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Old 10-22-2019, 03:15 PM   #1
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Default Dometic fridge quit cooling

Our Dometic refrigerator quit cooling satisfactorily on the road. First night on the road we were on shore power and it was set too cool and froze the contents. It worked ok for a couple of days, but performance keeps going down hill, to the point of keeping contents in the 50s with outside temperature usually in the 60s. We are careful to keep the coach level within reason at all times. I opened the outside compartment and the flue is too hot to hold. Found nothing unusual other than the evaporator cooling fan fell to pieces, but I should not need it with the current cool temperatures. Any ideas/suggestions? Thanks!
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Old 10-22-2019, 09:35 PM   #2
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That is how mine quit on my Leisure Travel Freedom. Had to replace it with the Dometic I think 2354. It took some doing to get it in there. Mine started cold and slowly got warmer.
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Old 10-23-2019, 10:42 PM   #3
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Began on shore power; too cold. At moderate temps your thermostat should be set low. I just left Phoenix and even here had to have my Dometic on 2 to not freeze.

Performance keeps going downhill. Unclear. Are you on shore power when this happens or propane or 12v? Our first night we were on propane with night temps down into the 40s/day70s. Again had to have it on 3-4 to avoid fridge temps in the 20s.

Next 2 days at Petrified Forest on shore. Similar outside temps. Had to keep fridge set at 1 (lowest setting).

So were you always on 120v? Was your flue hot only when you were on 120v?
Or all the time.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:10 PM   #4
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The first night we were on 120v but always on propane after that. The flue is still hot but the fridge is essentially nonfunctioning, about 60 degrees. The indicator needle on the front is in its normal positioning. We are adding ice to the fridge to keep items cooler. I am almost resigned to purchase a new unit. Hopefully my RV serviceman has a solution when we get back home.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:31 PM   #5
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So you're dealing with a newer fridge than mine I'm guessing. I think that there are several elements here: 1. the cooling plumbing/transfer tubes, etc.,
2. The heating mechanism, and 3. The control via thermostat, circuit board of the heating.

The fact that it cools fine on 120v would suggest to me that #1 is probably ok. If that plumbing was bad, it wouldn't cool well on any heat source.

When I run on propane on my (older) Dometic, there's really not much of a control. It's always on.........except when the thermostat says that the desired internal temperature is reached, it goes into "low burner" mode where the burner flame is reduced. I'm guessing to a more "pilot light" level. Then when the thermostat detects that the inside temp is warming, it kicks back to the full flame level. So your problem could be faulty thermostat or circuit board (I know nothing about that since my old unit doesn't have one).

Flue getting hot to touch, though, should be a good sign. It's possible that the burner itself is not properly centered. If it were off-center it could be primarily heating the side of the flue and not the boiler tube itself.
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Old 10-24-2019, 11:35 PM   #6
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Clarify my above: if the burner tube is out of center, it still would function properly in 120v mode since that is in a different location. Here's a link to a Dometic document that might help you or your service person:

http://rvrefrigeratorrepair.com/wp-c...ervice-AES.pdf
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Old 10-25-2019, 01:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gksmith View Post
The first night we were on 120v but always on propane after that. The flue is still hot but the fridge is essentially nonfunctioning, about 60 degrees. The indicator needle on the front is in its normal positioning. We are adding ice to the fridge to keep items cooler. I am almost resigned to purchase a new unit. Hopefully my RV serviceman has a solution when we get back home.
Having an indicator needle would indicate an older style fridge without a circuit board, correct?

As this would seem to be an issue when only on LP try it on 120 when you get home or somewhere with shore power.

You could have a dirty and/or corroded burner and/or a dirty flue, for starters.
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Old 10-25-2019, 10:53 PM   #8
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Thanks for the suggestions. We are boondocking in the NE with all campgrounds closed, so no 120 available until we get home next week to test 120. We have definitely been on bumpy roads so burner centering might be an issue. Bumpy roads may have solved our genset problem as it would only run a few minutes at a time when we started and now it runs flawlessly! I theorize something got dislodged somewhere that keeps it from running out of gas. Thanks again!
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Old 10-29-2019, 07:47 PM   #9
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I forgot one thing. Dometic has a spec for the LP pressure at the inlet to the fridge. It has to be within a specific range for it to work properly. I believe it's something like 11.5 inches with half of the other LP appliances turned on. If it's beneath this, the fridge won't work properly. Have your RV guy measure the pressure at the inlet to the fridge. I think there is a port there to attach a gauge.
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Old 10-30-2019, 12:21 PM   #10
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Good thought. I purchased a pressure gauge a couple of years ago to check but had forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder.
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Old 10-31-2019, 04:46 PM   #11
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Been telling people this for years. Set a rechargeable small fan in the fridge, top shelf & pointed at the evaporator. They take up less space then the worthless Camco one, and most have 3 speeds. I keep mine on low, and change it out once or twice a day with a second charged one. Think about it, ALL residential refrigerators have a fan blowing and circulating the evaporator's cool air. If nothing takes the cold from the evaporator, the sensor thinks everything is cold, and eventually it ices up. I know others talk about the external fan, (Not saying this is a bad idea) but since I did this a year or so ago, I've had NO issues, and at that time I was full timing, often times it extreme heat. Many years ago I was a HVAC Tech, for what it's worth.
Sometimes the simple solution, is the best solution. Shop around on Amazon, about $15. Mine last for 8 or so hours. The one I bought is no longer available, but you should be able to find a similar one.
Good Luck
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Old 11-23-2019, 03:40 AM   #12
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Default Update on Dometic Fridge Cooling Problem

While on the road in the North East, we ended up buying ice and using it in the refrigerator. But, once during the trip, we decided to try gas again. It lit and cooled, BUT to the point of again freezing the contents, much to our surprise. BUT after that, it again quit cooling properly and we could not use it--went back to ice. Now back home, I am finding out that when having the fridge on 120V, the GFCI trips after a few minutes. Can this somehow be connected? The only connection I can see would be the thermostat sticking one way or another. Is this possible? I will be away from the B several days, so I cannot test gas again for awhile. I am almost ready to buy a replacement refrigerator but hate to do so if I don't have to. Comments???
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:04 PM   #13
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Your GFI problem adds to my belief that your fridge is like my old one was. Mine constantly popped it. I unplugged the AC plug to it and it didn't pop anymore. My AC element was covered with rust and shorting to ground. Also had a green looking stain on the boiler pipe by the burner. I just finally replaced it myself but it required some modification to fit correctly in my coach. I really didn't like my old one since I had to get down on the floor of the camper to light it or adjust it since the controls were on the bottom of it. My new one has controls at the top and is much easier to use.
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Old 11-23-2019, 03:31 PM   #14
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Sounds to me that you might have multiple problems. Did you ever identify your model of Dometic for us?

1. Freezing in gas mode: The older models don't cycle on/off to control temperature. They don't automatically relight. What they do is go from high flame to low flame (pilot light-ish). That change is controlled by the thermostat. If it doesn't go into low flame mode it could cause freezing even if on lowest setting since the settings themselves are not actually being observed. This might indicate a faulty thermostat.

2. Popping GFI: I agree with vwmaniaman. It could be that your AC heating element has a problem. Again: I don't know the model, but on my old Dometic there is a covered junction box at the bottom-back of the fridge that is easily accessible. In it the various electricals are connected, including the leads that come from the AC and 12v (if yours is a 3-way) heating elements. You can easily disconnect the AC heating element leads and do a resistance test with a multimeter.

I don't know if I sent you any service documents. I have one that covers models RM2310 thru RM2810. Do you want it?
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Old 11-23-2019, 03:40 PM   #15
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Default Dometic refrigerators- on propane??

I'm sorry to say this, but, I just can't respect Dometic propane refrigerators....

WHY?

Well, after all the inconsistent performance just like all of you are experiencing warm temperatures..

I had plenty of issues with leveling, altitude issues where it just stopped working.... and finally leaking water from the unit....

I now have a Nova Kool electric refrigerator that runs on AC/DC ... ultra efficient and so quiet.. I can't hear it running in the coach.

It's no wonder that most modern RV models today don't have propane refrigerators... they are all electric.....

If you want more consistent performance, get rid of the propane refrigerator and switch to a compressor electric model.... you will be very happy ....
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Old 11-23-2019, 05:19 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtrek Adventuous RS1 View Post
I'm sorry to say this, but, I just can't respect Dometic propane refrigerators....

WHY?

Well, after all the inconsistent performance just like all of you are experiencing warm temperatures..

I had plenty of issues with leveling, altitude issues where it just stopped working.... and finally leaking water from the unit....

I now have a Nova Kool electric refrigerator that runs on AC/DC ... ultra efficient and so quiet.. I can't hear it running in the coach.

It's no wonder that most modern RV models today don't have propane refrigerators... they are all electric.....

If you want more consistent performance, get rid of the propane refrigerator and switch to a compressor electric model.... you will be very happy ....
That's nice.

Doesn't help much with the OP's dilemma, though. OP is still trying to use/diagnose the old fridge, though (s)he may get to that point.

Other things do come into play with an all electric fridge, though, if boondocking is involved, i.e. battery capacity, solar, etc.

BTW, my LP fridge works just fine in 100 degree days and at 11,000 feet.

Do you have a link to back up this statement?

"It's no wonder that most modern RV models today don't have propane refrigerators".

My thinking is that probably most class B motor homes have an all electric fridge, the rest of the RV market, comprising of about 95% of RVs sold, not so much.
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Old 11-23-2019, 05:31 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadtrek Adventuous RS1 View Post
I'm sorry to say this, but, I just can't respect Dometic propane refrigerators....
WHY?
Well, for starters, many of us don't experience the problems that you were having with your unit, including, as I recall, burnt wiring. Altitude and leveling haven't been issues as many in the past have said in their comments. LP fridges are subject to ambient outside temps which may be their greatest issue. But that isn't the OP's complaint. His is too cold at times and shutting off completely at others. Those suggest that it is not functioning as designed. Rather, some component is failing.

In addition, a change to comp fridge requires for most alterations in the electrical system. Those can be costly and for many it's not a question of IF you can afford it but if you can justify it based on how you use your RV and the frequency of use.
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Old 11-24-2019, 02:15 AM   #18
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Thanks to all for your replies. I can always count on good suggestions here! I apologize for not giving my model number, but I cannot for a week. However I think it is 2351. In any case, it is in a 2004 Leisure Travel. The fridge obviously is 3way, with manual gas start, pushing a square button to strike the piezo lighter. It has worked fine for us for our 3 years of ownership until this series of episodes developed. Most of our B usage is boondocking so an all electric fridge is not for us -- I am fine with propane, especially the modern versions. If I have to, we will replace it, but if I could make it work satsfactorily on propane, I would be happy. Judging from other posts, it seems likely the 120v is beyond hope, but since we are seldom plugged ia, that is not a deal killer. My belief is that the problem is with the thermostat itself as there is no circuit board that I know of. Hence my question--is the thermostat repairable/replacable?
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Old 11-24-2019, 04:59 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SteveJ View Post
That's nice.

Doesn't help much with the OP's dilemma, though. OP is still trying to use/diagnose the old fridge, though (s)he may get to that point.

Other things do come into play with an all electric fridge, though, if boondocking is involved, i.e. battery capacity, solar, etc.

BTW, my LP fridge works just fine in 100 degree days and at 11,000 feet.

Do you have a link to back up this statement?

"It's no wonder that most modern RV models today don't have propane refrigerators".

My thinking is that probably most class B motor homes have an all electric fridge, the rest of the RV market, comprising of about 95% of RVs sold, not so much.
Yes, I do... it's in the owners manual for the 8501, see language below..... Gas ignition fault.... it's not a malfunction.....

4.4 Gas operation (Liquid gas)

The refrigerator must be operated using
liquid gas (propane, butane) (no natural
gas or town gas).
When using LPG gas, please consider that
the burner needs cleaning at shorter inter-
vals due to the gas combustion method (2
- 3 times per year recommended.
In Europe, gas operation is permitted while
travelling only on the condition that the gas
system of the vehicle is equipped with a
hose rupture protection. The national regu-
lations of the respective country must be
observed.
For physical reasons, gas ignition faults
could occur starting from an altitude above
sea level of approx. 3280 ft. / 1000 m (No
malfunction!)

By the way.... the new models can go to 5,500 feet above sea level.. but, it still wouldn't have helped us in the Grand Canyon at 8,200 feet....

When we got back down to sea level....it started cooling again.... still, warmer weather made it VERY INCONSISTENT... The last trip wasn't even in super hot weather.... worked only on electric... didn't function on battery, all our food spoiled AGAIN 😡😡😡 and it leaked water from the bottom. 🥵.

That was it for me, and when I saw the electrical wires that all burned up right next to the active propane flame...I was extremely lucky to have dodged that bullet... good riddance. Someone pointed out to me that you can have an electrical fire with an all electric model, but, I certainly don't want to have an electric fire and a live propane flame burning together... that's a really bad combination..

On average there are approximately 4000 RV fires per year. It is reported that the number two cause of a fire is the RV refrigerator. The number one cause of fire is reported to be within the RV engine compartment, often in the electrical system.

From the internet,

https://www.arprv.com/rv-fires.php

Again, it is not just poor performance. It's safety.....

If you need more battery power, go solar....it will power an ultra efficient RV refrigerator....
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Old 11-24-2019, 05:37 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gksmith View Post
Thanks to all for your replies. I can always count on good suggestions here! I apologize for not giving my model number, but I cannot for a week. However I think it is 2351. In any case, it is in a 2004 Leisure Travel. The fridge obviously is 3way, with manual gas start, pushing a square button to strike the piezo lighter. It has worked fine for us for our 3 years of ownership until this series of episodes developed. Most of our B usage is boondocking so an all electric fridge is not for us -- I am fine with propane, especially the modern versions. If I have to, we will replace it, but if I could make it work satsfactorily on propane, I would be happy. Judging from other posts, it seems likely the 120v is beyond hope, but since we are seldom plugged ia, that is not a deal killer. My belief is that the problem is with the thermostat itself as there is no circuit board that I know of. Hence my question--is the thermostat repairable/replacable?
Again, when I looked at a possible replacement for my old Dometic propane refrigerator.... they don't make my model.. ONLY manufacturer larger ones. I don't know what I would have done if I had not sourced the Nova Kool...

Your 2351 is only a 3 cubic foot model...prey much the same size as my unit.... I was NOT going to have any retrofitting with my cabinets in the RV... I don't think you want that either....

My Nova Kool is a 3.5 cubic foot refrigerator/freezer.. only 1/2 cubic feet of freezer... it's small, but only takes 2.4 watts per hour.... very low power requirements.

Good luck...

By the way, the literature at Dometic says that it is a 2 way, gas and electric... you do need a 12 volt connection, but, it doesn't work on 12 volt battery power by itself..the 12 volt is for the controls on the panel.... just wanted to let you know...

The R3800 is a battery/electric compressor refrigerator...no propane gas. Ultra quiet. No leveling, no altitude issues, will work anywhere in any temperature.
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