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Old 12-08-2009, 07:57 AM   #1
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Interesting Fridge Problem

My refigerator (Dometic RM2652) works fine on AC, but won't light when I power it up on the gas setting.
However, if I start the fridge on auto which defaults to AC when power is hooked up, and then disconnect the shore line, the gas fires right up. Also, if I'm running the fridge on AC and press the gas button, it works fine. It just won't light when initially starting up on the gas setting.

I haven't had a chance to check voltages yet, but I do know there's gas at the burner, and I'm not getting a spark at the electrode. Ocasionally I'll get a spark and the fridge will light fine, but when I shut it off, it won't relight without initially running on AC.

The fact that it works fine except when it's on gas setting leads me to suspect that it's a circuit board problem.

Any ideas on where to start my investigation?
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Old 12-08-2009, 08:38 AM   #2
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I had the same problem earlier this year.

In my case, cleaning the contact surfaces on the electrode solved the problem. My working theory there was that there was just enough corrosion to prevent it from working. The heat from the electric element caused things to expand enough that it made contact somewhere. Once cooled, back to the original problem.

Can't guarantee it will work for you, but it was a 2 minute job with a piece of scotchbrite. Worth a try!

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Old 12-08-2009, 10:41 AM   #3
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That was actually the first thing I did, and it initially worked, but a day or two later I tried the fridge again and it wouldn't light. I took the electrode out and made sure it was really clean but nothing changed.
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Old 12-08-2009, 11:39 AM   #4
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Chris/Frank

Let’s compare notes. The 3 of us may have the same problem.

Had the issue with my Dometic 2652 fridge not sparking constantly this summer. Here is what occurred.

Had been boondocking for a week and everything worked great on LP. Then moved camps and the fridge would not light. But I may have put a strain on the igniter.

Set up camp and turned the fridge on gas mode. I had forgotten to turn on the LP so it went 3 sets of firing cycles and went out on safety. OK no big deal, I reset it and it tried again but this time the sparking was hit and miss, not constant. OK so I made sure the LP was purdged and ran the furnace and stove. Gas is good now.

Then tried after another 3 failed safety times outs, hit and miss firing and then igniter stopped clicking at all. Nothing. So I broke out the meter and started checking. The igniter is fed from a yellow wire that is paralleled off the gas coil/solenoid valve. If the gas valve is on, the igniter is active and should spark unless the feed back circuit says not to spark. It had 12.6 volts and I measured it against the ground at the fridge that all the grounds go too that the igniter coil is seeing. The black box igniter is getting power. H’mm OK now what?

I have had the Dometic recall done and all that sheet metal makes it next to impossible to get to the service the LP burner. So the big front plate came off easy and then I had to bend the lower bottom piece they added as part of the recall to even get to the cover of the flue bottom to see the burner and the electrode. They where not thinking service when they made that recall shield. It was late and now dark and trying to get in that LP cover door Errr….

Well everything looked OK but I still fiddled with the electrode gap. Dometic manual says 1/8” to 3/16” gap. I was at the 3/16 so I tweaked it to 1/8” Memory recalls it takes 10,000 volts to jump and inch and have enough energy to ignite a flammable gas.

That did not help any. Still had no spark at all. So I tried what Mr. Tweety did earlier this year which was to light it manually with a grill lighter. Had DW turn on the fridge, the gas valve clicked on and I lit it. It went right off. And then ran fine for the next 5 days again boondocking. I recharge the batteries off the generator every day. Lowest volts went down to was 12.1 when furnace was on and them back up to 12.4 or 12.5 when the furnace stops

I do believe the system shuts down the gas when the T stat says I’m at temperature and re ignites again when it calls for cool. BUT I am not positive on that. I would think it has too if not it would go into freeze mode. When the gas is purged it only takes about 1 maybe most 2 clicks and she is up and running.

So the question is, does the Dometic igniter have some type of duty cycle limit to it? After arcing for so many minutes it goes to sleep per say until it cools down? Or should it arc forever until it burns up?

On mine the flame sensing thermister goes back into the control board for flame control safety. The igniter is tied to the gas valve, when ever the gas valve is on the igniter has power, but the electrode when it gets hot I do believe sends a milli volt signal back into the igniter module to stop the arcing and to the flame control satey circuit.

My thought is the igniter may be weak but after reading Chris’s and Franks issues I’m questioning that.

Frank I have heard of that scotch brite cleaning before too. Mine did not look carboned up but with me fiddling with the gap it might have remade contact. What is the thought behind the cleaning? The voltage should be jumping that gap and burning thru most anything. But the electrode is also the feedback to shut down the igniter. It was like somehow it got the signal to stop sparking. Mine did not even want to try when it went limp. Is the cleaning helping the feed back circuit?

Now Chris had his on electric then to gas. OK what changed? The electrode is out in the middle of space, other then convection heat hitting it.

Since the thing now works, I have not made it back to this as I use it on electric most of the time, and when I used it on LP in the yeard, it works. But my faith in it for boondocking is shaken until I understand what went wrong. I never realized how much of a mad scramble goes on in your head when you have a fridge full of food and your out in the middle of no mans land and the fridge stops…. This winter a spare parts kits will soon be built. The PC board, the igniter and the electrode and maybe the thermistor inside the fridge would go a long way in fixing most things.

Thoughts?

John
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Old 12-08-2009, 04:19 PM   #5
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I found a service manual online and I put a meter on the various connections. I'm getting power to the igniter, but no output from it. Also when you disconnect the lead from the igniter to the electrode, it's supposed to click like it's trying to light the pilot. I get nothing.
I'm going to see if I can get an igniter tomorrow and I'll see what happens.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:31 PM   #6
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Hi Chris

Gee I like your manual better then the ones I found. Thanks!!! It is 2562 specific.

Here are some more. The very 1st one is a big fridge service manual. There are also other shop manuals on there for Furnace , AC, HW heater etc.
http://www.bryantrv.com/docs2/docs/domser.pdf

Go to manuals for more on other things
http://www.bryantrv.com/docs.html

I just read both in the igniter areas in both manuals. Says the same thing. I’m going to have to print out your version and put in the camper.

I too had 12 VC voltage at the igniter but nothing. Then I lit the burner by hand it started working again. I agree it points to the igniter just I have not yet figured out what the match kick start does to help it. Or the skotch brite rubing treatment.

Good luck.

Thanks

John
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Old 12-08-2009, 10:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
I do believe the system shuts down the gas when the T stat says I’m at temperature and re ignites again when it calls for cool. BUT I am not positive on that. I would think it has too if not it would go into freeze mode. When the gas is purged it only takes about 1 maybe most 2 clicks and she is up and running.
This is indeed my experience.. I have been standing outside on a couple of occasions to hear the gas valve clunk open and then the high-pitched whine then click of the ignitor, followed by the very gentle roar of the burner.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
So the question is, does the Dometic igniter have some type of duty cycle limit to it? After arcing for so many minutes it goes to sleep per say until it cools down? Or should it arc forever until it burns up?
Mine will click click click for about 20 seconds before closing the gas valve and illuminating the "check" light. Duty cycle, I'm not really sure.. the high pitched whine I hear makes me think something is charging, just like an old camera flash. I'm assuming the ignitor works in a very similar manner to an ignition coil, with a charge time and then it "fires" when the field collapses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
On mine the flame sensing thermister goes back into the control board for flame control safety. The igniter is tied to the gas valve, when ever the gas valve is on the igniter has power, but the electrode when it gets hot I do believe sends a milli volt signal back into the igniter module to stop the arcing and to the flame control satey circuit.
I'm stretching my memory a bit here, it's been a good 6 months since I had the one-time issue. I seem to recall a thermocouple in there. It's presence would certainly make sense. I just dont remember if it was seperate or integrated into the electrode. Could very well have been 2 seperate items mounted on the same plate, like a modern heating system usually has. If I get home in the daylight tomorrow I will pop the cover and take a look and maybe even a picture.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
Frank I have heard of that scotch brite cleaning before too. Mine did not look carboned up but with me fiddling with the gap it might have remade contact. What is the thought behind the cleaning? The voltage should be jumping that gap and burning thru most anything. But the electrode is also the feedback to shut down the igniter. It was like somehow it got the signal to stop sparking. Mine did not even want to try when it went limp. Is the cleaning helping the feed back circuit?
I should have clarified a little better earlier. I didn't pull and clean the electrode, I cleaned the mini spade connector mating surfaces on the "high voltage" connecting wire. Thinking back, I may have cleaned the connections on the low voltage side as well, if they exist there.

Now, when I had the no ignition condition, I did not hear the high-pitched 'charging' whine, nor did I hear the click click click of the spark. The gas valve opened and then silence. Shortly followed by a nice whiff of LP

I tried a few times and gave up. Assumed the coil bit the dust. We were leaving the next day so I switched it over to electric and figured I'd go grab the meter, confirm the bad coil and go buy one so we could leave the next day. Probably took an hour before I got back out there with the meter - go to test the coil and the darn ignitor works!

Hmm, now what? I hate intermittant problems. Shut it down, walk away a little while, come back and no ignition. Back on electric, wait a while and now we have ignition again. Lather, rinse, repeat. It's getting late and the local RV store is going to close soon, so I did the only thing that I really could do at that point - clean those contacts. It lit right up, ran all night and through 3 stops over the next week with no issues.

When we got back I let it rest a few days, tried again and ignition was fine. Three trips since with no problems either.

At that point all I could do was assume that one of the contacts was a little marginal and the heat from the element made something expand enough to make contact.

Thinking back, if there are connectors on the low voltage side (which would make sense to facilitate replacement) it is quite possible that was where my issue was since I didn't hear the whining charging sound. I would have liked to throw the oscilloscope on it when it was acting up, but I don't have a high voltage probe for it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB
Since the thing now works, I have not made it back to this as I use it on electric most of the time, and when I used it on LP in the yeard, it works. But my faith in it for boondocking is shaken until I understand what went wrong. I never realized how much of a mad scramble goes on in your head when you have a fridge full of food and your out in the middle of no mans land and the fridge stops…. This winter a spare parts kits will soon be built. The PC board, the igniter and the electrode and maybe the thermistor inside the fridge would go a long way in fixing most things.

Thoughts?

John
I honestly forgot all about having the problem until I hit this thread. I agree some spare parts would be a good idea, but I'm on the fence as to what would be good to have. I believe the boards are about $100 which is a little high for a just in case part. Of course, one could argue it's not hard to have $100 worth of food in there on a trip. FWIW, people seem to like the Dinosaur replacements for their additional features and apparently some corrections on some models.

I think the ignitor assembly or at least the electrode and thermocouple would be a very good idea. Thermocouples do fail, and I have replaced plenty on furnaces and water heaters. They usually aren't too expensive either.

I've never personally seen a thermistor fail, but if you could pull the part # off of it, it's likely $2 from an electronics supply house.

One thing I have done is tested that I can run the electric element off the inverter. Not something I'd want to do for a long period of time, but it would certainly buy me time to deal with a failure.

I apologize for the foggy memory on this one. I will get out there ASAP and try to freshen my mind up a little. We'll figure this out one way or another.

- Frank
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Old 12-09-2009, 07:36 AM   #8
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Frank

I have pics at home, will post up tonight. There is a separate thermocouple for flame sensing that goes right into the PC board and has no direct tie to the igniter. That is the safety for a flame blow out.

The igniter has a feed back circuit right in the electrode. I do not know what technology it uses, but once the electrode get’s warm it creates a signal back to the igniter to stop firing. Power is on at the igniter when ever the gas valve is on, so that feed back circuit shuts the spark down. If the flame ever goes out, the firing should start again unless the separate flame senseing thermocouple shuts down the gas valve which then takes down the igniter.

The high pitch whining, h’mm, yes I forgot about that. It “sounds” like a capacitor charging circuit maybe. Once it hits a certain threshold voltage it fires, then waits until it builds again. If mine dies I will operate on it to figure out what it is doing inside.

Which is now the problem. It died, now it works?? Mine went into no work mode after many times of trying to light so the igniter worked harder then normal constantly. When the system is primed, it is 1 or 2 clicks and she is up and going.

Seems to point to:

A. The igniter charging circuit just plan dies or died.

B. Some thing in the electrode sensing system has become tripped and is shutting down the charging circuit.

The wind is suppose to hit 60 mph gusts here today. So if we send that weather over your way, don’t know if a trip to the camper for pics will make it…

Good discussion and hopefully Chris can fill in a few missing pieces when he gets his working.

John
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:34 AM   #9
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My dealer has the proper ingniter but I'll probably have to wait until tomorrow to go get it.
It's a little snowy today...
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:49 AM   #10
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Here Frank

I forgot I had these already on my photoserver. This is off the T2499 from when the whole recall things started I did some investagating but it has what we are talking about. My T310 is the same thing.

NOTE: Theses are pre recall pics, note the dates





Here you can see the copper thermocouple for flame sensing and the electrode


The igniter area


The PC board. The flames sense from the thermo couple plugs in the 3rd spade plug from the left. Just left of the glass fuse, You can just barley make out the words "Flame" above the spade plug.


I'll look home tonight for more.

John


Chris, well glad you found the part. Did he quote you a price?
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:20 PM   #11
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Guys,
I still have the 2852 sitting in my garage and it is totally accessible. If you want/need any detail pictures or tests conducted, I would be happy to oblige.

I know it's not a 2652, but may help diagnosing problems.

Gary
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:20 PM   #12
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John,
He told me $44.50 which is less than buying it on line w/ shipping (It's a Dometic factory part). Dufours is usually very competitive with online pricing when you factor in the postage, so I mostly buy my stuff from them unless they don't carry what I want and can't order it in. We bought two campers from them and treated us very well so I'll do what I can to support a good dealer.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:34 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Guys,
I still have the 2852 sitting in my garage and it is totally accessible. If you want/need any detail pictures or tests conducted, I would be happy to oblige.

I know it's not a 2652, but may help diagnosing problems.

Gary
Gary

H'mm... I'll have to look up the 2852. What is the difference in 2652 and 2852? Cubic feet of fridge space? That must be a specail order.
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:40 PM   #14
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To help the troubleshooting cause, here are some more pics

These are with the recal done.

Recall flue shield


View showing yellow igniter wiring off the gas valve. Igniter cover off.


Over view


PC board


Electrode area


The wind is a blowing out tonight.....WOW

John
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:43 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2beagles
John,
He told me $44.50 which is less than buying it on line w/ shipping (It's a Dometic factory part). Dufours is usually very competitive with online pricing when you factor in the postage, so I mostly buy my stuff from them unless they don't carry what I want and can't order it in. We bought two campers from them and treated us very well so I'll do what I can to support a good dealer.
Chris

Thanks. Glad you have a good dealer near by. Can't say the same here locally.
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Old 12-10-2009, 10:47 AM   #16
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Thanks for the pictures, John. That certainly jogged my memory.

The white wire on the ignition coil assembly is the one I did the cleaning on.

- Frank
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Old 12-10-2009, 04:02 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Gary

H'mm... I'll have to look up the 2852. What is the difference in 2652 and 2852? Cubic feet of fridge space? That must be a specail order.
John,
The 2852 is indeed 8 Cu Ft... The one in Stan's 299 was a 2852 and the one in our 320 is also a 2852.

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Old 12-10-2009, 07:53 PM   #18
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Don't know if this is any help but a couple of years ago I had a similar problem with ignition and at the same time I had lack of cooling, about 50 degrees in the box. I would get the "thunk" .. click ... click ... that sometimes gave a "poof" when it lit, if it lit. (the "poof" was the delayed ignition of accumulated gas!) If I lit it with a long handle lighter it would light, and relight ok but I still had lack of cooling. I pulled off the covers from the burner tube and the flame looked ok and strangly no more trouble with delayed or no ignition. I figured the easiest first step was cleaning the burner tube and the gas jet. I did see a larger flame and it now heated the thermocouple better that before. That gave me better cooling. Before I put it all back together I looked over that high voltage ignition wire. Thinking of problems I had seen with television high voltage wiring that arced over (think TV flyback transformer) I made sure the ignitor wire was clear of any metal and where it went through the narrow gap to the burner I added a few layers of 3M tape to the metal edges for insulation. I also made sure the ignitor gap at the burner was good.

Here are 2 pictures I took of the flame, before and after.

Before ... I thought this was good (but the thermocouple is not heated):



After ... the flame now heats the thermocouple

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Old 12-10-2009, 08:16 PM   #19
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Gene

Thanks!!! Those are great pictures!!!

Our descriptive sounds of how these things work is funny to read, but are dead on what the sound is. The HW heater has it own set of clicks and clunks follow by a whoosh…. LOL

H’mm you seemed to have bumped into a variation of what we have been seeing. And the same thing is common, once you lit it with a grill lighter it worked better. At least until it went dead cold from being turned off.

It sure would be good to know what does the heat help this things do to ignite better? That is still a mystery right now.

So far it seems we have different fiddling techniques that gets it going. And not really understanding what we fiddled with that made it work. But it works.

Maybe when Chris get his new igniter it will shed some light (or flame…) on the subject.

John
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:47 PM   #20
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Well, I replaced the igniter this evening, and the fridge now lights right up! That was definitely the problem. I'm thinking that the AC heating element was getting hot enogh to light the burner when I switched over to gas. I can't think of another explanation for the burner lighting only on the changeover.
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