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Old 10-05-2012, 05:52 PM   #1
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Norcold Troubleshooting Help

I need your help in troubleshooting an issue Iíve been chasing all summer with my Norcold refrigerator. I have the Norcold 4 door model number 1200 LRIMD and until this year have not had any issues. I have a 2005 model year motorhome and this is the original fridge. The safety recall retrofit was done in December 2010.

I first noticed the problem the first week of May, when I left for a week camping trip. When I arrived at my campground (about a 6 hour drive), I noticed that the inside of my fridge was warm (around 50 degrees). The fridge was cold before the drive over. So for the first time ever I checked the diagnostic codes. Since I had never checked it before it had a lot of codes. I cleared out the codes and decided to check the codes upon my return trip home. The fridge cooled down once plugged in at the campground and worked correctly for the week. Upon my return home, I noticed that the fridge had warmed again, so I checked the diagnostic codes and the only thing showing was screen 4, DC voltage low.

I checked the flame condition and any issues that I could think to fix the problem. I then took another trip in July and the same thing again, my fridge warmed up while driving. I checked the codes again and the only error code was screen 4, DC voltage low.

In August, while attending the FMCA convention, I contacted the Norcold representatives and explained my issue. They sent out three representatives/technicians and did a cursory check. Basically all they did was check my flame and look at the diagnostic codes. They said I had a downdraft issue, but they did not have the part to fix it. Wasnít real impressed with their troubleshooting as they were overwhelmed with service work at the convention and it was apparent they just wanted to leave as soon as possible.

Upon my return home I had an RV service technician look at the fridge and I explained what the technicians had said at the convention. He said he had no idea what the part they were talking about, unless they meant the flue baffle. He then conducted a detailed troubleshooting of my fridge with my assistance. He checked the roof vent for any blockage and the flue baffle as well. All the venting checked out. We checked both of the cooling fans on the fridge and they worked properly. He checked the flame and propane pressure, again everything checked out. He checked various wiring and everything was in order. He was baffled as to what was causing the problem.

Iíve been trying to diagnose what my issue may be as it worked fine while I was traveling during the winter months and put the motorhome back into my inside storage in March. I did what I have always done, turned off the fridge and the motorhome is plugged into power in by garage.

I decided to give it another test today. I turned on my fridge Wednesday night and this morning when I checked it, the fridge showed 32 and the freezer 4. That was on setting 7 and running off electric. I then went out for about a two drive and the temperature increased to 40 for the fridge and 7 for the freezer. The outside temperature was in mid 70ís.

The fridge runs fine off LP or electric as long as Iím stationary. Iím convinced that Iím having an issue with the flame while driving. I receive no alarms that the flame has gone out and I have pulled over while driving to check the flame and itís burning. It's switching correctly from electric to LP when I'm off shore power. I've pulled up the thermistor fin temperature readings from time to time and they show anywhere from 22 to 29, but when I'm driving the readings go up, so I'm definitely having an issue while driving. The only thing I have not checked is running my generator while driving (I do run the generator when it's warm for the roof AC) for any length of time to see if the fridge operates properly.

Iím pretty much baffled on what to check next. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 10-05-2012, 06:22 PM   #2
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Had the exact same problem a year and a half ago, chose the Ammish Cooling unit fix. This has been discussed a lot on here. We boondock every chance we get because we choose it. Residential fridge was out of the question for us but great for a lot of people. Taking out the windshield was out of the question to do the swap also. Wife and I did our cooling unit ourselves and saved a lot and gained first hand knowledge on how it works.
You have hot air entering the cooling unit at the rear of the fridge and this renders it to about 50*. The hot air is NOT entering the fridge. The cooling unit warehouse is located in Memphis, TN. and can do the swap for you. This also eliminates the fire hazard and the useless Norcold recalls. Comes with a five year warranty. It's a big decision that you will have to make. You might try resealing the back of the fridge and see what happens.

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Old 10-05-2012, 07:14 PM   #3
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Bob a couple of things maybe the cause.
You need to check the drain hose that comes from inside fridge drain pan and see if you have a black plug on end of hose.
The hose end will be in the small pan, maybe black, mounted under the boiler of cooling unit.
If the plug is missing what will happen the warm air in cooling coil area or outside temps will be sucked up into the box of the fridge while driving.
The plug needs to be cleaned if plugged and water will rest above plug to cause the warm air not to get sucked into box of fridge.
When fridge defrosts some water will stay in hose to seal air flow into box.
The other thing is a leak in sealant around the cooling unit thats inserted on back of the refrigerator, would require the removal of fridge and a complete reseal of cooling coil unit.
If you were thinking of replacing with the Amish unit would be the time to do it.
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Old 10-05-2012, 07:28 PM   #4
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just to throw this out to you
the fridge only gets warm while you drive and use lp?
or does it also get warm if you drive and it is on a/c power?

my unit will periodically blow out if i run it gas and drive, which sets a code

your temps on #7 and 70 F outside IMO is crap, it should be much colder

i run at 7 and get 27-29f in the food box
and 0-5 in both freezers
i will also add if you move the thermistor that is on the first fridge alum coil to the 8th or 10 th fin....it will cause a better cooling

also do a soft reset of the fridge
kill 12 volt and 120 power for ten minutes and open the doors

then restart and clear all codes (this may take several times to clear)

then set it on 7 or 8 and keep it shut for 24 hrs
then measure the temps in the food box and the freezers

set it on lp and do another 24 hr test

if the flame is good and clean, it can still be blown out while driving....

I would also remove the cover on the roof vent and get a GOOD visual down the opening for anything that does not belong

if it worked great before...then unless its clogged up in a tube or leaked the ammonia ( which you would see or notice)

if you haven't downloaded the norcold book....you need to
its a very good read and makes up for norcolds subpar customer service
Service Documents

the above link has almost all of the manuals
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Old 10-05-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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This will not diagnose your problem, but probably prevent it. If you have an inverter, just run the Norcold on 120 volt AC while driving. I do it with my MH all the time, because I am wary of possible flame-outs while driving.

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Old 10-05-2012, 08:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by washbob View Post
Iím pretty much baffled on what to check next. Any help would be appreciated.
You are getting warm air intrusion into the sealed and insulated portion of the cooling coils while underway.

It has nothing to do with the LPG or 120 VAC operations. When traveling in colder climates you will not notice it as much because of the temperature of the ambient outside temps.

You have to remove the fridge and place it upright onto something. Then using metal foil A/C tape, seal all around the foam edges. Then look for breaks in the insulation panel and seal anything and everything with the foil tape. This area is where the freezer and fridge coils are located.

You need to eliminate all air intrusion into those cooling coils. If they are able to warm up at all, then the heat transfer needed to cool stuff inside will be hindered.

Remember that these units work on heat absorption therefore how they work is they absorb heat from the stuff inside the fridge and then transfer that heat to the cooling fins at the top. The rear area were the fins are located also needs to have as much airflow as you can possibly produce to remove the heat quickly so the fridge will work more efficiently.

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Old 10-05-2012, 08:38 PM   #7
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fridge problem

imho it was stated that the diagnostics on the unit indicate low 12v are you shure you do not have a problem with the 12v to the refer when you are travling? lee
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Old 10-06-2012, 07:33 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by hometool View Post
imho it was stated that the diagnostics on the unit indicate low 12v are you sure you do not have a problem with the 12v to the refer when you are traveling? lee
That trouble code could be logged at anytime and may not be directly related to his problem. He would have to check frequently to see exactly when that code is thrown out and what the circumstances were at the time.

Usually 12 VDC is only needed to power the control board, external fans and internal lights.

He has a good flame and it doesn't go out otherwise the display would give you NO FL.

More information needed.

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Old 10-06-2012, 09:14 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I have some ideas on what to check next.

336muffin .... If I'm not able solve the issue, the Amish Cooling unit is the way I will go.

007 .... I hadn't checked the drain hose and will do so. From what I'm hearing from a lot of people, it appears a leak in the sealant around the cooling unit may be the problem.

powerboatr ... As stated in my post I have not tried running the fridge strictly on generator while driving, that will be on my next tests. I started out with readings of 32 fridge & 4 freezer at level 7 setting. I have my thermometers positioned in the warmest places of the fridge & freezer, so I can see the warmest readings. The soft resets, will be an option I'll try. I have removed cover on the roof vent and everything is fine. It worked great before and I do not have a leak (no ammonia smell or the yellow dust). I have the service manuals, but they do not address my issue.

bluepill .... I may try your idea of running it on inverter. I can switch plug connections with my ice maker, as my understanding is the ice maker plug will run off inverter.

Dr4Film .... I agree it does sound like I'm getting warm air intrusion.

hometool .... It's correct the only diagnostic code I'm getting is screen 4, DC voltage low. How would you diagnose a 12v issue while traveling?

Dr4Film .... I have checked frequently (probably 15 times) over the summer and the only code I receive is the DC voltage low. I agree that the 12v is probably okay as the control board, external fans and internal lights all work when I'm disconnected from shore power and traveling. At least they were are working whenever I would pull over to check.

Again thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm going to solve this issue.

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