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Older Norcold fridge issue

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
The fridge in daughter and son-in-law's '98 Nash TT is on the fritz after working well just a couple months ago. Freezer is 4 degrees, but the fridge is in the 50's on both AC and gas. No ice buildup between top and bottom to impede airflow. We pulled the vent cap off and the coils look reasonably clean. Plenty of hot air up through the vent, though we didn't check the flue itself. We pulled the box around the burner and cleaned out some dirt and junk from there, but it wasn't affecting the flame. We used some canned air to blow off what we could around the burner.

All that said, should he bite the bullet and put in a new fridge or would one of the "Amish" replacement cooling units be a better choice. Almost double the cost for a new fridge. Are newer units better? How hard is it to swap out the cooling unit as a DIY project?

Thanks,
Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member
16 REPLIES 16

Krusty
Nomad
Nomad
laknox wrote:
Krusty wrote:
I have been having the same issue with my fridge of the same vintage. I took the fridge out and set it on the ground and flipped it over several times and gave it a good shake on each side and while upside down. I put it back in and it is cooling again. I had to do this once in the past for the same issue and it had worked good up until recently. And that was in 2006. Didn't cost anything and the fridge is pretty easy to get out. May work in your situation too


Hmmm... I'll mention that. I totally spaced out that I did that in my old Komfort! The classic "burping" the fridge. 🙂

Did you turn it upside down and back upright multiple times?

Lyle


Yup, I did. I rolled it end over end several times and it spent time on each surface and got a good shake each time. I could hear the refrigerant sloshing around in there every time.
Krusty
92 F-250 4x4 460 5spd 4.10LS Prodigy
97 Rustler RT190
EU2000i
Garmin

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
pianotuna wrote:
BobsyourUncle also had success with shaking the fridge by "rolling bumping". Worth a try.


Yep. We're going to give that a try. Not sure if they have any other trips planned, but their best friends have a habit of "let's go camping" on Wed. for a weekend trip. 🙂 Now that school's started, though, any camping will have to wait for long weekends and holidays.

Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

pianotuna
Nomad II
Nomad II
BobsyourUncle also had success with shaking the fridge by "rolling bumping". Worth a try.
Regards, Don
My ride is a 28 foot Class C, 256 watts solar, 556 amp-hours of Telcom jars, 3000 watt Magnum hybrid inverter, Sola Basic Autoformer, Microair Easy Start.

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
Krusty wrote:
I have been having the same issue with my fridge of the same vintage. I took the fridge out and set it on the ground and flipped it over several times and gave it a good shake on each side and while upside down. I put it back in and it is cooling again. I had to do this once in the past for the same issue and it had worked good up until recently. And that was in 2006. Didn't cost anything and the fridge is pretty easy to get out. May work in your situation too


Hmmm... I'll mention that. I totally spaced out that I did that in my old Komfort! The classic "burping" the fridge. 🙂

Did you turn it upside down and back upright multiple times?

Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

Krusty
Nomad
Nomad
I have been having the same issue with my fridge of the same vintage. I took the fridge out and set it on the ground and flipped it over several times and gave it a good shake on each side and while upside down. I put it back in and it is cooling again. I had to do this once in the past for the same issue and it had worked good up until recently. And that was in 2006. Didn't cost anything and the fridge is pretty easy to get out. May work in your situation too
Krusty
92 F-250 4x4 460 5spd 4.10LS Prodigy
97 Rustler RT190
EU2000i
Garmin

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
UPDATE: After running a test suggested by Old-Biscuit, we've decided that the cooling unit is toast. They'll just go back to old-school coolers for the rest of the year if they do some weekends. Son-in-law needs to set aside some funds to get the new cooling unit and some miscellaneous doo-dads. Opinion is that newer units aren't nearly as good as the older ones, at least as far as insulation goes, so he's saving the box and replacing the guts.

Thanks for everyone's input.

Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
craig7h wrote:
A couple years back the Norcold in my 97 coach decided it was time to stop working. Of course we were in the middle of a monthlong trip.

Anyway after going back and forth about a new frig. or replace the cooling unit. I decided to replace the cooling unit as a DIY project.
I decided that way for a couple reasons, one I am not a very good carpenter and the replacement frig. would not look like it belonged. Get the new frig. in my unit would not be an easy task
I ended up going with replacing the cooling unit from JC Refrigeration
https://jc-refrigeration.com/

As I am always plugged in and never boondock I decided to go with the 120v only unit. It was a very easy DIY project for the DW and I. JC Refrigeration is really a customer service business. From the how to instructions to answering questions they are number one.

It took in total maybe 2 hours +/- to finish. Once in the unit has kept ice cream frozen and the adult beverage cold all on setting 5


Good Luck


Thanks, Craig. Old-Biscuit gave us some troubleshooting tips over on irv2 that we're going to try. Kids aren't struggling, but the cost of replacing the cooling system is a dent in their finances, let alone a whole new fridge.

Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

laknox
Nomad
Nomad
Gjac wrote:
Also, I see you live in Az. and the temps have been very hot there lately. My Norcold will get up to 50 in 90 degree weather but cool into the 40's overnight when the temps drop into the 70's. How long did you keep the refer plugged in? Do you have any food inside it or is it empty? In 100 degree weather any Absorbtion refer is going to struggle in those temps. Just opening the door to check it will let warm air in especially if there is no food in there to keep things cool. Before you spend money on a new one I would keep it plugged in for several days and if the fridge is empty put a thermometer in a glass of water and check the temps that way.


We were at 7,000+ elevation, with afternoon temps in the mid-80s and morning lows in the low 60s. It was working just fine about 3 months ago, when the kids went camping with another couple. It was plugged in and on max for 48 hours before loading, also with ice packs to help it cool. All food was pre-cooled before loading. Fridge was at 38-40 before leaving for the campout and ended up in the 50s by the time they left. They were using freezer packs, that were freezing nicely in the freezer, to supplement the fridge.

Lyle
2022 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Crew Cab 4x4 Duramax
B&W OEM Companion & Gooseneck Kit
2017 KZ Durango 1500 D277RLT
1936 John Deere Model A
International Flying Farmers 64 Year Member

craig7h
Nomad II
Nomad II
A couple years back the Norcold in my 97 coach decided it was time to stop working. Of course we were in the middle of a monthlong trip.

Anyway after going back and forth about a new frig. or replace the cooling unit. I decided to replace the cooling unit as a DIY project.
I decided that way for a couple reasons, one I am not a very good carpenter and the replacement frig. would not look like it belonged. Get the new frig. in my unit would not be an easy task
I ended up going with replacing the cooling unit from JC Refrigeration
https://jc-refrigeration.com/

As I am always plugged in and never boondock I decided to go with the 120v only unit. It was a very easy DIY project for the DW and I. JC Refrigeration is really a customer service business. From the how to instructions to answering questions they are number one.

It took in total maybe 2 hours +/- to finish. Once in the unit has kept ice cream frozen and the adult beverage cold all on setting 5


Good Luck
Itasca Meridian SE 36g
Road Master Tow Dolly

trailrider
Explorer
Explorer
laknox wrote:
The fridge in daughter and son-in-law's '98 Nash TT is on the fritz after working well just a couple months ago. Freezer is 4 degrees, but the fridge is in the 50's on both AC and gas. No ice buildup between top and bottom to impede airflow. We pulled the vent cap off and the coils look reasonably clean. Plenty of hot air up through the vent, though we didn't check the flue itself. We pulled the box around the burner and cleaned out some dirt and junk from there, but it wasn't affecting the flame. We used some canned air to blow off what we could around the burner.

All that said, should he bite the bullet and put in a new fridge or would one of the "Amish" replacement cooling units be a better choice. Almost double the cost for a new fridge. Are newer units better? How hard is it to swap out the cooling unit as a DIY project?

Thanks,
Lyle


Are newer units better?

Most definitely NOT!
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD GAS!!!
1978 Chevrolet Silverado K20 4x4
2007 Komfort 277TS
2020 Sherco 300 SEF Factory
2018 Honda Rancher TRX420FA6
2017 Montesa 4RT260
2021 Honda CRF450X

Gjac
Explorer III
Explorer III
Also, I see you live in Az. and the temps have been very hot there lately. My Norcold will get up to 50 in 90 degree weather but cool into the 40's overnight when the temps drop into the 70's. How long did you keep the refer plugged in? Do you have any food inside it or is it empty? In 100 degree weather any Absorbtion refer is going to struggle in those temps. Just opening the door to check it will let warm air in especially if there is no food in there to keep things cool. Before you spend money on a new one I would keep it plugged in for several days and if the fridge is empty put a thermometer in a glass of water and check the temps that way.

jkwilson
Explorer II
Explorer II
Check door seal. The cooling unit is working, at least somewhat, as demonstrated by the freezer. Leaky door seals are a common cause of warm refrigerators.
John & Kathy
2014 Grand Design Reflection 303RLS
2014 F250 SBCC 6.2L 3.73

wa8yxm
Explorer III
Explorer III
pianotuna wrote:
I'd go 12 volt electric.

Next choice new cooling unit from the so called Amish. It can be diy


I am with them musical fish on this

There are some very nice 12 volt or 12/120 volt Compressor units that draw LESS THAN FIFTY WATTS with the door closed (The dang light in the absorption units may well be 20 watts plus don't you know this gives you an idea of the power draw).

I have a small chest freezer that's like that it eats 120 less I find the 12 volt cord... Had a power fail.. used a 12 AH LiFePO4 and a 300 watt MSW inverter and everythign frozen well.

(Used a much larger battery/inverter pack on the Residential Fridge)

I really like those high effiecency units.

MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE POWER DRAW.

Option 2 is the amish cooling unit.

Some years ago when my Factory cooling unit went powder up (or down actually) I got an Amish.. Impressed I was with the quality.
Home was where I park it. but alas the.
2005 Damon Intruder 377 Alas declared a total loss
after a semi "nicked" it. Still have the radios
Kenwood TS-2000, ICOM ID-5100, ID-51A+2, ID-880 REF030C most times

Roger10378
Explorer II
Explorer II
25 years on the original fridge is very good so it is not surprising if the cooling unit is toast. There are several u-tube videos that show people changing the cooling units. I will not hesitate to change my own if I need to before I get too old.
2005 Cardinal 30TS
2007 Chevy 2500HD D/A