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Old 01-09-2019, 08:02 PM   #1
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Refrigerator Issue

I have a 1996 Sunline Solaris with the normal Dometic Gas/elect Fridge. Last summer it slowly started giving up the ghost on cooling. The failure was not sudden but took place over the summer until we had no cooling at all. We have ignition although I have to manually light it and it's been fine for years. Since the failure was slow moving I suspected the refrigerant, perhaps its gone after 20 years. I can not detect any ammonia order at all so if there is a leak its very small. Is it possible to recharge these units like a car AC unit??

BTW I run it only on propane.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:47 AM   #2
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Not really they do offer remaned cooling units online.
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Old 01-10-2019, 05:14 PM   #3
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You may or may not have a bad cooling unit.

When a cooling unit fails, meaning a hole rusted through or heat stress crack opened up, once that process starts the fridge dies a somewhat quick death. They normally do not fail due to a slow leak. A leak is a leak in these things and it is all or nothing in most cases. It is not like a freon based system in your car or house that the gas charge can bleed off over time yielding slowly degrading cooling. If you see yellow residue in the gas burner area, that is a sign of a failed unit.

Tell us some more on the length of time when it worked right and then when it stopped?

Also tell us if the gas system is actually running, burning and how many hours went by and there is no cooling?

If it has been burning for a good 8 hours and no cooling and the pipes in the back are not hot, then that does point to a failed cooling unit. And it should be shut down to not overheat in the burner area and can be a fire hazard.

They cannot be recharged, some can be rebuilt if you can find a cooling coil rebuilder. Most times when the cooling unit dies, a remanufactured unit or a new cooling unit is installed. Or a whole new fridge.

If the issue is the gas burner keeps stopping, then that is totally different issue and we can help you track that down but we need more info. Starting with a make & model number of the fridge.

Hope this helps

John
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Old 01-10-2019, 09:11 PM   #4
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Thanks guys. I now understand I'm not dealing with a freon system rather an ammonia based system. As far as the failure process it took place over time. Understand this is a camper used infrequently, weeks go by with no use. So I began to notice a reduction in cooling perhaps in early July last summer, we had a cool box but certainly not as cold as usual. After 4-5 days we shut everything down, gas off, elect off. We come back in mid Aug for 4-5 days and the box is way less cool. Finally back in Sept and there is zero cooling. During the time were in the trailer I have had the flame lite (I do it manually). There's no evidence of an yellow residue or any ammonia odor at all.

Any thoughts on a possible thermistor problem or failure. Could a blockage of air flow cause this??

Again thanks for your great advice.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:38 AM   #5
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They can crystallize inside they don't have to have an actually leak. If there is any doubt run it on electric and see what happens that will eliminate a flame issue if it still does not cool. Some have tried removing and turning a fridge upside down I'm pretty skeptical about any success but some swear it fixed it. There is a removable cover over the burner it will work without it have a look at the flame it's not real big and should be mostly blue with maybe atrace of yellow.
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Old 01-11-2019, 08:25 PM   #6
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Maineah. There is no flame issue, cover is off and it's fine.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:06 AM   #7
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I'm thinking it's time for a new one. It does not take much of a flame so it's obviously getting hot enough to work. The concept is a bit strange using heat to make things cold but it's been around for a long time. I had an apartment in Baltimore in the mid 60's with a natural gas fridge the temp scale seemed a bit backwards so I thought I'll make it a bit warmer wrong direction came back to find everything frozen!
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:17 AM   #8
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Personally I would repair/replace it when they are working they can't be beat they will work driving and anywhere you may park they need nothing other than propane and will run for weeks/months on 20#. If you decide to fix it and get a cooling unit it can be replaced right in the camper it not a real hard job it does have to be removed but it will fit on the table. One other thing they need to be reasonably level usually if you are comfortable in the camper it's probably level enough. Being out of level can damage them.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpa View Post
Maineah. There is no flame issue, cover is off and it's fine.
If the flame is working, (several hours), the fridge is level and there is not some kind of large insect nest etc in the top or bottom of the unit restricting the airflow, well it does point to the system not flowing correctly through the cooling unit. Feeling the return piping for lack of heat can tell if the fluid is not moving.

As fyi, here is a video on how the fridge works inside the cooling tube. This ARP site sells temperature controllers to help stop an overheat situation.

https://www.arprv.com/how-dometic-no...idge-works.php

If your unit is plugged inside the cooling coil or totally leaked out they can overheat and create the hazard situation. Heads up if you try running of the unit for hours to get it going.

I too have heard of the turn the fridge over trick, I myself have never tried it. The thought is it may knock loose a blockage in the liquid. It is a free for all if it will work. If there is a leak, it will not matter and it still will not work.

Hope this helps and let us know how you make out.

Thanks

John
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Old 01-16-2019, 02:31 PM   #10
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Thanks everyone. Ill certainly check for air flow issues this spring. We're parked in the woods 24/7/365 and lots of mice live with us.
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