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Old 01-01-2014, 12:08 AM   #1
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Fridge Problem

I have a 2013 Sunstar 26HE. Decided to go to Las Vegas over Christmas. Was hooked to shore power for two days without a problem. On the third day, I noticed the temperature in the refrigerator (normally hovers at 30 degrees - was at 37 degrees) start to climb. I opened the freezer and noticed the temperature was at 40 degrees.

Realizing there was a problem, I switched the fridge from "Auto" to off, then back to "Auto". Unfortunately, this did not fix the problem. I then switched the fridge from "Auto" to "Gas". I heard the fridge start and within a few hours, it was within normal temperatures. I heard the fridge kick on and off when needed.

The fridge worked for two days on "Gas" and then I noticed the temperature start to climb again. I turned the fridge off, then back to gas again. The fridge started right up and again, worked for two days until the temperature started to climb again. It seemed after about two days, the fridge would shut off for no reason.

The were no error lights flashing during this whole event. The panel was lit as if everything was normal whether it was on "Auto" or "Gas".

It is at the dealership now, but the service advisor was surprised about the issue with the gas. He said the problem with the electric could be the heating element or the control board (which makes sense), but he was puzzled with the fridge not working on gas after two days.

Anyone run into an issue like this???
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Old 01-01-2014, 03:01 AM   #2
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Is it a Dometic 1350 refrigerator? If so that unit runs a defrost cycle every 48 hrs of run time regardless of whether or not it needs it.

If not, what brand/model do you have? It will be listed on the side wall of the refrigerator inside.
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:26 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by 94-Newmar View Post
Is it a Dometic 1350 refrigerator? If so that unit runs a defrost cycle every 48 hrs of run time regardless of whether or not it needs it.

If not, what brand/model do you have? It will be listed on the side wall of the refrigerator inside.
Sorry... It is a Norcold, but I do not remember what model. Motorhome is at dealership.
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Old 01-01-2014, 09:49 AM   #4
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The KEY word you used is "Norcold" aka NotSoCold.

For the last year when using our NotSoCold, we had to turn it off and back on every day or two just to make it work so-so.

Too many headaches trying to get the NotSoCold to work as good as a household fridge. Way TOO much food thrown away due to warm temps and spoilage.

I finally dumped it in April 2012 and it's been a joy having a REAL refrigerator to keep our food actually frozen along with keeping the food and beverages cold.

It appears that Thetford/Norcold is still making and selling junk!

Good luck! I hope the dealership will actually fix the problem versus just throwing parts at it.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
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Old 01-01-2014, 11:54 AM   #5
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norcold needs an engineer

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The KEY word you used is "Norcold" aka NotSoCold.

Dr4Film ----- Richard
x2 - Our "NEVERCOLD" as we call it in the Boating world, has always been a piece of crap. We to put in a small 9 cu ft GE in our boat, that never failed us.

That Said: the Norcold in our MH works great at keeping things frozen and cold. Not that we have not had our share of problems. One major problem is the vent stack. It rust and drops chunks of rust on the pilot light spark ignition when on gas. you have to take off the inspection cover and use a flashlight to see the debris on the pilot light.

They also have a fuse on the circuit board (on the very left lower area) that blows out. it is a real big pain in the ass to get the cover off to replace it. after it happened to me two times, I got the dremill out and cut a hole so I could replace it easily. I have replace mine with a 10 amp fuse. it is not consistent but it blows when we hook up to the shore power. I think it is because the ice maker and the heater come on at the same time.

in any event - I have found a resolve for the issues in our MH nevercold.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:10 PM   #6
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If it is a 2013, it would be under warranty, so you are fortunate there. The NOcold's do not have a good reputation and Norcold is TERRIBLE to work with. If you are asked to put any money into it after it is out of warranty, consider switch to a residential refrigerator as others are suggesting. I wish I would have. I paid $770 out of pocket for what was a factory defect. NOcold put me off until I was out of warranty.

Norcold has two type of refrigerators, those that work with no problems and those that never work properly from day one.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:14 PM   #7
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YUP! either switch it our for a Dometic or a Samsung residential which will require you to install an inverrter and run a dedicated circuit for the refer from the inverter. Plus you will probably want at least two house batteries. Not cheap, but a lot cheaper than a totally burned out MH.
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Old 01-01-2014, 12:19 PM   #8
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The first problem, on electric (Auto selected when on shore power) could indeed be the heating element or associated wiring. Easily tested.

The problem on gas, since it's so new, would have me checking the crimps on the wiring. Especially to the thermocouple. This is a low resistance device with a small output when it's in the flame (which should also be checked - how far into the flame is it? If it's not enough, that'll cause your problem). The thermocouple wiring should be checked for tightness where connected to the control board and proper crimping of the connectors.

Good luck!
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Old 01-01-2014, 07:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Jim_HiTek View Post
The first problem, on electric (Auto selected when on shore power) could indeed be the heating element or associated wiring. Easily tested.

The problem on gas, since it's so new, would have me checking the crimps on the wiring. Especially to the thermocouple. This is a low resistance device with a small output when it's in the flame (which should also be checked - how far into the flame is it? If it's not enough, that'll cause your problem). The thermocouple wiring should be checked for tightness where connected to the control board and proper crimping of the connectors.

Good luck!
Thanks Jim... I'm not really worried about the electric aspect of the fridge. The problem should be easily detected and fixed. I am concerned about the gas aspect because the fridge will work for two days before it shuts down. Since I generally don't run the fridge on gas for extended periods of time, I'm concerned the dealership is going to think it is fixed when it really isn't.
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:09 AM   #10
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My 1200 series Norcold shuts down every 49 hours to defrost the cooling fins. Otherwise, they would become so coated with frost that they couldn't transfer the cooling. This is the big 4 door fridge and yours is probably smaller, but I bet it works the same. Especially since you noticed the shutdown every 2 days. I've never timed it, but it stays shut down for at least a couple of hours when this happens.

I'm surprised your freezer is warming up that much - maybe the freezer door is not sealing well. Try closing the door on a dollar bill at several places around the door. You should feel some "drag" as you pull the bill out.

The 30 degree reading you mentioned I would guess is the fin temp and not the cabinet air temp, right? Otherwise you'd be freezing everything in the fridge. That's about normal on the fins and warming up to around 40 during the defrost shutdown would be normal too.

In short - it may be perfectly normal...
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Old 01-02-2014, 10:30 AM   #11
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Norcold has two type of refrigerators, those that work with no problems and those that never work properly from day one.
As do all manufactures. The worst refrigerator I ever owned was a Samsung, yet people are singing their praises. I have owned 7 Norcolds over nearly 20 years of RVing and boating and have had ZERO problems. We just defrosted our 1201 freezer Dec 30th, By the morning of Dec 31 we had a full ice bin again and this is on a 7 year old unit.

So take all of the complaints with a grain of salt, for every squeaky wheel there are hundreds if not thousands of quietly running wheels. Just my .02 YMMV.
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Old 01-02-2014, 11:04 AM   #12
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knack of use

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Originally Posted by StevenNSteph View Post
As do all manufactures. The worst refrigerator I ever owned was a Samsung, yet people are singing their praises. I have owned 7 Norcolds over nearly 20 years of RVing and boating and have had ZERO problems. We just defrosted our 1201 freezer Dec 30th, By the morning of Dec 31 we had a full ice bin again and this is on a 7 year old unit.

So take all of the complaints with a grain of salt, for every squeaky wheel there are hundreds if not thousands of quietly running wheels. Just my .02 YMMV.
Steve,
I have to agree with the content of what you're saying. I have talked to people who just don't have the "knack of using" these noracold fridges. They are just a little complicated. So falling into a certain way of use might be the difference between a successful operation and one that's unsuitable. It's is the nature of complicated devices to need occasional tune ups and there are certain dos and don't . So some users just don't and can't give the fridge what it needs to work well. Guess for example that's why there's so many different rv's. People need a choice because we're all different in what we can understand and personal preferences.

These absorption fridges also require you to make sure the vehicle is relatively level just about all the time. I have in the past left mine on while driving but am beginning to wounder if it's not a good idea to shut it off while driving. The reason I say this is occasionally while driving one might pull a hill that lasts a long time. In recent reading I get the impression that the gravity flow of the ammonia and water can get disrupted if the fridge is beyond a certain angle. When this happens the boiler part of the fridge heats up fairly fast and the temps skyrocket-- so maybe that is the source of some of the rv fires. Also when this happens some of the liquid chemical package is permanently altered and lowers the fridges efficiency. So after a few of these episodes- the fridge is under performing.

Still I have to wounder if I would't prefer one of the compressor type fridges if I ever go full-timing.
Those are some thought I have.

Loren
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:00 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by tomsm View Post
My 1200 series Norcold shuts down every 49 hours to defrost the cooling fins. Otherwise, they would become so coated with frost that they couldn't transfer the cooling. This is the big 4 door fridge and yours is probably smaller, but I bet it works the same. Especially since you noticed the shutdown every 2 days. I've never timed it, but it stays shut down for at least a couple of hours when this happens.

I'm surprised your freezer is warming up that much - maybe the freezer door is not sealing well. Try closing the door on a dollar bill at several places around the door. You should feel some "drag" as you pull the bill out.

The 30 degree reading you mentioned I would guess is the fin temp and not the cabinet air temp, right? Otherwise you'd be freezing everything in the fridge. That's about normal on the fins and warming up to around 40 during the defrost shutdown would be normal too.

In short - it may be perfectly normal...
Hi Tom,

Thanks for the input. The seals on the doors are good. There is definitely a problem with the refrigerator/freezer. Regarding the 30 degrees, it is air temperature and I keep the refrigerator that cold intentionally. My past motorhome also had a Norcold and I never ran into anything like this with that refrigerator.
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Old 01-03-2014, 02:44 AM   #14
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Hi Tom,

Thanks for the input. The seals on the doors are good. There is definitely a problem with the refrigerator/freezer. Regarding the 30 degrees, it is air temperature and I keep the refrigerator that cold intentionally. My past motorhome also had a Norcold and I never ran into anything like this with that refrigerator.
norcolds auto defrost the fridge every 48 hours too.

http://bryantrv.com/docs.html
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