fridge warms up but doesn't cool - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-28-2013, 07:07 PM   #1
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fridge warms up but doesn't cool

Hi everyone,
We recently purchased a 74 Boler, sadly though the fridge doesn't seem to work.
  • 110V the condensor thingy warms up, actually it gets kinda hot.
  • On Propane the pilot lights, but goes out as soon as I release the red button.

Any suggestions? Is the fridge toast? Anything to check/replace?
It's a Escort mini 15
Thanks for any suggestions.
I will post some photos as soon as I figure out how to do that!
Steve, Jen, and Quinzen
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:22 PM   #2
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If it cools on 110 volts that is a very good sign. Let it run for 8 hours or so to confirm that it is cooling inside.

You may just need a new thermocouple. There is a safety feature that shuts off the gas if no flame is present. When you press down the button, you temporarily over ride this feature and open the gas valve manually. The flame is supposed to heat the thermocouple and the thermocouple provides a tiny electrical current to hold the gas valve open. If the thermocouple is defective, the flame goes out the flame will out as soon as the button is released.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:22 PM   #3
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Steve, I don't know how much you have used an RV refrigerator, but something that I didn't know, nor the previous owner, was the unit will require about 6 hours to cool down once turned on. If it works on 110 volt, then you will have to replace the thermal coupler to keep the pilot lit once you release the button for propane use.
If the unit does NOT cool on 110 volt after six hours, you could try a trick where you take the refrigerator out and turn it upside down for a day and retry the 6 hours on 110 volt, which can be done out of your trailer. If it still doesn't work, retry the upside down trick again....if not after that, you need a new one.
Good luck.
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:09 PM   #4
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Thanks for the quick thoughtful replies!

I had left the fridge plugged in and switched to 110 all night/day - back from work today the fridge wasn't cold at all, however the little tank above the switches on the outside (back of the fridge) was almost hot to the touch.
I'm thinking this is somewhat of a good sign??
Does this hotness point to anything in regards to the 110V functionality? Just the fact that the coolant isn't circulating? So there's nothing else to really test/replace like a fuse?
I'll try the upside down trick this weekend - looks like it could be a real chore removing the entire fridge....

I will try to find a new thermocoupler - is this something that needs to be ordered online specifically for a boler? What does a thermocoupler look like?
As you can tell, this fridge stuff is very foreign to me...
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:02 PM   #5
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The hot spot is a good sign. The circulation of refrigerant depends on this hot spot, wether or not it is from 110 AC, 12 volt, or Propane. Don't bother replacing the thermocoupler until you have this circulation on 110 volts, otherwise you are just wasting your money. The thermocoupler is the little metal piece (like a short coffee stir straw) that sits in the pilot flame. This heats the fluid inside the thermocoupler, causing it to expand to keep the safety shut-off valve for the propane open for the flow of propane to keep the flame going. I sure hope the upside down trick (maybe sever rounds) works for you.
Dave & Paula
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:00 PM   #6
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Is the trailer LEVEL? More importantly, is the refrigerator level? My old 3-way struggles to cool down unless the refrigerator is perfectly level, but once it is.. cools down pretty fast.
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Old 05-28-2013, 10:43 PM   #7
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Hi Donna, David,
THanks for the tip about the thermocoupler, pretty sure I see the piece now. Wasn't sure what to look for.
And the tip about waiting till after the tip test before replacing it.
Donna, the trailer is level for sure, not 100% sure if the fridge is perfectly level however...
Thanks again for the tips
Steve
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Old 05-29-2013, 07:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David B. View Post
..............The thermocoupler is the little metal piece (like a short coffee stir straw) that sits in the pilot flame. This heats the fluid inside the thermocoupler, causing it to expand to keep the safety shut-off valve for the propane open for the flow of propane to keep the flame going. ...............
Dave & Paula
Not that it matters to the OP, but this is not how a thermocouple works. It creates a small electrical current, which keeps the gas valve open. You might want to Google it.
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:51 AM   #9
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My friend that specializes in absorbers also recommended light tapping on the coils with a small rubber mallet, said that sometimes this will help to restart circulation on units that have been sitting idle for a long time. He also recommended running on AC or LP for several days, then if none of that works, try leaving it upside down for a while (he mentioned a couple weeks). If that fails, at least you have the old unit out for the replacement!
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:09 AM   #10
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There are some good articles on the internet on refrigerator diagnostics.

This one speaks to why turning the refrigerator upside down might work.

Quote:
Out of Level. If the cooling unit is operated in a stationary, out of level position (on any heat source), it will eventually become permanently damaged. Before we go any further, there is one more ingredient inside the cooling unit: sodium chromate. The ammonia solution inside the cooling unit is a mild corrosive, and sodium chromate is mixed with the ammonia solution (ammonia and water) to neutralize the corrosive effects of the solution, protecting the inner pipes of the cooling unit.
Since the cooling unit depends greatly on the effects of gravity for moving the liquids and gases inside, running it off level and stationary causes these liquids and gases to collect in unwanted areas and not be recycled back to the boiler. The liquid level inside the boiler begins to drop and become weaker. Eventually, the water in the ammonia solution begins to vaporize with the ammonia and leave the boiler. At some point, the boiler becomes dry and the temperature rises rapidly inside. The sodium chromate which was once in solution with the ammonia solution is left behind and begins to burn and permanently change state from a powder into a sort of sludge that will eventually plug the perk tube. If left to cook long enough, the sodium chromate will become as hard as steel. If the cooling unit were "saved" from this out of level condition by being leveled, or the heat source turned off, any sodium chromate that had changed state would not return to a powder in solution with the ammonia solution. This makes it possible to ruin a cooling unit a little at a time.
The new style boiler (see above) helps to prevent this cooking of the sodium chromate, but it can still happen. More often than not, however, the liquid inside the outer shell of the boiler vaporizes, causing the pipe that makes up the outer shell to become super heated and crack, thus ruining the cooling unit. So, although the double boiler effect of the new style boiler may help prevent the perk tube from becoming plugged, it only gives the user a little more time to recognize and correct a problem.
When traveling down the road, the liquids and gases inside the cooling unit are sloshed around and don't collect in unwanted areas, making it all right to travel with the refrigerator on.
Cooling Unit (How it works)
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:37 AM   #11
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That's why he said the tapping might work too, if it wasn't too solid already. Absorption chillers are like automatic transmissions to me, bordering on black magic. He's explained the exact process a few times, with diagrams, but it just didn't sink in.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:20 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinPete View Post
That's why he said the tapping might work too, if it wasn't too solid already. Absorption chillers are like automatic transmissions to me, bordering on black magic. He's explained the exact process a few times, with diagrams, but it just didn't sink in.
Me too. It bothers me, because I feel like I understand compressor refrigeration very well. I am beginning to get it though. It is still a pressure differential that drives the cooling process. But there are many other properties at play. Partial pressure effects were new to me. This is the first I have heard of sodium chromate. I often wondered what the particles, or as some refer to the, crystals were. I guess this is what they were talking about.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:39 AM   #13
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Before you assume the thermocouple is bad, check the pilot flame height. It can be too high or too low and not work (Too high the thermocouple is sitting in raw gas with the flame above it --too low not enough flame) or the thermocouple may be corroded and need cleaning. I have taken a small butane torch and applied flame directly to the thermocouple then observed if the main burner functions. A thermocouple is normally constructed of 2 metals that when heated develop a millivolt output. Many thermostats have capillary tubes with liquid that expands to operate a microswitch. Do not apply an OHM meter to the thermocouple to test it ,the 9 volt battery in the meter will destroy the thermocouple
I had similar problem with our refer . I had it repaired at my home by a local refrigeration shop for $50.00 , He adjusted and cleaned the burner ,set the gas pressure ,cleaned the vent and baffle , checked all gas and electrical connections ETC , I now have a freezer that freezes and if I don't watch it so will the refrigerator
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:20 PM   #14
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Well, managed to get the fridge out fairly easily, just a few sheet metal screws here and there.
Turned it upside down and will try plugging it in on Saturday. Could hear lots of liquid sloshing around when tipped over so assume that's a good sign...
Another question though, looks like the ground was never connected, just a dangling green wire in the back.
So this wouldn't cause the fridge to not cool right? It would really just make it dangerous for not being grounded?
Photo here of the back https://www.icloud.com/photostream/#AB5qXGF1GUaLxI
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