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Norcold fridge - clogged drain tube?

Almot
Explorer II
Explorer II
Under the fins inside the fridge there is a tray to collect dripping water. There is a hole at the back of the tray, with a flexible tube going to the outside.

Somehow it stopped draining. No water comes out on the outside, the tray got filled with water, then it froze - I tried to keep freezer at 0F as it should, this required the fridge bin to cool down to low 30-ish. Now I'm checking it every day and manually remove pieces of ice from the tray - VERY awkward under the fins.

Tried to run 1/16 wire through the tube from inside - it hits some hard obstacle within a fraction of inch from the entry. Tried to push wire from the outside - same thing, wire stops after approaching more-less the spot where the tube goes into the fridge back wall. Tried to blow the tube by mouth from the outside - nothing, air doesn't go in. The tube terminates outside with a plastic plug and a tiny hole (to stop insects from coming?), removed the plug, no help.

Tray seems to be glued to the "holed" fitting in the fridge wall, or some caulk, can't pull out the tray to inspect the hole.

There were some dust winds in my absence, but to push the dirt all the way up the tube, and to pack it so hard that steel wire can't go through?

Any suggestions or comments on how to clean the passage or remove the tray, are welcome.

Model N611L, if this matters.
13 REPLIES 13

wa8yxm
Explorer
Explorer
Re the compressed air suggestion NOT GOOD IDEA IF ICE BLOCKED.

BUT YOU CAN GET A TUBE LONG ENOUGH AND THE NEEDED ADAPTER TO FEED IT A GOOD FLOW OF HOT WATER (TAKE THE OUTSIDE END OUT OF THE CUP THATS THERE AND ADD HOSE TO IT AS WELL LARGER HOSE SO IT RUNS ON THE GROUND) THIS WILL HELP CLEAR ANY OTHER BLOCKAGE.

Sorry about hitting caps lock.

I have found when the drain tube starts freezing... (This was on a residential not an RV unit) it tends to keep doing it
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

Almot
Explorer II
Explorer II
RLS7201 wrote:
... try pouring some hot water in the tray. Might melt the blockage.

Richard

Bingo. Boiled some water, poured in - very inconvenient, can't get to it with a cup, had to feed it with a table spoon, melted ice in the tray, removed icy cold water, poured more hot water. Blockage opened, next day closed again - slightly - but now I know how to deal with it.

Could've been ice and dust too.

Doug - cooling unit has not been replaced. I'm just pushing the limits of this machine. Hot and dusty. But at least it's sunny. I'm missing and a normal compressor fridge of huge capacity, not measly 6 cu.ft, and a separate chest freezer.

dougrainer
Explorer
Explorer
The Checkvalve/plug is designed to NOT allow warm air migration back up to the refer. So, the plug is necessary to help keep temps colder. Norcold refers are designed to self defrost the evap fans when icing happens. ICE on evap fins is BAD. Ice is a insulator and will not allow convection air inside the refer to flow over the fins and remove the heat. The Defrost cycle is built in. ONLY for Norcold refers left ON continuously. If left ON, every 48 to 54 hours the refer shuts OFF, for 2 to 3 hours. This allows any ice build up to thaw and drain out the drain pan and tube. Ice build up inside the refer is a product of humidity in the air. So, opening and closing the refer too often will increase the instance of ice build up.
1. Has the refer Cooling unit been replaced?
2. Did it drain before and just stopped?
3. 0 to 10 degrees is the normal operating range of the freezer. 0 is best. But, as you have found, ANY heat source to the RV on the outside will degrade the cooling performance. So, yes, in hotter climates you may have to go to 5 for max coldness. When it gets cooler, you go to 3 or 4.
4. Regardless, you have a drain tube problem. FIX the problem and you will not have frozen ice build up on the drain tray giving you problems
5. The reason I ask about the cooling unit is simple. The USUAL reason a drain tube fails to drain is because the person replacing the cooling unit was not a professional and kinked the drain tube when installing the new cooling unit. VERY COMMON. Dometic refers have a different drain tube design thru the insulation of the cooling unit. Doug

Almot
Explorer II
Explorer II
Doug, my freezer will not get to 0F when the outside coils can't cool well, i.e. hot sun on this wall. It will struggle keeping it at 4, cycling almost nonstop. Fridge would fare better, cooling down to 40, but to keep it cycling almost nonstop - in order to achieve near-zero in freezer - I have to set thermostat to Max, and then fridge goes to 32 and below, causing icing of the fins and freezing water in the tray. If I set it to 1 or 2, it will stop cycling when fridge is 44 -46 and freezer 5-6. This is my reality. In the morning I set it to 3-4, as it gets freezer to 0, in the afternoon I set it to Max to get somewhere from 0 to 4.

Yes, better ventilation at the back of the fridge is needed, and possibly fan inside the fridge - to spread the cold air from those 22F fins around so that it would not freeze the food near fins.

About check valve. It's just a plug on the tube, with a small hole so that something (insects?) wouldn't get in. It's tiny, don't see any one-way mechanism. I removed, anyway. It's not the culprit here.

dougrainer
Explorer
Explorer
Almot wrote:
Thank you, people. Likely the ice. Can't defrost it now, fridge is full. Will have to clean the tray daily so that it wouldn't overfill.

Doug, will all due respect to your knowledge in this area, ice on the fins and in the tray is related to freezer temps, albeit indirectly. Thermostat is in the fridge as I understand. It cycles when fridge temp rises to whatever the thermostat is set to. In warm weather with sun shining on the fridge side of trailer, I have to set thermostat to Max to keep freezer below 4. This causes fridge to cool below 32 and freeze water in the tray, and sometimes to grow an impressive ice fur on the fins before it starts dripping to the tray.


Sorry, It does NOT. The sunny problem you have has to do with the sun causing problems with convection air over the cooling unit coils. The freezer will get below 10 degrees(normal temp is zero to 10 degrees) regardless of 1 to 5 on the temp adjustment. What you need to do is install an extra cooling fan. If you have a standard 2 door Norcold, it may NOT have a external cooling fan. IF the refer is in a slide room you DO NEED a additional cooling fan blowing out the top access door. Post Year model and Model or Norcold. Doug

RLS7201
Explorer
Explorer
As Doug suggested, remove the check valve. Then maybe try pouring some hot water in the tray. Might melt the blockage.

Richard
95 Bounder 32H F53 460
2013 CRV Toad
2 Segways in Toad
First brake job
1941 Hudson

Almot
Explorer II
Explorer II
Thank you, people. Likely the ice. Can't defrost it now, fridge is full. Will have to clean the tray daily so that it wouldn't overfill.

Doug, will all due respect to your knowledge in this area, ice on the fins and in the tray is related to freezer temps, albeit indirectly. Thermostat is in the fridge as I understand. It cycles when fridge temp rises to whatever the thermostat is set to. In warm weather with sun shining on the fridge side of trailer, I have to set thermostat to Max to keep freezer below 4. This causes fridge to cool below 32 and freeze water in the tray, and sometimes to grow an impressive ice fur on the fins before it starts dripping to the tray.

dougrainer
Explorer
Explorer
Norcold drain tubes have a plastic check valve at the END at the drain cup. Just remove the check valve and clean it out. reinstall after cleaning. Doug

Sorry, saw you have done this. IF the tube is blocked, the ONLY way to fix is to pull the refer. Have you had the Cooling unit replaced? Did it drain previously, and the problem just started? I would take a Nylon string from a weedeater and work it up from the outside. Going from inside will not work as the tube makes a 90 degree bend just after it goes to the outside back of the refer hole. Now to your ICE and freezing. The temp setting has NOTHING to do with the freezer. Your freezer temp has NOTHING to do with the ICE in cup or evap fins. Refers, the FIN temp will be 10 degrees COLDER than the interior temp. So if your refer is operating at 36 degrees, the fin temp will be 26 degrees, hence the ice build up.

_1Flyboy
Explorer
Explorer
U might try blowing out with compressed air; I did this once; worked for me……

mdcamping
Explorer
Explorer
Put a cup to catch any water on the out side drain, then let it defrost completly on the inside. If you find no water in the cup then you probably have food/dust plugged in the drain hose. If you can find some compressed air to blow out the drain from the outside, this will usually work

Good luck
Mike
2022 F-150 3.5 EcoBoost 4X4 Supercrew GCWR 19,500 157WB
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Old TV, 07 Toyota Tacoma, Double Cab, Factory Tow Pkg, retired towing at 229K. (Son now owns truck)

JKJavelin
Explorer II
Explorer II
The tray is not glued in. Possibly try a little WD-40 where it goes into the wall. Mine ices up occasionally and the plug in the end has gotten clogged as well.
JK
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wa8yxm
Explorer
Explorer
The odds are teh "Hared object" is ice.. I'd start with a full defrost and let it sit warm (Door open) for a day beyond that. After that it gets to be work.
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

Dusty_R
Explorer
Explorer
Maybe an electric heat gun. Be careful don't let it get too hot and melt some of the plastic refrigerator parts.