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Old 11-07-2010, 02:17 PM   #1
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Exclamation Norcold, a different slant

I thought I would start a new thread since there are so many regarding the Norcold recall. I obtained this info off the diesel Bounder forum. Bob had received it from Tom Cherry on the Monaco forum. It is worth exactly what you paid for it. I'm only posting as more information.

"OK, here is a report from a fellow Monaco product owner who spent a long time with a Norcold Engineer this week and this is what he was told. Believe me, a couple paragraphs sealed it for me, no recall for us. Now to make the decision, Amish or residential.

"I spent about 45 minutes on the phone to various Norcold folks this morning, mainly out our curiosity as I am NOT a Norcold owner but have several friends locally who have asked me questions. Here goes."

I was eventually routed to a tech support engineer that usually talks to the Dealers. He told me the following during our 20 minute conversation.

The present Thermal Snap Switch which was added as part of previous recalls only measures the AIR temperature. Norcold has determined that there is a better way to monitor the refrigerator and prevent fires.

They are replacing the Thermal Snap Switch with a Thermocouple that is
mounted on the Boiler Tube. His definition of the Boiler Tube was the tube that is heated with either the 110 VAC Heaters or Propane Burner and also contained the ammonia.

This Thermocouple then feeds a signal to a Thermal Cut Off or Thermal Sensor Module. This module contains a circuit that measures and understands the
boiler temperature. Thus, the term Algorithm as the Module INTERPRETS the Thermocouple's signal and translates it into an OK or SHUT DOWN SIGNAL. If the Thermal Sensor Module receives a high temperature from the boiler tube, then that indicates that the cooling unit is potentially defective and should not be operated again. Thus, the Thermal Sensor Module kills all the control power to the Refrigerator Control Board and shuts down the Refrigerator. This Module is NOT resettable..it is a ONE-SHOT MODULE.Once tripped, it is DEAD.

Newer models will get a special code in the eyebrow display. The
refrigerator will have power, but it will NOT run or cool and you will see the code.


Older models will just shut down. There is an indicator lamp on the Thermal Sensor Module that will be ON if the boiler tube has reached the critical temperature.

At this point, there is NO alternative but to REPLACE the Cooling Unit or get a NEW Refrigerator. If the unit is currently under Norcold Warranty, then they will handle it. If not, then it is the customer's responsibility.

They will NOT, and he repeated this, NOT sell another Thermal Sensor Module as the over temperature indication is a signal that the boiler tube in the cooling unit COULD fail and cause a release of Ammonia and thus, the potential, for a fire.

The purpose of the Indicator Light is to let the customer know that the module has shut down the unit. If a fuse blew, then the light would not be on. I did NOT pursue all the possibilities with him.

I asked if there had been any design changes in the cooling unit or the boiler tube..say within the past few months. He indicated that they are shipping the SAME cooling units NOW that they shipped prior to announcing the latest recall, just adding the Thermal Cut Off Module to monitor the cooling unit and the boiler temperature.

He did spend quite a bit of time answering my questions and I repeated my answers back in different terminology to ensure a full understanding.

I had originally stated that I would put in a dryer cut off switch..don't know if that is needed now, on the main power. This new unit probably does the same thing..but the switch, if it killed ALL the DC might come in quicker..that will be for folks to decide...if there are STILL failures and fires AFTER the Thermal Cut Off Module is installed, then I would put it in.

The REAL key here to fire prevention, in my opinion, is to install SOME type of extinguisher...the SS-30B is a good one."

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Old 11-07-2010, 02:56 PM   #2
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I have to wonder if there have been fires in refrigerators that had the original recall "thermal switch" installed. My cooling unit failed two months after the recall kit was installed, and the thermal switch did what it was supposed to do and killed power. I DID NOTICE OBVIOUS HEAT DAMAGE to the foil on the stack around the thermal switch ...but again, it did it's job. This occurred in November ...it was in TX but not hot weather by any means.

...I am leaning strongly toward a residential refrigerator myself, but I still wonder, does anyone know of fires with refrigerators that have the original recall kit installed??
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:17 PM   #3
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Well Jim I guess, I'm more confused than ever. are you saying that if there is a fault
the cooling unit needs to be replaced?
I'm lost about this now
just trying to understand, Mine is one of the ones recalled
??

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Old 11-07-2010, 03:17 PM   #4
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I heard a similar explanation. What bothers me about Norcold's approach is if a $20 thermal switch is defective and shuts down my cooling unit, I have to spend big bucks to replace the entire cooling unit even though it might be good. There's no way replace the switch if the cooling unit checks out OK. I hope they're really confident in their switch design and testing program.

If I ever have to replace my cooling unit, I'll be looking at converting to a residential fridge.
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:42 PM   #5
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are you saying that if there is a fault the cooling unit needs to be replaced?
Same story I got when I spoke to Norcold Customer Service and Tech Support earlier this week. If the high heat sensor shuts the unit down a new cooling unit will be needed. It cannot be reset.
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:47 PM   #6
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I'm thinking an Igloo ice chest is beginning to look pretty darn good. Seriously, I'm scheduled to have the "recall" done next week and now I'm having second thoughts. If I didn't need to remove a window to replace the Norcold, I would go buy a residential refer tomorrow.
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Old 11-07-2010, 03:47 PM   #7
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How much is a new cooling unit and whats involved to install it? Anybody!!!
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
If the high heat sensor shuts the unit down a new cooling unit will be needed.
I have extreme difficulty believing that ...if the switch can be added on to any unit now in the field, it can be added on to any unit in the field a year from now. Their RECOMMENDATION may be that the cooling unit has overheated and must be replaced, but I guess you could trust you own judgment... HOWEVER, it may in fact be that it will not trigger unless the CU has hit temps that obviously indicate it is faulty ...so it would not be just the switch, it would be that the cooling unit has in fact failed.
Quote:
How much is a new cooling unit and whats involved to install it?
Cost of a new cooling unit depends on the refrigerator model. For my 1201 one year ago, the new Norcold cooling unit was $1,586.99 (you can get "rebuilt" or off-brand if you want to pay less...). On my Winnebago (excess labor required due to Winnebago “roll-over” kit) there was 6.5hr labor to pull the refrigerator, exchange the cooling unit, and replace the refrigerator. Total cost was $2,403.63. New refrigerator that wouldn't be quite the same would have been between $3-4k plus shipping, labor, etc.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:31 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFChap View Post
I have extreme difficulty believing that ...if the switch can be added on to any unit now in the field, it can be added on to any unit in the field a year from now. Their RECOMMENDATION may be that the cooling unit has overheated and must be replaced, but I guess you could trust you own judgment... HOWEVER, it may in fact be that it will not trigger unless the CU has hit temps that obviously indicate it is faulty ...so it would not be just the switch, it would be that the cooling unit has in fact failed.
From what I heard and from what Jim quoted, Norcold will not sell replacement switches nor will they replace any switch that has tripped. I believe Norcold is saying the same thing you said at the end of your post - if the switch has tripped, something must be wrong with the cooling unit to cause it to overheat so you must replace the whole cooling unit.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:34 PM   #10
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I feel that the new switch is as good as it gets. If your unit is over heated it has failed. To try to restart it would only make matters worse. I have the new switch now on my fridge, fridge works same as always just one step further to protect me and my riders.
It was a half hour install, no changes to any of the motor homes other features. It goes in from the out side without any major mods. This is my views on the safety of the mod only. My 1200 fridge is factory unit in my 2004 Monaco camelot. Happy trails.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by clifftall View Post
How much is a new cooling unit and whats involved to install it? Anybody!!!
I saw remanufactured cooling units for the 1200 series refrigerators for about $800 online. I'm guessing new might be around $1200-1500. Of course, that doesn't include installation. To install the cooling unit, the fridge has to be pulled out.

New Norcold 1200 refrigerators go for around $3k depending if you want SS, wood panels, icemaker, etc. Again, that doesn't include installation.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:49 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by AFChap View Post
I have extreme difficulty believing that ...if the switch can be added on to any unit now in the field, it can be added on to any unit in the field a year from now. Their RECOMMENDATION may be that the cooling unit has overheated and must be replaced, but I guess you could trust you own judgment... HOWEVER, it may in fact be that it will not trigger unless the CU has hit temps that obviously indicate it is faulty ...so it would not be just the switch, it would be that the cooling unit has in fact failed.
Guess I wasn't clear in what I was trying to say. I was told by them, that if the high temp sensor (set to activate at 900*) shut the system down because of a high heat problem, it did not have the ability to be reset. They said if this happened the next step was to replace the cooling unit.
I didn't get into a scenario where the high temp sensor was found to be defective. IMO the HTS is a band-aid to the problem and not a fix. I have more confidence in my SS-30 than their HTS.
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Old 11-07-2010, 04:53 PM   #13
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My question would be! If I had this recall done now and sometime in the future needed to have the cooling unit replaced, would I be forced to buy a new Norcold unit with the Thermal Sensor or would it be possible to buy an aftermarket cooling unit and swap the sensor to the new unit. Sounds to me like another way to get you to buy strictly Norcold.

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Old 11-07-2010, 05:41 PM   #14
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I have a Question. If the new thermal switch blows, can the thermal switch simply be bypassed. I'm sure that the possibility of getting a defective thermal switch is probably pretty low, but it does happen, and from what I'm hearing on this thread is " if it blows, you can't get another one".
I'm pretty sure that almost everyone has operated their fridge in a slightly out of level position at least one time during their ownership of the coach. I also know that this can cause the cooling unit to overheat somewhat, but not kill the fridge.
I just replaced the cooling unit on my Norcold 4 dr fridge in a 2005 Sea Breeze MH. I did the job myself because the 6.5 hrs that the shop wanted seemed high. It was. The job took me about 3 hrs, and I had never done one before.
I also talked to a Norcold tech, and he told me that it takes more than a few times in an out of level position to ruin the cooling unit. I found out that the fridge in my coach had been installed from the factory with too much room behind the fridge cooling coils, allowing the outside air to bybass the condenser coils at the top of the fridge. The tech said that this could cause the unit to overheat, but it took 5 years for it to happen. Soooo...when you get your new handy dandy thermal switch, it sounds to me like a one time overheat screws you from being able to get your fridge going without replacing the cooling unit.

BUMMER!!

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