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Old 09-07-2014, 03:15 PM   #1
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Norcold 6162 Ammonia Smell

We just completed a 10 day journey that took us from sea level to 4,200 feet and back to sea level. The refrigerator is a Norcold 6162 installed in a 1995 Winnebago Minnie Winnie, and worked flawlessly during this trip on both LP and AC. The only issue we had was getting the temp setting figured out between the LP and AC use, we chalked it up to a learning curve thing and nothing major. During my walk-around yesterday at the half way mark of the return trip I caught a distinct whiff of ammonia from near the refrigerator vents. We had just shut off the refrigerator prior to fueling up, so I considered that part of the problem, combined with the altitude of the rest/fuel stop. We got home, moved the perishables into the house, and shut things down. The fridge temp was still at 38 degrees.

This morning, there is still an ammonia smell outside the coach next to the refrigerator vents and down wind. There is no ammonia small inside the coach, or the refrigerator.

As we're new to this any thoughts, advice, or recommendations are highly appreciated. Our next planned trip is short duration (four days/three nights) in a month.
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Old 09-07-2014, 03:24 PM   #2
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That is a bad sign. The fridge uses ammonia for the absorption cooling system and a leak is a bad thing. Bad for two reasons - first you will need to have it repaired and second the hydrogen used in the system is also leaking and that can cause a fire.

If you have the room and it fits with your camping style I would recommend having a residential unit installed.
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Old 09-07-2014, 03:42 PM   #3
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That is a bad sign. The fridge uses ammonia for the absorption cooling system and a leak is a bad thing. Bad for two reasons - first you will need to have it repaired and second the hydrogen used in the system is also leaking and that can cause a fire.
Agree. Also, the ammonia smell may be accompanied by a yellow powder at the leak site. Replacement cooling coils generally run in the $600-$800 range and depending on the refer's age you may want to replace it with a new one.
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Old 09-07-2014, 03:55 PM   #4
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I suggest you make sure all power and gas is off, then remove outside refrigerator vent cover. If the smell is coming from there, you need a new cooling unit. Contact these folks for an estimate:

National RV Refrigeration

You may wish to read this thread:

http://www.irv2.com/forums/f54/amish...de-109194.html
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Old 09-07-2014, 04:41 PM   #5
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Ammonia is deadly. Stay out and remove it ASAP.
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:19 PM   #6
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Darn....unfortunately this is what I was expecting to hear after looking on-line, etc.....since there's no ammonia smell inside the coach, will the leak vent outside sufficiently to let us camp in three weeks safely w/o using the fridge? Ice cubes and coolers fit into the budget much better than a new fridge does!

If it can wait, sounds like the first upgrade for the new season next year....
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Old 09-07-2014, 07:41 PM   #7
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The safety issue is a real concern. The closed system contains water, ammonia, HYDROGEN, and Sodium Chromate. They are unhealthy chemicals, and Hydrogen is of course explosive. (it burns at a high rate in presence of Oxygen and a spark) See airship Hindenburg.

http://avogadro.chem.iastate.edu/msds/nh3_gas.pdf

http://www.sciencelab.com/msds.php?msdsId=9924977

The sodium chromate can be very corrosive to components in your RV behind the refrigerator. If possible, remove the refrigerator from the RV before staying in the RV. As an alternative, you could remove the absorption coils leaking the nasty stuff.

Many fires have been caused in RVs because of faulty refrigerators. It's not something I'd want to knowingly allow, especially if trying to live in the RV.
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Old 09-15-2014, 07:45 PM   #8
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Latest update......the coach is at the dealership, a new Norcold 641 has been installed and will be tested by them over the next couple of days. I'll have to re-do my fore-aft and left-right level indicators to account for the new install, but are there any other things I should look for or take into account?
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:03 PM   #9
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I don't use "level indicators" anymore ... my co-pilot opens the bathroom door about half way ... I fiddle with the jacks until it does not move ... then we are LEVEL
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:13 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by skigramp View Post
I don't use "level indicators" anymore ... my co-pilot opens the bathroom door about half way ... I fiddle with the jacks until it does not move ... then we are LEVEL
That's really all you need to do, it's not very critical with the newer units and 2000 (maybe even earlier) on up qualifies as a newer unit. If you can comfortably use the rig it's close enough.
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Old 09-18-2014, 08:06 PM   #11
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That's really good news! It will make things easier to set up.....if it fits the wife's parameters for level it will all be good!
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