Refrigeration leak - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-02-2012, 03:10 PM   #1
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Refrigeration leak

I went in to clean and shut down the refrigerator after last weekend's trip and even before the refer door was opened, I knew there was a problem. The odor is maybe ammonia. When I opened the refrigerator door my eyes and lung immediately were in trouble. There appears to be a blue liquid in the refrigerator on the bottom most shelf. I've left the burro door open with fans facing in to clear out the chemicals. Has anyone had this happen? Can you tell me what I'm dealing with?
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:32 PM   #2
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Your heading sums it up: anhydrous ammonia is leaking. You've identified the problem. Doubt that any service center including factory would be able to or desire to repair in place. As a refrigerant system replacement or total fridge replacement requires removal, your choices are remove, have removed, or ignore it. Physical removal is only a matter of backing the screws out of the flange or reveal surrounding the door and pulling out of the opening. Gas line and both 110 and 12volt power must be unhooked prior to removal and individual electrical leads taped or capped with a wire nut. Some thought should be given to either plugging the gas line, finding an upstream shutoff on the line, or perhaps simplest, remove your propane tank to avoid the possibility of anyone opening that valve. You should wear rubber gloves and eye protection and place a protective tarp in the isle between the fridge and the trailer door.

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Old 11-02-2012, 03:33 PM   #3
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Sounds like an ammonia leak, all right....though since it's a blue liquid I think it's more likely "aqua ammonia" than the gaseous "anhydrous".

It's not something that can be field or self-repaired- you'll have to take it to someone that has the equipment to both find and repair the leak and recharge the system with the exactly correct amount/type of ammonia.

Here's a link to a pretty good explanation of how small absorption-type refrigerators work: SMALL AMMONIA REFRIGERATOR

Good luck!

Francesca
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:35 PM   #4
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Your fridge is dead. Ammonia is used in propane fridges as a refrigerant. It is not cost effective to repair.

Sounds like yours leaked into the fridge, that is unusual. I am told by Jo Thoen, with Outback / Trillium, that usually the section of pipe just above the burner, is where they fail. He does actually repair them. He cuts out that section of pipe and welds in a new one. Then he recharges the gases. He has not done it for a while, but he has a HUGE collection of cooling units.

I would recommend another old unit. I have found several Dometic RM211's for cheep.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:38 PM   #5
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Sue, unless you used some sort of ammonia based cleaner that spilled in the fridge and the smell goes away after airing out, I hate to say it but its sounds like you have a ammonia leak. If you can smell and see ammonia its time for a new fridge as the old one is done and very unsafe and its very unlikely its fixable.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:38 PM   #6
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Francesca is correct; anhydrous is only liquid when compressed, my bad.

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Old 11-02-2012, 03:57 PM   #7
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Thanks to you all. It really scared me. My lungs still hurt and that was with just one quick breath before I knew there was a real problem.

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Just 20 minutes of fans and although still smelly, it seems to be almost dry. Sounds like replacement time to me. Again, thank you for the information.
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Old 11-02-2012, 04:43 PM   #8
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..........Sounds like replacement time to me. Again, thank you for the information.
You can buy a new cooling unit for it, but price is about $500+ installation.

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Old 11-02-2012, 04:46 PM   #9
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Sue, look at the plus side of it. I have actually been hoping mine might die one of these days so I can justify the purchase of a newer model that uses far less dc power than my old one. :-)
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:10 PM   #10
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Sue, look at the plus side of it. I have actually been hoping mine might die one of these days so I can justify the purchase of a newer model that uses far less dc power than my old one. :-)
Carol,

Do you have a model in mind? I assume that you would still want a propane fridge.

The reason I ask is, as far as I understand, the electric option on any propane fridge replaces the heat of the flame with an electric heating element. I have a difficult time understanding how they can provide the necessary heat with low power.

If it has a 12 VDC compressor, and an absorption cooler for propane, I would think it would be quite expensive, and rather large, compared to the interior space available for food.
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:26 PM   #11
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Just one last thing, and I know it's a long shot:

Is there any possibility that one of those "instant ice packs" was in the freezer? (I'm talking about the kind that you just twist to activate.) They're not really meant to be refrozen, but some folks do so. The pack relies on ammonia for the chemical reaction, and refreezing/perhaps consequent bursting MIGHT create the odor/conditions you describe.

Like I said: Super long shot, but if I were in your position I'd certainly want to eliminate all possibilities...

Francesca
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Old 11-02-2012, 05:39 PM   #12
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Fridge

Time to replace your fridge with a new one.
Chuck
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:15 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Francesca Knowles
Just one last thing, and I know it's a long shot:

Is there any possibility that one of those "instant ice packs" was in the freezer? (I'm talking about the kind that you just twist to activate.) They're not really meant to be refrozen, but some folks do so. The pack relies on ammonia for the chemical reaction, and refreezing/perhaps consequent bursting MIGHT create the odor/conditions you describe.

Like I said: Super long shot, but if I were in your position I'd certainly want to eliminate all possibilities...

Francesca
No such luck. Sounds like something I would do, so I went out to check - opened the freezer door and got blasted with that intense chemical again. It looks like replacement with the same kind of 3 way is going to cost over $1,000. Jeepers! That's more than the last house refrigerator purchase. Does that sound right?
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Old 11-02-2012, 07:01 PM   #14
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David I don't have any model/make in mind as yet as I havent taken the time to look at all the options as my fridge just keeps working! Dang!

Yes propane is a must have option for me and to be honest my current fridge is 3 way but its now 20 years old and a real big DC hog so I have rarely used the DC in 5 years due to is consumption issues. The tow cant even keep up to its draw so if going to camp without hook ups arriving with an already half drain battery isnt a great thing. I have figured out ways around not using the DC that work fine but have had a few long hot drive days through the desert that it would have been nice to have DC working.

One I would look at is Norcolds as I have a few friends with them and they seem pretty happy with them. I think they have a couple of small 3 ways depending on how much space you have N300 & N260 - a quick look at rvmobile.com indicates they are in the $650 to $830. The size specs are there as well. They come in 2 way as well but only a $20 price difference. Dometic also has a couple of chooses and prices seem in the same ball park. Have no idea but I would have to think/hope that technology has improved in 20 years that the newer models would be a little easier on the DC but as I said havent really looked into it all that much as yet.
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