspended in the fluid, which ultimately prevents any accumulation from occurring.

Now we know why it doesn’twork. What can be done about it?


 

Repairing vs Replacing A Non-Working RV Refrigerator

It has been said that if you remove the refrigerator from the RV and turn it upside down for a period of time, it may start working again.  I’ve never personally used that method, but the theory behind it is only marginally acceptable.

Once sediment exists, you may dislodge it for a period of time, but as soon as the refrigerator sits again for a period of time it will again settle and plug up the tubes.

Rebuilt cooling units can be purchased — in effect, rebuilding your refrigerator.  It will again cool as good as a new refrigerator.  But here is where the problem comes in…

Replacement cooling units are expensive, and combined with the labor required to remove a bad cooling unit and install a new one, the cost of the project will be at or above the cost of buying a complete new refrigerator.

Many large refrigerators can cost well over $2,000 new.  With labor charges at about $100 an hour, combined with the $1,400 or so the replacement parts would cost, it still makes better sense to just buy a new refrigerator.

A new refrigerator can be installed in about an hour.  The amount of time required to remove an old refrigerator, disassemble the cooling unit, reassemble it with a new cooling unit, then reinstall the refrigerator can take a full day’s work.  That can be pretty pricey at $100 an hour!

This is one time when an RV refrigerator that is working a little bit may actually be worse than one that is not working at all.


Other RV Refrigerator Repair Issues

There are a number of reasons that a refrigerator will not function at all.  Typically, those problems can be repaired at a reasonable cost.

For example, if the pilot light won’t stay lit, you may have a bad thermocouple which controls gas flow.  If your electronic ignition fails to light, you may have a faulty control board.  If your refrigerator works on gas, but won’t work on electric, you may have a burned out heating element.

The point is, don’t assume your RV refrigerator is a hopeless cause. Instead, have a qualified technician check it out.

Just know, if the problem lies in the cooling unit, you may be better off buying a new RV refrigerator instead of repairing your old one. Honest technicians will make you aware of your options before they get too far along.  At least now you have an idea of what takes place behind the cold 6-pack in your refrigerator!

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • http://www.all-refrigerator-reviews.com Yogi Refrigerator Reviewer

    Very well laid out article…definitely repairing is much better option than replacing, completely agree with you.

  • Rlmello

    i was wondering if one could just put a compact electric refrig. in r.v. unit? our tralier is 15 yrs old and think ref. has died. never used on gas so was thinking we could just purchase regular refr. unit How hard to change out? thanks

    • Curtis

      Rimello, It’s not hard to change out at all. That is what some do to save money. If resale value is at all important for you installing a 110 Volt AC only refrigerator will hurt the value of your RV. It means while driving you need a source of electricity or your food will go bad.

      • Rick41146

        In one previous comment, I believe you said that driving with the refrigerator on propane could be a dangerous situation.
        If your replacement refrigerator (electric) is installed and turned off during drive time, what would be the difference between that and the rv refrigerator turned off during drive time?

        • Curtis

          Rick, Most RV refrigerators can operate on either electricity or propane. Any refrigerator operating on electricity is considered safe to drive with because there is no spark, or flame that could ignite fuel vapors that may be present while driving or especially while refueling. There is a heating element, but I’ve never heard of it being an issue. When operating on propane there is always a small flame burning that is accessible through the exterior refrigerator vent. Any fumes coming from gas pumps would easily be ignited.
          The one negative feature of operating an RV refrigerator on electricity, especially 12 volt models, is they have a hefty draw and unless the engine is running they will kill your battery in a short period of time. Otherwise they are considered safe to run while driving.

  • Johnwebb

    My frige is leaking, I can smell ammonia. Can this be solder or is it garbage? I’d like to repair it myself. I have a RM2300 Dometic.

    • Curtis

      Johnwebb, Your cooling unit needs to be replaced and sadly there’s not much you can do on your own. Remanufactured cooling units are available but they are pretty expensive. Installing one requires removing the refrigerator and tearing it down pretty far. Labor costs will be high too, it might be more cost effective to just replace the refrigerator. Check with your dealer before you decide which way to go.

  • Mark

    I have an 86 RV with a dometic frige, I get no lights when I turn it on, hooked to 110, I havn’t tryed the gas cuase none of the lights come on, any Ideas what it could be?

    • Curtis

      Mark, The first step is to check fuses or circuit breakers. Verify that you have power going to refrigerator. Beyond that having a dealer check out circuit panels is probably the next step.

      • Mark

        i have power going to the circuit beakers, and was told that if a heating element is bad, the unit will not turn on, is that true ?

        • Curtis

          Mark, It won’t cool electrically that’s for sure. I don’t know about not turning on though. That doesn’t sound right because if there was nothing wrong with the propane side it should work that way. You can check the electrical heating element with an ohm meter to make sure it isn’t in an open (burned out) condition. As to specifics of your particular model I’m not much help, my knowledge is limited to general ammonia cooling theory.

          • Vmcluna

            Curtis, Thank you for the info…about the electrical heating element…question I have is…what do I look for the locate the heating element?
            I know if must be on the outside, behind the panel, in the area there. Yet…complete novice here and just some pointers might save me some bucks..V

          • Curtis

            Vmcluna, Here’s a link to online Dometic service manuals. If yours isn’t listed pull up any of them to get a general idea of what you’re looking for. The electrical heating element will be in the vicinity of the gas burner that does the job when operating on propane. Yes, it is accessed through the outside panel.

  • Val

    Hello there! I have a 17 year old Kenmore refrigerator. I makes these horrible disturbing loud noises all the time. I can’t live with it anymore! Do you think is there a fix for that?? My landlord won’t buy me another one unless it dies! If there is no fix for the noise, is there anything I can do to kill it???? For real. Maybe that way I’ll get another one. Thanks

    • Tlatta

      Hi,
      I was just reading your post about the loud annoying noise from your fridge. My guess is that its the circulating fan that moves cold air from your freezer to your fridge. What a lot of people dont realise is that with a refridgerator, even though you may have temperature controls for both the fridge and the freezer, you still only have one cooling unit and that is for the freezer area. One of the temperature controls is acually a thermostat. The other is nothing more than the opening and closing of a door to allow more air or less air into the fridge area. You manipulate the temps this way. The circulating fan that I mentioned moves air from the freezer into the fridge. When these start going bad they make a heck of a racket. They are usually in the freezer compartment behind a panel and relatively easy to get to and not very expensive especially compared to a new fridge or a repair bill. Its something you can do yourself. Just make sure you unplug the fridge before working on it. You can give the model and serial number of your fridge to an appliance parts house and they can fix you up with a new one. I hope this solves your problem. Let me know how it goes. Terry

      • Curtis

        Tlatta, This may be true on some “Household” refrigerators, but RV refrigerators are a completely different breed of animal. There is no circulating fan.

  • Curtis

    Val, Sorry I can’t help you, my expertise is in all things RV (Recreational Vehicle). Standard household refrigerators operate on a completely different theory. They use a compressor and refrigerant to draw out heat. RV refrigerators use an ammonia based mixture and a heat source that circulates the fluid. Two completely different animals.

  • Veoletta

    Curtis, I think I love you! My husband and I just bought our first motorhome and we are still pretty clueless. I have read a bunch of your articles and I have learned a lot about this thing we will begin living in next summer when the last rugrat graduates. We took it out for the first time last weekend and the fridge works on gas, but not electricity. Now I have something to tell my husband to check. I do have a question for you. On our way home, while driving, we kept the refrigerator on. Is there any harm in doing that? Ok, now I’m off to read more of your articles!

    • Curtis

      Veoletta, There is some debate on the safety of running the refrigerator on gas while driving. The biggest danger is during refueling of the motor home. If vapors from the fuel pump reach the gas flame of your refrigerator you could have a fire. That said, I’ve owned more RVs than I can count and I’ve always had the refrigerator on and operating while driving.

  • Itchieone

    Hello Curtis! I have a Norcold refrigerator that works great on electric, but when it switched over to propane it does not cool. There is a flame and if I touch all the pipes in the back they feel warm or even close to hot. It is strange that it would not cool on propane and yet it does on electric. What do you think? Thanks, Ritch

    • Curtis

      Itchieone, That is a strange one. The only idea I can think of is maybe the small flame isn’t quite hitting the right spot so that you’re not getting the percolating action you need to make the coolant circulate. I’d open things up far enough to confirm where the flame is going and that nothing has vibrated loose causing the flame to miss the mark.

      • Itchieone

        Thanks a lot, I’ll try that. In the meantime, question number two. Is there a significant difference in temperature setting between propane and electric. For example should I set the thermostat for much cooler when using propane vs. electric?

        • Curtis

          Itchieone, Generally the temperature setting is pretty close to the same between gas & electric. I think in the past I’ve found gas to cool slightly better, but I don’t remember ever changing the setting to compensate.

  • Jenlou97

    Our freezer works great, but the fridge does not seem to get cold. Any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Jeniou97, That’s an interesting situation. I’m not an expert on RV refrigerators though I have a basic understanding of how they work. The first thought that comes to mind is a partially plugged cooling unit. That would be an expensive fix. I suggest you talk to the service department of an RV dealership to confirm this as it could be a simpler electronic control board issue instead.

  • Tstovall

    Our Domestic RV refridgerator will not turn on with electric or propane.  The lights that come on that tell you if you are running on electric or gas and the botton that you press to set the temp. will not come on. Any idea why? Thanks, Kathy

    • Curtis

      Tstpvall, It could be something as simple as a blown fuse or circuit breaker.  The first step is to make sure power is getting to the refrigerator.  

      • Tstovall

        We checked the fuses and circuit breakers.  All good.

        • Curtis

          Tstovall,  You need to verify that there is actually electricity getting to the refrigerator.  You need a voltage tester to do that.  Some refrigerators actually have fuses mounted on the circuit board as well.  Depending on your skill level with electricity this may be the point where you need to take it to a dealer.  If there  is electricity being supplied there is likely a problem in the circuit boards and a qualified RV technician will have to trouble shoot the problem from there anyway.

          • Dee

                      I have an old Dometic frige that stopped working. Turned out I had ants in the selector switch. Replaced the switch and problem solved.

    • Gmilwaukie

      when we were camping ours wouldnt work so my husband took the vacume to the propane tube found out we had a wasp nest up in the tube causing it to quit sucked the mud out and it worked great the whole trip

      • Curtis

        Gmilwaukie, I’ve also had rust particles fall down and cover the propane flame causing the propane cooling not to work.  In Tstovall’s case they have no indication of life at the control panel.  When both electric and propane don’t work the problem isn’t likely to be caused by a mud dauber nest in the exhaust.  It’s something electrical because it won’t let the propane control ignite the flame.

  • Kevin_180students

    Hey, when I turn my Norcold refrig on AC, it trips the breaker every time.  When I turn it on Gas, the burner ignites and there is a good flame but no cold in the frig.  Any ideas?

    • Curtis

      Kevin, I think you may have two separate problems.  The AC issue might be a shorted heating element, or a control board issue.  The good flame/ no cold issue is more serious.  That leads me to think a cooling unit problem.  That could get costly.  Better have an RV dealer check it out but be prepared to consider a new refrigerator.

  • Roger

    thanks, I have dometric 3 way works great on A.C. on gas only the freezer and not the lower box, ??? thanks Roger

    • Curtis

      Roger, Check the quality of the gas flame.  Is the burner partially blocked?  I had rust particles fall from above that blocked the burner to the point it wouldn’t stay lit.  If the flame is too small or can’t get where it’s needed that may be why the cooling unit isn’t circulating properly.

  • jimmcpm

    I have a Norcold N300.3 post recall notices. Works fine on AC and 12V but when I try to use Propane the flame meter shows lit until I release the primer button then the gas shuts down. At no time do I hear the gas valve open or close. Unit is in a 2005 TC and I am not sure that the previous owners ever used it on propane. Everything in the burner looks good and the flame is strong with the primer button pushed. Any clue what to target for inspection/replacement?

    • Curtis

      jimmcpm, Though my knowledge is more general than specific to certain models what you are describing is classic thermocouple failure.  When the termocouple failes the refrigerator can’t detect the flame and will not allow the gas to continue to flow when you release the button. 

      • Curtis

        jmmcpm, Another thought would be to check for rust flakes or dirt obstructing the flame.  If the flame isn’t reaching the thermocouple you will have the same results.

        • Jimmcpm

          Curtis, Thanks for your reply. That is the direction I was leaning toward to. I guess the more reveiling question is whether the themocoupler (thmcpl) or the ignitor probe leads back to the flame meter on the front of the fridge. The flame meter works fine so if the thermocoupler drives it, I would think it is working and target the valve as bad. If the ignitor drives the flame sensor then it could definitely be the thmcpl?

          • Curtis

            Jimmcpm, Good point, about the flame indicator.  Here’s where my knowledge of specific models is limited. I don’t know if the thermocouple drives it or not.  An RV dealer should be able to test the electronic panels as it may be an electronic problem.  I guess as one who tends to do it myself as much as possible I’d check for flame obstruction first as it will cost you nothing.  I’d consider replacing the thermocouple as it’s a low cost part that is often the cause of problems.  Beyond that it’s time to pony up the bucks and take it to the dealer.

          • Jimmcpm

            Update, I had a chance to check the Thrermocoupler today. Saw two small minor crimps in the line around the elctrical connection. probably from banging a tool around in there. Genlty rounded the tube back out and everything works. Surprising how efficeint the fridge works on gas. Thanks for your advise, I am from the automotive electroncs field myself and always try to advise when possible. Going to order an extra thcpl to have on hand just in case in the future. Thanks again, happy holidays.

          • Curtis

            Jimmcpm, Glad my suggestions led you to the cause of the problem.  I love it when curing the problem doesn’t empty the pocket book.

  • Jim

    After reviewing amny post on fridge troubleshooting thought I would try to post my specific question. Attempting to run ridge on propane. I turn the fridge on but the electronic ignition never tries to light the fridge. I think the ignition should try to light even with no gas flow. Is that correct (ignitor should work with or without propane? I either have a bad board or a bad ignitor. Anyone know how to determine which is bad?

    • Curtis

      Jim, I agree the ignition should try to light even with no gas flow probably for 30 seconds to a  minute or so then it will shut down because no flame is detected.  It would take a 2nd person watching at the burner to make sure it isn’t working at all while you turn it on from inside.  If you have good ears you might hear it sparking, but maybe not.  If indeed it isn’t sparking at all a dealer is your best bet as they have test equipment to verify which item is bad before you waste money on parts you don’t need.

      • Jim

        Thank you for getting back to me. I am a DIY person and just recently installed a gooseneck hitch on my truck. Paying someone for something I can do myself especially in these tight economic times just don’t feel right. Not to mention I am poor… 
         
        I have not confirmed pricing other than a single entry posted in a blog somewhere that a circuit board would cost $30 – $45 and an electronic igniter might cost around the same. I also have access to these parts at wholesale.
         
        My mobile tech charges $75 for the service call + an estimated 1 hour at $100 (hr) + parts. Taking the camper to the shop would be around $120 (hr) + parts. My math tells me it would be more cost effective to replace both parts on my own without testing, putting me ahead of the game.
         
        I have 7 RVs (none being the same age unfortunately as the one in question) and will investigate taking an electronic igniter from a working unit and try in the camper in question. I am curious if I can use a 9 volt battery and get an electronic igniter to spark? Also curious if I could use a volt meter and test the connection where the electronic igniter connects. Testing the electronic igniter should be doable and obviously easier than testing a circuit board of which I am not qualified to do. If interested once this is done, I can post  my trouble shooting steps taken and results.

        Thanks So Much,

        Jim

        • Curtis

          Jim, Good luck in your troubleshooting.  I agree taking it to the shop is an expensive endeavor that I too avoid like a poison pill.  My only thought on the matter is the 10 yr old motorhome I purchased from a dealer a year ago also had a refrigerator issue that they fixed before I bought it.  They had said at that time it was a $200 board that was at fault.  It was a Norcold, but there are so many different models and brands that who knows what a new board would cost.

          • Jim

            Curtis,  Found a great website with user manuals. The link is http://gasrefrigeration.net/dom_techdata/26121_2852SM.PDF
            I determined that a small manual valve was I would say 75% towards the off position. The manual obtained from the link above helped me resolve in about 5 minutes. What I like about the manual is it has actual test scripts for checking everything from the circuit board down to each component.
             
            Have a great Christmas and I hope you find the link useful. It may lead you to other service manuals that might come in handy.

            Jim

  • Russell-69

    my 2005 carriage cameo , had smoke damage i bought it and fixed it up like new everything works in the trailer but the fridge. the norcold looks reasonably new condition but problem isthers no power to the front where you push on button . fuses good on 12 volt opened back panel and the 5  fues is could on the circut board ,tried to plug it in to a different plug theres nothin at all on the front. wondering what to do ? take hole trailer to rv shop or take out circut board and send it away or the front digital panel is no good .

    • Curtis

      Russell-69, I’d go to Harbor Freight and order a cheap voltage tester.  The fuse being good and changing to a different plug doesn’t guarantee there’s power getting to the frig.  Until you determine you actually have voltage available you don’t know if the problem is the trailer or the refrigerator.  If you have found power then I’d take the RV to a dealer to have it checked.  They can test out the refrigerator and determine what failed.  If there was smoke damage there may also be heat damage to the electronics.  I think it would be more cost effective for a dealer to check it out for you. 

      • Russell-69

        thanks curtis, i am going to check the main ground at the goose kneck i believe it may be grounded there , i will let you know if its ground issues on the 12volt since theres no power to electronic digital switch in side the trailer most of the heat was in master closet and the room , i have fingers crossed its something really simple like ground ,XX

  • Debbie

    We have a Norcold Refrigerator that works on propane but not electric.  Can you give me an idea as to why that would be..

    • Curtis

      Debbie, Your refrigerator uses an electrical heating element when it is in the AC mode.  There may be a fuse or circuit breaker bad or the heating element has burned out.

  • Redheadteal

    curtis my fridge wont run on lp or electric ive checked and im gettin gas up to unit. ive had my wife cycle the switch and im not gettin a spark. we just purchased the trailer and it was working great when we bought it. im thinking maybe a grounding issue. your thoughts plz

  • Curtis

    Redheadteal, It could be a grounding issue, but it could also be a shorting issue.  I had the same problem a couple years ago.  It turned out flakes of rust had dropped down and covered the ignitor shorting out the contacts which meant no spark.  Remove the tin guard that covers the flame area and vacuum out any dirt or rust that has accumulated.  That was all it took for mine, hopefully you will be lucky too. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/alisha.cowellhackett Alisha Cowell Hackett

    I have an RV refrigerator that runs on electric and then after 1 hour it switches to gas and then about 1 hour later it goes to “check” and never turns back on.  HELP!!! I have called the repair place and the poor guy was stumped, as was I.  We are DYI people, but just can’t figure this one out.  Please and thanks in advance!

    • Curtis

      Alisha, First question, was the repair guy a technician from an RV dealership?  Household appliance repair people are clueless when it comes to RV appliances, especially refrigerators.  When it runs for an hour on electricity does it actually cool?  Can you feel cold when you hold your hand on the interior walls of the freezer during that hour?  If not, even though it takes an hour for it to decide it’s not cooling, it’s really not working at all.  The same may be the case for the time it’s on gas.  Do you have a flame at the gas burner?  If so, does the freezer wall feel cold when the flame is burning.  If not, basically what you have is a non-functioning refrigerator that is going to check mode after it determines there is a problem.  This could be a circuit board failure or it could be a cooling unit failure.  Neither are do it yourself repairs.  If you don’t feel any cold in the freezer it’s time to take the RV to an RV dealer and have it checked out.  Sure it’s going to cost you, but at least the problem will be properly diagnosed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alisha.cowellhackett Alisha Cowell Hackett

        Thank you Curtis for your advise.  The refrigerator runs while turned on.  The only time it stops is when it is on the “check” light.  It will run ok as long as I keep the fridge off of the check.  In order to do that, I have to turn the fridge on and then off again.  But as for the time that it is on it is cold, very cold in fact. The guy I called was from a local “used” dealership.  Thanks again.

        • Curtis

          Alisha, A smaller “used only” dealership may not have the test equipment necessary to determine if the circuit boards are functioning properly.  I’m by no means an expert on how to test them either so the best I can suggest is find a reputable new RV dealership with a decent sized service department.  

  • Shadowfax21

    Curtis, we have a Dometic refrigerator with the same problem as Alisha except our unit works fine on electric (nice and cold.)  My husband was an RV Tech years ago and is now an electrical contractor.  We have replaced the control board two times and each one has lasted one or two seasons.  The problem is when it is running on gas, sometimes it stays on for hours or days and then just shuts off and goes on check. The refrigerator is nice and cold.  We turn the unit off and back on and it might stay on for a few second, a few minutes or a few hours, but it will go back on check and does not automatically relight. Any clue?

    • Curtis

      Shadowfax21, Pretty much the same suggestion, a larger new RV dealership with a good service department can test the circuit boards.  You might have an iffy thermocouple that works sometimes but not all the time and there might be debri around the flame that is preventing the heat from getting where it needs to be.  Try a good cleaning of the flame box first, then maybe replace the thermocouple as it’s the cheapest item.  From there I suggest a trip to the service dept.  As long as the refridgerator cools well in one mode it eliminates the cooling unit which is the most expensive item and usually not cost effective to replace.

  • Kush

    If I have detected an ammonia leak will it still run in electric mode?  And is it safe to do so?

    • Curtis

      Kush, If you smell ammonia the cooling unit is shot.  The Fridge won’t work in any mode and likely it is more economically sensible to just buy a new fridge rather that have the cooling unit replaced.

  • Jarnt

    My fridge works on Gas but wont switch over to electric when pluged in? 

    • Curtis

      Jarnt, Possibly the electric heating element has a wiring issue or has burned out.  It could also be a circuit board issue.  Time to take it to a dealer to have it diagnosed.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/O2BP4R5PW7DRTD5NUDW3NXQENE Brian

    Curtis, I have a Norcold Rv Fridge / freezer.  It works awesome on electric, however when I turn it on LP the flame ignites and burns and everything seems to be working well but the the fridge / freezer slowly loses its coolness.  The flame on this model blows up into a tube.  I have blown out the tube with pressurized air as well as the burner area etc.  My thought is that the flame is not big (just over an inch) enough to produce the heat needed to keep the fridge cool.  It does not seem to make a difference if I turn the setting in the fridge up to max (9) or down the flame seems to stay the same.  Can this be adjusted?

    • Curtis

      Brian, The correct flame size is surprisingly small.  Not anything like what is produced by the water heater as an example.  You might try a vacuum cleaner around the burner area.  I had pieces of rust fall down the tube and collect on the burner that caused my refrigerator to not stay lit.  Maybe blowing them around didn’t remove any debri that might be causing the problem.  If it works great on electricity the heat of the flame isn’t getting where it needs to be. Are you certain the burner is actually kicking in and you’re not just seeing only the pilot flame.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/O2BP4R5PW7DRTD5NUDW3NXQENE Brian

        I had it on LP mode for like 5 hours today and it barely heats up the ammonia pipe right next to the burner, it does not get the liquid circulating at all.  Within 35 minutes of turning it on Electric mode the pipe is almost too hot to touch and you can actually feel the liquid circulating through the cooling pipes.  It is definitively not producing enough heat or the heat is not isolated where it needs to be on LP mode.  

        There is an electric starter that starts the flame, I don’t see a separate place for a pilot flame unless they both come out of the same spot???  I have never seen the flame get any bigger or smaller.  The flame I do see comes out of the side of a horizontal pipe/burner that has 4 or 5 oval cut outs close together that creates a base of the flame to be about 3/4in wide and it is directed into a pipe that is welded verticle to the side of the ammonia pipe.  The flame is about 1 to 11/2 in tall. 

        The flame is almost all blue with a yellow tip that is up in the tube maybe a half in.  

        • Curtis

          Brian, Everything you’ve describe sounds right to me.  It should work but obviously isn’t.  Beyond the burner not performing good enough or the flame not being directed to the right spot I’m baffled.

          • http://profile.yahoo.com/O2BP4R5PW7DRTD5NUDW3NXQENE Brian

            I took the burner out of the burner box and sprayed a little cleaner (mercury power tune) through it along with some pressurized air.  It seems to me there was a few tiny particles of rust stuck in the brass propane nozzle within the burner.  I cleaned it all out real well and now my flame is 300% better (not bigger just now it blows with a force).  I had a real lazy flame before now it is crisp and you can hear the howl of it if you listen.

            Thank You very much for your view of things. You kept me going to try and figure it out :-)  Now the RV Is ready for Winstock this weekend. Thanks Much Brian

          • Curtis

            Brain, GREAT!! I love it when we get a problem figured out.  Thinking about it after my last response the next thing I was going to ask was how level is the refrigerator?  Sounds like you got it going, that’s all that matters.

  • Roger Loewenberg

    I have a Norcold 0740.  Intially the unit wouldl not get cold.   The green light above the set dial would blink and emit a chirping sound.  I did try the turn the unit upside down trick.  I then returned the fridge to the travel trailer and it started cooling.  I left it on over night and checked it the next day and had found it had stopped  cooling.  I shut it off and truned it back on and the unit started cooling again but alas it stopped again.  Blockage in the line?  How do I fix it

    • Curtis

      Roger Loewenberg, Buy a new refrigerator.  The upside down trick loosens up sediment with hopes the ammonia will start circulating.  It’s apparent the sediment quickly accumulates at the bottom of the coils cutting off circulation.  Replacing the cooling unit in most cases isn’t cost effective if you are having a dealership do the work.  Labor and parts will add up close to the cost of a new refrigerator.  Buy new and you get a warranty with it.  Most often it’s the better way to go.  

      • Roger Loewenberg

        Curtis,
        Thanks for the advice.  One more question if I may.  If I can purchase the cooling unit is it something I can install easily ( I do have handyman skills) or is it best left to the professionals?
        Tow more questions please: How do I make a new unit last longer than 3 years and should I buy the extended warranty?

        • Curtis

          Roger Loewenberg,  I’m going to regroup mostly because of new information.  If the refrigerator is only 3 years old the likely hood of the problem being sediment buildup is unlikely.  I’d be more inclined to suggest the upside down trick temporarily corrected a bad connection situation.  Whether it is loose wiring or possibly even a cracked circuit board.  A cooling unit can only go bad if: 1. It becomes punctured and the ammonia mixture leaks out (you will smell this, big time).  2.  Over a long period of time (10 years or more) sediment builds up in the coils.  3 years isn’t long enough in my mind.  To answer the do-it-yourself portion of the question, replacing the cooling unit requires removing the refrigerator from the RV, complete disassembly and reassembly.  Then reinstall it into the RV.  Dealers charge about $100 an hour making an all day project pretty pricey.  I don’t really think it’s the cooling unit, look for a wiring issue and you may need to take the unit to the dealer to have the circuit boards tested.

      • Roger Loewenberg

        Curtis,  I bought the new fridge (DC0740BB) and installed it last night.  I checked to make sure I had the correct DC voltage (13.3) coming from the battery but the unit is struggling.  I can hear the compressor (if that’s what they call it) come on for a few seconds, go quiet, and then the little light on the front near the temp control will flashed with an audible chirpping sound.  The unit then will continoulsly go through this cycle and never get cold.  Did I recieve a bum fridge?

        • Curtis

          Roger, There is no compressor.  The only noise you will hear on electric operation is possibly a slight gurgling as fluid peculates through the cooling unit.  12V operation uses up a battery real quick, that’s why it’s recommended to only use it “while” driving.  It can’t “struggle” there are no moving parts.  It is a heating element only and if there isn’t enough amperage (more important than voltage) it won’t cool.   

  • Vgippe

    Curtis, We recently purchased an almost 20 year old RV at an excellent price…The Norcold model 6162 is not working in it.  The LP and check light come on, but nothing in electric and the LP does not stay lit.  Since the 5th wheel is 20 years old, I am sure that it is time to replace the fridge/freezer combo.  However, we were told that the panels on the outside of the camper behind the fridge may need replacing.  To save time, we are thinking of replacing the fridge, but cannot find anywhere that a consumer can just purchase one; they all say that a dealer or retailer may purchase from them.  Do you have any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Vgippe,  Just did a search at Amazon.com.  They have quite a few RV refrigerators listed but likely they are originating through a dealer as well.  It’s not uncommon for manufacturers to only sell through established dealers.  That’s how they funnel sales to those who make them more money. That doesn’t mean you must have the dealer install it for you. It would be nice to cut out the middle man but heck, he’s got to eat too.  Just another slice of the pie.

  • Vgippe

    Curtis, We recently purchased an almost 20 year old RV at an excellent price…The Norcold model 6162 is not working in it.  The LP and check light come on, but nothing in electric and the LP does not stay lit.  Since the 5th wheel is 20 years old, I am sure that it is time to replace the fridge/freezer combo.  However, we were told that the panels on the outside of the camper behind the fridge may need replacing.  To save time, we are thinking of replacing the fridge, but cannot find anywhere that a consumer can just purchase one; they all say that a dealer or retailer may purchase from them.  Do you have any suggestions?

  • Christine

    Hi Curtis,
     I am a Canadian traveling in the U.S. and am looking for a place to buy and install a new mini-fridge at a reasonable price. At Camping World, I am asked between $ 2,000 and $ 4,000 for a refrigerator with sizes ranging from 2.4 cubic feet to 3.6 cubic feet. How can I make the purchase and installation in San Francisco or nearby? Thank you very much for responding quickly! Christine

    • Curtis

      Christine, I’m sure you have discovered there’s nothing reasonable about the price of having a new refrigerator installed.  Camping World is likely about the best deal you’re going to find in a situation where you’re from out of town and need it now.  The only way you’ll find one cheaper is a lot of time spent searching and install it yourself.

  • Stacey

    my dometic rv fridge was working fine and then we lost power so it switched from power to gas and then back to power, and then it suddenly quit working overnight. The heating unit in the back is hot and the lights are all on but it will not get cold. I did not smell any amonia. What could be wrong?

    • Curtis

      Stacey, I’m a little confused.  “heating unit”, if  you mean either the gas burner has a good flame or the electric heating element is hot it would mean you removed some shielding to get access to them.  The heating element gets hot enough you probably don’t want to touch it.  If you mean the “cooling unit” coils are hot, I don’t think you will be able to feel much heat there.  The amonia solution is a cooling agent.  I’d start by looking for fuses somewhere within the refrigerator that protect the circuit boards.  With a lose of power situation you may have had a power surge that blew a fuse or damaged the electronics in some way.

  • Hope

    We own an older pull behind camper (24ft). The refrigerator is a Dometic RM2601 gas/electric. When we plug in the camper for electric, the refrigerator blows a breaker. All other electric is fine as long as we leave the breaker for the fridge off. Someone thought it might be the thermocouple. I have no clue. Should we buy a new one or is this an easy fix?

    • Curtis

      Hope, The thermocouple is not an electrical item and won’t have anything to do with blowing a breaker.  It might be a shorted electrical heating element or it could be a problem in the circuitry.  Does the fridge work on gas?  The thermocouple is the device that senses a flame when the burner is working.  If it works on gas, I’d just use it on gas and forget the electric side.  Having a dealer check it out may cost you up to $100 an hour to diagnose the problem.

  • Tammy O

    The 12 volt battery in the 1989 rv died and so did the control panel on the fridge. The battery has been replaced and everything else works now, but still not the control panel. Does the Norcold fridge need to be reset somehow? or a

    • Curtis

      Tammy, There may be a circuit breaker which would protect the 110 AC portion and there may also be a fuse which would protect the 12 VDC circuitry. There is even the possibility of a fuse mounted right on the circuit board itself. This all varies by make and model of course so you need to test for voltage right at the refrigerator. Wiring can probably be accessed through the outside panel on the back.

  • Marla

    We just got back from a weekend camp trip. The back freezer wall gets cold and freezes but the fridge and freezer do not get cold enough. The furnace blower turns on, but no heat. Would there be an issue that would effect both the fridge and furnace. Do they share a thermocouple?

    • Curtis

      Marie, Sorry but they are two completely separate appliances. The only thing they have in common is they both use propane. Now if there is something restricting gas flow such as a problem with the regulator or the propane tank being empty you might have such a symptom. The furnace requires a goodly amount of propane so there might not be enough gas there for it to ignite. The flame for the refrigerator is much smaller so there may be enough gas for it to light but not quite enough flame for it to be efficient. Don’t forget the automatic propane safety shut off that is present on all recent year RV’s. It will shut off gas flow if there is a leak or odor detected.

  • Ken

    How do you deal with the fridge that freezes everything and has factory preset temperatures? Mine is driving me nuts. It has one of those little sensors that clips to the cooling fins inside the unit. Argh.

    • Curtis

      Ken, My experience with RV refrigerators is limited to those I’ve owned. All that I’ve ever dealt with had the ability to adjust the temperature. At least too cold is better than not cold enough.

  • Jeff

    My rv frig works good on gas but not on elec,after checking I found
    The heating element open.Is the element replaceable seperate? The name on the frig
    Is traveler. Thanks!

    • Curtis

      Jeff, Yes the electrical heating element is a replaceable part. Do a search on your make and model number and you may find one on the internet.

  • Cindy Thomas @windshield cover

    This is definitely much needed advice! Thank you so much for this post.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thepartydj Keith King

    My wife seen a wasps nest in the back of our fridge camper and sprayed it with wasps killer. Now our fridge doesn’t work. Here is my question. Would getting water or in this case wasp spray on the components make it stop working? Or just bad timing? The fridge cools a little, but not enough, and the compressor and flume get VERY HOT. I will check the flume tomorrow, based on you videos. But how hot should those things get?

    • Curtis

      Keith,Wasp nests, especially mud dabbers, can cause all kinds of problems. Inspect both the refrigerator and the vent area going up through the roof to make sure you have removed all of the nest material. Lack of air circulation can really slow down the cooling and the material is a real fire hazard. Now if the spray got onto any circuit boards, you may have damaged them but the cooling unit (there is no compressor) shouldn’t be bothered by a little moisture. By flume if you mean the plenum around the gas burner, yes it will get pretty hot but if heat can’t rise and escape through the roof it could get dangerously hot.

  • Brian

    I bought a camper three months ago and the fridge worked then. I turned on the fridge yesterday and the freezer was cold but not the fridge part. Got up this morning and niether was working. Came home from work and checked again niether working but between the fridge and freezer it was hot. Any ideas?

    • BrianL

      Another Brian with a similar problem, I have owned this 1994 prowler for about 4 years using it 3-4 times a year with no problems until this week. The fridge was not lighting on gas, but I blew some dust, rust, wasp nest, lady bugs, etc, and vacuumed the back of the fridge off for the 1st time. I got the burner to light after 2-3 check lights and watched the burner and it stayed lit. It began to cool after 2 hours so I switched it to electric to try to drop the temp and to test if it would maintain in gas mode, while on electric the freezer was getting cold down to below 50 degrees, but the refrigerator portion was only down to 66. I had A/C running also and the breaker for the circuit I had it plugged into via extension cord tripped twice with both running. I had the control set to the coldest setting and left it overnight on electric and it only dropped to 53 in the refrigerator, but freezer seemed colder and had frost on the shelf. As the day progressed it got warmer and now won’t cool below 80 degrees in the refrigerator and the freezer maybe is at 65 degrees. My wife now has it at a campground and it will not cool below 80 degrees. It has been humid, dewpoint into the low 70’s, and temps up to 100 degrees. I also had the A/C running while I was testing the fridge, the gas stove worked fine. The campground is now having a power outage, no A/C, heat index over 100, and 3 kids. Help! I’m going to try to clean the burner some more and maybe see if I can get it apart for a thorough cleaning and try cleaning out the flue/baffle to see if that helps. Not sure what path to take here….

      • Curtis

        Brian L., When cleaning the back of the fridge did you open up the shielding revealing the burner and flame area? If not you may have rust, dirt, or whatever around the burner limiting the size and quality of the flame. Don’t attempt to run the AC when plugged into an extension cord. The voltage drop will be considerable and likely you will burn out the air conditioner or at the best dramatically shorten it.s life. On AC the fridge is using a heating element to circulate the liquid. Here again the voltage drop from an extension cord is likely limiting the current to the heating element and it won’t cool to its potential. With the extreme heat we’re experiencing lately the overall efficiency of your older fridge may also be part of the problem.

  • Houseofrath

    Hi Curtis,

    We have a dometic refrigerator It’s working well on gas (getting
    down to 34 in the frig and 6 in the freezer). Once it’s turned over to electric
    the temp in the refrigerator rises to 55/60 while the freezer is didn’t get any
    higher than 16. Do you think this has something to do with the electrical board
    or heating element. We have a dinosaur board. Wondering if this might fix it?

    Also, in 2009 we successfully “flipped” on
    refrigerator and it’s been working great ever since. Our refrigerator was run
    while parked on a driveway with a hill. We were trying to afford damage by the
    bb’s being shot by some bored teenagers in our neighborhood. Needless to say
    this gave us more heart burn on our 2 week vacation around the smoky mountains.
    When we returned my husband gave it the ole’ college try. He set it upside down
    for 24 hours, then flipped it back for another 24. Then we plugged it in overnight.
    Sure enough it worked!! We had 1 VERY COLD coke!! He always brags that this was
    the best coke he’s ever had!! And knock on wood we’ve been refrigerator drama
    free since the summer of 2009! I’m hoping that this new drama is a simple
    heating element or electrical board fix.

    thanks!

    • Curtis

      Houseofrath, I’d have to say, I don’t know? My thought on any electric heating element is that it would be a work or don’t work situation. The only way it wouldn’t work properly is to burn out, which would create an open circuit. It’s not to likely it would get weak though I suppose anything is possible. From your information I’m assuming the fridge has some age to it. You’ve gone the “flip” routine with some success but do remember the reason it came to life is accumulated sediment began to circulate again. This is always only a temporary fix and sooner or later it will plug up again. I wouldn’t put a whole lot of money into fixing it at this point. If it works on gas, use it on gas until it craps out altogether. Then go buy a replacement fridge.

  • Curtis

    frustrated, Sorry but my knowledge is pretty basic. A freezer that works with a fridge that doesn’t isn’t something I’ve ever seen. Of course if the freezer is only getting just below 32 degrees it really isn’t working well either. If that’s the case I’d suspect a partially plugged cooling unit, that is assuming the fridge is more than a few years old. If the cooling unit is dying your best bet is to replace the refrigerator especially if it already doesn’t work on electricity. Better have an RV technician check it out, I don’t see a quick simple fix.

  • Larry

    Hello Curtis :

    I just bought a RV from my neighbor . I turned the fridge on via the ELEC and a day later I open the fridge and it was HOT to the touch . Not only heat way coming from the unit when it was opened but the silver parts (whatever they are called ) were pretty hot . I haven’t tried the propane aspect but was hoping and praying you could tell me what the issue is > Many thanks and I eagerly anticipate and appreciate your answer . Sincerely Larry

    • Curtis

      Larry, Never heard of the interior cooling parts being hot to the touch. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, give the propane a go. Don’t leave it unattended for a day though, if it cools you will feel the difference in an hour. If it cools on gas, you might only have a bad electric heating element , though if the cooling plates are getting hotter than ambient temperatures I don’t know what to tell you.

  • bhustlein@yahoo.com

    I just got a 1976 dodge sportman mini R.V. the power steering went out, the gear box was dumping fluid everywhere! I’m almost done pulling the darn thing but I’, stuck on the bottom bolt that big bolt, do you know what size that sucker is? I don’t have a tape to measure with just a darn computer. thank you verry much!

    • Curtis

      bhustlein, Strange question for an RV refrigerator article…Sorry, I’m not a truck mechanic.

  • sherri

    Curtis, Hi. We have a norcold refrigerator. Some days it works great, some not at all. Recently we purchased a portable air conditioner, it is plugged into the slide where the refrigerator is. As long as I leave the unit on, the refrigerator works. When I turn it off, the fridge turns off. The freezer works great. We call it the ghost. Just really strange. Any suggestions.

    • Curtis

      sherri, Now if you had said when the air conditioner is on the refrigerator doesn’t work I would say it was a voltage drop from an inadequate power source. The opposite is a strange one that leads me to question the quality of the electrical connection for the fridge. Try plugging it into a different power source and see how it operates. You may have a wiring problem, but that is purely a guess.

  • gene

    my norcold 6162 ref. will only run on gas if the rv is hooked to eletric

    • Curtis

      gene, Here’s a link to some troubleshooting ideas for that model with that problem. http://tiny.cc/dormiw

  • Rich

    Good Day Curtis! I really liked your article, I have a 72′ Aristocrat pickup partner with a Insta-matic rv-3. It has worked for the orig owner everytime, and he stressed to me about keeping it level. I used it last year and it worked fine ( took about a day to reach operating temp) I tried to use it this weeked on a trip to a hot campground and nothing, Propane was lit and it was making sloshing noises from the ammonia gas generator but not really bubbling. So when I came home I plugged it in to 110v for about 24hrs. Still I hear alot of fluid sloshing from the generator but maybe a series of bubbles going into the first set of coils evey 7-8 min. The evaporaor does not even get cool to the touch. Since now that I have ruled out heat source issue, could this be a clog in the lines somwhere? I dont see any signs of a ammonia leak ( yellow dust or odor) if it is sedimnet accumulated from age could I have the unit re-charged? Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
    Rich

    • Curtis

      Rich, 40 years service is way better than most. I’m pretty sure sediment accumulation is the issue and no the unit can’t be “Re-charged”. They don’t re-charge cooling units, they replace them, but yours is so old it’s unlikly you could find one. Seldom is replacing a cooling unit cost effective anyway. Time to update to a new fridge.

  • Rita

    My camper fridge works fine except it freezes everything in the bottom, what could be wrong?

    • Curtis

      Rita, If it is a Dometic here is a link to a forum where they discuss adjusting the temp. http://tiny.cc/tunpjw

  • mary

    Curtis, if we left our refrigerator on for two days without leveling the camper, could it have ruined our refrigerator? It won’t work now.

    • Curtis

      Mary, I don’t think so. Being not level would hamper the circulation of the cooling fluid but once you leveled it out it should work normally. Today’s RV refrigerators aren’t nearly as sensitive about being perfectly level to work. You may have a different issue going on.

  • nvalley

    just bought a 1987 motor home, freezer works, fridge works then doesn’t? What would cause that?

    • Curtis

      A refrigerator that old may be starting to plug up with sediment. The more you use it the better but it may not last all that long.

  • lbass2002

    Cirtis, We are camping in Montana and our dometic refrigerator decided to stop working on gas. Works find on electric. I think it is either neither the safety switch or the board. Any thoughts? Thanks
    Larry B

    • Curtis

      Ibasa2002, Does the gas flame ignite but won’t stay lit? It might be the thermocouple. That’s the device that senses if the burner is lit. If it isn’t working the flame is shut off. It’s one of the more common failures. Before you buy a bunch of parts open up the burner area and clean it good with a vacuum cleaner. Rust bits may have fallen into the burner resulting in no or too little a flame. This happened to me last year. Once cleaned out it worked perfectly.

      • lbass2002

        It started with the flame trying to ignite but now it does not even try to ignite just the clicking sound. Thanks for you help.

        • Curtis

          Ibass2002, Clicking is a good sign, it’s trying to light. I bet a good cleaning is what it needs more than anything.

  • Jeremy Westenberg

    Curtis, I have a 1983 Magic Chef R57, The flu tube just above the LP burner has rusted out leaving 2 small hole the size of a pencil eraser. Is there any way to patch it? The metal is too thin and rotten to TIG weld a small patch over. I temporarily “Mcgivered it” While on vacation this past weekend by folding aluminum foil over several times and wrapping farmers wire tightly over it. It doesnt cool the fridge portion below 51 deg, but the freezer gets down to 5 deg. It had worked fine until this weekend but would often warm up while driving. Also I tried to replace the electric element with a VERY rare exact OEM element, the old one slide out easily, but the new one went it and got stuck about half way in, and I cant get it out. Any sugestion?

    • Curtis

      Jeremy, Sorry but my knowledge of RV refrigerators is more general theory than specific models. I’ve had no exposure to Magic Chef models as RV’s I’ve owned have been either Dometic or Norcold. You might consider pop riveting a piece of tin over the rusted area to cover the holes. I doubt it needs to be air tight so that should work.
      For the electric element you know way more than I do as to how it’s held in or how fragile it is.

      • Jeremy

        Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. Here is an update, now the fridge is functioning flawlessly. I fixed the flue tube with a piece of stainless steel pop riveted like you said. I also got the element out by wrapping electrical tape on the jaws of a pliers and pulling very gently. Ran a bore brush in it and seated it down perfectly. But it still wouldnt cool… So in desperation I pulled the fridge out again and turned it upside down to try the proverbial “flip”. I left it upside down over night and reinstalled it the next day. I crossed my fingers and lit the fridge, 3 hours later the freezer was cold, and after about 6 hours the fridge was down to 36 deg. So I guess the “flip” worked. Thank you for your time. -Jeremy-

        • Curtis

          Jeremy, Great, I’m glad you got it working. Do remember fridge flipping is usually a temporary cure for an eventually fatal problem. Apparently sediment is an issue. The next time you shut it down for a period of time, all that sediment will settle at the bottom of the tubes and likely you’ll be back at square one. The best thing you can do to delay the problem is to use the fridge. Time to go RVing…Often!

          • jeremy

            I told the wife to read the “Dr’s orders” to go RVing often… Hehehe, it worked.

      • http://www.facebook.com/goonahgurl Sondra Robinson

        Curtis, we are living in a 5th wheel and the temps outside for the past 2 weeks have been below 0 and with snow. as the weeks have gone by the temp in both frg and fzr have gotten warmer to the point now that we have removed everything. we called an rv center and they said they have had hundreds of calls with the same problem, they suggested putting something over the bottom half of the vents outside and run it on propane and should thaw out within 48 hours. this does not seem to be working. what do you think?

        • Curtis

          Sondra, If I understand what they’re saying correctly, they believe the ammonia mixture in the cooling unit has frozen and is no longer circulating. Having lived in a 5th wheel through -10 below temperatures in north Texas, I’m having a hard time buying that. Besides I found online that ammonia in refrigerators won’t freeze down to -80 degrees. If the propane flame is staying lit with a decent flame you may have other issues.

  • John Fiorini

    Curtis , I have a 2006 KZ, Norcold mod N821RT fridge that works fine on electric for both fridge and freezer, but the freezer only works on Gas and keeps food frozen but the fridge doe not even get cool, any ideas?

    • Curtis

      John, Not the symptoms I’m used to hearing but since it works fine on electric I will stick with my usual suggestion. There might be some rust, dirt or what ever that is preventing a good solid flame from the gas burner. Get access to the burner and give it a good vacuuming and make sure you have a good quality flame. If you have an air compressor, once you’ve vacuumed up any debris give it a blast of air right into the burner to dislodge any debris that might be plugging from the inside of the burner.

  • John Fiorini

    Curtis, After I wrote that msg. I had the fridge on gas and left it on two days and it seemed to be working. I did do the cleaning before I turned it on and did use a 12 gauge brush which worked well for the short distance. All is needed is to put in tow thermometers to check temps.
    Thanks

    • Curtis

      John, Another tip for you, refrigerators work better when filled with food. Sometimes it seems they are cooling less than expected when what is happening is they are trying to cool down all that empty air space which just takes time. What I usually do is put my hand on the coils inside the refrigerator and as long as they feel cooler than ambient temperature I go ahead and load it up with cold food. It seems,at least to me, that it will pick up the temperature faster that way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sigrid.wharam Sigrid Wharam

    Cirtis. Our Norcold ref. has not lights working and will not get cold, on any setting. What could it be, and what to check. Think it needs to be taken out and turned upside down. it is a 1986 ref.

    • Curtis

      Sigrid Wharam, With no lights working I would suspect an electrical power problem. Check your fuses and circuit breakers and if they are good use an electrical tester and check for power at the refrigerator. The upside down trick would only come into play if everything appears to work fine on both electric operation and gas operation but it still doesn’t get cold.

  • Hawk

    We own a Norcold 1200 LRIM refrigerator in our 2002 Pace Arrow motor home. All recalls have been done. We just finished a 18000 mile trip last week. The frig was working fine until we turned it on yesterday for a local trip. It will not cool on gas or electric. No codes are being displayed. On gas the burner sputers but does light. The cooling unit does get warm. There is no evidence of amonia leaks. We live in Port Charlotte, FL. What could be wrong? How can I analize the problem? Thanks, Paul

    • Curtis

      Hawk, If you have a good solid flame on gas I’d look for an electrical problem. Check fuses and circuit breakers then test for power at the refrigerator itself. If the gas flame is questionable I’d open up the burner area and vacuum any accumulation of rust bits that may have fallen down the chimney onto the burner.If you get this far without results you probably will need to take it to an RV dealer to have the circuit panels tested. There’s only so much an owner can test.

  • Lee Marti

    Do things really happen in 3’s well I just replaced house batteries and decided to run one at a time. All was going well but all of a sudden the lights on my frig went out, the on-off and the select gas or electric are out but the low to high selection light is still on. Since I have the backup that keeps frig cold I didn’t freak out to bad. Went outside to check the fuses which seem to be ok,not sure what to do next, replace with real frig or what. Any help greatly appreciated.

    • Curtis

      Lee Marti, Replaced house batteries and decided to run one at a time??? Not following you on that comment. Run one battery at a time? If so, did you hook up one of the three batteries backwards? I guess I need some clarification to understand your question.

  • Lee Marti

    Hi Curtis, this is referring to my last contact regarding my house batteries and my Dometic frig. I bought 2 deep cell marine batteries, like I always do but this time I wanted to run one at a time, meaning while one is in use the other is charging. It was working fine but then I got tired of changing them out and hooked them both up the way they were originally. So they are running parallel, while all this was going on my frig decided to partially stop working meaning, the main on/off works but light doesn’t and the gas/electric light is also out but not so the selector light. Changed out the power module but it didn’t help. Everything else in the coach that uses 12v is working fine. Fuses are also fine and the power is there also. So what do you think the problem is did the circuit board on the selector panel go out? or is it a battery issue? Thanks Lee Marti

    • Curtis

      Lee Marti, I doubt it’s the battery. If you’ve got a solid 12 volts at the connection to the fridge you’re probably good there. Most RV dealers can test circuit boards for you. They know better than I how to trouble shoot the electronics.

  • pandoras

    Hi Curtis, My Norcold n641 works fine on Ac and Dc but when I switch it to propane, it doesn’t work but the no flame light keeps flashing. What could be the problem? thanks , Patrick.

    • Curtis

      Pandoras, One of the most common propane problems is caused by rust or debris falling onto the pilot light burner. Open up the tin shield around the burner and vacuum the area real good. Odds are that’s all you’ll have to do. The next possibility would be the thermocouple that detects the pilot flame has gone bad. That’s the second most often failure.

      • pandoras

        I cleaned the burner and orifice real good and no change. what does the thermocouple look like? Could it be the gas valve? Thanks for your recent reply. Patrick

        • Curtis

          pandoras, Here’s a link to a typical thermocouple: http://tiny.cc/x76iow I don’t know if this particular one will work for you but you can see what they look like. Before you order the one for your make and model check to see if the burner lights at all. Have someone watching the burner while you try to light it. A bad thermocouple will shut off the gas after the pilot lights because it doesn’t see the flame. The pilot should light for a second or two before it shuts off if the thermocouple is the problem. If it doesn’t light for even a second you may have more expensive problems that need to be tested by an RV dealer.

  • diane

    i brought a second hand fridge which has stood in my kitchen since july. its in a housing unit. i tipped it back on monday to fix the legs on the unit then move the fridge into position 6 feet acroos the room then switched it on, i could smell burning opened the door to smoke ( fumes) coming from the fridge so turned it off straight away. it has now stood for 2 days shall i try it again or is thats the end of it life.

    • Curtis

      Diane, From what you say it sounds like you have a standard household refrigerator (compressor type). Sorry but I know nothing about that type. My knowledge is limited to ammonia absorption refrigerators that are found in recreational vehicles.

  • Rasa Miller

    please advise what todo!!fridfe freezer freezes ok ,Plug is ok Fuse is ok ,but stops working after 14 hours then after 8 hours starts working again ,termostat is set on 4 as it is a boiler inthe kitchen and heating ,What could be the problem ?? thanks

    • Curtis

      Rasa Miller, I don’t really know for sure. It’s possible the cooling unit is starting to plug up but then clears itself or maybe you have a problem with a circuit board. I guess I’d start by setting the thermostat at the coldest setting and see if it percolates enough to clear any blockage. If it cools properly after a few days set the thermostat back to the normal setting and see what happens.

    • Rasa Miller

      I will try doing this but why the fridge was working very well for 10 years with the same plug ??But if this does not work out then probably better to buy a new one??thank you for your reply

      • Curtis

        Rasa, I’m not getting the connection between working 10 years with the same plug, or a boiler in the kitchen and heating? Working with what little information you’ve given me, I can only make a guess. It could be something simple, or it might not be worth fixing. I really have no idea.

  • oatburn

    our board shorts out and blows the 5 amp fuse on the board periodically. What can we do? Is there a fix?

    • Curtis

      oatburn, Time to take it to a dealer. They can test the panel and determine if it needs to be replaced or if something else is blowing the fuse.

  • ronnie d.

    my norcold shows no ac fault but there is voltage at receptacle. where is 5amp fuse located. if on control board it is located with very little access to get cover off.

    • Curtis

      Ronnie, The fuse may be accessible from the rear of the refrigerator, or it may be mounted right on the control board itself. Then again some models may not have an internal fuse at all. It’s best to refer to the manual or have a dealer look at it.

  • cindy barrow

    Our RV refrigerator sat for 5 years without being turned on. We just purchased this motorhome so are not familiar with everything.but are learning fast. It is a LP gas and electric fridge. The problem is nothing comes on.I tried both gas and electric but nothings happening.I was wondering if it might be a faulty on and off switch. I did check the fuses and the one on the circuit board but they are fine.Just wondering if its an electrical problem then thats all that can be done.

    • Curtis

      Cindy Barrow, If you mean no indicator lights come on the first step is to verify you have electricity at the fridge. There should be a 110v receptacle located on the back side of the fridge. If you don’t have a voltage tester you can plug a lamp into it to make sure it works. Also check your fuse panel and your circuit breaker panel. You would have both a fuse for the 12v side and a circuit breaker for the 110v side. Until you can get the indicator lights or digital display panel (If so equipped) to light up you won’t really know much. As a general indicator electrical problems may cost you a couple hundred dollars to fix while if the problem is the cooling unit itself you’re probably better off replacing the refrigerator.

  • Brooke

    I appreciate your article about refrigerators. My Norcold isn’t functioning properly, and after a fair amount of research and the realization that there was a HUGE dirt dauber nest on mine, I have narrowed it down to the control board. I have purchased a replacement control board and have a general question. Is there anything special (that you know of) about replacing the control board? Or, should that be done by a technician only? The last thing I want to do is to accidentally discharge a capacitor and hurt myself or ruin a $200.00 N991 board. But, if it’s something that is just turning off power supplies, taking out the old one and putting in the new, then I can handle that. Just wondering if anyone has any experience with replacing them. Thanks!

    • Curtis

      Brooke, Assuring there is no power (both 12vdc & 110ac)going to the refrigerator will have you safe enough. I tend to shy away from advising people to change or troubleshoot circuit panels on their own. I know dealers have the ability to test them, and at $200 a pop I don’t want to steer someone in the wrong direction. I’ve never changed one myself, I only know the basics of how the refrigerators function and can give general advice in what “might” be the problem.

  • scott

    Not sure if this topic has been written about on here, so I apologize for any redundancy, I am beyond frustrated with my RV fridge. We have a 2011 Keystone Sprinter with a Dometic refridg that has now quit on us 2 times in the past year. It was working just fine, but when I pulled my trailer into my driveway, which has a slight slope to it, overnight to pack the trailer, the next morning there was no power to the unit. The lights on the top of the unit do not come on, no light inside the unit either. Checked the fuses in the panel outside and they looked fine. Would having the trailer parked on a slight slope cause this? My warranty is out, and the ext warranty is $100 each time I take it in. I dont wanna drop another $100 and I doubt the dealer would fix without charging me again. Thanks again for the help.

    • Curtis

      Scott, Generally speaking newer refrigerators (last 10 yrs or so) are much less sensitive to the RV being exactly level. First question, is the frig. the only item that becomes electrically dead when this happens? Also remember your RV may have only a 1 year warranty but most of the appliances in it carry a 2 year warranty from the manufacturer (Dometic). If the dealer worked on this precise issue recently he should stand behind his work as it’s apparent he didn’t resolve the problem. Finding intermittent electrical problems can be a real headache. I’d talk to your dealer and if you don’t like the answer you get from the service department go right to the top. The owner, if the dealership is interested in keeping return customers, might be more interested in taking care of a customer. Personally I think the problem isn’t in the refrigerator, just a gut feeling but you need to verify the source of power when you are experiencing lack of power to the panel. You need to use a volt meter right at the point of connection for the refridge. Both the 110vac plug and the 12vdc connection.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1456174940 Bob LaPenta

    fridge worked great for a few months on our used TT. Suddenly a horrible smell when we opened it. I am now assuming it was the ammonia leaking. Probably time for another this year.

    • Curtis

      Bob LaPenta, If the smell was ammonia you’re probably right.

  • Tiras N

    Hello, my 1990 Komfort Sunchaser has a Norcold model 462 fridge. The flame ignitor works fine, and it shows a constant flame on the indicator. But it smells strongly of propane when on gas and cools very weakly. The fridge doesn’t work at all on ELEC. It worked quite well the last time we used it, less than a month ago, though it did drop well below freezing at that time.

    Any help or advice is appreciated.

    • Curtis

      Tiras, I suspect the flame quality is compromised. I’ve had an instant where rust flakes have dropped from above the burner and covered part of the flame. It was a simple fix to open up the tin shielding around the burner enough to get a vacuum nozzle in there and clean the area around the burner. If that doesn’t solve the problem make sure grit hasn’t fallen and plugged some of the burner holes. Having a good quality flame is essential for your refrigerator to cool properly.

  • Clarence Guidry

    My Dometic refrigerator woked on gas but not electricity so I changed the heating element but I still have the same problem. Whats next ?

    • Curtis

      Clarence Guidry, If you verified that you have 110 VAC at the refrigerator with a voltage tester then about all you can do is take it to an RV dealer so they can test the circuit boards.

  • Clarence Guidry

    thanks Curtis it was a burnt fuse

  • Knut Larsson

    Hi there.
    I have a Dometic AES model from 2000. It has worked fine until now. Its when it runs on propan I have trouble. It ignites fine, but only runs for a minute or so.Then shuts Down and check light comes on. I can restart right away, but With the same result. I changed the Control bord With a P-711. Did not solve it. Any advice availble.
    Thanks

    • Curtis

      Knut, Usually when the refrigerator refuses to stay lit it’s an indication that the thermocouple isn’t seeing a flame. First verify that you have a good quality flame at the burner. Often rust particles will fall and accumulate on the burner disrupting the flame. If the flame looks good most likely the thermocouple has failed.

      • Libby

        Question, we have a Norcold. It’s been working fine until 2 days ago. I have changed the fuses inside ( where the breakers are ) and blew around the burner. My question is where are the other fuses??

        • Curtis

          Libby, It’s hard to say for sure. Some refrigerators have fuses mounted on the circuit boards, some may have fuses on the back side of the refrigerator. Most accurately you need a voltage tester to confirm you have both 12 volts and 110 volts at the point where the refrigerator is connected. Just changing fuses doesn’t tell you if power is really there.

  • Knut Larsson

    Ok. read through previous postings. Cleaned the burner, and it looked like the thermocoupler had slided a little out of position. So now its functions as normal.

  • Mountainman64

    I have a Norcold N300 refrigerator in my Chalet. It works fine on AC and DC but will not stay cold when I switch to propane. I have cleaned the burner, the orifice, the flue, installed an exhaust fan, and installed a new baffle on top of the unit to help the fan. The flame on the
    burner stays lit and looks good. When I arrive at my camping spot and switch from DC to LP the temperature slowly rises even on the highest setting. What do you think is going on? Thank you.

    • Curtis

      Moutainman64, If it works properly on AC and DC that eliminates the cooling unit. If the flame stays lit, that eliminates the thermocouple. About the only thing left is the quality of the flame. Beyond that you have exceeded my knowledge.

      • Mountainman64

        Thanks for your prompt reply. Yesterday I went on the Chalet forum online and posted a similar message. One man had the same problem. He said he bought a manometer to check the gas pressure and found out that the pressure at the refrigerator was low. He is going to buy a new regulator and hopes that will take care of the situation. I had read somewhere else online that was a good idea to check the gas pressure a couple times a year. Someone else said it may be the Norcold Refrigerator Combo Thermostat. I think I will have the pressure tested and go from there.

        • Curtis

          Mountainman64, I think you’re on the right track. Low propane pressure would definitely affect the quality of the flame.

  • Dennis

    I have a Dometic fridge in my travel trailer and works on propane(ice cold) but when I try and use it on the electricity it does not work. all you here is a clicking sound for a few seconds and then the check light comes on. I checked the breaker box in the trailer and they are all good, so I took the outside panel off at the fridge an put a light into the plug the fridge is on and it worked so there is power there. any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Dennis, I think it’s time to have an RV dealer check it out. It might be the electric heating element but the clicking sound makes me think the circuit boards are involved. If everything has power as you say, the circuit boards should be tested by a dealer.

  • Kevin

    I have a Norcold acting strangly. Freezer is ice cold but the frig is warm?

    • Curtis

      Kevin, I haven’t experienced that one yet so the best I can offer is what I could find on the internet. From what I read that’s an indication the cooling unit is starting to fail. On the other hand if it works OK on electric but is acting this way on gas, be sure you have a good strong flame. Rust particles may have fallen down into the burner. A weak flame won’t allow the coolant to percolate properly.

  • Tracie Singletary Robinette

    I have a 2003 Forest River Cherokee with a Dometic refrigerator. I noticed last week the freezer was not completely freezing items (ice cream was soft) then the whole thing completely went out. I checked the fuse and power to the fridge. All is well. The auto and check light at the top both luminate. I switched it to propane last night to see if it would work and still no luck. Any advice?

    • Curtis

      Tracie, If the auto light and the check lite are on it is unlikely the propane stayed lit. At that point it switched back to electric, which you have stated isn’t working properly. You need to verify you have a good quality flame when it’s on propane. At that point if it isn’t working on electric and the propane flame is staying lit, I would wonder about the cooling unit.

      • Tracie Singletary Robinette

        The auto and check light were not both lit at the same time. The auto light was luminated when it was in electric mode. When I switched it to propane, the check light luminated a couple of times until the line purged itself. I took the cover off the back and made sure the flame was lit and good. I reset the fridge in gas mode and the check light did not luminate. I waited several hours and nothing.

        • Curtis

          Tracie, Cooling units fail in two ways. Sediment can build up over time and prevent the ammonia mixture from circulating. The other way it can fail is a leak which would give you a strong ammonia smell. Not to say the whole problem might be in the circuit boards too. If it doesn’t cool down over night (a couple hours may not be enough time) I think it’s time to take it to an RV dealer to be checked out.

          • Tracie Singletary Robinette

            Thank you. I appreciate your help.

  • mm

    Went to start my Dometic fridge on propane. Sparker works fine. When it fires, the flame is coming out around the tin shielding and melting the sparker wire insulation. I fixed the insulation and bent the tin away because sparker was shorting out to the tin. Flame still not staying contained. Any ideas?

    • Curtis

      mm, Lots of questions…Is the burner loose or moved out of position, I’m concerned about the size of the flame. If gas is escaping around the fittings you could have an uncontained flame. How does the flame look for your stove top, is it normal size? If your propane regulator has failed it might cause too large a flame for the refrigerator.
      If there is dirt or rust particles in the burner the flame may be distorted. These are possibilities other than a malfunctioning gas valve for the refrigerator. That’s a possibility too.

      • mm

        Hi Curtis,
        Think I found the problem. Burner was plugged with a small bee’s nest.
        Nothing visible on the outside. There’s one you likely don’t see every day.
        Thanks for the assistance
        Mark

  • Bill Marrison

    I have an older 1984 Dometic fridge on electric/propane. When I first start it up, the freezer will get cold but not so much the fridge. After about a day, the freezer will start warming up. Is it time for a new fridge?

    • Curtis

      Bill, If you get the same results on both electric and propane, probably so. The cooling unit is petering out. The key is if it doesn’t work properly on either electric or propane. If it works on one but not the other, it’s not a cooling unit problem.

      • Bill Marrison

        Thank you Curtis! I will probably replace the unit with just a mini electric fridge since my camper is a 1984 an probably not worth the price of a new fridge.

        • Curtis

          Bill, Small mini-fridge with a 100W solar panel system and you’re good to go without propane.

          • Bill Marrison

            I didn’t even think about the solar panel system- great idea!

  • Margo H

    I have a fridge that works fine when plugged in. When I follow the directions to run it on propane (make sure propane switch is open, turn to propane position, have thermostat on 5, hold safetyvalve button pushed in and push ignitian button quickly several times and hold valve button till line goes into green), it will run (you can hear it) as long as I keep the safety valve button pushed in but quits as soon as I let go of it. Any ideas?

    • Curtis

      Margo, It’s likely the thermocouple is bad. That’s the device that detects the flame once it is lit. If that fails the refrigerator thinks the burner didn’t light and shuts off the gas when you release the safety valve button.

      • Margo H

        Thanks Curtis. Is that an easy fix?

        • Curtis

          Margo, Reasonably easy, depending on your mechanical ability. It will require some disassembling in the propane burner area. I would guesstimate an hour’s labor if a dealer did it for you. If you take it on yourself, be sure to order the correct thermocouple using the make and model number of the refrigerator. They’re different for almost every fridge.

  • mike

    my fridge works find on ac but will not cool on LP the flame is burning very good

    • Curtis

      MIke, If you have good flame it should work. I’m doubtful the flame is good enough or possibly the burner isn’t aimed correctly. Most likely the burner has accumulated some rust particles. Try vacumming around the burner and the burner itself. This is the most common solution I’ve experienced.

  • Steve Park

    Hello Curtis,
    I have a 2001 camper with a Dometic mod # 3663, When I first turn it on it cools as it should but then after about a day the check light comes on and stops cooling. So I turn it off and back on and it will work for sometimes an hour, or a few hours sometimes only a few minutes, and I just fight to keep it cold, it seems to work longer if it sits longer. I am assuming that it has some crystalized blockage? Did I cause this by always turning off the fridge when not camping? And is it best to always leave them running? Thanks for all your help. Steve.

    • Curtis

      Steve, You didn’t mention if you are running it on propane or electricity. If on propane the check light usually indicates the flame went out. This could be caused by air in the line, low propane quantity, low propane pressure due to a bad regulator at the tank, or something as simple as rust particles in the propane burner (happens to me every couple years). Start with vacuuming out the area around the burner and the burner itself. If on electric you could have an intermittent heating element (rare, but not impossible). The cooling unit only comes into play if it won’t work on either electric or propane though from what you are saying I’d lean toward an electrical circuit board issue before scrapping the cooling unit. If you can’t make it work on either electric or gas, I’d recommend taking to a dealer to be checked out. Granted letting a fridge sit for most of it’s life turned off is the best way to accumulate sludge in the cooling unit, but it’s impractical to have it running all the time when not in use.

      • Steve Park

        Hello,
        Thanks for your reply, It doesn’t switch from ac to gas like it should, a lot of the time it wants to run on gas when I have it plugged into power, it won’t switch over. But it does the same thing on gas and ac with the check light coming on all the time. I just went out and checked it. I turned it on Saturday evening, the check light came on once within an hour, it has not come on since, it is Monday 12:00 pm. It is on cooling level 2 and running on gas and the camper is plugged into power, every time I check it it is on gas. the camper has been plugged in the whole time.

        • Curtis

          Steve, Likely the fridge isn’t sensing AC electricity. It will automatically switch to gas if it doesn’t see electricity. You could have a problem in the circuit boards, or the electric heating element is burned out. Make sure you have 110AC at the plug in on the back of the fridge. Depending on your electrical ability, check out the heating element. Next step after that is take it to an RV dealer to have the circuit boards tested.

  • Cecelia Bayne

    Hello there!
    I have a dometic rm 2601. It works perfectly while on electric(almost too cold),but when you switch it to gas,it rapidly decreases in temp. The freezer does get really cold while on gas,but not freezing,the fridge barely gets cool. The auto ignite button and indicator light both dont work either so we light the gas from the rear manually. There is no rust or debris around the part and ive blown out the burner orifice. All the RV places I call in town are NO HELP! PLEASE HELP ME :)

    • Curtis

      Cecilia, Sorry but you have exceeded my abilities. Poor flame is a common cause, but the fact that you have indicator lights that don’t operate lead me to believe the problem is in the electronic circuitry. Testing by a trained Dometic dealer is the best I can advise.

      • Cecelia Bayne

        Thanks for the quick response! Last night the fridge came on and started working like a champ! I will tell you that I have owned various older campers and always had my fridges work on Lp without any work at all. I DID NOT know that this particular camper (which we have only owned a short time)REQUIRES access to 12v for gas to work?! So after hooking it up to 2 new batteries and changing a blown fuse, we took the trailer around the block,and it turned itself on pretty much. I cant say for sure if it was the batteries,or something got knocked loose while driving,but its working great now!!!

  • James Doe

    I have a 1995 dometic propane/electric refrigerator that I use in my food truck. The gas and electric seem to both working fine and the freezer get cold like it should, but the refrigerator just stays warm….it was working about 2 months ago so it’s not like it’s been sitting for a long time.
    Control board problems? Or just too old and used?

    Please help Curtis

    • Curtis

      James, Since it was working fine recently it’s probably a circuit board problem. An RV dealer can test it for you.

  • Kenny

    I have just purchased a 94 Winnebago. The refrigerator does not work properly. It will cool some in the freezer area but none in the lower compartment. and will not cool at all when using gas. Any suggestions n what is wrong?

    • Curtis

      Kenny, At 20 years old it could be a number of things. Might be a bad circuit board or it could be the cooling unit is going south. I recommend taking it to any RV dealer and have them test it out. Sure it will cost you some, but it takes specialized equipment and knowledge to get it right the first time.

  • Steve Gilbert

    I have a 4 door Norcold in my 03 motor home. The fridge has worked great the 2 years we’ve owned it until recently. It cools great but the temp rises dramatically when traveling. My wife says she can feel cold air blowing from the doors where the 4 doors meet as we’re going down the road. The techs in this area are stumped, any help is greatly appreciated. Steve

    • Curtis

      Steve, If you’re feeling cold air coming out the doors apparently the doors aren’t sealing properly. I’d check door latches, rubber seals around the door, hardening of rubber seals, anything that would prevent them from being properly secured.

  • Steve Weaver

    curtis, i hav a 2002 terry exl. The fridge on/off switch works and lights up when on but their is no cooling whatsoever. im replacing the converter because of power surges and dead batteries but will this help with my fridge problem? thx!!

    • Curtis

      Steve, If the batteries are no good, and the voltage converter isn’t working you probably don’t have 12vdc supplied to the fridge. That may be the only problem but I can’t guarantee it. Won’t know until you can confirm you have proper voltage to the fridge.

  • Harold Kitzman

    Curtis I have a Dometic 4 door refrigerator model RM1350MX it has been working very well intel we had a cold spell at 10 below for 5 days now its not work

    • Curtis

      Harold, When a refrigerator fails suddenly I doubt it is a cooling unit issue. Check all fuses and confirm you have proper voltage at the back of the refrigerator then if it sill doesn’t work you may have a circuit board issue that will require an rV dealer to check it out.

  • dana

    Curtis we own a 2002coachmen catalina we’ve had at a little over a year now never had any problems with it til a few days ago refridgerator just stops working we checked the fuses and plugged something else up to ensure the fridge was getting power , it was. We then tried to see if it would just work off gas of course no luck there any advice?

    • Curtis

      dana, Because of it working fine until a few days ago, as long as you don’t have a strong ammonia odor likely the cooling unit is OK. If you have confirmed both 12 vdc and 110 vac power at the fridge, I would suspect a circuit board problem. You may find fuses within the electronics of the fridge, or not. Beyond changing fuses and confirming voltages the next step is an RV dealer who can test the circuit boards. If it worked on elec. but not gas, there are other things to try. If it doesn’t work at all, likely it will take a dealer to pin point the problem.

  • Matthew Huff

    Hello,

    I have a Norcold fridge. About 2 months ago my wife defrosted the fridge and freezer with a blow dryer. After the defrost the fridge was freezing. We turned the temp to the warmest setting (1), but the fridge was still so cold drinks were freezing solid. This morning the fridge was wet as I we had lest the door open.

    Now all the ice cubes and freezer food is thawed. I turned off the fridge and turned it back on about 6hrs ago. I did hear it make noise but it’s still not cooling. We live in the boonies and looking for some insight on where to start.

    Thanks,
    Matt

    • Curtis

      Matt, About all I can suggest is check for electrical power, both 110 and 12vdc. Is there any ammonia smell? an indicator something got punctured during defrosting. Did you try it on gas?

      • Matthew Huff

        I tried it on LP last night and no change. I don’t recall smelling any amonia smell. How about a thermostat issue? The fridge was freezing at the warmest setting. Could that have caused something else to break or burn up?

        • Curtis

          Matt, I think you’ve reach the point were it needs to be checked by an RV dealer. The electronic circuit boards can be tested by the dealer.

    • http://www.arcticold.com/ Arcticold

      It is more then likely the thermister. It is the white colored wire that runs inside your fridge from the electronic board to the inside of your fridge and clips on to the aluminum fins inside the fridge. It senses the temperature in the fridge and tells the board to turn the cooling system off when it gets to the right temperature. I am assuming your fridge has electronic controls. If it is a manual knob on the bottom of fridge then the whole thermostat unit needs to be replaced.

  • Courtney

    We have an older camper not sure the exact year but its a late 70’s model and the refrigerator works fine when it’s kinda cool outside but once it gets hot out the fridge stops working, how ever the freezer works just fine. I was wondering if this could be because of the fluid not flowing like u said or what it could be and how would we go about fixing it ourselves?

    • Curtis

      Courtney, It very well could be the cooling unit is starting to plug up. There really is no practical fix if that’s the problem. Being that old, replacing the cooling unit is probably not worth the expense. If it act the same on both propane or electric, I think it is slowly failing.

      • Courtney

        We may just end up ripping it out if we can’t figure it out, thank you though.

    • http://www.arcticold.com/ Arcticold

      Check both rear vent and ceiling vent for obstructions first. A obstruction such as insulation or even a birds nest will cause issues on hot days and is quite common. Since the refrigerator is from the 70s you will more then likely have a hard time finding a rebuilt cooling unit for it. Also most refrigerators built in the 70s are not the same dimensions as the new ones. With the model number of the fridge I could give you better suggestions. .

      Arcticold.

      • Courtney

        Thanx we will have to look into that, but right now I don’t have the model number, we store our camper at the campgrounds and can’t get in for another 2 months. But once we can get to it ill see what I can figure out.

  • Roger Mayo

    I have a 2003 Gulfstream rv with a dometic 2601 refrigerator. Everything was working fine until power went out. I don’ know exactly how long power was off but it was several days. After power was restored, the refridgerator would not cool.

    • Curtis

      Roger, There may have been a power surge as the power went off. Be sure to check both the 12 v fuses and 110v circuit breakers. If the indicator lights are working, you may still have flipped the 110v circuit breaker. To be sure, you need to confirm there is electricity at the outlet at the back of the refrigerator and test for 12 volts also at the access panel. Some refrigerators have a fuse located on the circuit board as well. Beyond that, if it fails to start you may have a damaged circuit board so the refrigerator needs to be tested by an RV dealer to determine what is wrong.

  • charity

    I have a norcold n621 frig it wont stay cold. it works for a little while then it stops. we’ve tried to put it on lp and dc and still does the same thing can u help me please

    • Curtis

      Charity, It could be a number of things. If you have the same symptoms on both gas and elec. it might be an electronic problem. If the refrigerator is more than 10 years old, it could also be a buildup of sediment in the cooling unit. If the problem is something that just came up recently, I’d lean more toward an electronic circuit board issue. You should have it checked out by an RV dealer to correctly diagnose where the problem lies.

  • Nicole

    I have a dometic rm 2807 fridge and the cooling unit went out on it. Instead of buying a new RV refrigerator we got a regular home fridge that we want to install. I am not sure how to properly remove the current 2807 and cap of the propane if needed so that we may just use the electrical one we have now. Any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Nicole, RV Refrigerators generally are taken out by removing screws that attach around the edge on the inside of the RV. You first disconnect all electrical connections on the backside and cap off the propane line. If you have doubts about the correct fitting to seal off the propane take a close up photo of the fitting and take it with you to the home center where someone can help you get the proper fitting. Be sure not to just crimp off the gas line because it will surely leak and create a very dangerous situation.

  • Sean Feucht

    I have a 1992 dm2611, the fridge will work for several hours in ac or gas then shuts down ( the check light comes on ) the temp on the coldest setting dropped down to 5 degrees in the freezer last night but this morning the check light was on. I replaced the board with an updated dinasour board. If I turn it off and turn back on it fires right up. The burner seems about right. Could it be the thermocouple or the eyebrow board?

    • Curtis

      Sean, All the thermocouple does is detect a flame. If it stays lit for several hours, that eliminates the thermocouple. When it comes to electronic boards I always say take it the dealer. I don’t know enough to be guessing.

  • Guy

    Hi Curtis,
    I have a Dometic RM763. It worked fine, both on AC and LP gas. I went on a trip and hit a bump fairly hard and the fridge quit working all together. No power or gas is getting to it. No lights come on, etc. I checked the one fuse I can find and it is ok. There is no smell of ammonia or gas.
    Any suggestions?
    Thanks.

    • Curtis

      Guy, It may be as simple as a loose connection. First check both fuses and circuit breakers. Next verify voltage at the back of the fridge. Both 110ac and 12dc. If you can get access to circuit boards make sure they are seated properly and all connections are solid.

  • Guy

    Thank you, I will check tomorrow and let you know.

  • Jay

    Curtis, I have a Norcold DC0740. It is D/C only and stopped cooling although I do still hear the Sawafuji SK-511n compressor running but it short cycles. The Norcold is a little guy (1.4cu) and voltage is not a problem. I have a battery mounted 1 foot away and 4 more batteries that are kept up with solar panels. Do you have any suggestions on what may be wrong with it? Thank you, Jay

    • Curtis

      Jay, Sorry but my knowledge is limited to absorption style RV refrigerators. They operate by peculation and don’t have a compressor or any other moving parts. Your model of Norcold has a hermetically sealed compressor cooling unit so if the compressor has failed it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find a place that can replace it economically…Basically designed as a throw away. Best I can suggest is talking to a household refrigerator repair service.

      • Jay

        thank you for your response Curtis. Not a very cheap throw away, but I do understand what you’re saying. Thx again

  • Wendy

    Hi Curtis! I am a female senior citizen who built a 9×5 teardrop trailer but am clueless about electricity. My son did the electrical work including installing a Norcold DE 0751 refrigerator. It works well on shore power but has never operated from the battery. I am adding solar so I can boondock. Son is no longer nearby. Did he forget something? What can I do? Thanks, in advance. Wendy

    • curtis carper

      Wendy, The refrigerator needs two separate power sources, 12VDC and 110VAC. It’s quite possible your son only plugged it into a 110VAC outlet and called it good. If it has never worked on a battery it may have never been wired to do so. Time to call your son and ask him. On the plus side it’s no big deal to add in the additional 12VDC circuit when you have your solar installed.

    • Curtis

      Wendy, The refrigerator needs two separate power sources, 12VDC and 110VAC. It’s quite possible your son only plugged it into a 110VAC outlet and called it good. If it has never worked on a battery it may have never been wired to do so. Time to call your son and ask him. On the plus side it’s no big deal to add in the additional 12VDC circuit when you have your solar installed.

      • Wendy

        Thanks Curtis! I will call him and hope he remember:). Not many in my area who repair rvs and none seems to want to work on a home built. Ah yes.. I do love my mini trailer, though.
        Thanks again for helping. I’ll let you know what I find out. Wendy

  • Karen Mowen-Voss

    Hey Curtis, It’s nice to find someone who can answer some simple questions. I’m a single mom and have guy friends that will help but nobody knows a camper fridge. Last year i had my fridge on gas (because it runs colder) and i ran out of gas. My freezer was packed with every meat and a half bag of ice. I caught it right before the bugs arrived!! But my freezer sticks so bad that even a bag of ice in there is intolerable to use in a cooler!! I have done everything to the inside of the freezer. Is my only option to replace it or is there same way to clean the guts of the freezer if we pull it out? THANKS!

    • Curtis

      Karen. Nasty issue..Same thing happened to my Dad back 45 yrs ago. He ended up replacing the ice box. Best I can suggest is find the most powerful cleaner you can and scrub it down. Then leave it sit open for a long time followed by keep an open box of baking soda inside to help absorb any remaining odor. No guarantee this will work, but it’s cheaper than tossing the fridge. Good Luck!

  • http://batman-news.com sgilmet

    Ok so i was just looking and found your web site. i have a norcold refrigerator in our 1984 ford motor home. It cools well on electric, but dose nothing on gas. I checked and there is power to the board, but nothing it seams comeing out of it. the gas dose not come on. It seams there is a little like valve or butten that when pushed in i can hear gas, but i get no spark no flame. Just wondering where to start.

    • Curtis

      sgilmet, The first step is open up the tin surrounding the burner and pilot.Vacuum the area thoroughly. Very often rust will fall from the chimney area and block gas from igniting. If you have to hold a button in to light the fridge it is the pilot light. If you get a flame while holding it in and the flame goes out when released you may have a bad thermister which is the device that senses flame. Depending on your mechanical ability you may be able to change it on your own but unless you have some reasonable mechanical skills I’d recommend you take it to any RV dealer and have them test it out. It might be the circuit board, it might be something else.

  • http://batman-news.com sgilmet

    I should point out the the gas is no and yes i have plenty off it and the battery was freshly charged the last time i tried it. I bought the motor home from someone that let it sit for a long time. So fuel pumps and gas tanks and new transmissions later here i am. LOL I am really thinking that i should get a new board, a new ignightor and clean every thing real good, and try it. There is a fuse on the board, but that is good. I get power on the wires comeign in to the board, but no where else.

    • Curtis

      sgilmet, Is this the first time you’ve tried using the gas operation? If so there’s a chance you are doing it wrong. Also if the RV is equipped with an propane leak detection system it may be turning the gas off or the battery may be too low because the leak detector will drain the battery if the RV is stored with it still turned on. If you are unfamiliar with RV refrigerator operation you might find someone who is more familiar and make sure you are doing things right. The rust partical problem is very likely an issue. It’s happened to me twice in the past 5 years. That’s why I recommend vacuuming the burner area first before you assume something else is bad.

  • Angie Clark

    We stored our RV for two weeks and now there is no light whatsoever on the refrigerator and it will not turn on. It worked perfectly on electric and gas before. We have checked the 120 volt and it is working fine, so I’m thinking the problem is in the DC power. I was reading you posts and you say to check the DC power with a voltmeter. This may sound stupid, but how do you do that? Where do you hook up the voltmeter to check the DC for the refrigerator?? I checked all the fuses and they are fine. By the way, the last time we took our camper out of storage we could only get our refrigerator to work with gas, but not with the AC power. We took everything apart trying to find the answer, and it was a simple matter of the GFCI outlet in the bathroom needing to be re-set. I only hope this problem is just as easy to fix.

    • Curtis

      Angie, First step is to confirm you have DC in the RV. Use a volt meter to test at the + and – terminals of the battery. If left in storage with the battery hooked up the battery will be dead in a few days because there are things that always drain the battery that can’t be shut off. If you have electricity at the battery test at the fuse panel. last check at the back side of the refrigerator where you find DC coming in. If this sounds too confusing, it’s time to find someone who knows about electricity.

      • Angie Clark

        Found the problem. One of the plastic plugs that has small wires leading to it under the cover plate that houses the glass fuse was jiggled loose. We were able to get it to turn on, but the wires and/or plastic plug are still very loose and it kept turning off when we tried to put the cover back on the box. Finally got the cover on with the power on, but either the plug or the circuit board is going to have to be replaced because I’m sure it will jiggle loose again when we start traveling. Good thing we have a warranty plan and at least we know what the problem is. Thanks for the quick reply!

  • Chris Winterhalt

    My parents fridge won’t cool. They were using it on propane and the battery went dead. Now there’s power to the fridge but it wont cool at all on any of the settings. Dometic 3 way . Does anybody have any ideas what I should be looking for.

    • Curtis

      Chris, By power to the fridge do you mean you have checked at the back side of the fridge for both 12v power and 110v power? Checking the fuse panel in the RV isn’t enough. You need to verify right at the power connections on the back of the fridge. Next confirm if it does or doesn’t work on 110v. If it is absolutely dead, not working in any manner and you have confirmed it has power both 110v and 12v, then likely you have a circuit board problem that needs to be diagnosed by an RV dealer.

      • Chris Winterhalt

        yes there is power both 12v and 110v. Looks like we are needing a circuit board. Thanks for you the help.

  • jonhartman

    Hello Curtis
    First of Thank You, for helping out the RV community.

    I have a Norcold RV unit Model 6163 in a 1995 Georgie Boy.

    The unit was working just fin, and then I lost power to one leg of my 240V line which made the breaker on my Frig trip. After repairing my power cable and reseting the breaker, the unit will not work.
    I have power to the unit, 12V and 110V and I have Gas. both seem to function. If I disconnect the power, the Gas/flame kicks on. The Eybrow board is working fine.

    I have let the unit run for almost tow hours in each mode, but the unit never gets cold!

    I am not sure what I am missing.
    Your help is greatly appreciated
    Jon (Lutz florida)

    • Curtis

      Jon, Ah ha moment. When you said you had a good gas flame, even if it didn’t work on elec, my first thought was did it really work before. You answered the question yourself with the ammonia smell. Looks like you have a cooler instead of a refridgerator. Replacement cooling units can be had but you’re right it won’t end well. Expensive and the labor involved will be equally expensive. Good Luck.

      • jonhartman

        Thanks and yes… so now I have a $50 min Fridge/Freezer that will work just fine for the time being. Thanks again for all that you do to help others!
        all the best
        Jon

  • las730

    I have a Nordic … I got a lot of good tips from your site, thank you!! My questions are… have a cabinet drawer under my frig and the drawer gets real warm. Is that normal? Should I open the drawer for circulation? My camper stays in place and I use it about 2-3 weekends a month. I was turning off the refrigerator but it takes so long to cool back up. And learning from your site that isnt a good thing to do. Last season I tried leaving it on and everything froze! I have it on the coldest setting but it barely hits 40 degrees. Should I turn down the temp a bit when trying it out this season? Thank you!!

    • Curtis

      las730, I’ll try to address a couple of things you mention. First, turning the refrigerator off when you’re not there is only a bad thing if you leave it sit off for many months, or years at a time. If you use it every few weeks, there should be no real negative affect from turning it off. It is true that a happy fridge is one in operation. If you leave your RV closed up in the heat of summer with the fridge running on gas I can see where you may have some heat build up in the drawer. I would confirm that the roof vent and duct work leading to it is open and clear. It is basically a chimney to allow heat to rise and dissipate. You can also buy a small electric fan that will help keep the heat moving up and away. . http://tiny.cc/hn59ex This one in particular is solar operated so it will do the job without any intervention on your part.

  • TDC

    I need help, my mother has a 1986 Mallard 26ft Motorhome, with a Norcold Fridge, after being stored for the winter, when you turn on fridge the freezer and the fridge does not get cold. You can hear gurgling and once in a while smell a amonia smell. I tried downloading your Repair Manual but will not download, not even viewable… Please help, I cannot afford to buy a new fridge/freezer for her. My brother is really handy when it comes to repairing things but he has never worked on this fridge. Is there another way to get the repair manual ?

    • Curtis

      TDC. If you’re smelling ammonia at all, your fridge is toast. The cooling unit has failed and the only cure is to replace it. The problem is the cost of the unit plus the labor cost to replace it makes it unlike to be financially feasible. The better choice is to install a new refrigerator. A repair manual isn’t going to do you much good in this instance.

  • TDC

    Curtis, She has good insurance on the motorhome , do you think the fridge would be covered ?
    Thank You for your help, I am checking prices now. Not sure where to look for new Fridge.

    • Curtis

      TDC, Unless her motorhome was hit in the refrigerator by a passing truck it seems unlikely to me. I’m sure it’s too old for an extended warranty possibility. It just wore out, they don’t last forever. 15-20 years is about the correct life expectancy. You can buy them on line from Amazon, but you will have shipping and there is the getting the right size issue too. Camping world can help you out or any RV dealership.

      • TDC

        Like your Humor, atleast made me laugh !!!! Thank You for all your help….:) Prices I have seen on them this morning scare me , Holy Crap…. !

  • Bill Jones

    I have a Dometic RM2820. We purchased it new in spring of ’09. We took it out of our MH today and reinstalled it in a MH I am buying. When we first turned it on lights came on and then began to flash. (top indicator lights). Then they stopped and were blank. Fridge seems to be working but not sure. Lights are now blinking again. Any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Bill, Double check the polarity to make sure you hooked up the fridge correctly. If so, check all connections you can. If you have proper power I can’t be of much help.

  • Michael Brookhart

    Hi Curtis, thanks in advance for reviewing my problem. I just bought a 1992 travel trailer with a Dometic 2 way fridge. Every appliance in the RV looks as if they have never been used, the fridge is no exception. Unfortunately, upon first testing of the fridge, it will not cool. I had it on electric for 24 hours, then on gas for over 12 hours. While on gas, the fridge lights and the flame stays on as it should. While on gas and electric, while listening carefully, I can hear a slow churning sound every 15 to 30 seconds inside the unit. Research suggests I need to replace the unit, but if you have any other tips, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time.

    • Curtis

      Michael, Hmmm, This a hard call from here. First the fridge is 22 years old, possibly toward the end of it’s expected life. The longer they sit the more likely it is for sediment to build up in the cooling unit, which is the death of most units. The fact that you can maintain flame and you do hear gurgling is a good thing but not the complete answer. First you need to make sure the flame is good enough. With the unit off, remove the shielding around the burner and thoroughly vacuum the area. Rust particles falling from the chimney can restrict the size of the flame and prevent proper percolation from taking place. This has happened to me twice so it’s a common issue. I’m going with this approach because you state you have and can maintain flame. The electric side may have a separate issue but if you have flame it should cool assuming the cooling unit isn’t plugged. If it still doesn’t work you can remove the fridge and let it sit upside down for a day or two hoping to dislodge any blockage. If that works, it’s a sign that the cooling unit is going down the tubes and likely the issue will be reoccurring. Hope that cleaning the burner helps, if not likely things are just at the end of their life. It might be worth taking it to an RV dealer to test to be certain, but the cost will likely be around $100 just for them to look at it.

  • LEE

    HELLO
    i am from korea so I cant good english skills. I have a question. I am traveling western USA to use RV that lent from cruze America. Its already 5 days ago. Suddenly the refrigrator doesnt working when i back to RV. The electronic, gas is good working. Just referigrator doesnt woring. What happend my RV.
    As you know i am not good at English. So I couldnt understand everything that its showed. Could u please teach me that what should I do now. Please I am so worried about that

  • Fred Bernquist

    Hi Curtis, I just found your page and hope you can help me, we have a 2007 Jayco Recon toy hauler the stove has always had this problem, we light the pilot when we want to use it and the stove will come on and heat and turn off to the temperature desired but when the temperature drops and it goes to relight the pilot has been blown out by the initial turn off and we have to relight the pilot again it will again heat and operate ok till the burner in the oven again turns off making a little poof sound which will again cause the pilot to blow out. Looking at the flame of the pilot it looks like it is high enough maybe I am wrong help.

    • Curtis

      Fred, That’s a new one for me. My first thought is that maybe your propane regulator isn’t allowing the proper pressure to be present. If so, many RV dealers have the ability to test for proper gas flow. If everything else is working properly, the refrigerator cools on gas and the water heater functions normally this would seem to take the regulator out of the picture. I guess sending an email to the manufacturer of the oven would be the best choice.

      • Fred Bernquist

        Thanks Curtis for the rapid reply on my oven problem I will take your advice and try to contact the manufacturer or maybe the service department of our RV dealer,

  • Lee

    Hi Curtis,
    Hope you can help. I have a Norcold n260.3. It refuses to get cold on electric or propane. The fins in the back get extremely hot after about 5 hours, but only the first third of the fins. There is a small arch in the coils and was wondering if that could be the problem.

  • shannon

    Hi Curtis, I have a domectic RM2611. And when I turn it on the light inside the frig turns on but non of the light on the panel turn on. The frig does nothing. It has never worked on propane only ac and we replaced the board last summer. I checked all the fuses and they are fine. Any ideas. Shannon

    • Curtis

      Shannon, I think it’s time to have an rv tech look at it. They can test it properly

  • Lisa Rantala

    Hello Curtis, I have a 1989 24ft citation supream motor home with a norcold 3 way fridge in it. Has been working fine blew the interior light no 12 volt to the fridge now? I checked the three fuses behind the wireing plate replaced one but have no 12 volt current coming from the main 12 volt lines to the fridge? I also checked all the fuses I can think of? ANY HELP WOULD BE GREAT!!! Thank you.

  • Klutes

    Hi Curtis~our refrigerator seems to have the opposite problem everyone else is having~things are freezing. No temperature control adjustment…any thoughts?

    • Curtis

      Klutes, sounds like an electronics issue. Better have a dealer check it out.

  • Carla

    Hi Curtis,
    We are new to camping. We purchased a 2012 Forest River Roo. The fridge did great the first trip; however, this last trip we had a problem. We fridge area wasn’t cooling, but the freezer was. You could see the water dripping on the elements. Then water was in the floor of the camper. It lasted so long that the milk soured and the meat ruined. But the freezer was still working. Didn’t make sense. We didn’t have a thermostat on the area to tell how cool it was but even our drinks were not “that cool”. Can you tell me what we should do. Thanks so much for your help.

  • Robert

    I was attempting to fix a fan that is mounted behind my dometic rm-2801 and I heard a slight pop like a fuse blowing and now I don’t have 12 volts at the back of the fridge. I have checked the chassis fuses and the coach sues as well as the main distribution fuses at the breaker under the fridge. The convert her is working and almost everything works. The water heater also lost 12 volts and part of my monitoring panel is down as well. It appears that whatever is feeding the fridge was also feeding the water heater and the battery 1 side of the monitoring panel. I followed a black and white wire down through the back of the fridge and it does not tie in at the converter and main panel si I’m not sure where the power comes from. Hoping that there is a fuse that I’m missing. I would look harder on the fridge but as I don’t have 12 volts to the back there doesn’t seem much use in pulling the board out. Need to figure out what exactly feeds that black and white wire.

    • Curtis

      Robert there should be a 12 volt dc fuse panel possibly in the same area as the 110 volt ac circuit breaker panel. It sounds like you may have blown a fuse there or you might have tripped a GFI interupter. Look in the bathroom at outlets and in the kitchen. If a GFI tripped there should be an indicator light or a button popped out.

      • Robert

        Thank you for the rapid reply. Right now I have the fridge in AC mode and it is working relatively well for a fifteen year old heating element. So I checked the GFI on board and all the AC stuff is good. Still no dc to the wires that feed the fridge control’s. Could there be more than one supply of dc to the fridge. From my research there is generally only one in a two way fridge. Also worth noting is there are two fuses on the coach associated with the fridge. Both are in the panel under the hood. One is labeled 12v fridge (ref. B) that has no wire leaving it and appears to be in case a 3 way fridge was installed. There is also a refrig. Pilot light 12v. Doesn’t seem to be in use either. In either case. Both fuses are fine but there is no power to them. All the fuses at the ac/dc panel are fine. I traced the black and white refrigerator 12v wires down through the electrical cabinet into a channel on the floor. Where they go after this is a mystery. They could have easily drawn 12v off the batteries via a fuse in the cabinet so there must have been a reason they ran there own wires. Could there be a 12 breaker I’m not accounting for? Or possibly a in line fuse? I feel like my biggest clue is the loss of the monitoring panel power for water level and prop. lvl as well as one battery percentage. I will be sure to post as soon as the issue is resolved. This had got me stumped.

        • Curtis

          Robert, I think at this point you know as much or more than I do about this problem. There is so much difference between how different manufacturers do things i really can’t be of much help.

          • Robert

            Alright, so I found the culprit. There was a 5 amp fuse that I missed under the hood in the fuse panel. Once that was replaced everything lit up. Lots of patience and a little tenacity saved me on this one. Thank God I didn’t break anything. Note to self: Take you’re time when working with electricity.

  • Kent

    Curtis,
    What a great service you provide. I replaced a standard Norcold RV fridge and it has worked fine for about 8 months. Now though although the fridge gets to 40 degrees and works fine, the green sliding flame indicator no longer moves when the fridge lights. The only way to tell for sure is to go outside and check the flame. Any ideas ?

    • Curtis

      Sounds like you have a light failure. I have no idea the cost or ability to replace it, but as for my own methods I carefully listen for the flame. Even with a 35% hearing loss I can usually hear the flame inside my motorhome.

  • Informed01

    We do not seem to have power to the fridge. We’ve checked all the fuses, the ones on the board as well… No power…any suggestions would be appreciated

    • Curtis

      Informed01, Start from the beginning. Check the fuses and circuit breakers at the panel. If you don’t have power going into the panel, you won’t have anything at the refrigerator either. Don’t just look at them, get a voltage meter and confirm if there is power coming into the fuses as well. If everything is dead, your problem lies between the fuse panel and where it gets it’s source of power. Is the converter working? Do any of the interior 12 volt DC lights work?

      • Informed01

        Thanks for your response. There is power going into the board… This was confirmed. We also checked the 12v power and that works. Will check the converter.

        • Curtis

          Informed01, If you have power to the board and the 12v power works, the converter is fine. Next step is to look for power from the panel to the refrigerator. If you don’t have it at the refrigerator the problem lies in between.

      • Informed01

        Do you know how I would test to see if power is going through or leaving the board. We’re thinking it might be the board…however we’re not sure how bro text if power is making it beyond the board to the fridge??

        • Curtis

          Infomed01, Sorry, once you have confirmed you have power at the back of the fridge you have gone as far as I know. Boards are costly enough you don’t want to buy something you don’t need. I always recommend a dealer check it out to get the problem fixed right the first time.

          • Informed01

            OK thank you Curtis. By “the back of the fridge” you mean by opening up Tue external panel or thru the bottom of the fridge on the inside of the trailer where you remove the grate? Thanks again for your help

  • Kat Lam

    Hello Curtis, I have a Dometic rm2193 3-way fridge. It works fine on AC and DC, but won’t stay lit on propane. Diagnosis reveals 3 hrs of work needed to repair for a total of $375. Brand new replacement would cost $580 including installation, plus one-hour of the diagnostic charge for a total of $705. The fridge is 8 years old and is used infrequently. Is it worth repairing, or would it be wiser to bite the bullet and replace? What would be the average life expectancy of an RV fridge?

    • Curtis

      Kat, I would estimate normal life at around 15 yrs +-. Question, what are they doing to it for $375. The most common failure for what you describe is the thermocouple that senses the flame. True labor rates are near $100 an hours. I guess the choice is yours, with new you get a 2 yr warranty. If it is the thermocouple, the fridge is very repairable.

      • Kat Lam

        Their labor rate is $125 an hour (this is Camping World). They charged one hour to determine that the problem is a dirt dauber’s nest plugging up the line. Additional two hours labor is to pull it out of the cabinet (they can’t get to the back of it without doing so), clean out the nest, do overall service/maintenance (never had this done before), and check everything to make sure this is the only problem. In the end there could be some other problem that will be identified as the real culprit, I suppose, like the thermocouple that would be in addition to the $375. I wonder what the parts and labor on that might run if it is needed? I will owe the $375 regardless, if I decide to let them go any further. $125 if I have them stop now.

        • Curtis

          Kat, Wow, their labor rate is top of the line for sure. It’s about $90 an hr here. Sadly what they plan on doing is pretty simple and straight forward. I’m guessing you have it there with them now, and are stuck for the $125 regardless. At this point it is probably most practical to let them do the work as you would be starting from scratch taking it anywhere else. If it is mud daubers like they say, the odds are slim there is any other parts involved. It’s just a matter of disassembly and cleaning and putting it back together. It must be something unusual about the installation if they can’t do it from the outside without removing the refridge. The amount of work justifies the time, but the per hr cost is high by my book. I guess you are kind of stuck at this point.

          • Kat Lam

            Thanks Curtis, this has been helpful. Now that I know I probably have a good many years of service left in it and the work time they estimated is reasonable, I will probably go ahead with the repair rather than replacing. Hopefully they won’t find anything else wrong. Thanks so much for your help.

  • LuAnn Goggin Patterson

    1998 Winnebago Minnie Winnie- had been running on electric since I bought it in April. Finally got propane about a week ago. Had to drive the RV to the station for the fill. Up until night before last it was working fine. I initially noticed some water on the floor & that it appeared to be defrosting. Yesterday evening the puddle was bigger and the inside was barely cool. Today no cool. RV dealer told me to turn on my burners to make sure no air in line and that it was set to Auto mode. I don’t know if I’m doing it right or not. HELP!

    • LuAnn Goggin Patterson

      It is a Norcold.

    • Curtis

      LuAnn, When they fill the propane they shut off the valve first. Once that is done you probably got a little air in the line to the fridge. Reopen the valve, they probably didn’t. Then light a burner. Once a burner will light, most of the air has worked out. Then turn the refrigerator on and set it for gas operation. Once you hear the flame, you will have to listen real close outside by the fridge, it should stay going ok. You may have to try starting it on gas a couple times before it takes until all the air get worked out of the line. This is normal operating procedure for starting the fridge the first time out of storage, or any time you ;have the propane shut off.

  • Existentialist1

    HI Curtis, I have a norcold in a 1993 Winnebago brave. Freezer works great, No ice buildup, currently set on Gas mode. Refridgerator isn’t cooling at all, the fins in the back are cool to cold to the touch….but, probably not as cold as they should be. outside temperature is approx. 90degrees, low humidity. Any suggestion? :) Thanks – Newbie RVer! :_)

    • Curtis

      Existentialist1, First the refridge cools down much slower than the freezer. And a full fridge works better than an empty one. That said, the quality of your flame may be lacking. If the fridge works fine on electricity, I’d vacuum around the burner area real good. Rust falling down from above may be the issue.

      • Existentialist1

        Great suggestions!! Going to give all that a shot. Just started the unit up about 6 hours ago. Fridge is empty, as is freezer. Going to put some stuff in it and then tackle the other 2. Haven’t tried the fridge on AC yet…but will check flame and burner area! Thanks a lot ! :)

  • Peter P. V. Creencia

    hi curtis, my norcold fridge on my motorhome won’t turn on, check the breaker is ok(reset) still does not turning on. open the back and see this black square plastic with wire connection the red LED light is on.
    thank you and hoping you can help me.

    • Curtis

      Peter, Checking the breaker is only the first step. Your fridge needs 12 VDC to operate as well. There is likely a fuse in your fuse panel and there is a possibility of a fuse on the back of the fridge or mounted on a circuit board. This varies with make and model. You need to check for actual voltage with a multi-meter to confirm there really is both voltages right at the back of the refrigerator. If you find you do have proper voltages the next step if no lights or anything are turning on is to take it to a dealer and have them diagnose further.

  • LaGina Bednar

    I purchased a 1994 wilderness 5th wheeler, lil age but taken care of, only thing not working is frig, any suggestions, I had a suggestion putting in regular frig freezer thank you

    • Curtis

      LaGina, About all you can do is check for both 12vdc power and 110vac power at the back of the fridge. Does it work on propane? I guess I need more information to give you an idea what to do next. If there is a flame and the propane burner stays lit but it won’t cool it is likely the cooling unit is plugged. That is too costly a repair to be practical. But first you have to eliminate the easy stuff. Does it have power? Will the burner light?

  • Brent

    I have a 2007 viking tent trailer with a dometic fridge, I plugged in an electrical heater and now the electrical outlets and fridge don’t work. I checked the breakers (outlets on the other breaker work fine) and the fuses and all are in working order. I took apart the outlet and it is fine as well. The fridge does not work on the electrical option (110) but does stay lit when using propane, but doesn’t cool the fridge. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Curtis

      Brent, If the propane stays lit you either have a poor quality flame or the cooling unit is not working. I would turn it off and vacuum around the burner area. Then restart the fridge on propane and see if it cools.If not, the problem is the cooling unit and repair is probably not economical. If it does cool then tackle the electrical issue. You may also have a circuit board problem that is keeping it from cooling. Try the vacuum trick first then take it to a dealer to have it diagnosed by a technician.

      • Brent

        Thanks for the reply! I plugged the fridge directly into an electrical cord and the fridge works perfectly, now to figure out the electrical issue. Thanks for the help!

  • Andrew

    Hi,
    I have a dometic auto select model in a 2008 pioneer. It works fantastic when plugged in to ac power but this last time I went to dry camp it would not work with gas. I tried everything I could in the field. I took the cover off and blew everything out. I opened control board and checked fuses. I tried repeatedly hand lighting it with a long lighter but it would only work for a few minutes, auto light again, go out again, repeat. The manual was useless. All I found was that in high tempos it could overheat but after I returned from the woods I messed with it more and still can’t get it to stay lit and work. Again, it works great on electricity. Suggestions? What is the most common part that goes out so I can start replacing things?

    • Curtis

      Andrew, the most common failure for propane operation is the thermocouple that sense the flame. If it goes bad the burner will shut off seconds after lighting.

      • Andrew

        Thanks for the speedy reply. Hopefully it’s a part that is available, affordable, and easy to replace. I have a trip planned one week from now.

  • Dina Bragg Cop

    My freezer works but my refrigerator in my 95 Komfort does not work. We have not used it in about 6 years. If freezer works and fridge doesn’t is it still potentially cooling unit?

    • Curtis

      Dina, First make sure it isn’t cooling, the fridge part is more subtle in it’s cooling if it is empty it may feel like it isn’t working. If indeed isn’t cooling, yes it can still be the cooling unit. The freezer is the first stop for the coolant so it is the last to fail. If there are plugged tubes in the fridge part of the cooling unit it won’t cool.

      • Dina Bragg Cop

        Thanks for your speedy response. I will go home and check it out :)

  • Donna Honey

    I have a Dometic 2652 fridge in a 2010 Springdale 5th wheel. The fridge works fine for 2-3 days & then for no reason seems to lose coolness & we have to switch to gas. It cools fine on gas. Any idea what the problem might be?

    • Curtis

      Donna, The electric option amounts to a heating element attached to the cooling unit. Heating elements are usually a work or no work situation. When they fail, they burn out and will no longer work at all. That said, the only idea I have as to your problem is a possible low voltage caused because you are trying to run your RV through a light duty household extension cord at a standard 15 amp outlet. If you have too many lights or other power using things turned on there just isn’t enough power to properly heat the heating element and cooling will suffer, Make sure you have adequate power is my recommendation.

  • JH

    We just purchased a 1977 Dodge Sportsman and it has a Trav’ler By Elixir
    Fridge. When we plugged it in to our house outlet, the Freezer got
    freezing and the fridge got to 55 degrees. We took it camping two weeks
    ago and removed the 15 amp adapter at the camp site and plugged in
    directly with the 30 amp connecter. About 12 hours later the fridge was
    at 32 degrees and the freezer was ice cold.

    About a week later, I
    plugged it in at home again to see what would happen. Now the freezer
    doesn’t even get cold. (Nor does the fridge)

    When you check the back of the fridge, the coils are really hot. I haven’t tried running it on propane though.

    Other
    notes: When I plug it in at home, the front end of the RV is higher
    than the back end. When the fridge worked while camping, the front end
    was lower than the back end.

    Thanks in advance for you help,
    Jeremy

    • Curtis

      JH, First the refrigerator needs to be as level as possible to work properly. You can get a small circle level and leave it in the fridge to check for level when you park. Next you need to run the fridge on both elec, and then on gas to see if the problem is common to both methods or only happens when on elec. Then check all fuses and circuit breakers to make sure you have power to the fridge.

  • Randy Thomas

    I have a Norcold6182 in my caper it works fine on ac, when I turn it to auto and shut down ac it doesn’t fire up! I can turn it to lp and it works as long as ac is plugged in, any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Randy, If your battery is dead, it won’t work because the Fridge needs 12vdc to run on propane.When you plug the RV in, you are supplying the 12vdc by the converter.

      • Randy Thomas

        I have 12.8 volts going into control board, that might be the problem, the power board. I noticed that gas valve has power when on ac but when ac is off, no power to gas valve.

        • Curtis

          Randy, Could be. I always suggest having a technician diagnose circuit board issues. Hard to say what’s the problem otherwise.

  • Blair Matson

    Hey there I have a 78 dodge fireball with a trav’ler elixir fridge that worked fine for a while on both gas and electricity. A little while back I noticed it stopped working with the flame still on. I turned it off and ignited it again and it worked for a few days then quit. Did the same again and it only worked for a day…When it works it works very well making ice at 30 degrees Celsius. I would appreciate any help you can offer thanks

  • Evan

    Hello Curtis I have a Norcold 8310EG2 in my 1986 Bounder Motor home the fridge works fine on gas and gets cold. But when I put it on Electric the green light in the front comes on but it doesn’t get cold. I checked the power plug in for 110v and it works and I did an omms test on the 2 white wires going to the heating element and get a steady 41. The 2 terminal on the board that they connect too shows nothing. I checked the 2 fuses on the board and there good. So I guess would this be a board issue that needs to be changed?

    • Curtis

      Evan, You have done everything right. I draw the line at trying to diagnose circuit board issues because my knowledge runs out at that point. I can’t guarantee you’re correct, but it is highly likely.

  • Rene

    We have a 1997 Sportsmen with a 6162 Norwood refrigerator. We are using l.p.. flame is good, freezer or refrigerator do not seem to be cooling. What is our first step?

    • Curtis

      Rene, First step is to see what it does on A.C. If it works there it will eliminate the cooling unit. If not, then you may have a bad cooling unit.

      • Rene

        Will check in morning with generator. Thank you

        • Rene

          Working on AC. The red x hasn’t come on.

          • Curtis

            Rene, Sorry, my knowledge is only good with general operation. I don’t know what you are referring to and if it is something specific to your model I’m unfamiliar with specific models.

  • Mac

    Hey Curtis,
    My name is Mac, I have a 2014 Sandpiper 366Fl. It is only 7 weeks old. I had a Convertor that went out. Once this was change the Microwave and the refrigerator has problems. The microwave does not have power now. The refrigerator works on gas only. Is there a reset swicth on any of these. Or do you have any idea what has happen. I live and work out of my RV.

    • Curtis

      Mac, Since both items operate on 110 volts I would suspect you have one or more circuit breakers that have tripped. All 110 volt items are protected by circuit breakers and all 12 volt items are protected by fuses. Time to find the electrical panel.

  • Randy

    Great Information! Thanks
    the links to the manuals may be be or just busy, been trying to get to them a couple days

    • http://thefuntimesguide.com/ FunTimesGuide

      Thanks for the heads up, Randy. I’ve replaced the broken links :-D

  • pipster55

    Hi Curtis,
    I’ve got a question for you. I have a Dometic RM2150 12v/gas from an older Volkswagen westfalia. It works on 12v fine but haven’t been able to get the gas to flow thru the thermostat. I get gas thru the shutoff valve and out the bypass screw when opened, but nothing out the safety valve with plunger held in. I have a feeling that the main valve in the thermostat is stuck due to non use and contaminants in the propane.
    Any idea what would help dissolve propane residue?
    Would you know how the capillary tube is held in the box? Acts like some kind of putty.
    I found a new thermostat but right now it seems cost prohibitive compared to what I paid for the fridge. Just like to test things out before I jump in too deep.
    Really looking for generic answers since specifics would be be a little much.
    Thanks,
    Geoffrey

    • Curtis

      pipster55, I don’t know that contaminants is the problem. With aluminum bodied valves there may be a chance of corrosion inside. Not a good thing. If it’s a sticky valve, you might try tapping on it with the handle of a screw driver. As to how things are held together, I’m afraid I don’t know.

  • My_oh_why

    Good Morning, I have a Norcold. It works fine on LP gas but not AC. Flashing light failure code indicates – AC heater not working. Do you know how we can repair?

    • Curtis

      My_oh_why, How nice you have a refrigerator that tells you what is wrong with it! There is an AC heating element located inside the chimney area up against the cooling unit boiler. It has apparently burned out and can be replaced by disassembling and installing a new one. There should be a parts breakdown in your manual or you can likely download a copy off the internet from Norcold with the correct model information.

  • Randy Cusson

    The RV Norcold fridge/freezer I have does not show any power. I tried the on/off button at the front of the fridge. I opened the back and saw there was power to the unit as a little red light is on.
    Seems to me it must be a fuse or something. It is a three way .
    Randy

    • Curtis

      Randy, I have no idea! I need way more information to help you. You tell me if it is 3-way or not. Reference the model number to the Norcold website, or your manual. Then determine whether or not it functions on any modes…. 12 VDC, if so equipped, 110VAC, or Propane. Once you can tell me what it is or is not doing, then I can guide you better.

  • Randy Cusson

    Thanks Curtis. I will dig into it.
    R

  • miguel

    Hi Randy my name is miguel the rv norcold is ice and cold in the freezer but the fridge dos’t work how i can rapair

    • Curtis

      Miguel, if the fridge works this way on both electricity and propane it is likely the problem is the cooling unit is starting to plug up. If that is the case it may not be economicall feasible to repair it. You will need to take it to an RV dealer and have them assess the situation and compare the price between repairing and buying a new fridge to determine which way you should go.

  • American Hero

    I just bought a Rallye motor home, but the fridge gets hot and smells from ammonia, on AC. The green light does not show either. I had it on for over 8 hours.

    • Curtis

      Hero, bad news I’m afraid if you smell ammonia the cooling unit is leaking and your refrigerator is toast probably not worth repairing

  • Benjamin

    Hello there Curtis, nice to meet you! I just bought a ’91 Lance with a Dometic RM2501 gas electric fridge. I’m running it on gas and that part of the system seems to be working just fine. My camper is also perfectly leveled. A few minutes after starting it, the fridge makes dripping and gurgling sounds. After 24 hours of this, though, the fridge still isn’t cold. Is there anything I can do myself to make this work?

    • Curtis

      Benjamin, By operating fine I’m guessing you mean the burner lights and stays lit. You make no mention of electrical operation. Gurgling noises are normal, the ammonia mixture in the cooling unit percolates similar to a coffee pot. Is the freezer getting cold enough to make Ice? The refrigerator cooling is more subtle. It works better if it isn’t empty. Put a case of beer in it and let it run over night. If the beer is cold it’s working fine. If you smell ammonia at all, you have a serious problem. The cooling unit is leaking and is junk.

      • Benjamin

        Yes Curtis, the burner is lit and heats the flu quite hot to the touch. I have tried using the electrical operation, but discontinued after i was satisfied that the heating element works. The freezer is barely cool, I’m gonna say it feels like anything would after resting in a cool shaded place. In lieu of beer, I went ahead and placed a gallon of bottled water in the freezer and one in the fridge.

        • Curtis

          Benjamin, Not a good sign, the freezer should be actually creating frost within an hour or so. It won’t hurt anything to let it run over night, but it it hasn’t created ice cubes in the freezer and the jug in the fridge isn’t well chilled you may have a circuit board issue or a cooling unit issue. Either on will require the expertise of an RV dealer technician to confirm and advise as to the feasibility of repair. Weigh carefully the expense of repair vs just having a new one installed. New comes with a 2 yr warranty. Repair, if it is the cooling unit, will likely cost over half that of a new refrigerator with labor. A new refrigerator can be exchange for about an hours labor. Dismantling a refrigerator to replace the cooling unit at $100 per hr can add up fast.

          • Benjamin

            Well thank you so much for your timely responses.

  • tom

    Hello Curtis, I am about to buy a used Monaco DP that is fully electric and has 22 cub.ft electric only fridge. I would like to add propane capability for the fridge and the stove to extend my boon docking time. Would it be possible to do this? And if not, is it even possible to replace that large fridge and take it out through the DP doors and bring one in the same way?

    • Curtis

      Tom, If this coach is fully electric, meaning there is no propane tank or gas plumbing, you will be taking of a considerable task and expense to convert it. It appears to be designed to travel from one RV resort to the next with mechanicals on board being just sufficient for the driving time. If Boon docking is your goal I’d consider a different RV. Whether or not the fridge will make it out the door, you have a far better chance of judging that than I.

      • tom

        The DP has 5 new residential batteries 4 solar panels, and a 12.5kw generator. If I was not to run the generator, can you give me a rough idea how long it would last me just by using the fridge and lights only?
        My second question is, I like this DP because it is a well maintained 2002 Monaco Signature. How much roughly would I be looking to spend to add propane options?
        Thanks again!!

        • Curtis

          Tom, It sounds like this coach is well designed with enough solar power to run things indefinitely. You should just go forth and enjoy it as it is. Propane is rapidly going out of fashion and is being replaced with solar as a better choice. 4-100W solar panels and a bank of 5 batteries should be adequate to keep your beer cold indefinitely. If you get a string of cloudy days, you have the generator as a fail safe option. I would forget the idea of propane all together and just keep it as it is. If this is how it came from the factory, and is not some back yard solar/electric conversion, you’re golden. Even if it was converted by someone qualified to do so, likely it does the job just fine. I think you may be hooked on propane because it has been the standard for decades. Many manufacturers are now building rigs that are all electric. Consider yourself lucky to be getting in on the cutting edge technology. The key is who designed it and installed the solar equipment. If it was the factory, don’t worry, be happy. If it was after market, do your homework. Confirm it’s operating history. I still say it is impractical to convert to propane.. no matter the expense. You would be talking many thousands of dollars.

          • tom

            Thank you very much Curtis, your experience and advise are priceless!!

    • tom

      Thank you very very much Curtis!

  • HarryDickman

    Hey Curtis,

    I have a norcold frig unit in my 95 chalet trailer. The unit work on AC but not on LP. I have gas at the point where there is a splice in to a shorter copper line that leads into the auto valve. The unit click like it want’s to start when the LP switch is on. I put a lighter at the burner but it doesn’t light. I think it might be the auto valve. Do they go bad or do I need to remove and try cleaning it?

    • Curtis

      Harry, About the only servicing I recommend by RV owners is to thoroughly vacuum the burner and surrounding area. Very often debris and rust particles falling from above plug up the burner and make it impossible to light. Beyond that, the danger of creating an undetected gas leak is too great so I recommend a qualified technician take the repairs further.

  • sandrada

    We are first-timers & bought a 2007 Puma with Dometic RM2662 fridge. My silly question: Is the symbol for “on” the circle or vertical line?

    • Curtis

      Generally the circle with the vertical line indicates the power or on/off switch. Push it once for on, push it a second time for off.

  • andrea patton

    hey Mr. Curtis, We have a 2005 Fleetwood Excursion the heat module on the Norcold 1200LRIMSS refrigerator keeps turning the frig off /the red light comes on and cuts it off as it should but really it has never cooled very well even on 9…we are having trouble finding the part no. 634677 any ideas?

    • Curtis

      Andrea, Approaching Norcold directly, maybe at a regional manager level, might at least exhaust all possibilities.

  • Tracy Hoffman Cindy Iuzzolino

    We have a Norcold N621 in our RV seemed to be doing just fine until I noticed the lp gas had fired. We are plugged into 30amp and have the setting on auto and it was running on electric. For some reason the code H comes up and it won’t run on electric just gas all of the sudden. Any suggestions?

    • Curtis

      Tracy, first shut the refrigerator completely off wait one minute and turn it back on. If it still refuses to stay on electric and shows a code,it is likely you have a problem. You may have a burned out heating element or a circuit board issue. The best you can do kiss test for voltages at the heating element. If there is voltage coming into it the element is bad and needs to be replaced. If not we may have a circuit board problem and I recommend taking it to an RV dealer to be diagnosed further.

      • Tracy Hoffman Cindy Iuzzolino

        Ok so we shut the fridge off and turned it back on and now it is staying on electric I just hope it is running. It is quiet like always so I am hoping it is. What would cause it to do that ?

        • Curtis

          Tracy, a power surge a momentary interruption to power any number of things could have triggered it to go to gas. If it is staying on electric it is probably OK. Just check to make sure it is staying cool.

          • Tracy Hoffman Cindy Iuzzolino

            Hello Curtis I got another question. I had a repair guy come out and he said it was the heating element so he has one on order for us. Can you tell me if that is causing the slats in the back of the fridge that keep it cool are icing up only on one side that has been like that ever since we had the rv. Would that be the heating element causing that? I forgot to ask him that. Thanks again for all your help

          • Curtis

            Tracy, no the heating element basically does exactly what the flame does it heats the fluid in the cooling unit. The coolant percolates just like a coffee pot through the system there is no pump. The first place it goes is the freezer which allows it to go below freezing after that it progresses to the refrigerator and it makes sense that the cooling ability would be greater at one end then the other. what you are describing sounds like normal operation to me.

  • Tracy Hoffman Cindy Iuzzolino

    Thank you Curtis. How do you test for voltages at the heating element?

    • Curtis

      Tracy, you test with a multimeter and extreme care. This is 110 volts you are talking about and if you do not understand electricity it is better left for someone who does.

  • CDR

    Curtis! So happy I ran across your article. We are Newbies to this RV thing and I have a question that I hope doesn’t sound too silly. .. when dry camping with my fridge set on propane, it stops working when my battery does. If it is using propane, why does it care if we have battery power our not?

    • Curtis

      CDR, Yes, that’s right. It still needs electricity to run the electronics in it. Not much electricity, but if the battery is dead it won’t run. Time to look into a solar panel if you are dry camping for longer periods of time, or forgo using lights so the battery lasts longer.

  • Steve Kirby

    I have a problem with my refrigerator freezer is the only thing working

    • Curtis

      Steve, this can be an indication that the cooling unit is going south. The freezer is the first stop for the cooling action, then what’s left goes on to the refrigerator. If there are plugged or partially plugged tubes, it may not be cooling enough anymore. It’s pretty much something that needs to be tested by a qualified RV tech.

  • Robby Mossop

    Need picture of the wiring for a coldstar silver line refrigerator there was a gas leak and burnt the wiring would like to rewire it. It is in a 1982 ford 23 foot mh

    • Curtis

      Sorry Robby, I can’t find anything about that refrigerator with what information you have given. Year and age of the motorhome doesn’t help. You need to do a search on the make and model number and serial number of the refrigerator. The only brands I’m familiar with are Dometic and Norcold. You may have something that was installed by a previous owner at some point.

      • Robby Mossop

        Bl 5992 for a model number Found That On a plate

        • Curtis

          Robby, All I came up with is that Coldspot is a Kenmore (Sears) brand name. Is this an electric refrigerator? If so it is a replacement from the original and I would have no information about 110v electric compressor type refrigerators.

          • Robby Mossop

            Ok it is a 3 way 12v 110 and gas

          • Curtis

            Robby, I still only have what I can find on the internet for information, & I cannot find anything on that brand. Sorry I’m not much help to you.

          • Robby Mossop

            That’s ok thanks. I can’t find anything eather. Hope someone will see this that has one.