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Old 04-28-2013, 01:25 PM   #1
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RV fridge is cool..but not cold!

I have a 78 Georgie Boy/Cruise Air, all org. I' have no prior experience w/ RV fridges as the 5th wheel I had, the fridge had been stolen out of when I bought it. I did a little searching yesterday & found out that for the fridge to work on electric, it should be plugged in for several hours before it gets up to temp & that it won't make any real noise. (I just assumed it would..) So, the back coils are definitely warm..theres a small group of coils (kind of cylinder shaped) that are hot, then the large ones that go up the back of the fridge that are just slightly warm. The freezer part is about avg. freezer temp, I'd say, but the fridge isn't getting very cool. Is this in need or repair or am I not doing something right here? I saw a post about "burping" the fridge (?), not sure if I should do that or not. Any input would be great, Thanks!

PS- Haven't tried it on propane yet..honestly not sure how to switch it to. The previous owner said that it worked fine when he used it last summer (I bought it in the fall).

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Old 04-28-2013, 03:04 PM   #2
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Generally... A thermistor is attached to the aluminum fin's inside the refrigerator. It slides...up is colder and down is warmer. Could be 24hrs to get to temp.... As for switching to propane when the fridge ts turned on it should all be automatic (if gas is turned on) depending on what you have. What brand is the fridge and how old is it?

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Old 04-28-2013, 09:21 PM   #3
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It does take a long time for the refrigerator to get to temperature. And someone told you that it has to be level, right? If not level it will ruin the unit and you get to spend a thousand bucks or two. I am going to put in a 12v computer cooling fan in mine to help move the air around and I think that will help. I also have a cooling fan to put outside behind the fridge to help move some of that hot air back there up and out the vent. Happy Trails.

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Old 04-28-2013, 11:25 PM   #4
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Takes a day or two to get cold. One of those small blue cube RV refrigerator fans can help to even the temperature throughout the box. A thermometer inside is best to tell what is really happening.
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Old 04-29-2013, 06:41 AM   #5
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In warmer temps, it's a good idea to plan your trips into the fridge to minimize the times the door is opened. These things are just not as efficient as a home fridge? Kids opening and closing the door frequently will lead to marginal cooling at best. Good practice there is to keep a separate cooler with their stuff in it.

The other thing is to make sure there's no birds nest, fiberglass insulation or whatever blocking the air flow that's rising up through the back of the cooling unit. Have a look up there through the outside vent to make sure it's clear.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:51 PM   #6
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As stated already, make sure the heat flue is clear and none of the wiring connections are corroded. The older fridges typically have a switch to go from gas to electric operation. Usually there is a "control panel" outside the fridge door, maybe along the top edge. You may find that it cools better on propane especially if the electric heating element is not working 100%. Remember, these RV fridges cool with heat - sounds crazy I know, but thats the way it works.

"Burping" the fridge is kinda a last resort as you may make it better or kill it altogether. You have to remove the fridge and turn it upside-down, shake it back and forth. The action is supposed to break loose any obstruction or airlock inside the tubes. I wouldn't recommend it if the fridge works at all.

Being "level" is a relative term. The more level the better but typically they will safely operate up to 6 degrees off level front-to-rear and 3 degrees side-to-side.

FYI - You might find the manual for your fridge here: http://bryantrv.com/docs.html

Overall it sounds like you are not to far from acceptable if the freezer is truly freezing. Try running on propane and see if it is better. Could just be the electric element is weak.
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Old 05-21-2013, 02:24 PM   #7
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I found my freezer needs to have something in it except air for faster cooling in the refrigerator. I filled mine with crumpled newspaper.
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:01 AM   #8
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I had an issue with mine insomuch as the freezer would work but the fridge never cooled sufficiently. I read a tip that I tried and it worked great.

It involves bypassing the thermostat and running 110v to the heating element and letting the whole thing work overtime for 24-48 hours. They can get clogged internally and this can help a minor clog - if it's completely clogged then the only answer is replacement.

After 24 hours, my freezer and refrigerator started to get cold and after 48 both were well below freezing - disconnected the 110v line, reconnected it all back as normal and it's been great ever since.

Worth a try.
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:14 AM   #9
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First make sure the reefer is as level as you can get it. Place a $1 round bubble level on the floor of the freezer and try for no more than 1/4 bubble out (the older the fridge, the more sensitive it is to being level). Never allow it to run for long in an out-of-level condition- it WILL ruin it.

Turn the cooling level to halfway to maximum (i.e. 3 on a 1-5 warm/cold scale): seems wrong, but it will cool more quickly when its NOT at max.

Allow 48 hours for the unit to cool before checking it.

Next, buy a cheap fridge/freezer thermometer at the dollar store and check the FREEZER temp first. Its hard to tell the difference between 0 degrees and 15 degrees in the freezer, but easy to detect the difference between 35 and 50 degrees in the fridge. Leave the thermometer in the fridge so you can tell if anything you do changes it.

Make sure that the stack behind the cooling coils is free of any obstruction and that air can move freely from bottom to top (open the vent door and look up, then remove roof vent and look down)- this convection effect is what pulls the heat from the coils. Many people install 2 or 3 12v computer fans up at the top of the stack to pull the air up more quickly (they can also be installed at the bottom blowing UP as well).

Its hot here in south Texas, so we always make sure the afternoon sun doesn't hit the side of the coach the fridge is on- use the awning or tape some Reflectix on the outside if you're staying in one place for a while.

On the fins in the fridge you will see something clipped to a fin with a wire attach. This is the thermistor. Note where its attached currently and move it one fin to the Left. Wait 24 hours and see if the internal temperature has changed.

If you've done all these things and still can't get your fridge to cool adequately, you can replace the cooling unit for around $500
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Old 05-26-2013, 09:37 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by HoneyBadger View Post
Turn the cooling level to halfway to maximum (i.e. 3 on a 1-5 warm/cold scale): seems wrong, but it will cool more quickly when its NOT at max.
Where did you get this 'gem'???
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Old 05-26-2013, 08:22 PM   #11
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We have found that it's best to stock it up with items that are already cold.

If you turn it on and load it up with hot canned drinks or something similar, it's going to take at least 24 hours for it to cool down to temperature. Maybe longer depending on what's in it.

As stated before, these things aren't very efficient to begin with, if you give it some time, I'd bet that it will cool down to temp.
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:13 PM   #12
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Also, take the outside cover off and check the area around the bottom of the chimney. If there's ANY trace of powdered sulphur (yellow flour-like powder), be ready to replace either the cooling unit or the entire fridge.

As I understand the chemistry, there's a reaction between the ammonia refrigerant and the exhaust from burning propane if the refrigerant is leaking out of the cooling unit that precipitates the sulphur.

On our 11-year-old vehicle, we're replacing the entire fridge (about $1600). We don't want the hassle of trying to modify a residential fridge to fit and have lockable doors and always needing a source of 115V AC. We will get one with an adjustable thermostat. I can't believe that Dometic had the balls to say "we know how cold your food should be and we won't let you mess with it."
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Old 05-26-2013, 11:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by frankdamp View Post
I can't believe that Dometic had the balls to say "we know how cold your food should be and we won't let you mess with it."
Err, the Dometics do have a thermostat in the refrigerator. It's clipped to the metal fins at the top of the refer and you move it up or down to change the temperature in the refrigerator.

It's not 'calibrated' but neither are the house versions - they just have a dial that goes from 1 to 6 or similar.
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Old 05-27-2013, 05:16 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by steveclv View Post
Where did you get this 'gem'???
An RV refrigerator tech told us this years ago; turn the fridge on, turn the thermostat to halfway, let it cool the box, then turn it colder if needed.
This is for quickest cooling at the beginning, not maximum cooling.

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