RV propane issues, Dometic fridge recall & intermittent fridge problem - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-09-2018, 12:38 PM   #1
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Question RV propane issues, Dometic fridge recall & intermittent fridge problem

Hello, I am going through my 2004 bigfoot and trying to check out and repair/replace things that are outdated, broken or in need of service for me to feel "safe" about using them. I am 100+ miles from nearest RV service center and after reading about all the issues trying to find good honest competent repair help, I am back to the same reason I learned auto mechanics at a very young age,...might be better to DIY and get it fixed right without the hassles of paying to have dishonest or incompetent expensive repairs that fail to fix problem.

I have issue with intermittent failure of my dometic fridge occasionally shutting off and check light inside lighting up when in propane mode. It works great and forever in AC mode. Fridge works pretty good at 4000ft, making it 1 day or more till it shuts down. But a during recent week trip to 8500ft, I had issues with both the fridge shutting down/check light and also with the hot water heater not staying lit. The water heater always lights up fine at 4000ft, but at 8500ft, it would only stay lit if there was no wind and I had the cover plate off. Since I had 2 problems at high altitude (fridge and water heater), I am suspecting it may be something simple, like adjusting the regulator to 11 inches of water and buying a $32 manometer and building a "device" with fittings to be able to install the manometer into my propane system near the regulator so I can adjust the pressure. I understand the pressure can vary with altitude and temp and like idea of having these tools along to be able to tweek and check propane as needed while traveling to different temps and alltitude. Is this recommended for a DIY, or is this more complicated than it appears and best to have a pro make the adjustments?

In the process of trying to troubleshoot this and understand the RV propane system, I found out my fridge is one of the many ones subject to the recall from fires due to leaks of the hydrogen from the sealed cooling unit. Mine does not have the recall kit installed. Then it appears the "recall fix" does not really fix the problem with fires, it only contains the fire in a box and includes a thermal switch to shut it down before the fires spreads to rest of RV.

I want the crappy recall fix, better than ignoring it till the cooler unit fails someday and burns up the RV and me. But am going to cancel the trip I had scheduled for tomorrow to an unknown certified dometic RV dealer to install the recall kit. 3 weeks ago when I first called and was told they were booked 3 weeks out, the dealer could not even schedule me a specific time to get the simple recall kit installed, he just said they open at 8am and first come/first serve. I decided I am not willing to drive the distance, wait for unknown time hoping they could even get to me, and worst of all, risk having them mess up my existing system and potentially take advantage of me. Call me overly paranoid, but the dealer/owner, really tried to sell me their $250 annual service check where they check tire pressure and lights and other simple stuff. I am going to call dometic and see if they will let me have the parts, but I doubt they will due to "liability issues".

I suspect my problem is going to be a simple burner cleanup that looks very easy from watching a U tube videos. I think I also exchange the 2 rusty old propane tanks out for new ones that are dated properly and have all the latest safety stuff and new valves. I bet I still have the original 2 stage dual regulator and probably time to upgrade that as well, should be easy DIY fix. Then follow up with good bubble test of all my fittings and inspect rubber lines for dry rot/cracks. Hoping some of the old timers here have some other help and tips for me.

I bought my bigfoot almost a year ago with pretty good repair history and factory documentation, but I know most people are not as OCD as I am of keeping important stuff in good repair. Trying to figure out what should be prudent to replace, but not overkill. Does anyone have good source for new dual 2 stage adjustable regulator, I want a good one that will be dependable. And any tips for using manometer? Anything else that makes sense to do for "safe" RV propane experience. Planning for some winter touring south to Big Bend Texas and want things to work while I am out in the isolated region. Thanks!
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Old 10-09-2018, 12:44 PM   #2
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If you are looking for help, I would include the year, brand and model number of the appliance. Dometic makes dozens of different fridges for instance.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:23 PM   #3
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If you are looking for help, I would include the year, brand and model number of the appliance. Dometic makes dozens of different fridges for instance.
OK, I have the RM2652, 2004, dometic
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:31 PM   #4
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In the process of trying to troubleshoot this and understand the RV propane system, I found out my fridge is one of the many ones subject to the recall from fires due to leaks of the hydrogen from the sealed cooling unit.

I don't know where you ever came up with hydrogen being in these fridges. They use, and have always used, ammonia as a refrigerant. There is no hydrogen anywhere in them. And that's a good thing, because hydrogen is flammable and even explosive. (Remember the Hindenberg, (Oh, the humanity!)
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:55 PM   #5
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I found the recall you're mentioned. I suggest that you contact Dometic and find out how your get your fridge replaced. Before that you might go to this web site Official Dometic Recall - DometicUSA
This well tell you if your fridge is on the recall list or not.

I would suggest that call Dometic USA service and tell them your fridge problems. They might have some good information about what to do.




TO CASITA CREG.. Apparently dometic use hydrogen for few years late 1900s and early 2000s. However it appears to only be used in the a double door fridge.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Casita Greg View Post
In the process of trying to troubleshoot this and understand the RV propane system, I found out my fridge is one of the many ones subject to the recall from fires due to leaks of the hydrogen from the sealed cooling unit.

I don't know where you ever came up with hydrogen being in these fridges. They use, and have always used, ammonia as a refrigerant. There is no hydrogen anywhere in them. And that's a good thing, because hydrogen is flammable and even explosive. (Remember the Hindenberg, (Oh, the humanity!)
THere is a mix of hydrogen and ammonia contained in the cooling unit and is my concern about the dangers involved in using the fridge. From RV doctor site:"The contents of the sealed system include water, liquid ammonia (and associated vapors), hydrogen gas and sodium chromate"

Full article:The RV Doctor: RV Absorption Refrigeration - Cooling Unit Facts, Faults and Fixes
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:33 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Byron Kinnaman View Post
I found the recall you're mentioned. I suggest that you contact Dometic and find out how your get your fridge replaced. Before that you might go to this web site Official Dometic Recall - DometicUSA
This well tell you if your fridge is on the recall list or not.

I would suggest that call Dometic USA service and tell them your fridge problems. They might have some good information about what to do.




TO CASITA CREG.. Apparently dometic use hydrogen for few years late 1900s and early 2000s. However it appears to only be used in the a double door fridge.
Thanks Byron, I have already done contacted Dometic and the problem. No need to replace the fridge or cooling unit, dometic has a recall kit that is a bit of a "hack" to contain the burner area with some sheet metal to localize a fire and install a $2 thermistor/fuse that shuts the system down if there is a fire. My problem with getting the recall installed is it is over 200 miles round trip to get to a dometic certified tech to do the work and they will not schedule a time for me. Dometic they will not send out the recall kits to consumer for liability issues, even though it is a 15 minutes fix requiring minimal skills, they have to worry about lawsuits. Dometic said they might help my situation by allowing a local HVAC service who has certification in working with gas to install the recall kit if they will call dometic for the part and accept their billing terms. I am waiting to hear from my HVAC guy. I thought that was nice of Dometic to help me. There is a huge class action suit ongoing at this time claiming Dometic was negligent, but not my cup of tea, I just want to be safe.

I am hoping some of the skilled DIY folks here can advise on checking and adjusting the regulator to get the proper pressure, it does not seem like it is too complicated, but want to make sure I do it right. I am pretty sure my intermittent problem is related to needing a good burner/flue clean up, but waiting for good weather here.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:21 PM   #8
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Much easier to just replace the regulator (and check for cracks in hoses) rather than go the manometer route unless you're really into it. I believe the 11 inch reading is with both the furnace and the fridge actually fired (using propane) and not a static reading.


That fixed my similar issues for about $35 as I recollect.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:26 PM   #9
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Much easier to just replace the regulator (and check for cracks in hoses) rather than go the manometer route unless you're really into it. I believe the 11 inch reading is with both the furnace and the fridge actually fired (using propane) and not a static reading.


That fixed my similar issues for about $35 as I recollect.
OK, thanks for that help. That is on my list of things to do, I am betting I have the original regulator which would be 14 years old now. I think you are right about the 11 inches is for about half the BTU worth of appliances running. 12" might be the static pressure at regulator with nothing using propane from what I am learning.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:39 PM   #10
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erratic check light dometic service bulletin R70/4B

I am doing some internet searching for help with my issues and found this link to a service bulletin dometic put out in march 1995 for erratic check light problems. It may or not apply to my erratic check light, but sure looks like a good start. I will clean up the burner as they describe first and see if my problem goes away : http://bryantrv.com/docs2/docs/R704B.pdf

I found this on Byrant RV site and they have links to a ton of various repair manuals that might be off interest to some of the folks here : Service Documents and Manuals
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Old 10-09-2018, 05:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mcmars View Post
OK, I have the RM2652, 2004, dometic
The manual for your particular model is in the Document Center: Fiberglass RV - Document Center - Dometic_Refr_Manual_RM2652
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:13 PM   #12
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The manual for your particular model is in the Document Center: Fiberglass RV - Document Center - Dometic_Refr_Manual_RM2652
Thank you Donna D for taking time to help. I have this document in hardcopy form along with the other appliance documentation as they came with the purchase. And that is why I am going to try simple cleaning first before complicating things with other procedures and parts.

I do think it is important to be testing the pressure as all the manuals and trouble shoot guides refer to checking the pressure and I am going to be traveling from sea level to 9000+ ft. I was hoping someone here might have experience using the manometer. I called a guy in town today that does RV repair and asked if he could help test my gas pressure. He stumbled and acted like he did not understand. I asked if he had a manometer and told me he had a voltmeter. I guess I will get one on amazon and figure it out, lol.
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Old 10-09-2018, 11:02 PM   #13
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Lots of you tube videos on testing rv propane systems with a manometer.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:52 AM   #14
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The absorption refrigerator does contain ammonia, water and hydrogen (those who claim otherwise, look it up on Wikipedia, there are good articles on the subject).

What seems strange to me is that if hydrogen starts leaking, the ammonia should leak as well, and the whole system would fail. So, patching something so "the possible fire is contained" seems to be pretty lame. I would really look at replacing the whole fridge. It is unfortunate, since refrigerators much older than your 2004 are used in many places and keep working.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:09 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by mcmars View Post
Hello, I am going through my 2004 bigfoot and trying to check out and repair/replace things that are outdated, broken or in need of service for me to feel "safe" about using them. I am 100+ miles from nearest RV service center and after reading about all the issues trying to find good honest competent repair help, I am back to the same reason I learned auto mechanics at a very young age,...might be better to DIY and get it fixed right without the hassles of paying to have dishonest or incompetent expensive repairs that fail to fix problem.

I have issue with intermittent failure of my dometic fridge occasionally shutting off and check light inside lighting up when in propane mode. It works great and forever in AC mode. Fridge works pretty good at 4000ft, making it 1 day or more till it shuts down. But a during recent week trip to 8500ft, I had issues with both the fridge shutting down/check light and also with the hot water heater not staying lit. The water heater always lights up fine at 4000ft, but at 8500ft, it would only stay lit if there was no wind and I had the cover plate off. Since I had 2 problems at high altitude (fridge and water heater), I am suspecting it may be something simple, like adjusting the regulator to 11 inches of water and buying a $32 manometer and building a "device" with fittings to be able to install the manometer into my propane system near the regulator so I can adjust the pressure. I understand the pressure can vary with altitude and temp and like idea of having these tools along to be able to tweek and check propane as needed while traveling to different temps and alltitude. Is this recommended for a DIY, or is this more complicated than it appears and best to have a pro make the adjustments?

In the process of trying to troubleshoot this and understand the RV propane system, I found out my fridge is one of the many ones subject to the recall from fires due to leaks of the hydrogen from the sealed cooling unit. Mine does not have the recall kit installed. Then it appears the "recall fix" does not really fix the problem with fires, it only contains the fire in a box and includes a thermal switch to shut it down before the fires spreads to rest of RV.

I want the crappy recall fix, better than ignoring it till the cooler unit fails someday and burns up the RV and me. But am going to cancel the trip I had scheduled for tomorrow to an unknown certified dometic RV dealer to install the recall kit. 3 weeks ago when I first called and was told they were booked 3 weeks out, the dealer could not even schedule me a specific time to get the simple recall kit installed, he just said they open at 8am and first come/first serve. I decided I am not willing to drive the distance, wait for unknown time hoping they could even get to me, and worst of all, risk having them mess up my existing system and potentially take advantage of me. Call me overly paranoid, but the dealer/owner, really tried to sell me their $250 annual service check where they check tire pressure and lights and other simple stuff. I am going to call dometic and see if they will let me have the parts, but I doubt they will due to "liability issues".

I suspect my problem is going to be a simple burner cleanup that looks very easy from watching a U tube videos. I think I also exchange the 2 rusty old propane tanks out for new ones that are dated properly and have all the latest safety stuff and new valves. I bet I still have the original 2 stage dual regulator and probably time to upgrade that as well, should be easy DIY fix. Then follow up with good bubble test of all my fittings and inspect rubber lines for dry rot/cracks. Hoping some of the old timers here have some other help and tips for me.

I bought my bigfoot almost a year ago with pretty good repair history and factory documentation, but I know most people are not as OCD as I am of keeping important stuff in good repair. Trying to figure out what should be prudent to replace, but not overkill. Does anyone have good source for new dual 2 stage adjustable regulator, I want a good one that will be dependable. And any tips for using manometer? Anything else that makes sense to do for "safe" RV propane experience. Planning for some winter touring south to Big Bend Texas and want things to work while I am out in the isolated region. Thanks!
Check with other dealers for the recall fix. It took ours 10 minutes to do. We had an appointment and by the time I had signed the papers for the dealer to do it so they'd get paid the recall was done. Don't just try one dealer. Dealers who say first come first serve are not my favorites. Our local guy tried that with me and I opted to drive to a reputable dealer 50 miles away. So maybe even on the road you can get the recall done.
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Old 10-17-2018, 07:47 PM   #16
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Lots of interesting information here but some missing pieces.

Absorption fridges do not operate well or consistently at altitude, especially direct ignition units. If you look at the mfg information, somewhere around 5000 ft, they no longer ignite consistently.

Ironically some units work better than others, but there is nothing you can do about it. Cleaning the burner carefully and gaping the igniter helps.

The recall chiefly addresses the problem of operation of these fridges in out of level situations which reduces the flow of the operating fluid and allows the boilerer to overheat. Not only is this hazardous, but it reduces the life of the fridge.

ARPRV is a company that produces a highly effective solution to this problem and also allows supplemental cooling to improve the overall operation of the fridge.
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Old 10-24-2018, 06:48 AM   #17
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Paul.

The original poster's 2004 refer has not failed. They just want the recall done.
The problem they do have most likely can be cured doing the recommended yearly maintenance of cleaning the flame area or replacing the propane regulator.

Some may or may not know that most of the campers propane appliances like the water heater, stove and furnace, have secondary regulators built in that further lowers the pressure so a main regulator putting out less pressure would most likely not be noticed.

BUT the Dometic refrigerators do not have them and totally depend on proper pressure from the main regulator.

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Old 10-24-2018, 07:22 AM   #18
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I agree with Joe that altitude is a likely suspect in the flame problem(s), especially if the problems don't occur when closer to sea level. Per regulator replacement, I was having problems at ALL elevations with my fridge refusing to stay lit and more or less cured them by regulator replacement. And the old one was "only" 40 years old!
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Old 10-25-2018, 09:00 AM   #19
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I got curious and found this:https://www.suitesowners.com/dometic...r-recall-info/
It says among other things (copy/paste):A FATIGUE CRACK MAY DEVELOP IN THE BOILER TUBE WHICH MAY RELEASE A SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF PRESSURIZED COOLANT SOLUTION
If that happens the fridge is toast, but hopefully not the camper and the inhabitant. I would still look into having it replaced. There was also something about a class action, but I did not follow that lead.
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Old 10-25-2018, 05:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by garbonz View Post
Lots of interesting information here but some missing pieces.

Absorption fridges do not operate well or consistently at altitude, especially direct ignition units. If you look at the mfg information, somewhere around 5000 ft, they no longer ignite consistently.

Ironically some units work better than others, but there is nothing you can do about it. Cleaning the burner carefully and gaping the igniter helps.

The recall chiefly addresses the problem of operation of these fridges in out of level situations which reduces the flow of the operating fluid and allows the boilerer to overheat. Not only is this hazardous, but it reduces the life of the fridge.

ARPRV is a company that produces a highly effective solution to this problem and also allows supplemental cooling to improve the overall operation of the fridge.
We haven't had any problems so far at high altitude. We live at 5200 ft and usually camp at 7000 or more. We always make sure we are completely level and keep the burner area clean. Some may have problems with fridge because they do not keep the fridge level. We have checked our fridge and found just because the trailer is level the fridge is not. You should check it in the middle of the bottom or the freezer. We found one spot on the area above the fridge that is level when the fridge is and use that to check it. I've seen trailers unlevel and then the people complain things don't work. So level the fridge and you'll be very close to level also. When we dump we make sure we are high on opposite side of dump valv
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