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Old 08-20-2009, 10:45 AM   #1
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refrigerator problem part II - recall

Hi, Now that I have identified that my refrigerator was part of the recall, I am faced with another problem to figure out. Dometic only will place a safety shield to prevent a fire so I am faced with replacing the cooling unit on the refrigerator or replace the entire refrigerator.
I am wondering how to correct the problem. Can a person replace the heating element as well as the cooling unit since the heating element was overheating causing the stress crack to leak refrigerant? Or is it best to replace with a differnt brand of refrigerator or a newer refrigerator? If anyone has had any experience with this I would appreciate any help.
I found a website with dozens of complaints about Dometic refrigerators and even newer replacements failing as well. I would like to fix the problem and I am not happy with replacing the cooling unit only to have Dometic put a safety barrier around the heating element so my coach doesn't burn to the ground. I would like to camp with some sort of comfort. Thanks, Ronny
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Old 08-20-2009, 11:16 AM   #2
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Are you a dry camper or are you typically plugged in? If you're a dry camper you probably want to get another gas refrigerator. If you're typically plugged in you can go with an electric refrigerator.

We have chosen the latter path due to cost. Though we often dry camp and plan to do more in the future we have chosen an electric, partially for cost and partially because we did not plan to own the trailer too long, just for a trip to Labrador.

Now that we've fallen in love with our trailer we have added solar panels to permit us to run the electric refrigerator via the panels/inverter.

The electric refrigerator offers more capacity than the former gas/electric unit.

I will say that our Motorhome has the original refrigerator, now 12 years old. We never shut it off, even when the motorhome has set for a year. I figure that may keep it from clogging up. I don't know the reality of that statement but our house batteries are also 12 years old and are never shutoff as well.

Norm
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Old 08-21-2009, 12:04 PM   #3
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Thanks for your thoughts. Our camping varies. We usually take a couple of big trips during the year to visit relatives. Often when we do that, we try to bring back some of the foods not readily available in Florida, making it nice to use the propane option while traveling.
We have thought about replacing with just electric, but having propane has come in handy during hurricane season when the power has gone off.
I have begun the task of searching for a suitable replacement be it a new refrigerator or replacement cooling unit. This refrigerator laster 10 years, and if I can get 10 more years out of another, I will be happy. Ronny
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Old 10-07-2009, 11:55 AM   #4
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We have replaced the cooling unit with one we purchased from Cooling Unit Warehouse, a place I found on the internet. The company is in Tennessee, and the owner has been very helpful in every step of the installation. We purchased it for $490 plus $45 shipping, and got it in three days UPS. My husband completed the installation over the weekend. We have yet to put the refrigerator back and test it. Hoping all goes well.
Then, Dometic still wants us to have the safety shield installed. I think this is a good idea, since we are not sure what caused the problem. Some say the heating element, and some say metal fatigue in the cooling unit.
Either way, I would want to be safe in the event of another failure, so since the safety shield is a free install, we will have it done.
The new cooling unit came complete with everything including the thermal mastic caulk. It has a three year warranty for cooling and a five year warranty for leaking. New refrigerators only had a three year warranty and cost about $1,200 for our replacement.
I don't really have any good photos of the install process, except for when it was out of the hole. I am hoping it will work at least as good as it did before it died. Ronny
Here's the hole it came out of
Here's the refrig out of the hole with the old cooling unit. Notice the corrosion. Four scews on the frame and dismantle the fins inside the freezer and refrig. Had to dismantle baffle and heating element.
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Old 10-07-2009, 06:45 PM   #5
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Hi Ronny

Do you still have the old cooling unit and can take any picís of the break? Curious as you are the first posted Sunline person with an actual core break we can talk to.

The recall, yes do this. It adds 2 levels of overtemp system shut down that should have been in there from day 1 anyway. If the gas valve or control system goes nuts, it can help shut the unit down from overheating.

It sounds like you have a good deal on the rebuilt cooling unit and the warranty sounds good. Do you have a web link for them? Is this them? http://rvcoolingunit.com/Default.aspx

They claim they also are charged with a better gas mixture and you can buy a new core as well.

There is one thing that is sort of up in the air on part of what causes the cracks which was why I was asking for pics of the actual core crack.

I have seen that Dometic has changed the actual electric element part numbers and the heating length of the element. Some, all heat at the tip causing a potential hot spot, but the newer ones heat a long amount up the shaft of the element. And then there is the actual resistance of the unit that may not be in spec creating a hotter then normal element. I do not know if any of this applies in your case but if we can see the crack it may help shed some light on this.

Also do you have access to an ohm meter? It is not that hard to measure the resistance of the element. If the electric element played a part in the original crack, it may still be a problem a few years down the road for you.

Thanks for sharing. Greatly appreciated.

John
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Old 10-08-2009, 01:24 PM   #6
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Thanks John for your input about the heating element. I will pass this along to my husband who is the electrical genious here. He does have an ohm meter and I hope he does check this before we put the refrig back into the hole.
Yes, that link is where we bought the cooling unit. David Force, the owner, was more than helpful with the everything. They do sell new, but we opted to try the rebuilt one.
I don't recall it was evident where the leak took place. The side of the cooling unit was extremely rusted where we suspect the leak took place. The only evidence we found was at the bottom of the baffle near the propane burner. There we saw the yellow substance, but I didn't see any other yellow stuff on the tubing. I know if my husband saw anything else, he would have brought it to my attention.
Before it died, we ran the refrigerator on propane for almost two days before discovering it was leaking. I smelled the ammonia, not once, but twice, but thought ours was out of the recall. We were lucky we didn't burn to the ground.
The installation has been pretty routine. Just kind of a headache because the refrigerator with the doors intact, is somewhat heavy and bulky. We actually did the installation within the trailer, instead of hauling the whole thing out. The only issues we had was when taking out the old unit, you have to be careful not to crack the plastic refrigerator box. Taking the fins out was the trickiest, because they fit so tight.
And, the styrofoam around the cooling tubes was quite tight when putting in the rebuilt unit, making it tough to match up the scew holes in the freezer. The tubing has to touch the back of the refrig with the thermal mastic to make good contact to cool properly. At the website where we bought it, I believe there is detailed instructions. If not, the owner will email information to you.
We actually have not tried the refrigerator yet, so we will let everyone know as soon as we confirm that. I hope that will be this weekend when we have time to finish it up.
We'll need to check that heating element as well. thanks for the heads up on that. Ronny
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:19 AM   #7
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Didn't get a chance to get photos of the new cooling unit before the refrigerator got put back in the hole. Husband was on a mission to get it back in and working.
Let it run for about three hours and it got nice and cold! Worked like new!
The company where we bought the cooling unit from, pays for shipping of the old one back to them, so we can get a $130 rebate. Still could not see exactly where it cracked because of the rust on the old cooling unit tubing. It looked like it might have been somewhere in the area of the heating element.
Just wanted to let everyone know how it was working. Ronny
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:31 PM   #8
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Ronny

GREAT!!! Well we now have an options if one of ours goes out.

Thanks for posting

Johnb
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