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Old 08-22-2015, 01:44 PM   #1
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Winnebago Owners Club
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Norcold 1200 Refrigerator Not Cooling While Underway

I have a slightly different problem with a 1200 Norcold Refrigerator than most of the issues I have seen posted here. The refrigerator works fine on both propane and 120 V as long as the rig is parked but as soon as we are moving the fresh food section starts to warm up very quickly. This happens regardless of us running it on propane or 120V (generator running). My coach is a 2006 Itasca Suncruiser 33V and I think it has something to do with outside air entering the refrigerator compartment. To test this theory I set up a leaf blower on a step ladder and had it blowing down the side of the coach (not directly into the refrigerator compartment) with the refrigerator running. In 20 minutes the fresh food section went up 4 degrees while the freezer section remained steady. In an additional 20 minutes the fresh food section went up another 6 degrees and the freezer section remained steady. Has anyone else had a similar problem? Any suggestions on a fix? I am ready to go with a residential refrigerator if I can't solve this problem.

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Old 08-22-2015, 01:48 PM   #2
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I don't know the answer but I have the problem...I added one of those small battery operated square fans you put on the lower shelf it seems to help a bit ...2005 fleetwood expedition GlenB

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Old 08-22-2015, 02:57 PM   #3
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It sounds to me that your cooling unit may not be making proper contact, and air is flowing behind it taking the cold out of the refer porting. It might not have been installed with enough of the caulking to keep air from flowing behind the cooling unit.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:29 PM   #4
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We had the exact same problem. On a number of trips we ended up buying a cooler and putting our refrigerator stuff in the cooler while traveling. What a pain. We recently went to a residential refrigerator. We were really didn't want to do that, but now we are happy not having worry about our food spoiling. Not sure how this is going to work when dry camping for a week or so.
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Old 08-22-2015, 03:37 PM   #5
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You need to investigate the metal shields around the boiler area. It may be that outside air is reducing the heating effect.

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Old 08-22-2015, 08:46 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by shiggs68 View Post
You need to investigate the metal shields around the boiler area. It may be that outside air is reducing the heating effect.

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X2 👍. This would also be my guess.

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Old 08-22-2015, 10:09 PM   #7
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Is your fridge in a slide with a side exhaust? Does it have fans to aid in airflow out the side exhaust? Do they work? When's the last time you have done the annual maintenance on the boiler?

How long have you owned it? Has it always worked so poorly?
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Old 08-22-2015, 10:18 PM   #8
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Boy I got this one..... I had the same problem. BUT the drip tray under the cooling fins has a tube that runs outside to a tray above the ref tube outside. The tube must have a flap covering the end of the tub to keep warm air from returning inside. I cut my off because I though water was not coming out. So now I add water to the tray outside to keep warm from blowing back inside the ref!
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Old 08-23-2015, 04:49 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by dys View Post
I have a slightly different problem with a 1200 Norcold Refrigerator than most of the issues I have seen posted here.
? Have seen this problem discussed here many times. Just Googled (here on irv2) "warm frig while moving" and found some of the discussions
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:22 AM   #10
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This doesn't help you but I had the same problem so stopped at Winnebago in Forest City to have it checked out. They replaced gaskets and perhaps did other service but that did NOT resolve the problem. So I replaced it with a household unit and haven't had a problem since.
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Old 08-23-2015, 10:50 AM   #11
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To respond to a couple of the suggestions: 1. Have had this problem since coach was purchased used 2 years ago. 2. Refrigerator is not in a slide out and vents through the roof. 3. The top vent is clear and unobstructed. 4. The fans on the coils in back are working properly. 5. I have added a "Fridge Fix" to the inside which is basically a couple of fans that circulate cool air inside the fresh food compartment. Again the refrigerator works fine when sitting still but starts to warm up as soon as we start to move. The suggestion about warm outside air entering the fresh food section through the drain tube is one I am going to pursue a little further by adding a "P" trap to the drain line. Some Dometic refrigerators have this feature. Also considering adding a fairing in front of the outside access panel to divert airstream while traveling but should not affect normal ventilation. I will also do a more extensive search on this site for "warm frig while moving". Thanks for all of the suggestions!!
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Old 08-23-2015, 11:19 AM   #12
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If fans are the answer, they need to be outside, but your Norcold 1200 should already have two. Make sure they are working. They are on a thermostat. As an experiment for traveling, you could try a third fan that is always on to see if it makes a difference. Face it upwards, blowing air toward the upper vent.

Re the drain tube: The plastic drip tip should be readily visible and if you have one, hot air entry isn't the problem. However, you could verify that by simply pinching the tube shut the next time you travel. Vise grips, forceps, etc. will do the trick.

The 1200 is very sensitive to the external air flow and any blockage or disruption can cause poor cooling. Make sure the path is as clear as practical (there are wires and such), and make sure the baffles that keep the air from pooling are in the right places. These baffles are added by the coach builder to assist in the air flow, and they aren't always in the right place, and sometimes are even missing. The "right place" depends on where & how the fridge is placed, and a new guy working the assembly line may not have done it right.

The 1200 Service manual has info on air flow and baffle requirements.
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Old 08-23-2015, 03:03 PM   #13
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Be sure there is enough insulation on the top and side of the ref. I also found that the ref. was not getting enough air because the plywood was to low near the the outside vent. I also added two fans on the top coil and put them all on switches and turn on and off as needed. This ref. needs all the air it can receive. Good luck.
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Old 08-23-2015, 03:51 PM   #14
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I had the same problem with our Norcold in the Itasca. It worked great while parked, but stunk when moving. I always suspected it was lack of air flow up through the back of the condenser coils while moving. There is almost a vacuum effect on the side as turbulence passes over the coach. I added a couple of small, removable air "scoops" on the outside of the intake vent and it helped some. Be careful of driving in rain with these as water on the controls is not a good thing.

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