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Author Topic: Norcold 841 Not Cold....:(  (Read 4460 times)
Dreamscape
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1968 Silver Eagle Model 01 8V71 Allison 740 #7443


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« on: December 16, 2009, 06:15:14 PM »

We got back from a short trip and noticed our fridge is not keeping things cold. Freezer is at 34 and fridge is at 54. We have 12v and 120v operating it, no propane. It has worked flawlessly for this past year without any problems. The vent stack is hot, don't see any abnormalities anywhere.

Not much frost in the freezer at all, fins on back wall of fridge are not cold like they should be.

Any ideas on where to look?

I've checked the web and didn't find anyting related, most problems were when the propane was not working properly. I stumped!

BTW, no fault codes on the display.

Thanks,

Paul

« Last Edit: December 17, 2009, 04:30:18 PM by Dreamscape » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2009, 07:22:41 PM »

I'm not aquainted with this model unit however if the other components appear to be normal i would say your thermostat would be the culprit! again i don't know the unit but you can generally "jumper" a t-stat and you'll know pretty quick if that is the issue! I'm sure Nick will have a good idea!
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2009, 07:43:06 PM »

Is the temp setting light blinking?  If so, it is operating in backup mode.  In backup mode, the temperature setting is actually the percentage of time to run.

If in backup mode the most likely culprit is the thermistor inside the fridge.  There are ways to put the thermistor in ice after disconnecting it to measure the resistance.
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« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2009, 07:50:05 PM »

Paul,

Mine only cooled marginally in the 115V AC mode.  I have been told that all the 12V mode will do is retard the defrosting.  BUT....you said yours was working....soo?

Nick suggested that I turn mine upside down as a fix.  Call around on that one. Huh Roll Eyes Grin Grin

John
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« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2009, 08:28:19 PM »

Like I said, the control panel is not showing any faults, no blinking lights or codes.

It's just odd, it worked great when we had temps at over 100. I have done some research but have not found much to help me troubleshoot it. Is the thermsistor the divice hooked to the fins? The manual does not show its location.
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2009, 08:58:43 PM »

Dreamscape, if the boiler is hot, then the thermostat is calling for cooling; your problem seems to be in the fluid portion of the refrigerator.

If you have smelled ammonia lately, then I would be thinking you have a leak.

Is there any possibility that the cooling air over the fins is obstructed? If so, a hot boiler might not be able to do it's job.

I think that the hot boiler is telling you that your problem is not in the electronics.

Good luck!

Tom Caffrey
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Dreamscape
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2009, 09:13:25 PM »

I have not smelled any ammonia, nor noticed any leaks from the outside access panel, it all looks clean. The cooling air over the fins....are you referring to the fins on the back at the top of the unit? If so, it's clear.

That's what's so puzzling, no codes to define a problem, everything appears normal.

I"m not a refer man, but after this I'm sure I'll have a better understanding. Wink

A new cooling unit is $625, heck a new refer at Lowe's is a lot less!

Paul
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2009, 10:34:09 PM »

If you can not run it on propane, there would seem to be little reason to have an RV-type frig.  The 12 volt is only meant to keep the temp from rising much while traveling.  The heating element should be much hotter when it is running on 120 volts.  If the unit is working, then the hotter the heat source, the colder the frig.  Hence, propane cools best, but 120 v should do just fine.  I do not know the spec, but it would seem that manufacturer tech support should be able to tell you how hot the element should be.

The turning it upside down thing is an attempt to clear up a blockage caused by the flaking of the tubes internal coating.  If you can determine that the element is putting out adequate heat and is running continually when the t'stat is turned to the coldest setting, you may have a blockage.
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2009, 11:10:07 PM »

I assume that ,even though you don't have propane, this is an absorption type of refer.

When my refer did the same thing earlier this year it was suggested I turn it upside down for 24 hours or so and tap the coil etc with a rubber mallet. I did this and it worked fine thereafter.

Another bonus was it forced me to remove the eating knook so I took it out and put in a small table and two chairs. Wife(and I) love it.
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« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2009, 04:50:55 AM »

I could fill our propane bottles and run that way, just thought I would try and work it on the AC.

I did wake up to a fault code "no co". Which means "No Cooling", no kidding! Wink

I reset it and we'll see what happens, it looks like a phone call and a long day is in store. Sad

Thanks for the suggestions guys, I'll let you know what happened.

Paul
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« Reply #10 on: December 17, 2009, 07:33:09 AM »

If the fridge is running in backup mode the burner will still run.  The issue is the burner runs only a percentage of time based on teh setting on the front panel.  If the temp setting is on say 5 itt will run 50% of the time.

In backup mode either the thermistor or control board is bad so the fridge cannot monitor the temp in the fridge.  The thermistor is the little thing clipped to the fins inside the fridge.  If you do some Google searching you can find instructions to test the thermistor with an ohm meter and a glass of ice water.
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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2009, 07:50:47 AM »

I did find the method of testing the thermistor online, so if all else fails I'll check it. I did do a board reset using a jumper, so far no fault code in over 30 minutes. The freezer appears to be getting cold, will recheck in a couple of hours. The vent stack is much hotter than last night, I couldn't even let my hand rest on it for very long. Last night is was not as hot.

Onward and Upward!  Wink

Paul
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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2009, 01:42:46 PM »

FredMc and Nick,

I owe you an apology....of sorts.  Nick suggested, and you reiterated, that I turn my refer upside down and rap on the fins with a mallet.  One of my best friends was a RV shop manager for 20 years and after I ran that past him he said he had never heard of that but, instead, he suggested I roll the unit slowly.  With his response as motive, I asked the shop managers of two RV repair facilities and got the same response....never heard of that!  They also suggested laying it on its side.  Counting Camping Worlds manager in Junction City, a friend, that made it 4 to one against for the experts.  My conclusion was that I was being played with in a way that I would probably fix it anyway by following the instructions.  So here is what clued me in: Paul is one of a very small group that no one would screw with so I conclude the "upside down" instruction was lagit.  Now why would I bare my soul about this, you might ask....I ain't all that special and others might have made similar checks and drawn the same conclusion and much of the motive is reaching them...if they exist, lurker or not.

Thanks Nick....Thanks FredMc


John
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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2009, 02:24:38 PM »

John,

I have never looked into the insides of one of these frigs.  What I was told was that if particles of the tubes inner coating flaked off, they could block the coolant flow at some narrow orifices.  The idea of turning it upside down would be to use gravity to make the fluid flow backwards to clean out the orifice.  Turning it on its side and rolling it would probably be meant to achieve the same thing.
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« Reply #14 on: December 17, 2009, 02:40:28 PM »

I've just done a hard board reset one more time, if that doesn't work out she comes to lay her on it's side for 24 hours. The stack was not hot this time, we'll see what happens! Angry

The reset has worked for several people that have responded to my post on another board, of course not for me! Sad Just trying to save a few bucks as this could not have happened at a worse time. Never a good time anyway I guess!

Paul
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« Reply #15 on: December 17, 2009, 02:51:30 PM »

  From what I'm reading the fridge is calling for cooling with the stack hot and is not doing what it should. The turning the fridge upside down is called burping the unit. And yes the insides of the piping become dislodged and block the venturi in the cooling of the fridge and burping sometimes helps free the particles free and hopefully the cooling process will begin again. Hope this helps.
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« Reply #16 on: December 17, 2009, 02:56:43 PM »

Paul,

The stack MUST be hot or your flame is too low and it doesn't take much flame OR there is no fluid inside to carry the heat up the tube.  That would mean that there has been a leak.  I think you need to resolve that first to advance in the troubleshooting.  Also, listen carefully at the rear of the refer when it is on and hot.....hear any gurgling sounds?  That is, I am told, an indication that it is really dead from being run off level.

Lin,

Thanks.  I have been told that the interior of all that plumbing is mild steel and that it most certainly rusts.  The mind boggles!  And, yes the tubes get blocked.  In my case I was told that I have a "cabin" refer that will NEVER live long in an RV application.  Really wish I had learned that another way.

Thanks,

John
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"An uneducated vote is a treasonous act more damaging than any treachery of the battlefield.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
—Pla
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« Reply #17 on: December 17, 2009, 03:59:33 PM »

I just went out to check the temp of the stack, it's around 225 degrees. Inside freezer, 39, fridge 60......Not good!  It's not making any gurgling sounds.

I'm paitently waiting for the codes to appear........again! Wink
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« Reply #18 on: December 17, 2009, 08:10:35 PM »

My understanding is that the area that usually rusts is around the burner, not the coil insides.

Also that the problem inside the Z shaped coils is caused by the frige running when not level which causes the liquids to solidify inside the tubing because of poor circulation. When these liquids don't separate and drain back properly the frige won't cool.

If you look at these coils from the back of the frige you can see their large Z shape and see why they need to be level.

This uneven position is only important fore and aft for the bus (Side to side for the frige).
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« Reply #19 on: December 17, 2009, 08:58:05 PM »

Further to the suggestion by myself and Nick(and others, I'm sure) to turn the fridge upside down, my understanding (from Nick, I think) was that crystals form in the amonia solution and block the circulation. Turning it upside down (or rolling it for that matter) will unblock it. I'm sure I had also seen that reccomendation previously but because I didn't have the problem at that time didn't pay much attention to it.

When I inquired last year on this problem I was told to "turn it upside down" which I have already stated. This was exactly what I DIDN'T WANT TO HEAR. The reason -I had built the fridge in with the idea it would never have to come out and flipping it meant dismanteling some of my kitchen. But whether I flipped it or replaced it I still was going to dismantle some of the kitchen. So I took the opportunity to make some kitchen mods and now I have a fridge that still works (so far, anyway) and changes to the kitchen my wife likes.
Win-Win.

Fred Mc.
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« Reply #20 on: December 18, 2009, 10:20:50 AM »

Fred Mc,

As I recall you had exactly the same symptoms as Paul and yours fully recovered.

No gurgling is a truely good sign.  There is still hope.

Good luck, Paul.
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"An uneducated vote is a treasonous act more damaging than any treachery of the battlefield.
The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato
“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”
—Pla
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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2009, 11:49:48 AM »

Well, I yanked her out and smelled amonia, not good. Guess it's time to bite the bullet! Sad Sad Sad

I can't tell where it's coming from, but no matter! Sad

Paul
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2009, 12:15:10 PM »

i just had some friends that barely excaped with their lives and their motorhome due to a refrig fire.  Norcold is now debating on where a fire that started in their refrig is their fault.  no debate on my friend's part though.  they are going for an electric model, 18 cuft that has no history of catching fire.

when i called norcold to see if i was on the recall list, they said yes so i got it fixed.  they also siad there was only about a 1% chance of fire.  i know 3 people that have had a fire.  that's got to be more than 1% since i don't have that many friends  Angry.

my next unit will be electric, even if i have to add batteries.  if you look at the cost differential, add the fire hazard, and the increased room in an electric model, it seems to me to be a no brainer.

buy an efficient electric frig.
my 1.5 cents.
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« Reply #23 on: December 18, 2009, 12:40:19 PM »

A 1% chance of failure is 1 out of 100.  That is really quite high considering how many units are out there.  When you think about it, even a .1% chance of failure is not acceptable in many, many areas.  That would be 1 in 1,000.  Just think what is would mean if the Post Office lost 1 in every 1,000 letters, or if flight controllers screwed up that much. 
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« Reply #24 on: December 18, 2009, 01:12:56 PM »

Tom,

We are going electric. It just doesn't make sense to spend over $600 on a cooling unit when a complete new fridge in the size we can fit in the space is less moolah.

I"m not modifying the kitchen that I just finished for a bigger fridge. The current Norcold is 7.5 cu ft. so an apartment size will do nicely. Besides I don't eat that much, just need the fridge for my occasionaly adult beverage of choice. Grin

I'll just have to plug the vents and leave them alone, at least for now!

Now to get the suspect ammonia fridge outdoors and let somebody steal it! Grin

Merry Christmas to Paul and Becky! Roll Eyes
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Bus Blog - http://dreamscapesilvereagle.wordpress.com/
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« Reply #25 on: December 18, 2009, 01:18:24 PM »

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« Reply #26 on: December 18, 2009, 03:25:49 PM »

Good Idea!

I thought about posting an add on CL and say "Oak Panels for Norcold Fridge 25 bucks, FREE FRIDGE"  Grin

Paul
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Becky and Paul Lawry, On The Road
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Bus Blog - http://dreamscapesilvereagle.wordpress.com/
______________________________________________________

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