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Old 10-09-2020, 05:35 PM   #1
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Default dometic fridge stubburn

Preparing for our 4th trip in our '12 RT 190.

The dometic fridge has never worked properly: gets aat best about 55 on propane (after a few days), almost nothing in ac/dc wiith "check" light coming on.

I know the van needs to be level for the fridge to cool.
I have read the ammonia can get "stuck" if left at an angle for a while.
My driveway is on a slope. I do make sure the van is level at campgrounds.
Should I try to alternate which direction the van is parked to minimize this issue? Its been parked a few weeks between trips.

Also I've removed the outside service panel and looking at the circuit board. Ive checked the 2 fuses (ok) but finding a stray unconnected blue wire on the left I cant find a home for.
Can anyone post a picture of this board wired up?
The white drain hose (?) is brittle and broken, I will replace the center section with rubber hose as it is right over the burner.

Will also be checking the flame color today but still need to figure out the ac/dc issue.
Trying to redeem myself (and the purchase of the van) with my wife as best I can. She keeps asking for a regular fridge and I tell her converting to a compressor fridge looks expensive.

Fridgeless in NC
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Old 10-09-2020, 05:52 PM   #2
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Could this indicate a need for a refrigerator "burping"?
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Old 10-09-2020, 06:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by rvsprinterguy View Post
Could this indicate a need for a refrigerator "burping"?
YES, the Burping is Critical & so long as you have the cap for the gas line, disconnecting the power to the unit, removing 4 or 6 screws, pulling it out & burping it for 24 hours, you will have a brand new fridge.

During hot summer months*, do small Dometic 3 Way Fridges work well WITHOUT additional fans, one Circulating Air inside the Fridge & a second blowing cool air across the fins/coils at the rear.

*6 plus months a year I was buying ice 3-5 times per week.

From what I have read here recently the newer Dometic 3 Way units come with the external fan oem now.

Levelling almost perfectly is critical if you want to kee the chemicals from "sticking ..."

Parking it in the same position, but a different orientation & hoping for the chemicals to return will not work. If you are parked for anything more than 20 minutes in hot weather or 40 minutes in cool weather, the damage cumulatively increases.

Unless you turn your fridge off.

I live in LA most of the time when the rig is being used & my rig came with a RM2354** which had been replaced twice by the previous owner & once by me & was ready to replace it a second time after suffering through 6 plus months per year of very poor performance until I came here & did all my research.

**Dometic is going downhill rapidly but even back when the unit was made, it had similar failures all over the USA.

My challenge was LA's weather & trying to find ANY parking for a big rig let alone level when I visit Patient's homes for 2 - 4 hours at a time.

I ended up buying a DC Compressor Fridge, a Novakool R3800*** which was the perfect fit for my Roadtrek Versatile with room to spare & it was 3.5 cubic feet, uses about 26 amps per day during the last two heatwaves we had & I keep my Freezer cold & my fridge, very cold.

BUT I had already installed 250.watts of Solar.

HOWEVER IT WAS A DISASTER AT FIRST BECAUSE MY CHARGING SYSTEM WAS EXPOSED AS FAULTY BY THE DRAW OF THE UNIT.

It was a simple negative connection deep under the bowels of my rig.

Let me repeat & add; This was done during the last two heatwaves & now that reconfigured my Battery System THERE IS NOT A SINGLE ISSUE. THE ENTIRE PROBLEM WAS AT MY END.

EVERY DAY THE CHEIF ENGINEER AT NOVAKOOL WOULD CALL ME & CHECK IN & OFFER SUGGESTIONS. IT TURNS OUT HE WAS RIGHT ON DAY ONE; It sounds like you have a weak or loose connection on your negative side of the charging system.

But with Covid I had to wait a couple of weeks to get into my RV Guy because he is always booked up.

***the R4500 fits in exactly the same footprint but uses up to 52amos per day & is 4.5 cubic feet.

I LOVE MY NOVAKOOL.

And while you cannot park on the side of a mountain at 50% degrees you can park just about everywhere else.

The Freedom to not be constantly scanning for level places to park to me, is critical.

Your 3 way will work on an angle in a limping fashion even if its off 5% but every day, its performance is reduced & on hot days, it will not maintain safe temperatures.

I LOVE MY NOVAKOOL.

I WOULD NEVER, EVER GO BACK TO A 3 WAY.
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Old 10-09-2020, 08:19 PM   #4
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So it is acceptable to park on an unlevel surface as long as the fridge is off?

Would the burping procedure be helpful for my low performance issue?

I do have spark and flame and notice no discoloration inside the fridge (from ammonia stress).
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Old 10-09-2020, 08:33 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicBox View Post
So it is acceptable to park on an unlevel surface as long as the fridge is off?
That is what Dometic says. I have a 1997 PleasureWay and still have the original Dometic 2310 in it. I burped it 1-2yrs ago and it did make a significant difference in performance. I pulled it and placed it on its side for 24hrs, then on the top for 24, then on the other side for 24, and finally in its normal upright position for 24 before testing (plugging it into 120v AC in the garage).

Dometic has specs for their units that give you the R-value for both the AC and DC heater elements. Those are worth checking. Easy if you have a volt/ohm meter.

I have Dometic documents in PDF form. What is your model number?

After saying all of the above...........an absorption fridge like yours and mine will only get you a certain number of degrees below the outside temperature.
And that varies with the condition of your unit's absorption plumbing. I'm getting 50 degrees fairly consistently. So when it's 85 outside, I get down to 30-35 degrees. When it's 110 out.........it's not really cutting it. We don't camp where it's hot.

Converting to compressor fridge is costly in that you'll probably have to add battery storage capability and some means to recover (recharge) those batteries.
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Old 10-09-2020, 09:27 PM   #6
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Default fridge

I have the RM 2354.

TMD mentioned capping the gas line during burping, Gotta find a suitable cap.
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Old 10-09-2020, 10:12 PM   #7
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I didn't cap the gas line. After shutting off the main valve on the LP tank I did purge the line as much as possible by letting the stove burner deplete what was left. I suppose the reason that you might cap off could be that you wouldn't want dirt to enter the line?

In checking my documents, the only one that I have lists multiple models but not yours. I'm attaching it because there may be similarities.

Dometic RM2310+others Service.pdf
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:14 AM   #8
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Default burp

Thank you TMD and GH,

Looks like I might do the burp.

I do enjoy the tinkering but I've recently retired. If I was still working I would be annoyed.

So far our HOA hasnt said anything about the 'golden shipping container" in my driveway and the tinkering has made for pleasant afternoons. If and when they say something I would seriously consider selling it.
F'ing around with battery charging and just getting basic functions to work is at least a part-time job.
The 'christmas tree" is always showing inaccurate black and grey tank levels, Thats another project.......
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Old 10-10-2020, 12:42 AM   #9
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Straight from the horse's mouth: "Thank you for contacting Dometic. The refrigerator should not be more than 3 degrees unlevel left to right, or 6 degrees unlevel front to back. We do not recommend having the unit unlevel for more than 1-2 hours as this can increase the chances of a blockage."

I assume 6 degrees unlevel front to back would be side to side in the coach.

But if you have a "blockage" you can always remove the frige and "burp it". Then it should be just like new!
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Old 10-10-2020, 04:23 PM   #10
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Default fridge yoga

Burping in progress.......

Ok, fridge is out.
Easy peasy, half hour.
Had my square head bit ready, you nutty Canadians.

I'm doing the side/side/upside down for 24 hours each position method, which seems to be the most popular way. I've leveled the fridge on the floor for what thats worth.

Its like refrigerator yoga. Might burn a scented candle and play some ethereal music......

Always amazed at how seemilngy low end the fixtures/hardware are on this 100k vehicle.
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Old 10-10-2020, 04:54 PM   #11
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I'm watching your project with interest..I can get 60~65 below ambient with mine ( 2006 model) on propane but that could change!


to save words, I have posted on the fans & the tune up per manual




the Robertson head bit is CDN for electrical and cabinetry- once on the driver the screw can be turned to most angles without falling off.
the shape is slightly different than a "square drive" due to taper and chamfering, pyramidal bottom



patented 1907 when the alternative was the flat head (phillips came in the 30's)


The patent/trademark/licensing was left to public domain as a gift by Robertson


nice one, eh?


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Old 10-10-2020, 09:51 PM   #12
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I learned the Robinson bit history the first time I needed to work on my van. It was the best until Torx and is vastly superior to Phillips.
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Old 10-11-2020, 07:21 PM   #13
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Default burp

Day 2 of fridge burping.
Flipped it on its other side.
Tomorrow I will stand it on its head for final burp phase.

Doing it inside the van, didnt want to risk interior damage removing it from the van. We have the optional wardrobe so the side exit is a little tight.

It has been fun to have projects to do during quarantine, and with great help from this board.

Thus far:
-hardwired surge protector
-voltage meter (most extensive project yet)
-sway bar bushings and links
-removed dead onan generator (sold it on Craigs)
-waxed roof (I wore a bike helmet)
-bled brakes
-oil change
-toilet replaced
-added magnetic latches to wc and closet

Looking forward to re-installing the fridge and seeing if the burping helped at all.
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Old 10-12-2020, 06:27 PM   #14
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First, parking in your driveway is OK unless the fridge is running. You should be sure that it is off before you park on a slope. Damage can begin after only 15 or 20 minutes running off level. You can damage these unit even going up or down a long steep mountain grade. The damage is cumulative and builds up over a matter of months/years of even occassionally running seriously off level. Are you the first owner of the rig? If not, the damage may have been present before you bought it. Although these fridges make really efficient upe of energy, especially running on Propane, they are fussy and, frankly, a PITA. I have replaced mine once and if I had to do it again I would opt for a 12 volt Compressor fridge. You would trade the off level hassle for the need for close power management and, possibly, more battery storage.
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Old 10-14-2020, 03:22 AM   #15
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Default fridge on the level

Thanks for your response Johnnyfry,

I learn fun new facts about these fridges almost daily.

Got the fridge back in after 3 days of burping. It makes a sloshing noise after being flipped to a new side. I cleaned the coils and improved some electrical connections. Will be back in there to install a fan in the future. Of course the freezer door hinge broke on one side so had to fab an aluminum L bracket to appease the old brittle plastic gods. Its like working on 80s cars.

This will be an anticlimactic update since I can not turn the fridge on until we leave for our trip because our driveway is on a slope.

Def bringing our coolers as we have been doing on our last 3 trips.
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Old 10-14-2020, 04:14 AM   #16
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Try this guy for parts: https://www.thedometicguy.com/rm-2354/

He does have the freezer door hinge.

What I've learned over the past years is that you want to have your fridge cold before you leave. The 12v heating element you use when you drive is weak and doesn't provide the same level of heat as LP or 120v. Most people say you can only maintain the cold on 12v when you're traveling. It's not going to cool down like the other 2 sources. If there is any way that you can level your van with blocks, etc. while in your drive, you could pre-cool the fridge before you leave.

We also start out a trip with alot of food frozen, even though it sits in the fridge and not the freezer. That helps keep the cool in the unit.
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Old 10-14-2020, 03:40 PM   #17
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Absolutely, I find that the fridge really needs 24 hours on gas or 120VAC to reach a stable temperature. Only then do I load up.
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Old 10-15-2020, 06:42 PM   #18
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Default Fridge Replaced

My three way fridge never worked right?
It would freeze nicely. The fridge never could keep the item cold.
I live in Florida, so its hot most of the time.
Tried fans inside and out. Nothing worked.
I ended up installing a midsized compressor Fridge/freezer.
This has worked out awesome.
My solar/battery set up Will run it just fine.
No more throwing half my food out .
Can keep milk and cheese.
Anyway, I would never go back to the old system.
Maybe the newer three way systems are better???
The older ones seem to always have issues
Good luck and happy travels.
Eddie
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Old 10-15-2020, 07:51 PM   #19
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try a 12v fridge/freezer ice chest such as ARB or Alpicool. I just got the ALPICOOL 58qt dual zone for $350 for my new van conversion. puttin it on heavy drawer slides and it will now slide out from under my kitchen area.
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Old 10-15-2020, 09:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eraygunz View Post
My three way fridge never worked right?
It would freeze nicely. The fridge never could keep the item cold.
I live in Florida, so it’s hot most of the time.
Tried fans inside and out. Nothing worked.
I ended up installing a midsized compressor Fridge/freezer.
This has worked out awesome.
My solar/battery set up Will run it just fine.
No more throwing half my food out .
Can keep milk and cheese.
Anyway, I would never go back to the old system.
Maybe the newer three way systems are better???
The older ones seem to always have issues
Good luck and happy travels.
Eddie
I had my LP absorption converted to 12 VDC compressor. It works! No more level intolerance, shutting off LP when refueling or tunnels, no more firing it up two days before.
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