Click here to go directly to Updates.
Update Number 1 Nov 23, 2006
Update Number 2 Dec 5, 2006
Update Number 3 Jan 10, 2007
Update Number 4 Jan 19, 2007 - Recall Instructions - click here: Dometic Recall You need your model and serial numbers.
Update Number 5 Feb 13, 2007 - Added links to new info on the NHTSA website including the info/form for claiming reimbursement for a failure. These are at the end of the post below where all the updates are posted.
Also, edited the below Recall to include the change made prior to the Dec 5 update showing the proposed remedy.
Below is information from the NHTSA website on a recall of certain Dometic refrigerators. This recall is in its very early stages, and there is no resolution in place as of Nov 1, 2006.
NHTSA CAMPAIGN ID Number : 06E076000 Mfg's Report Date : AUG 28, 2006
Component: EQUIPMENT: RECREATIONAL VEHICLE
Potential Number Of Units Affected : 926877
CERTAIN DOMETIC TWO-DOOR REFRIGERATORS MANUFACTURED BETWEEN APRIL 1997 AND MAY 2003: SERIAL NOS.
713XXXXX THROUGH 752XXXXX;
801XXXXX THROUGH 852XXXXX;
901XXXXX THROUGH 952XXXXX;
001XXXXX THROUGH 052XXXXX;
101XXXXX THROUGH 152XXXXX;
201XXXXX THROUGH 252XXXXX;
301XXXXX THROUGH 319XXXXX,
INSTALLED IN CERTAIN RECREATIONAL VEHICLES AS ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT AND SOLD AS AFTERMARKET EQUIPMENT. A FATIGUE CRACK MAY DEVELOP IN THE BOILER TUBE WHICH MAY RELEASE A SUFFICIENT AMOUNT OF PRESSURIZED COOLANT SOLUTION INTO AN AREA WHERE AN IGNITION SOURCE (GAS FLAME) IS PRESENT.
THE RELEASE OF COOLANT UNDER CERTAIN CONDITIONS COULD IGNITE AND RESULT IN A FIRE.
THE VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS WILL NOTIFY OWNERS OF RECREATIONAL VEHICLES THAT HAD THE REFRIGERATORS INSTALLED AS ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT AND DOMETIC WILL NOTIFY OWNERS OF THE AFTERMARKET REFRIGERATORS. DOMETIC WILL INSTALL A SECONDARY BURNER HOUSING FREE OF CHARGE.THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN BETWEEN APRIL AND JUNE 2007. OWNERS MAY CONTACT DOMETIC AT 888-446-5157.
CUSTOMERS MAY CONTACT THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION'S VEHICLE SAFETY HOTLINE AT 1-888-327-4236 (TTY: 1-800-424-9153); OR GO TO HTTP://WWW.SAFERCAR.GOV.
The following is extracted from the notice provided by Dometic to the NHTSA dated 8/26/06:
The potential defect is associated with cooling unit at the back of the refrigeration cabinet.
A fractional percentage of the potentially affected refrigerators have experienced a fatigue crack that may develop in the boiler tube in the area of the weld between the boiler tube and the heater pocket. A fatigue crack may release a sufficient amount of pressurized coolant solution into an area where an ignition source (gas flame) is present. Dometic's investigation has shown that a simulated release of cooling solution (refrigerant) in the area of the boiler, under certain conditions, could be ignited by the presence of an open flame. A boiler fatigue crack with the loss of cooling solution without ignition would result in a non-operational refrigerator that is not a safety issue. Under certain conditions, the released coolant could ignite and result in a fire. In order to have a fire, at a minimum, all of the following conditions must exist:
1. The refrigerator must be on and normally operating and gas burner must be lit;
2. 'There must be an oversized heating element in the refrigerator;
3. The boiler tube must develop a throughway fatigue crack of a
4. There must be a release of the cooling solution at a rate which will
allow the accumulation of the cooling solution at a concentration within its range of flammability; and
5. There must be ignition source (gas flame) present.
If any of these conditions are not present, a release of the cooling solution will not result in a fire.
In April of 1997 Dometic modified the design of the affected refrigerators by increasing the wattage of the heating element from 325 watts to 354 watts. All production of the affected units from April 1997 through May of 2003 utilized the 354 watt heating element. In May of 2003, in order to improve the operating life of the refrigerators, Dometic returned to the use of the 325 watt heating element which it continues to use today. It is now believed that the use of the higher wattage heater contributed to abnormal fatigue in the boiler tube.
The products in question are all refrigerators used in the original manufacture of recreation vehicles or as replacement equipment for recreation vehicles. The total population of refrigerators potentially containing the defect is 926,877. Dometic estimates a potential maximum incident rate of 0.01% related to boiler fatigue cracks that leak and may result in a fire. There have been no incidents of injury or death related to the affected population of Dometic refrigerators.
Dometic became aware of the occurrence of fires which may have involved their products and retained an independent engineering testing laboratory to fully evaluate and investigate any potential defect in their refrigerators which might result in a fire. A number of returned units were analyzed and microscopic fatigue cracks which could release coolant into the area of the burner were identified in the boiler tube metal in the area of the weld between the heater pocket and boiler tube. Tests simulating the cracks were conducted the week of August 18, 2006 and confirmed a possible cause of fire in the refrigerators under certain conditions. These test results prompted the preparation of this notice.
Dometic continues to gather information on the potential defect and will forward additional relevant information as it becomes available.
Dometic has not yet identified a proposed remedy for the potential defect. Dometic will continue a testing program designed to identify and evaluate possible remedies. This evaluation will take place both in the United States and in Sweden. Once a remedy has been identified, Dometic will initiate or participate in a remedy campaign initiated by the original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers who have purchased, sold, and distributed these products. A list of original equipment manufacturers and aftermarket suppliers to whom Dometic has sold the potentially defective refrigerators is being prepared and will be provided to the NHTSA upon its
The following is extracted from the NHTSA response on 9/18/06:
Please provide the following additional information and be reminded of the following requirements:
Dometic must provide an estimated dealer notification date as well as an owner notification date including the day, month, and year. You are required to submit a draft owner notification letter to this office no less than five days prior to mailing it to the customers. Also, copies of all notices, bulletins, dealer notifications, and other communications that relate to this recall, including a copy of the final owner notification letter and any subsequent owner follow-up notification letter(s), are required to be submitted to this office no later than 5 days after they are originally sent (if they are sent to more than one manufacturer, distributor, dealer, or purchaser/owner).
Dometic must file a sample of the envelope which you intend to use to mail the recall notice to owners. The words "SAFETY", "RECALL", "NOTICE" in any order must be printed on the envelope in larger font than the customers name and address.
The following was recently added to the NHTSA website. It's the Chronlogy of Events Leading to the Defect Determination and is dated Nov 8, 2006. (Posting it here in 4UMS code loses some formatting.)
CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS LEADING TO DEFECT DETERMINATION
In July 2005, in the course of a general product review, Dometic identified fires of undetermined origin in several refrigerators manufactured between 2001 to 2003. At that time, Dometic observed that the refrigerators involved in these incidents were primarily models RM2652 and RM2852. We could not, however, identify any cause for the fires in these units.
During July-August 2005, Dometic examined refrigerators produced during the relevant time period that had been returned from the field under warranty for various reasons unrelated to fires and noted that some vehicle manufacturers were using installation practices that Dometic neither condoned nor was aware of. For example, there was evidence of fiberglass insulation tucked in and around the cooling coils of the refrigerant system, in the burner area, and on the back of the unit where no insulation should be placed. Therefore, Dometic commenced an investigation to determine if these improper installation practices could lead to fires.
In October, Dometic retained an independent engineering and consulting firm to examine refrigerators with improperly installed insulation and others with decomposed foam on the refrigerator cabinet. The consultant determined that exposure to heat could cause the observed damage to the foam, but could not ignite the insulation or otherwise cause a fire. The consultant also conducted long-term testing of the refrigerators under a variety of installation conditions in order to determine the temperatures that can occur at different locations on the refrigerator and the effects of those temperatures. No fires occurred under any of these test conditions.
Event Chronology for NHTSA Recall
November 8, 2006
Beginning in March of 2006, the consultant conducted tests to determine under what conditions, if any, released refrigerant could be ignited. These tests revealed that in a full-sale release, the refrigerant could ignite when exposed to a heat gun, but when the heat gun was removed the fire was not sustained and immediately extinguished. Dometic and scientists from the independent laboratory concluded that this scenario did not represent real world conditions and probably would never occur in a recreational vehicle. Nevertheless, after consultation with counsel, on March 10, 2006, Dometic reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), that a safety related defect may exist in certain models of their product. The CPSC subsequently advised Dometic that it did not have jurisdiction over refrigerators installed in motor vehicles.
Beginning in March, 2006, Dometic's consultant began conducting several controlled release tests to determine the likelihood of a fire due to such a refrigerant leak. The initial series of tests demonstrated that the minimum diameter of an orifice opening that would allow refrigerant to leak out at a rate sufficient to reach the lower flammable limit for ammonia was 100 microns.
Based upon extensive additional testing conducted during the week of August 14, 2006, it was determined that ignition of the released cooling solution could occur with orifice diameters of between 100 and 200 microns. However, these tests also identified several factors that must take place in order for an ignition to occur: (1) an absorption refrigerator has to be operating at full pressure; (2) a crack has to occur in the wall in the boiler area; (3) ammonia vapor must leak from the crack at a certain pressure; (4) the temperature of the ammonia vapor has to be in flammable range of ammonia; (5) the amount of ammonia in the air has to be above 15% by
Event Chronology for NHTSA Recall
November 8, 2006
volume; and (6) the primary energy source has to remain on during the entire ignition sequence of the ammonia to sustain propagation to other combustible materials. If any of these six factors are not present, there will either be no ignition at all or any fire that does start will extinguish itself promptly, with no damage (other than the fact that the refrigerator will no longer function properly).
Based upon the results of this testing program, Dometic decided that a safety-related defect may exist in the identified population of refrigerators, and it therefore promptly notified NHTSA on August 28, 2006.
Update 2. Dec 5, 2006
Excerpt from Dometic letter to NHTSA dated Nov 30, 2006:
"As you recall, Dometic Corporation ("Dometic") filed a Notice of Potential Safety-Related Defect regarding certain refrigerators which it has manufactured and sold in the United States. At the time of the initial notification to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ("NHTSA"), Dometic had not identified a remedy for the defect. From the time of the initial notification to the present, Dometic has conducted an extensive review and testing program, both in the United States and Sweden, to identify and develop a remedy for the refrigerators in question. That testing is drawing to a conclusion and Dometic has identified a remedy which involves the installation of a Secondary Burner Housing around the existing burner elements of the affected refrigerators. This Secondary Burner Housing will contain releases of coolant and any resulting fires. The Secondary Burner Housing will eliminate the spread of any fire to the balance of the refrigerator or any other components of a vehicle. With the conclusions of the tests in late-November, the final design will be submitted for the construction of tooling and production of the component parts of the remedy. All the pieces, together with instructions, will be contained in a kit which will be made available to Dometic service centers throughout the country. It is estimated that the lead time for the tooling and production will be eight to twelve weeks, thus making the kits available during the first part of 2007. While tooling is being developed, Dometic intends to field test the installation procedures and kits with individually produced Secondary Burner Housings. These tests will utilize Dometic's service center personnel in the United States.
As soon as the final design has been completed, along with the field statistical testing, we will present the entire package to you for your review together with the installation information. We will also be prepared to proceed with notification of all the original equipment manufacturers as well as our aftermarket customers. Dometic has developed an advertising plan which will be implemented as soon as the replacement kits are in place for use by service centers and dealers to make the necessary repair. Dometic's marketing department will prepare a summary of that plan for your review during the time the kits are being produced."
Update 3, Jan 10,07
The following was added to the orignal Recall info:
THE RECALL IS EXPECTED TO BEGIN BETWEEN APRIL AND JUNE 2007.
Note: "7. If you previously paid to repair or replace a Dometic refrigerator that failed due to this defect, you can be reimbursed for your costs pursuant to Dometic´s Pre-Notification Reimbursement Program. To be eligible for reimbursement under that Program, you must complete and submit the required form and provide the necessary documentation. The Program and form can be obtained by calling 1-888-446-5157."
Update 5, Feb 13, 07
Additional info is on the NHTSA websites on the recall. Here are links to these pages:
For those that aren't sure where the serial number is on their double door Dometic, the tag is located on the upper side of the lower food compartment. The model, serial number and product number will be listed on this tag.