Troubleshooting a Faulty RV Propane Refrigerator

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Does your RV propane refrigerator turn on for a brief moment before shutting off again? The problem might be a frustrating and confusing one, but we’d bet yours is a common and simple solution. In this free lesson, RV expert Dave Solberg teaches you how to troubleshoot a faulty fridge that doesn’t seem to want to keep its cool.

To help get RV refrigerators back up and running, Dave takes you outside our demo camper to show you the inside of a sample burner assembly. He walks you through a quick troubleshooting session, pointing out each of the components that could be to blame for your fridge’s cold feet. You’ll learn what happens when the assembly’s spark ignitor is cracked or the flame sensor probe is covered, and discover the best way to fix whatever issue you find!

Discussion
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14 Responses to “Troubleshooting a Faulty RV Propane Refrigerator”
  1. kstrail03

    I have a Norcold 1200 that has started making a poping sound at the burner when operating. I have replaced the burner and purchased an LP gas psi gauge to check psi which is within specs. I still have the poping sound. It seems to operate ok for about 1 hr before it starts this poping sound. The burner nevers go’s out and the refg is operating ok (other than the poping) Not sure what else to look for.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hello,

      Hello, the burner is what I have seen cause this problem before. Usually rust or some sort of debris. Since you have replaced the burner, may have to inspect things around it. Air flow blockage could cause this. The baffle can rust over time, and if pieces fall off and cause a blockage above the burner it will restrict air flow and if air is restricted the flame could pop when more air gets to it. There could even be a blockage on top of the baffle not allowing the exhaust to come out. If you can see the flame, make sure it is steady and not moving side to side or being pushed down. The flame should be straight up. Make sure there are no other restrictions around the burner as well. The problem with checking this is most of the time is you would have to pull the fridge out to remove the baffle and inspect the tube. It could also be the gas valve closing and reopening due to voltage drop or possibly a failing valve. Have you cleaned everything including the orifice? Does the burner tube have any kinks or sharp bends? Let me know if you find problems with any of this, I will do some more research and see if I can find any more information for you.

      Thanks,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  2. Tom R.

    Dometic Refrig Mod. DM2652 works on Electric but does not stay lit on gas? Have gas in line, cleaned burner, runs for short time then goes out. Does not stay lit. Which part needs to be replaced and where can I get it? Thanks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hi Tom,

      You may need to clean the flame sensor with a piece of sand paper or steel wool. The sensor/electrode itself may be bad. Is it a good solid blue flame? If it is orange, there may be debris at the orifice or in the burner tube. I would clean every thing off before replacing parts and check all connections. The electrode may be bad if the board is not recognizing it. I would replace that before the board, but the board could be bad too. I will post a link to find the parts for that model.http://www.thedometicguy.com/dometic-refrigerator-electrode-w-conductor-2932781012/
      http://www.thedometicguy.com/dometic-dm-2652-parts/

      Hope this helps,

      Dan
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

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      Reply
  3. clementslarry

    I became a member because of this one video. I bought my first RV, travel trailer, last summer from a friend. She and her husband had purchased it in 2011 and unfortunately never had a chance to use it. It has set unused for 8 years. We took it out only once last season and found several things that needed attention and one is the refrigerator. It seemed to work on the electric side but not the propane. I just saw this video and decided to take a look to see if I could figure out what might be the problem. I wish I could attach a photo of the igniter and gas/burner area that was completely incase with a mud dauber nest. I still need to do some cleaning of that area before I try to fire it up but I felt that one free video was worth the investment for a membership! I had cleaned the dauber nest from around the hot water tank but never gave the refrigerator a second thought. I might need to explore some of the other vent covers as well.

    Reply
  4. Tom

    Fridge works great at home (4500 ft) at altitude it runs intermittently 1 minutes,3 min, 2 hours you never know throws a check light?

    Reply
  5. grstevensgr

    I have a Norcold and it runs fine when hooked up to my 12volts from my truck and on propane. Once I plug in the AC it will not work on propane anymore even though I have propane selected. If I change to Auto it still will not run and just clicks

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Gregory,

      Thank you for your patience. In regards to your question-

      If you are plugged into shore power and auto is selected it shouldn’t click at all, it should only be operating on electric at that point. If it tries to ignite on gas but fails when selected on auto and it works fine when not plugged into an outlet most likely there is a control board issue. It is not sending the correct signals based on what power source is selected. That is a strange scenario but from the sounds of it the problem is most likely with the controls of the system, particularly the lower control board for the system. This is the board that will tell the system what to turn on and off based on what is selected. If it works fine on battery but incorrectly operates when plugged into shore, I would say the board is bad. I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  6. withrowconstruction

    I have a 2011 Puma travel trailer. The refrigerator works on electric, but does not get as cold as it should. At the camp site, it works fine on gas. But, when we travel to and from the camp site, we put refrigerator on gas, but the refrigerator is not staying cold. On a 7 hrs travel, the freezer stuff starts thawing and the refrigerator items become warm. Any ideas? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear James,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      Air flow plays a big part in the temperature of the fridge. Some things that can effect this are blocked vents so you want to make sure everything is free and clear for the heat to escape. The same can be said for operating while traveling. You have to make sure the vents are clear to allow good air flow. Do not use any type of screen on the vents to prevent bugs and critters, these will reduce the cooling of the fridge. They do make fans that can be installed on the back of the fridge to help move air across the fins to remove the heat faster. They are a helpful add on. If the fridge normally works fine on gas when parked but doesn’t while traveling there could be a problem with the flame going out and re igniting a lot. It can’t keep a good temperature when this happens. I would make sure the covers of the burner are in place and secure. You can also try adding another piece of sheet metal in front of the burn chamber to help block heavy winds blowing the flame out. This won’t block the air flow across the fins so it won’t effect the cooling. You can also check and make sure the burn chamber is clean and free of debris. There could be things like rust or bugs blocking part of the system making the flame weak. These would be the best things to check. I hope this helps!

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
    • Customer Service

      Hey Edward!

      In regards to your issue, we’d love to help! Could you please supply us with the following information:
      -Year
      -Make
      -Model of your RV
      -What you’ve already done to attempt to fix the issue

      Once we have those bits of information, we’d be more than happy to forward your issue onto our experts!

      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  7. Mike

    Have a 1200 series Norcold refrigerator. Freezer works great. Refrigerator will not cool. We have changed the thermistor and it worked for a little while now it’s stopped cooling again.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Mike,

      That’s definitely an interesting issue.

      The ‘Ask an Expert’ section is currently for members to our online community. We do have a promotional offer if you are interested. This would include access to expert advice (like this), plus discounts, hours of Premium videos, etc. Please feel free to take a look. You can message us right back with your question if you decide to become a member and you will have a response within 1-2 business days from our experts!

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      Sincerely,

      Jessica
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply

Tags: Dave Solberg, Free Videos, RV flame sensor probe, RV fridge maintenance, RV maintenance guide, RV refrigerator repair, RV repair videos

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