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Old 03-24-2015, 12:00 AM   #29
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The reason I asked you to do that is to check the main board, the burner and the electric heating element. If the boiler gets warm on both electric and propane, it is most likely the cooling coils.
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Old 03-24-2015, 12:22 AM   #30
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Here is a picture of an ammonia leak, and very similar to what mine looked like once apart
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Old 03-24-2015, 08:20 AM   #31
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awesome info, redapple. i will pull it out and find out exactly what happened. regards.
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Old 03-25-2015, 05:19 AM   #32
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Have you checked that the heating element is getting power or that the burner is operational? It could be something as simple as a bad cell in one of your house batteries causing low voltage on the 12 volt side preventing operation. Is the panel displaying any error codes?

Download the manual for your fridge and follow the diagnostic chart before pulling the unit as it could be something as simple as a bad ground connection or failing control board.

Note that the refrigerant mix is anhydrous ammonia mixed about 50/50 with distilled water with a pack of zinc chromate powder mixed in to prevent corrosion. The yellow staining is from the zinc chromate while hydrogen build up is from insufficient zinc chromate in the system. On residential cooling systems they usually have high and low side valves to allow technicians to check the balance of the anhydrous systems and vent off any non-condesable gasses (hydrogen) that builds up. Unfortunately in an RV refrigerator with no service valves there is no way to check if your system is failing because of low chromate and the related non-condesable gas buildup.

I maintained over 100 absorption based central cooling systems and 90% of the time when the burner/heater was working and cooling was not taking place it was due to the lack of chromate in the system and buildup of non-condensable gasses. I would purge them off into a bucket of water since the hydrogen would make a buzzing stream of bubbles while the ammonia gas due to its affinity with water would be completely absorbed until the water reached the max saturation point and then you would get ammonia bubbles which sound different and would get a whiff or pure anhydrous which is not very good for you at about 1 to 2 million times the potency of the ammonia used for commercial cleaning so you would not wait until the saturation point and shut down the purge process immediately once the hydrogen buzzing stopped. On the residential systems I would just weld in new tubing, boilers, etc when they failed however the average 5 ton system was mounted on a slab far enough from the structure that there was no hazard in the event of a failure and the ammonia was not pumped inside the living space with a exchanger filled with antifreeze used as a transfer medium pumped into the air handlers.
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:41 AM   #33
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Have you checked that the heating element is getting power or that the burner is operational? It could be something as simple as a bad cell in one of your house batteries causing low voltage on the 12 volt side preventing operation. Is the panel displaying any error codes?

Download the manual for your fridge and follow the diagnostic chart before pulling the unit as it could be something as simple as a bad ground connection or failing control board.
thanks neil. as you said, i'll go back to check if the heating element is getting power, and see if the burner is operational while it's on. the house battery pack is full, but chassis battery is cooked. i am going to replace the chassis battery in next trip. the panel does not show error codes.

i like your hands-on experience. are you/your shop in west coast?
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:54 AM   #34
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thanks for the fast responses. palehorse89 is correct - my fridge is an absorption one. it runs on either electric or lpg. if it's indeed ammonia leaked out, phew, it could have been worse...

keep coming...
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If it is an ammonia leak the fridge is probably toast.
BTW, the only thing worse than a "refrigerator ammonia leak" is a refrigerator fire.
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:37 PM   #35
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Our norcold 4 door did start on fire, it was leaking inside the boiler, fortunately I was awake and noticed the fridge beeping I went out side then grabbed the fire extinguisher(I should have just grabbed the family and collect the insurance, better than trade in value) the ammonia should be a yellow powder when dry. IF you have an extended warranty it should only cost $50 to replace the cooling unit. Unless you have 120 while driving you frige won't stay cold in a residential fridge.
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Old 03-26-2015, 11:43 PM   #36
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Your chassis battery could be the problem, I know our fleetwood seemed unusual it seemed to use the the house and chassis batteries
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Old 03-27-2015, 12:37 AM   #37
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Actually, it doesn't get much worse than that. If it has leaked, either the entire fridge will need to be replaced, or some folks opt for some "Amish" replacement absorption system to replace the old one.
The Amish unit I bought from rvrefrigeration.com cools better than the Norcold original. $700 and a few hours of my time and all is good again.
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Old 03-27-2015, 04:10 AM   #38
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The compressor oil and refrigerant are mixed together in the system. Common for some oil to escape with a refrigerant leak.
There is no oil in an anhydrous system. If oil does get in there you have to break open the system and flush it out with a strong degreaser before sealing it again and recharging it.
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Old 03-27-2015, 04:12 AM   #39
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are you/your shop in west coast?
Retired from that line of work for a long time now so no shop however I am in Sunny Tampa Bay.
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:52 AM   #40
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There is no oil in an anhydrous system. If oil does get in there you have to break open the system and flush it out with a strong degreaser before sealing it again and recharging it.
Told them that far,far,far up-thread and still they yammer about Ammonia leaks.
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Old 03-27-2015, 05:52 PM   #41
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thanks gentlemen. temporarily away from the rig now... when i get back and get a chassis battery in a few days i will test 1) with new battery to see if it makes any difference; 2) if no good, i'd verify if the heating element gets power or burner operates; if not 3) pull it out and check. in a worst case scenario, either an amish unit or a brand new samsung... will get it nailed
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Old 03-27-2015, 07:37 PM   #42
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Take the plunge and get the Amish unit. Take your time pull it out and while your at it re-do all the insulation around the box and make sure the vent is properly routed. Also make sure the floor is solid. i added insulation and put new floor on mine and replaced the small cooling fans while i was at it. Also be sure to add extra foil tape to seal the back of the fridge, the better the seal the better it works. I don't regret one minute of the job the fridge works better than it ever has. Good Luck!!!
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