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Old 05-28-2017, 05:11 PM   #1
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Took MH out for camping means something new is broken

Took the motorhome out for the holiday weekend, so of course that means something new is broken. Today, the rear Coleman Mach A/C unit no longer blows cold. Fan comes on either by way of turning on the A/C unit or Manual fan mode. In A/C mode, there is no cold air at all, just blowing outside air temperature into the motorhome. If it was 63 degrees outside, I guess that would be fine. But it's 95 degrees out side.

I know this is a sealed A/C unit, so I can't check or repressurize the Freon. Are there any specific things I can check to verify if the compressor has gone bad or lost the Freon before spending $800-$900 for a new replacement?

I sure could have gone on a lot of cruises based just on the maintenance and repair costs that I have incurred in 12 years of ownership. Add in the depreciation costs and I couldn't have been a bigger loser going to Las Vegas!

As an aside, my father-in-law came with us in his Sightseer motorhome... and the control module went out on his Atwood water heater, leaving him in 'cold water' all weekend. -RT
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:16 PM   #2
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Sorry to hear you're having problems.
Wondering if you're able to discern whether the compressor in the unit is actually starting and running? Capacitors and potential relay are a common electrical problem to be explored prior to condemning the compressor. Also if there were a leak in the sealed system, there would usually be evidence of an oil / dirt spot somewhere near where the fracture happened.

Please count your blessings, as it can always get worse...
Be well.
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:31 PM   #3
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It's always something

We bought new hoping to reduce this syndrome. Only time will tell. It does seem like something major always needs attention.
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:45 PM   #4
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Ricardo,
Owning and operating a motor home, is a mixed set of issues/predicaments/fun times/costly times and more. Nobody can predict just how well their new-to-them motor home will perform or, how long it will perform BEFORE something breaks or, gives out etc. It's a crap shoot for sure. It almost doesn't matter how new it is, how many miles are on it, whether or not it's diesel or gas coach, how long or short it is or, what class it is and many other variables.
There are some folks that are lucky and, they get to use theirs on a frequent basis without running into or, developing any issues, small or large, costly or not. And some, have more than their share of bad luck. Their coaches are plagued and, it's a battle to just get them out of the driveway, on a short or long trip.

We've owned four coaches. A '79 Class C Dodge 23' FOUR STAR. An '89 Ford Class C Ultra 27'. A '99 Fleetwood Bounder 34V with the F-53 chassis and the V-10. Our present one is an '04 Itasca Horizon, 36GD with the CAT 330HP C-7.

Without a doubt, of all of them, this newest, nicest, most well equipped coach that we have now, is and has been, the most problematic. I have fixed, repaired, modified, altered, changed more things on this coach, than any of the other ones combined. I will say this though. This coach is by far, the most complicated and the most expensive coach, of all of them, COMBINED! So, with ultra pleasure, and ultra comfort, and ultra nice, comes ULTRA POTENTIAL COSTS in break downs, repairs and more.

Don't get me wrong, this is an outstanding coach. We love it. It's had some issues for sure. But, nothing that I couldn't handle since I'm the one that has to do all the repairs etc. Now, motor homes CAN BE a real treat. They can transport you to all kinds of fun and nice places, WITHOUT being DRAGGED OUT OF YOUR SEAT 'cause your motor home was OVER BOOKED! They can be tons of fun when at your destination and are with friends and family for holidays, vacations and more.

But, they can also get the best of you when and if, they break! And that breakage, can be anywhere and any time and, be anything. Motor homes are MAN MADE so, that means SOMETHING can give out, and quit, at any given time. You can look at this scenario in two ways.

1. Give it all up, travel at the expense of, potential over booking, sleeping in hotel rooms that, who knows who was in that room or bed before you and, was it THOROUGHLY CLEANED, prior to your arrival?

2. Travel by train. Never done that so, I really cannot comment on goods, bads, and UGLYS!

3. Use a TENT. Not much can go wrong with a tent. But, you're JUSSSSSST a bit subject to weather and conditions, if that's your thing.


Or, you can simply say, "you know, it's not that big-a-deal". We'll fix what's broke, get it ready for the trip and head out. One can only do so much in prep for a trip. Tune ups if that's needed, oil changes, tires (if needed), make sure your caulking on the roof and all vents is in good shape, all lights, inside and out are working correctly, water pumps and heaters are working and all the rest of do-dads etc. that can be checked on before departure.

One can only do so much by way of pre-flight checks. Things may still happen and, often do. It is what it is and, they are what they are. Good luck on yours. I'm in the middle of tearing out a dinosaur 24", 100 lb. TV from the front cabinet and putting in, a 32", flat screen LED Samsung, that weighs a whopping 8.5 lbs. It's been fun but, quite a bit of work, and it's not even mounted yet.
Scott
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:46 PM   #5
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My theory is the same as I had with my boats.
There is ALWAYS something that needs to be fixed - fix that something and another thing breaks.
So.... when something breaks that you can live with broken, then don't fix it. That way the next thing in line isn't required to break and you can go about enjoying your RV.
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Old 05-29-2017, 10:27 AM   #6
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I like (and agree with) BOTH of the above posts (#4 and #5)!

I also know that if I have a spare part with me (any part), then I will never need that particular part.
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Old 05-29-2017, 11:28 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by 4x4van View Post
I like (and agree with) BOTH of the above posts (#4 and #5)!

I also know that if I have a spare part with me (any part), then I will never need that particular part.
Well Sir,
There's always that possibility that you will never need the part. But, if you're out, WAAAAAAAAAAAY OUT, camping some place and you need it, I'm pretty sure you'd be awful happy with yourself that you did have it. We certainly can't carry all the potential parts that we THINK we may need, at some given time in the future, we'd need a semi towed behinds to do so. We think we do our best to prepare our coaches so they perform for us when we want and need them the most. But, sh.. happens. This is why I can't emphasize enough for folks to do their best to learn their coach. Learn what makes it tick.

I'm not talking about taking the engine or transmission apart, I'm just talking about things like the charging systems for both engine and shore power, learn how the water pump works and what's involved with analyzing it if and when it quits. Slides, what's the electrical system that makes them work and, how to analyze if and when they start to give us trouble. We all don't need to become techs, but, some basic knowledge sure helps in many situations.
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:33 PM   #8
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So, I'm back home and took a look at the two Coleman air conditioners. The rear air thermostat seems to work but only the fan motor and fan turns on the A/C unit. No humming from the compressor and the Freon lines stayed at the ambient air temperature. The front air is working properly, including able to hear the compressor run and the Freon lines get cold. Since I'm not a HVAC guy, I can't really check anything out, whether the unit simply lost the Freon due to a leak or the compressor froze up. Online, people say it's a 'closed unit' or 'closed system', but everything looks pretty similar to home A/C or refrigerators, so it seems I could add a high and low valve and recharge the Freon R-22. But then, the compressor could be locked up.

But here's where I get really confused... I stopped at Camping World and got a younger guy at the service counter that I felt immediately didn't want to be working on a holiday today and gave me some conflicting information. He told me that Coleman Mach air conditioners don't use Freon, but rather some 'ammonia chloride' of some sort. Told me I couldn't buy it here in the US and that all the RV air conditioners are actually manufactured from outside the US. Except the A/C unit is clearly tagged with 'R22 Freon'; I did a Google of R22 and can buy it from local auto parts stores.

Any RV air conditioning people here that could better explain what the Camping World service person told me? And could an independent RV service person actually check out the compressor and recharge the system? The CW rep told me the A/C unit is a 'throw-away', while quoting me $1,400 to replace it. Which am I really throwing away, the A/C unit, or $1,400? -RT
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Old 05-29-2017, 05:55 PM   #9
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I'm not a HVAC guy either, but I think probably the most common point of failure on those units is the start capacitor. When it fails the compressor won't start and the symptoms will be exactly what you're seeing. It could be a failed compressor, but I'd sure check the capacitor first.

I haven't had an on-the-roof AC unit since 2004 so I don't know where they are located on your unit. When one failed on my previous MH there was a strong burning smell and the failed capacitor was obvious by it's burnt appearance. If you're not familiar with capacitors be cautious - they can hold a big charge for a long time. Some have internal bleeder resistors to bleed off the charge - some don't.

Good luck,
Tom
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Old 05-29-2017, 07:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
But here's where I get really confused... I stopped at Camping World and got a younger guy at the service counter that I felt immediately didn't want to be working on a holiday today and gave me some conflicting information. He told me that Coleman Mach air conditioners don't use Freon, but rather some 'ammonia chloride' of some sort. Told me I couldn't buy it here in the US and that all the RV air conditioners are actually manufactured from outside the US. Except the A/C unit is clearly tagged with 'R22 Freon'; I did a Google of R22 and can buy it from local auto parts stores.
Sounds like the guy is confusing the cooling medium used in the refrigerator for that of the AC.

From the Coleman website
"We've been making Coleman®-Mach® RV air conditioners for over 45 years, and have produced over 5 million units during that time. All Coleman®-Mach® air conditioners are built in our factory in Wichita Kansas and are shipped to satisfied customers world wide. With our commitment to quality, our outstanding selection of products, and a warranty you can rely on, Coleman®-Mach® is THE name in RV air conditioners that you and your customers can trust. Every time."

So, he was even wrong about where they're built.

And, according to the Dometic website (largest manufacturer of RV absorption-style refrigerators):
"Americas
Americas is Dometic’s largest region in terms of sales. The region comprises North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. The vast majority of sales derive from the US and Canada. Dometic has 7 manufacturing plants and approximately 1,600 employees in the region
."

So, I guess you now know where to NOT go for any accurate RV information.....
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:11 PM   #11
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I'm not a HVAC guy either, but I think probably the most common point of failure on those units is the start capacitor. When it fails the compressor won't start and the symptoms will be exactly what you're seeing. It could be a failed compressor, but I'd sure check the capacitor first.
Tom
The start cap is not an absolute necessity to start the compressor. I had a bad ptac start cap that would sometimes stick on and kill the generator. When I pulled it off, the AC would start fine. I would troubleshoot to find out if the compressor is being energized on. If not, why. If so, what is failing.

I eventually replaced the ptac start caps with potential relays, the Airxcel website shows how they are wired. The advantage is that they will restart the AC compressor without waiting.
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Old 05-29-2017, 09:43 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
<Snip>

But here's where I get really confused... I stopped at Camping World and got a younger guy at the service counter that I felt immediately didn't want to be working on a holiday today and gave me some conflicting information. He told me that Coleman Mach air conditioners don't use Freon, but rather some 'ammonia chloride' of some sort. Told me I couldn't buy it here in the US and that all the RV air conditioners are actually manufactured from outside the US. Except the A/C unit is clearly tagged with 'R22 Freon'; I did a Google of R22 and can buy it from local auto parts stores.

<Snip>
This right here should let you know that you should never take your RV to CW for any service ever.

And as was mentioned earlier, the guy was confusing an absorption refer with a roof AC. Two different animals. So many mistakes in his pronouncements, that I'm surprised & underwhelmed based on CW's history.

I'd suggest you research RV service sites in your area using RVServiceReviews dot com. You'll find someone local that's far more knowledgeable and reliable...I hope anyway.
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Old 05-30-2017, 12:07 AM   #13
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And as was mentioned earlier, the guy was confusing an absorption refer with a roof AC. Two different animals. So many mistakes in his pronouncements, that I'm surprised & underwhelmed based on CW's history.
I even questioned him as soon as he stated that, reminding him that I was talking about the A/C units, not the refrigerator. I'm pretty disappointed with Camping World on this one... I was told so many things, stating it as 'fact', that I was able to disapprove in just a few seconds using Google. And another employee behind the counter heard it all, and never said a word about what I was told. My wife even walked away, knowing that this was not going to turn out well with how he was talking to me. Not sure why, but I chose to just walk away and not argue with the guy, but sure wish I had noted his name. Just the type of situation Marcus Lemonis likes to hear about. -RT
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Old 05-30-2017, 07:11 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RTegarini View Post
I even questioned him as soon as he stated that, reminding him that I was talking about the A/C units, not the refrigerator. I'm pretty disappointed with Camping World on this one... I was told so many things, stating it as 'fact', that I was able to disapprove in just a few seconds using Google. And another employee behind the counter heard it all, and never said a word about what I was told. My wife even walked away, knowing that this was not going to turn out well with how he was talking to me. Not sure why, but I chose to just walk away and not argue with the guy, but sure wish I had noted his name. Just the type of situation Marcus Lemonis likes to hear about. -RT
First off, you can not buy R22 without a refrigerant license, and if you had that you wouldn't be on here asking questions. If you have a meter and can read a diagram you can trouble shoot the electrical system. You may have a bad start or run cap, or a burnt off wire. Does your coach have load shedding capability's? If so, that component may be keeping the compressor off. Even if the unit is low on refrigerant adding access valves will just add more places for the unit to leak, unless the are soldered on, then the unit will have to be evacuated to do it. If it's not electrical it may be time to replace as most HVAC service runs $100.00 per hour, or more.
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Old 05-30-2017, 10:20 AM   #15
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First off, you can not buy R22 without a refrigerant license, and if you had that you wouldn't be on here asking questions. If you have a meter and can read a diagram you can trouble shoot the electrical system. You may have a bad start or run cap, or a burnt off wire. Does your coach have load shedding capability's? If so, that component may be keeping the compressor off. Even if the unit is low on refrigerant adding access valves will just add more places for the unit to leak, unless the are soldered on, then the unit will have to be evacuated to do it. If it's not electrical it may be time to replace as most HVAC service runs $100.00 per hour, or more.
It's true that in California you have to have a license to purchase Freon R22, but that wasn't at all what Camping World was stating to me, which is why I brought that up. The rep claimed my A/C didn't use Freon at all and it wasn't available in the US. R22 is available as a reclaimed, cleaned and filtered product, though not 'brand-new'.

I'm not sure what load-shedding capability is, so I am clueless as to diagnosing it. Paying $100 an hour for a HVAC service may or not be bad. I'm being quoted $1,400+ for a replacement A/C unit but am having difficulty verifying that it would be a perfect match to the existing Coleman Mach thermostats. I found some installation information but when I get to the end of the manual, the picture shown is a non-ducted unit with the controls at ceiling level, not a wall thermostat, so I'm not sure I'd be ordering the same unit. Luckily, this is the rear A/C unit so it's not as critical as the front A/C unit. -RT
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Old 05-30-2017, 10:49 PM   #16
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I've been looking at units with the basement air and in the process have gathered quite a bit of info about them. Still on the fence as to which is better but either way I will attempt to share my book knowledge about the unit. I also know a little about AC units. *edited to add- Those camper world people, really any of the dealers are very unknowledgeable.

You should be able to hear at least a click when the unit engages the compressor. If running the generator you can hear it load when it kicks on. If its been pulling the generator down harder than usual when kicking on then it was the first sign of failing. If the compressor overheated it could have tripped a breaker. If it tripped its as good as broken so if you find it and reset it just know its low on refrigerant (hopefully) or other issue like the compressor failing and running hot. So dont run it until finding out what the issue is cause if the compressor isnt bad you will make it bad running it low.
Try and have your MH as level as possible when running the units. The oil can move out of where it needs to be and burn it out. If its been at a real crazy angle for a long time you may want to wait to run it so the oil can go back where it belongs.

Its a household unit call around local building AC repair places and find out if they will service it. Offer to take it to them. If you can track down your wiring and tech info about the unit they will be more willing to have a look if not familiar and will save some time. I know my AC guy would. I wish they were all as awesome as he is.

Coleman converted over to the 410A in 2010 this info found in THIS THREAD which has other great info.
"Due to regulation changes by the E.P.A, Air conditioners can no longer be manufactured with R-22 as of January 1, 2010. The Coleman Mach air conditioners will be manufactured with R-410A as of January 2010. Replacement parts will still be available for the systems already manufactured with R-22 for a limited time."

The unit can't be converted to 410A, it will burst so don't let anyone tell you it can. For some reason I thought in general the R22 units could be converted to 134A. I wouldn't bother even if its possible, unless it can be done for a small cost.

I have come across a lot of MH salvage lots while looking for pics of the MH's I was interested in. Kind of makes you feel like driving a MH isnt any safer than being on a motorcycle in the event of an accident.
Anyway, with the unit being in the back and most damage being the front and top of the MH you can probably find an intact used one or just parts. Find out their process for removing. It needs to be evacuated and the lines sealed right after removal.

Hopefully it isn't expensive. I think thats what has been holding me back on the basement units. Having toured MH with both types the basement unit (when not leaking in the back) seems to cool better. The roof units are cheaper but not of fan of more holes cut in a roof. For some reason on the used units Ive been looking at fiberglass roof=never having to do any maintenance at all. I was so irritated at one guy that I showed him in his owners manual where it says to get on the roof seasonally and clean and seal it.

-Marcie
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Old 05-30-2017, 11:03 PM   #17
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Also- too late to edit. Load shedding uses a controller to decide what gets to use the 30-50A your RV is being supplied with. Most likely you dont have one, they are expensive to add on. Newer units come with them but probably not the low end ones.

You also decide what decide what gets kicked off the juice. I don't know if kicking the AC off first is the most logical choice. Either way, you should be able to run just the rear AC if testing whether its getting kicked off.

-Marcie
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Old 05-31-2017, 09:03 PM   #18
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Due to the short time frame I have to make a repair or replacement before taking the motorhome out again, I ended up ordering a new A/C unit from a local RV repair shop. Cost is approximately $1,065 and hope to be able to get the work done in less than a week. One nice thing is that they have a mobile repair truck so they are going to do the work at the RV storage facility. -RT
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Old 06-01-2017, 03:04 PM   #19
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Obviously a $1K expenditure is a tough pill to swallow. Short of a somewhat less expensive electrical problem discussed upstream, having any / much work done on the refrigeration closed circuit would not be terribly cost effective. With labor costs you could get to that cost quickly and you'd still have a 12 Y.O. unit. At least you will have a new unit & warranty.
Hoping for your best results.
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