Having problems with your Refrigerators ?

I have a Dometic 4223 refrigerator, its only a year old. On our last outing it worked great and then didn't and did and so on. I don't think it matters whether it is on AC, DC or gas. There is always heat at the back which I assume means that the elements were working alright. The erratic behavior has me stumped. Can you help? Dave

Answers :

Cooling Unit Diagnosis\015\012The cooling unit, or coils, of an ammonia absorption refrigerator is the heart of the refrigerator--it does the actual cooling. Everything else on the refrigerator either supports the cooling unit, or is an accessory. No matter how simple or complicated the controls of the refrigerator are, all cooling units require the same three things to operate:
  • The unit has to be level \015\012
  • The unit has to have adequate ventilation \015\012
  • The unit has to have CORRECT heat \015\012
  • A fourth issue is raised if the cooling unit has recently been changed. The cooling unit has to have been properly installed into the refrigerator.
\015\012If the three above requirements are provided to the cooling unit, it should work and should work well. If it doesn't work well, then it is a bad cooling unit. It's really that simple. (Also, failure to meet the three requirements above when the refrigerator is in operation can cause permanent damage to the cooling unit.) Of course, don't overlook mitigating circumstances such as a main door that seals very poorly, which would cause a good cooling unit to look bad because of warm air continuously entering the box.
\015\012Also, if the cooling unit seems to work poorly only during warm weather, it's possible that one of the requirements above is in a border line state. In other words, the venting, for example, may be adequate for mild weather, but not adequate for warm weather. A cooling unit could also be border line, but it would be prudent to look elsewhere first.
\015\012Testing the cooling unit \015\012First of all, if the cooling unit cools properly on one heat source (i.e. gas or electric) and not the other, then the cooling unit, with only a few exceptions, is good and the problem lies in the heat source that is not functioning properly.
\015\012Secondly, there are obvious signs of a bad cooling unit.
  • If you smell ammonia in or around the refrigerator, and you haven't recently used ammonia for cleaning, the cooling unit is bad. No further testing is necessary. \015\012
  • If sodium chromate is present on the outside of the cooling unit, the cooling unit is bad. Sodium chromate is a yellowish-greenish powder in solution inside the cooling unit. If sodium chromate is outside the cooling unit, the cooling unit has a hole in it. \015\012
  • If you hear a relatively loud gurgling or percolating sound when the refrigerator is in operation (being heated), it is a sign of a bad cooling unit. The key words here are "relatively loud". A good cooling unit percolates when in operation, and if you get close enough and listen carefully enough, you can hear it percolate. However, if you hear noise a few feet away, it is a sign that the cooling unit has lost pressure and is bad.
\015\012Testing the cooling unit is simply insuring that the three necessary requirements for the operation of a cooling unit (level, ventilation, correct heat) are met. Do whatever it takes to meet these requirements. If you suspect a venting problem, pull the refrigerator and set it on the floor. In fact, pulling the refrigerator and setting it on a level floor meets two of the requirements and leaves only one, correct heat, to worry about. Always test the refrigerator on the electric heat source, unless you are unable to because you have a gas only refrigerator. The reason for testing on the electric side is if the electric heat element gets hot, you can be better than 95% sure that you have correct heat, whereas even a poor gas flame will produce heat. To insure that the heat element is getting hot, you can touch the insulation pack (a rectangular or round sheet metal container filled with insulation located directly above the propane burner) to see if it is warm after about a half hour of operation. CAUTION: touch the pack lightly at first; it is possible under certain conditions for the pack to get super hot and burn you. If the insulation pack does not get warm, you have an electrical problem that needs to be corrected before continuing. If an electrical problem is not the electric heat element itself and/or you want to insure that some other electrical component (such as a thermostat) is not interrupting the heat element, you can hot wire the heat element for better testing conditions. The only weak link in this testing procedure is the less than 5% of the time that a working heat element is not producing the correct heat. See hot wiring for information on verifying the output of the heat element.
\015\012After you have provided the cooling unit with its three requirements, allow plenty of time for the cooling unit to function. You should see signs of cooling in the freezer after about two hours. Allow six to eight hours, or even over night, for an empty refrigerator to come down to temperature. The ammonia absorption style of refrigeration is slower than the compressor style in terms of initially bringing the refrigerator down to temperature. However, once the desired temperature is reached, there should be no problem in maintaining that temperature.
\015\012If you have done everything in this section up to this point and the cooling unit does not work or does not work well, the cooling unit is bad and will need to be rebuilt or replaced.
\015\012This should help you... I wish I could be there to help you... Let me know what you come up with..
Hello Dave. Be sure that your fridge is level whenever you park and want to use it.
\015\012Also, since these units don't cool as well as a home fridge be sure that:
\015\012Start the refrigerator the day before it
\015\012is to be filled with food.
\015\012When the refrigerator is being filled
\015\012when preparing for a trip, the food
\015\012should be pre-cooled, and frozen foods
\015\012should be pre-frozen, before placing
\015\012them in the refrigerator. Ice making
\015\012should be avoided until the refrigerator
\015\012has cooled the lower compartment to the
\015\012desired temperature.
\015\012Air circulation within the food compartment
\015\012is important for proper cooling.
\015\012DO NOT place paper on the shelves or
\015\012over-fill the compartment with large
\015\012cartons, etc.
\015\012Do not put hot food in the refrigerator.
\015\012Allow it to cool in room air first.
\015\012Finally, here is the technicians service manual..............read it over and you will have a very good understanding of how these work on AC, DC and gas.

Repair Help & Product Troubleshooting for Refrigerators
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