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 > Dometic Fridge stopped working in cold weather? Ideas?

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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 01/06/21 09:20am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi,

To help the cause, there are a few things that stick out to me that point to an intermittent issues shutting down the entire fridge OR something intermittent shutting down the AC element.

It would help if we knew the model number, but since it is 2011 and a Zinger I'm assuming you might have a RM2652 or one close to it.

I highlighted in blue the patterns that stuck out to me.

imq707s wrote:

We took our 2011 Zinger camper

It was set to "AUTO", but I switched it over to "GAS" in order to see if that would get it cooling again. A few hours later.....things were starting to cool off again.

One strange thing I did notice is that the fan that I can usually hear cycling in and off every few minutes when things were working normally.....was constantly on in the morning when the fridge wasn't cooling.



imq707s wrote:

I will do some more troublshooting tomorrow.

I don't think that the GFI outlet tripped......I still had power to the control panel, and the door light inside the fridge worked when I opened the door. As soon as I hit the "GAS" button, it started cooling again.

I'm going to plug it into 120v power tomorrow and see if the fridge starts to cool again. I have noticed lately that the yellow light that's supposed to light up with you hit the AUTO button is kind of iffy.....depending on how you wiggle the button around, it will sometimes not turn the light on...even though the fridge is working.

Could the control panel just be flaking out?



imq707s wrote:

****UPDATE****

Well, I did a little more troubleshooting. After the camper set for a few days, I went ahead and hooked it back up to 120v power and turned the fridge to AUTO (gas was off)..it was around 5pm. Later that night I checked the fridge, and it was cool and the freezer felt really cold...everything was working like it was supposed to.

I checked it in the morning...and it was NOT cold. The AUTO light was still lit, and everything had power. I turned the fridge off, opened the fridge, and let everything air out.

A few days later, I did the same thing. This time, after being on all night long it was still cold in the morning. The temps at night were in the 30's....nothing below that.

So at this point I know it's not a fuse and it's not the GFI outlet.

It's definitely an intermittent issue that happens when it's running on 120v power, but doesn't happen with it's running on propane.

Could this be a control board issue? What kind of troubleshooting can I do not in order to narrow things down and find the issue?


A few big picture things.

The Dometic fridges I have worked on, when the 12 volt power is turned off in the camper, the fridge shuts down. When the power comes back, the fridge will start back up on it's own. You do not have to reset the auto button.

The control system (PC board on the back of the fridge) that turns the 120 electric element on and off is the same control system that turns the gas system on and off. The main PC board just selects which to turn on.

When the system switches to gas, either by loss of incoming 120 AC power when in auto mode OR you force the fridge into gas mode by pressing the LP gas button, there is a flame fault circuit that engages. If the system is on gas however it got there, and the flame blows out or never lights, it gets 3 trails for ignition to light. If that 3 tries fails, the system goes into lock out and the fault light illuminates on the console. That fault light will not reset until the 12 volt power is cycled by loss of incoming 12 volt power or you shut the fridge down and back on.

Now with all that said, tell us

1. The night you were camping and the fridge was warm come morning, did you have the LP tanks turned on? The fridge if it was in AUTO, and the 120 VAC power to the fridge went out, it should of switched to gas all on it's own and the fridge still cool in the morning if the LP tanks were on and the fridge was not in fault mode.

If the LP gas at the tanks was off or out of gas, and the AC power went out, it would of tried to light on gas, it would of failed to fire off as there was no gas and the fridge should of locked out on safety and the fault light would be on.

2. Was the fault light ever on when during any of this events, ever? and if so describe the events of the time.

3. The fans making noise, is this the power converter fans or an air circulation fan in the back of the fridge?

GFI's do not reset themselves, so if one tripped on the fridge 120 VAC line, then you would of had to reset it. Did you ever reset one?

I have seen the electric elements burn out and nothing happens and it does not come back. The neutral wire in the element sleeve corrodes to ground tripping GFI's. But when the actual element fails, I have not had one come back to life. Once dead, they stay dead. You have reported 120 AC mode works and then does not. This does not point to the actual AC element.

If you are not getting a fault light on the control panel, and the fridge is not cooling, then this points to you are not loosing the 120 AC incoming power or it would of tried to run on gas, and if gas failed, it would of shut down on safety.

There may be an issue with the relay system that controls the 120 vac element on the PC board. If the PC board stops sending power to the element, then the LP gas will never fire off as there is no loss of incoming AC power. And the fridge will get warm, yet the fridge work ok when put on gas mode. And other times, the electric works. The relay system may be intermittent.

You also mentioned the flaky acting up of Auto light at the control console/panel, that points to a loose connection or the control panel acting up. That control panel tells the fridge control board to run. That control panel is at least suspect. If the fridge turned on and off when in Auto by itself, it will warm up. When forced into gas mode, the auto circuit is not in play and may run fine on gas. The actual PC control board may have issues too.

I agree, there may be a wire connection issue with corrosion on the back of the fridge or on the control panel. That is intermittent.

Cold temperatures makes things contract, electrical connections when it is warm outside may make contact when warm and not make contact when cold as the metal contracted. And a little dirt/corrosion mixed in.

There is not enough info yet to point to one specific issue.

If you never get a fault light from a gas failure while in auto or gas mode, then the 120 VAC incoming power to the fridge does not seem to be lost.

Hope all this helps and for sure, report back what it found. Learn something new all the time.

John


John & Cindy

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imq707s

Springfield, MO

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Posted: 01/06/21 11:39am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the info John! Let me see if I can answer some of your quesions. The fridge is a Dometic 2652 that runs on 120v or GAS. It won't run on 12v power.


1. The night you were camping and the fridge was warm come morning, did you have the LP tanks turned on? The fridge if it was in AUTO, and the 120 VAC power to the fridge went out, it should of switched to gas all on it's own and the fridge still cool in the morning if the LP tanks were on and the fridge was not in fault mode. The tanks were both on. Even though the fridge was warm, it still had 120v power...the inside light would turn on when you opened the door, and I could hear the fan in the back of the fridge running non-stop. There was no FAULT/CHECK light lit up on the display

If the LP gas at the tanks was off or out of gas, and the AC power went out, it would of tried to light on gas, it would of failed to fire off as there was no gas and the fridge should of locked out on safety and the fault light would be on.

2. Was the fault light ever on when during any of this events, ever? and if so describe the events of the time. NO

3. The fans making noise, is this the power converter fans or an air circulation fan in the back of the fridge? Air circulation fan in the back of the fridge. Normally in the past I've always been able to hear the fan cycle on and off....but this time, it was constantly on..I've never heard it do that before.

GFI's do not reset themselves, so if one tripped on the fridge 120 VAC line, then you would of had to reset it. Did you ever reset one? NO, I didn't reset it...so I'm assuming it never tripped. The fridge still had 120v power the entire time that it wasn't cooling.

I have seen the electric elements burn out and nothing happens and it does not come back. The neutral wire in the element sleeve corrodes to ground tripping GFI's. But when the actual element fails, I have not had one come back to life. Once dead, they stay dead. You have reported 120 AC mode works and then does not. This does not point to the actual AC element.

If you are not getting a fault light on the control panel, and the fridge is not cooling, then this points to you are not loosing the 120 AC incoming power or it would of tried to run on gas, and if gas failed, it would of shut down on safety. Correct....I still have 120v power, no faults, but no cooling. When I manually switched it over to GAS, then it started cooling.

There may be an issue with the relay system that controls the 120 vac element on the PC board. If the PC board stops sending power to the element, then the LP gas will never fire off as there is no loss of incoming AC power. And the fridge will get warm, yet the fridge work ok when put on gas mode. And other times, the electric works. The relay system may be intermittent.

You also mentioned the flaky acting up of Auto light at the control console/panel, that points to a loose connection or the control panel acting up. That control panel tells the fridge control board to run. That control panel is at least suspect. If the fridge turned on and off when in Auto by itself, it will warm up. When forced into gas mode, the auto circuit is not in play and may run fine on gas. The actual PC control board may have issues too.

I agree, there may be a wire connection issue with corrosion on the back of the fridge or on the control panel. That is intermittent.

Cold temperatures makes things contract, electrical connections when it is warm outside may make contact when warm and not make contact when cold as the metal contracted. And a little dirt/corrosion mixed in.

There is not enough info yet to point to one specific issue.

If you never get a fault light from a gas failure while in auto or gas mode, then the 120 VAC incoming power to the fridge does not seem to be lost.

Hope all this helps and for sure, report back what it found. Learn something new all the time.

John

I will go through everything this weekend checking the connections, lose wires, etc, etc...maybe it's something as simple as that. I'm leaning towards the control board....thanks again for the help!

dougrainer

Carrolton, Texas

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Posted: 01/06/21 02:22pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

1. THERE IS NO INDICATION OF A BAD 120 ELEMENT on Dometic refers. Other than NO COOL on AUTO.
2. Access the rear Main control board. Find the 120 element in the Burner flue sleeve. There will be 2 wires. Those wires go to the rear control board. VERY carefully. With the rear control board cover removed, you will see the 2 spade wire connections from the 120 element. With the refer ON and on Auto, check for 120 volts between the 2 Heat element spades. If you have 120 volts the 120 element is bad. If you do NOT have 120 volts, go beside the spade connections and you will see where the 120 power cord connects to the control board. See is you have 120 volts. If you do, then the control board is bad. Doug

JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 01/07/21 05:30am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi again,

Snip...
imq707s wrote:

The fridge is a Dometic 2652 that runs on 120v or GAS. It won't run on 12v power.


3. The fans making noise, is this the power converter fans or an air circulation fan in the back of the fridge? Air circulation fan in the back of the fridge. Normally in the past I've always been able to hear the fan cycle on and off....but this time, it was constantly on..I've never heard it do that before.



Good feed back, this helps.

A clarification first just in case you did not realize, the fridge must have both 12 VDC and 120 VAC to operate on the electric element. The 12 volts DC runs all the controls including the gas valve, ignition etc. The "only" thing the 120 VAC does, is provide high power to run the electric heater element as the power draw of that heater is too much to practically run on 12 VDC. You can run on gas mode with only 12 VDC to boondock/camp off grid.

You are correct, you do not have a 12 VDC "option" to create electric heat. Many pop up campers do have that feature but it is more to maintain a fridge at temp then trying to cool it down.

With that said, now that the fans are on the back of the fridge, I didn't ask, didn't know, I'm assuming this fridge is in a slide room? Fridges in a slide must have the fans due to the air venting in the side of the slide. Non slide campers have a roof vent and natural convection will work. The fans are not part of the 120 VAC running problem. I will speculate you where getting some level of cooling while on 120 electric, as the Dometic fans are on a thermal disk switch that turns the fans on and off by the cooling coil temperature. When the cooling coil gets hot enough, the fans turn on and when it cools down, they shut off.

It may be the electric element was going on and off intermittently overnight. You may have received just enough cooling (electric heat) to trip the fans on all the time as the fan switch was warm enough to start the fans, but the fridge did not cool down inside enough as it was cycling the heating element on and off over night. The fans will cycle on/off under normal operation, on gas or electric as the fridge adds cooling, the food compartment in time gets cold enough to satisfy the setpoint, then shuts down the heating element. As the cooling coil cools down far enough, the fans shut off.

As Doug mentioned, there is no fault light for the electric element not working. The fault light only has to do with a flame failure when running on LP gas.

What Doug described will test out the electric element and the PC control board as a big picture test.

The actual heater element is a simple 2 wire device. Think of it as a 325 watt 120 volt light bulb. Give it power, and the thing makes heats. Take the power away, and it stops heating. Something is shutting down the electric element, possibly intermittently.

Hope this helps

John

* This post was edited 01/07/21 09:11am by JBarca *

jrloucks

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Posted: 01/08/21 01:26pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It sounds to me like the first/easiest place to start it to check the electrical connections of the 120VAC heating element. As others have said, a bit of oxidation/corrosion on the terminals can result in a poor mechanical connection and cause problems. Second, measure the resistance of the heater.

Here's a link to a service manual which may be of help (assuming your fridge model is included):
https://fourwheelcampers.com/NewDometicRefrigeratorManual.pdf

Page 10 has a table with the resistance values for the AC heater element for each fridge model.

imq707s

Springfield, MO

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Posted: 02/21/21 01:30pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

JBarca wrote:

Hi again,

Snip...
imq707s wrote:

The fridge is a Dometic 2652 that runs on 120v or GAS. It won't run on 12v power.


3. The fans making noise, is this the power converter fans or an air circulation fan in the back of the fridge? Air circulation fan in the back of the fridge. Normally in the past I've always been able to hear the fan cycle on and off....but this time, it was constantly on..I've never heard it do that before.



Good feed back, this helps.

A clarification first just in case you did not realize, the fridge must have both 12 VDC and 120 VAC to operate on the electric element. The 12 volts DC runs all the controls including the gas valve, ignition etc. The "only" thing the 120 VAC does, is provide high power to run the electric heater element as the power draw of that heater is too much to practically run on 12 VDC. You can run on gas mode with only 12 VDC to boondock/camp off grid.

You are correct, you do not have a 12 VDC "option" to create electric heat. Many pop up campers do have that feature but it is more to maintain a fridge at temp then trying to cool it down.

With that said, now that the fans are on the back of the fridge, I didn't ask, didn't know, I'm assuming this fridge is in a slide room? Fridges in a slide must have the fans due to the air venting in the side of the slide. Non slide campers have a roof vent and natural convection will work. The fans are not part of the 120 VAC running problem. I will speculate you where getting some level of cooling while on 120 electric, as the Dometic fans are on a thermal disk switch that turns the fans on and off by the cooling coil temperature. When the cooling coil gets hot enough, the fans turn on and when it cools down, they shut off.

It may be the electric element was going on and off intermittently overnight. You may have received just enough cooling (electric heat) to trip the fans on all the time as the fan switch was warm enough to start the fans, but the fridge did not cool down inside enough as it was cycling the heating element on and off over night. The fans will cycle on/off under normal operation, on gas or electric as the fridge adds cooling, the food compartment in time gets cold enough to satisfy the setpoint, then shuts down the heating element. As the cooling coil cools down far enough, the fans shut off.

As Doug mentioned, there is no fault light for the electric element not working. The fault light only has to do with a flame failure when running on LP gas.

What Doug described will test out the electric element and the PC control board as a big picture test.

The actual heater element is a simple 2 wire device. Think of it as a 325 watt 120 volt light bulb. Give it power, and the thing makes heats. Take the power away, and it stops heating. Something is shutting down the electric element, possibly intermittently.

Hope this helps

John


Sorry....I'm just getting back to this issue. Our camper has been sitting for a while, and the temps have been crazy cold here so I've just kind of put my troubleshooting on hold...but we're planning on heading to Florida in a month, so I need to get back to the issue..and figure it out.

So answer a few of your questions....no, it's not in a slide out. As far as needing both 120v AC and 12V DC to run the fridge, would a low/failing battery cause issues? The deep cycle battery in my camper is around 5yrs old, and doesn't seem to hold a charge very well. But as long as my camper is plugged into 120v shore power...would that cause issues with my fridge failing to work in cold temps on AC and not while running on propane?

I guess I need to run a cord to the camper, fire up the fridge, wait until it stops cooling...and then start troubleshooting it. I don't want/need this thing to **** out on me when we are in Florida here in a month.

dougrainer

Carrolton, Texas

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Posted: 02/21/21 01:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Battery is not an issue as long as the Power Converter is operating and producing 12.9 volts and higher. A DEFECTIVE battery should be replaced as come Converters do not operate well with a BAD LOAD(Load is the battery). A defective battery should NOT be installed in a Trailer while towing. The Emergency Brake Away will not work with a bad battery. Doug

imq707s

Springfield, MO

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Posted: 02/22/21 05:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

dougrainer wrote:

Battery is not an issue as long as the Power Converter is operating and producing 12.9 volts and higher. A DEFECTIVE battery should be replaced as come Converters do not operate well with a BAD LOAD(Load is the battery). A defective battery should NOT be installed in a Trailer while towing. The Emergency Brake Away will not work with a bad battery. Doug


I think before I do anything else, I'm going to replace the battery. Maybe it's as easy at that? That sure would be nice...but I'm not crossing my fingers.

wa8yxm

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Posted: 02/22/21 04:19pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

If the battery were the issue then it would not work on GAS either.

Most likely issue is the electric heat elewment this is located in the big metal tube above the gas burner It might have failed.

But that said I've heard that a old fashion electric lamp (not one of the LED types) I'd try 40 to 100 watts.. Get a caged socket and a short Extension cord/splitter (See link) and plug it in and put in the exterior compartment.

Also bypassing the door switch so the inside light stays on (If your firdge has a LAT switch (Low ambient Temp) this is what it does. One or both may help

I'd try outside first.

The link is the type of cord I'm talking about but I'm not recommending either way the specific cord or the retailer.

Click here for an example


Home is where I park it.
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after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times


imq707s

Springfield, MO

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Posted: 02/25/21 05:51am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Well, I put a new battery in the camper yesterday, plugged it in to 110v power, and turned the fridge on. One thing I did notice was that I had to wiggle/press the on/off button a few times to get the AUTO light to stay on........could something in that control board be faulty? Could that be causing my issue?

Once I got the AUTO light to stay on solid, I closed up the camper for the night. I checked it this morning, and even though it got down to 28 degrees....the freezer still had frost in it this morning.

I've noticed that before that sometimes I've have to wiggle that on/off button around a little in order to get the AUTO light to stay on. Is that a common issue? At this point...I'm kind of at a loss. I haven't changed anything except putting a new battery in the camper, and the fridge stayed on all night even at below freezing temps. Ideas?

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