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Old 09-19-2014, 03:35 PM   #1
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Another Norcold Warning

I know it's been been around for a while, but I just received this email from RV Reviews.net, I thought I better pass it on, maybe someone still has not seen these details...

"WARNING: Norcold and Dometic Refrigerator Units

Ordinarily our weekly articles focus on the fun aspect of RVs and camping but today we have to pause to bring up a very serious ongoing issue with Norcold refrigeration units currently in use in many RVs. The problem has been going on for years and was initially introduced as a "limited recall". That recall has continued to expand and now covers many of their previously manufactured units.

How serious is this issue? Extremely. Apparently to date there have been over 2,000 RV fires due to this problem, with many RVs totally destroyed, and some deaths. The recall letter states "The nature of the defect is a fatigue failure in the section of the cooling unit which contains the refrigerant. This fatigue failure could allow the liquid solution to slowly leak from the cooling unit. If a leak occurs and the refrigerator continues to be operated after solution circulation has ceased the heat source could generate very high temperatures. At such high temperatures the steel material of the cooling unit could soften and rupture. If refrigerant gas is still in place when the rupture occurs hydrogen gas may be expelled and could be ignited by the high temperature, possibly causing a fire." Models included in the recall (that we are familiar with) are 4-door model numbers 1200 and 1201. However, many other models, including single door models, are now also being included.

If you have a Dometic refrigerator, you need to be aware that they have had similar recalls for similar reasons. Recall information can be found at your manufacturer's website, or just Google "norcold recall" or "dometic recall."

The Norcold factory link follows here: Norcold Recall. The factory link includes detailed information on determining if your refrigerator is at risk and how to proceed with recall repair. We are purposely not including affected years because we have watched the window of defective dates expand considerably over time.

Most of the the issues we deal with here at RVReviews.net are minor (non life-threatening) but this is a major problem and should be addressed as soon as possible. We apologize for the serious tone today but many of our readers are active RVers and need to be made aware of the urgency of this situation.

As always we'd like to hear from anyone affected by this recall and their satisfaction with the fix. Next week we'll be back to your regularly scheduled articles.

Happy Travels,

John Toffler

Editor

RVReviews.net"
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:02 PM   #2
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That's why I replaced the Norcold cooling unit with the Amish-built one. I didn't want to become a "crispy critter" !
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:26 PM   #3
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Thanks Frank I have added your thread to the NORCOLD & DOMETIC sticky above.
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:33 PM   #4
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Lets be reasonable about this issue. What percentage of the RV's on the road have experienced fires, and how many can be directly traced to refrigerators? I suspect it is fewer than the number destroyed by other causes.

Now if you want to worry, why travel in any vehicle, as there are hundreds of accidents with thousands of deaths each year.

Now I will shut-up, just get tired of some of the "What If's".

Fred
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Old 09-19-2014, 04:46 PM   #5
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My Norcold 1200 cooling unit ruptured last week. Ordered a Amish Cooling unit on Tuesday. Delivered today from RV Cooling Unit Warehouse.
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Old 09-19-2014, 10:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Floridakamper View Post
My Norcold 1200 cooling unit ruptured last week. Ordered a Amish Cooling unit on Tuesday. Delivered today from RV Cooling Unit Warehouse.
I think you will love the Amish unit. I replaced mine last year for the same reason as Joe, but the performance is much better than the factory unit. Cranked it up yesterday and it went from 87 down to 6 degrees in the freezer and below 40 in the fridge part in about 6 hours. That was with outside temps around 90 and no A/C running.
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Old 09-19-2014, 11:00 PM   #7
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Amish Cooling Unit, comments

I would like to offer some comments on the Amish cooling units. I installed one in my Norcold 1210 about 2 months ago and have used it on two long trips totaling about 4 weeks on propane power. The unit performed as expected, but not any better than the Norcold that I can tell.

I chose to put the Amish unit in because of the reported overheating and fires in the Norcold units and the recall box, which I think is a really poor solution to the problem. So, for those reasons, I am completely satisfied with my decision to retrofit the Amish unit. However......

When I got my new Amish unit, I was a little disappointed with it. It looked crudely fabricated compared to the Norcold unit. The lower coils were not mandrel bent like the Norcold and some of mine were so badly kinked that I wonder whether efficiency is compromised or if the metal was stretched beyond its elastic limit and if there are cracks lurking in there that I will find later. Also, these coils did not have the spiral embossed grooves that the Norcold unit had. Perhaps this is why they put in two coils - to make up for lost efficiency. The unit looked like it was welded up with a torch or MIG and the welds looked gobbed on. I would have expected TIG welds which I think would have been neater and perhaps less prone to leaks. The upper condenser coils looked a little less efficient than the Norcold ones, due to the gauge of the fins and how cleanly it was put together. I thought that the insulation around the boiler could have been better. I had to rework the galvanized cover to get it to close up tightly and fit up to the burner box. I also would have expected better insulation than the loosely packed fiberglass.

Initially, I had trouble getting my unit to perform satisfactorily. It would not cool well in the lower compartment. I wound up pulling it out and resealing it. I found that the foam plug did not fit up very well to the Norcold recess. The lower edge was bulged up, and had a rather large gap. Because the lower coils and outer cardboard flap was in the way, I could not tell that I had probably not adequately sealed this area up. After resealing, the unit did seem to perform better.

I don't want to be totally negative about these units. They do seem to perform satisfactorily. I just don't think any better than the Norcold units, and perhaps they are even a little less efficient due to some of the things I mention above. For example, I also had to readjust my gas pressure regulator higher to get my Amish unit to cool well. The pressure was low and the Norcold unit had performed adequately with this low pressure. The Amish unit did not. I do like the heaver gauge tubing. I just wish the fabrication was a little nicer and I think that these units could actually perform better if it was.

Perhaps I should share this with the fabricator. Maybe they would appreciate the feedback.

Best of luck to anyone doing this retrofit. I just urge you to be very particular about sealing it up.



Please

Bottom line, I would still get one and I appreciate David Force's great customer support as I was working through my issues.
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Old 09-20-2014, 01:05 AM   #8
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I noticed in the article he stated there were over 2,000 fires.

I'd sure like to know where he got that number.
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Old 09-20-2014, 01:28 AM   #9
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I think the real issue here is that if someone buys a used rig with one of these refrigerators, they need to contact Norcold and find out if the "recalls" have been applied to their unit. If they have, I think the fire issue has been totally mitigated. I know we had to return to the dealer on three separate occasions to get all the recalls applied. I seriously think that Norcold has resolved the "fire" issues.

Now if they could only get them to work with all the patches. Whether it was the equipment added as a result of the recalls, poor thermal paste on the back or bad door seals I do not know, but, our unit just failed to perform with any cooling efficiency. We made the decision to exchange it with a residential unit. Yes, it is nice to know that this unit will not catch on fire. but I did not stay up nights worrying about the Norcold. I simply got tired of throwing good food away when it was not kept at proper temperatures. Just know, that getting all the recalls may not be your total solution to satisfactory refrigeration needs.

But, I do believe that getting all the recalls applied will mitigate the fire issues.
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:23 AM   #10
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Accuracy?

2000 Fires ? where does that number come from ?
Several Death's ? How many is that and what factual information is there for this.
So much fear mongering, advice folks to be sure to have their recalls looked after and to do their maintenance diligently, ESPECIALLY on Items like this but don't go overboard with all this stuff!

What is this about an Amish unit? is this a whole replacement cooling unit?
If so for how much and from whom? It's the first I hear of it but as I can hear here also not without critics?
Love to find out some more about it though.

regards,
Ed
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Old 09-20-2014, 03:53 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVingDutchman View Post
What is this about an Amish unit? is this a whole replacement cooling unit?
If so for how much and from whom? It's the first I hear of it but as I can hear here also not without critics?
Love to find out some more about it though.

regards,
Ed
Yes - this is a replacement cooling unit. You can check it out here.

I installed this replacement with the help of a good friend, and I am very pleased indeed with the performance.

Roy is mentioning that his didn't perform well until he took it out and reseated it. I think the fit and seal of the Amish build unit is the most critical part when doing the replacement. Make sure to test-fit the new cooling unit before sealing, and once it fits in snuggly, make sure to seal everything with the alu-tape (buying an extra roll over and above what comes with the kit is advisable).

Knowing what I know today - would I do it again? Yes I would. Especially since I don't have to worry about leaks any more, but also because the performance of both the freezer and the fridge has improved substantially.
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Old 09-20-2014, 05:19 AM   #12
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Norcold agrees to huge payout to RVers
Norcold has agreed to pay $33 million, pending court approval, to settle two class action lawsuits in federal district court in Los Angeles on behalf of customers who purchased certain Norcold refrigerators. The settlement, according to RV Pro Magazine, applies to consumers who own or owned a Norcold 1200-series refrigerator manufactured between Jan. 1, 2002 and Oct. 1, 2012, or who currently own a Norcold series N6 or N8 manufactured between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2013. The suit alleges design defects in the units, and that Norcold attempted to hide or downplay the defects. In some of the units, defects in the refrigerator can cause overheating or result in increased risk of fire, according to the suit.
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Old 09-20-2014, 07:34 AM   #13
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Norcold agrees to huge payout to RVers
Norcold has agreed to pay $33 million, pending court approval, to settle two class action lawsuits in federal district court in Los Angeles on behalf of customers who purchased certain Norcold refrigerators. The settlement, according to RV Pro Magazine, applies to consumers who own or owned a Norcold 1200-series refrigerator manufactured between Jan. 1, 2002 and Oct. 1, 2012, or who currently own a Norcold series N6 or N8 manufactured between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2013. The suit alleges design defects in the units, and that Norcold attempted to hide or downplay the defects. In some of the units, defects in the refrigerator can cause overheating or result in increased risk of fire, according to the suit.
Quote from RV Pro Magazine:

"The lawsuit applies to recalls that affect up to 141,922 units of the 12-series, plus 303,882 N6-series units and 123,879 N8-series units. Norcold spokesman Larry Weis said that 82 percent of the affected units have been inspectected, repaired, replaced or are out of service. Additionally, the company has extended a three-year warranty to N6 and N8 series units in which leaks were detected."

A quick calculation reveals that this will leave everyone with $57.93 minus expenses. This doesn't quite cover the cost of replacing the cooling unit I'm afraid.
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Old 09-20-2014, 07:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RVingDutchman View Post
What is this about an Amish unit? is this a whole replacement cooling unit?
If so for how much and from whom? It's the first I hear of it but as I can hear here also not without critics?
Love to find out some more about it though.

regards,
Ed
Google "amish cooling unit" here on iRV2 and find days of reading. The cooling unit runs $1100-1200 and the factory can install @ $250 for the 4 manhours req'd.
Most critics had an installation problem (note the one above worked satisfactorily after the second install) and as to the construction, the Amish unit is 50% heavier (by weight) and looks like a Cadillac when compared to Norcold's Chevrolet.
YES, I've installed or helped with two (2) units (see the Dane's comments above)
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