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Old 07-01-2014, 11:17 AM   #1
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Norcold/NotCold when travelling??

Anyone have a clue here? Fridge is not cooling when we are rolling down the highway. Four door Norcold has functioned perfectly until this trip. Warms up to 50-degrees in about 3-hours. After parking, it will cool back down to low-to-mid 30's overnight. Have tried switching to LP, plugging in to gen outlet and inverter outlet. There is heat in the riser pipe, so that part is working as best I can tell but the blasted thing will not keep it's cool while moving!!!
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:37 AM   #2
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Several ideas

Got a few questions:

How old is the refer?

Have you cleaned the orifice, burner, and flue lately?

Have you tried reading the stored codes?

If it's doing this even when you run the genset and switch it to AC it's almost certain that the problem is one of airflow.

If it's doing this even when you run the genset and switch it to AC it's almost certain that the problem is one of airflow.

Does your refer have fans? 13 year old fans have been known to fail. If you have plenty of room to get a hand up there you might be able to touch them, there's probably 2. If it's a quiet day I can just barely hear them.

Side vent or top?

If it's a top vent have you replaced the vent cover lately and did this bad behavior start right after that? The vent may be forcing air down the stack rather than up and out.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:39 AM   #3
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What is the outside temp where you are? Sounds like something is affecting air circulation in the access area behind the fridge while you are moving. Could be the two fans in the stack behind the refer are not running? ...you should be able to hear them when parked ...but even w/o them running I would not expect that much difference in cooling when parked vs driving. Check the lower and upper vents to the access area to see if there is something that could block air flow up the rear of the fridge when driving.
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Old 07-01-2014, 11:50 AM   #4
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You have given me some ideas...here is some data:
-fridge is a 2001 model (OEM in RV)
-exterior temp is in low 90s
-vent cover has been replaced but everything worked for months afterward
-top vent
-didn't even know it had fans in the vent to move air
-will check vent for obstructions and see if I can hear/feel fan operation.

Dangit! In the middle of DownTown Nowhere Louisiana heading to Dallas area. :-(
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Old 07-01-2014, 12:20 PM   #5
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Top Vent

I'm not sure if a 13 year old Norcold has fans either.

Is the vent exactly like the one it replaced? Is it possible it was installed backwards, i.e. front & back turned around? If it's installed backwards it would ram air down the stack and work against the normal convection (and fans) flow of the design. If you replaced the vent cover with the wrong kind, perhaps one that is a simple cap verses one similar to the attached picture that may be the problem.
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:04 PM   #6
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My 02 Norcold had two fans ...they are not in the vent, but are on top of the cooling unit tubes. When running they make a slight humming noise. A service place hooked mine up backwards and they would not run at all ...they are 12v and polarity sensitive.

I wonder about the top vent too, since that was changed, was it properly installed? My fan problem did not become apparent for about 8 months when the outside temps got warmer.
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:15 PM   #7
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From my research before I replaced my Norcold, the problem with cooling while moving the RV is almost always related to ventilation. If the unit has developed this problem recently, I'd bet you have a fan (or two) not working in the back.

I'd suggest a close inspection from the outside to ascertain if the fans are working. If you have to pull the unit out, I'd recommend replacing the fans with new ones, increasing the capacity of the fans, if possible AND buy one of the self-contained automatic fire extinquishers and mount it to quelch any fires that start in the cooling unit. A smoke detector in the space behind the fridge is also a great idea. The OEM of every motorhome should put these in every RV.
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:25 PM   #8
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Good point about the vent cover. I oriented it like the one I took off with the rounded (aerodynamic) end pointed toward the front of the coach. Now, it may fit tighter than the old one, so I need to somehow give the air flow some more space to move through.

Cannot see/hear any fan noise since there are AC units running all around. I dare not turn mine off with the Spousal Unit already PO'ed that her evening beverage is not properly chilled. Ever try to douse a campfire with gasoline!

When we parked here at Shallow Creek RV Resort, the fridge thermometer was indicating 55-degrees. Took about 2-hours to drop to 50. Ice maker is still producing solid water chunks but frozen food items are clearly not as "frozen" as they would normally be. Dashboard thermometer says 98, but it is close to the generator. Probably more like 90-92.

Thanks for the ideas. If weather is not too rainy when we hit the road in a couple of days, I may try raising the rear of that cover a bit to see what happens....
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Old 07-01-2014, 05:47 PM   #9
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On my last truck camper that came with a Norcold I had this same problem. I got back home from the trip and slid the fridge out. I discovered that the sealing tape Norcold used all around the enclosure was coming loose, allowing warm air to get to the walls of the fridge.

A couple hours with some contact cement and foil furnace duct tape had the box sealed up real well and the fridge back to normal. Mine was less than 2 years old when this happened.
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fastcat View Post
On my last truck camper that came with a Norcold I had this same problem. I got back home from the trip and slid the fridge out. I discovered that the sealing tape Norcold used all around the enclosure was coming loose, allowing warm air to get to the walls of the fridge.

A couple hours with some contact cement and foil furnace duct tape had the box sealed up real well and the fridge back to normal. Mine was less than 2 years old when this happened.
Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh! Gives ya a warm-fuzzy about their QC dept, huh?
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Old 07-01-2014, 06:16 PM   #11
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RonNBama,

Muddypaws knows his stuff when it comes to Norcold's aka NotsoCold. He has one of the greatest running Norcold's on this forum. So if anyone can help solve your problem, he will.

The included photo shows what a Norcold roof vent looks like of your vintage. The taper would go towards the front.

Your vintage Norcold will have two square box fans attached to the rear coils about midway up the back or so. In regards to sticking your hand and fingers up there to see if they are turning, be careful because when I did that I ended up breaking a blade or two as they were old and brittle.

I would try to use a mirror and bright flashlight to see if they are working. If not you have two options, replace them by pulling out the fridge far enough to reach the fans or install a package of fans in the roof vent. I installed four on the roof which helped when my two OEM fans crapped out.

Also there have been reports from people that have the same symptoms as you but it ended up being an air leak between the cooling unit and the fridge body. This only happened when underway.

Good luck and I hope you solve the problem otherwise you will be throwing out spoiled food.

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Old 07-02-2014, 08:59 AM   #12
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Roof vent looks very similar. I can feel exhaust air exiting the screen when I pull the cover but could not see fan operation.

One other change (improvement?) I had made was to install dirt dobber screen material inside the side cover. Mesh stuff like used on a screen door. I removed that so the next drive will tell if it was my problem....

I take it one must pull the fridge all the way out to access those exhaust fans?
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:10 AM   #13
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Warm Norcold while moving.

RonNBama

I have the exact problem with the Amish coil system installed. I am also looking for a reason for the spoiled milk after each move.
I agree it has to be air flow.
I also have no hot water this trip and am heading to the RV Shop in Escanaba, MI.
I'll post results next week.
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Old 07-02-2014, 10:49 AM   #14
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Maybe

To verify that they are working, no. But to replace them or the temp switch that turns them on you will have to remove it.

You may only have to move it out a foot or so to gain access depending on how flexible you are. But since you want to check the sealing tape too there probably is no other choice.

Marginal cooling is one of the symptoms of one or both fans not working. If both fans are not working one of the common causes is a bad switch. On my 1201 the temperature switch is screwed to one of the upper fins. If you can get to it from the top vent it might be worth testing with an ohmmeter. It's a normally open switch that closes at a set temp. Not sure what that temp is but it's got to be somewhere in the 130 to 160 range. (I could look it up but my internet connection is too slow to deal with right now)

If you have a LED flashlight try shining it on the fans from above. The flicker rate of the LEDs will make the motion of the fans more apparent. And probably backwards. (remember how in old movies airplane propellers seemed to be going backwards? Same effect.)

If you can find dry ice anywhere near you it's really good at keeping things cold/frozen while you work on it.

Weird question: What front panel setting are you using when you travel? Some absorption refers, and 1200 series in particular, run best at the lower settings. I've found that a setting higher than 4 on mine actually warms the box. And I'm not the only one to observe this weird behavior. Mine runs on #2 most of the time. When it's 100+ out I may turn it up to #3 but never higher.
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