|Post Info||TOPIC: Fridge coils icing up|
Defrosting an RV refrigerator is a surprisingly easy job. Weve been living with a propane RV refrigerator for many years now, and they always need defrosting after a few weeks or months. Being meticulous about not leaving the refrigerator door open unnecessarily can help, but when you find yourself living in a hot and humid environment or if you have the refrigerator side of your trailer or motorhome facing the blazing hot summer sun all afternoon, the frost is going to build up over time.
All you need to defrost an RV refrigerator is:
Over the years, weve tried several different techniques for defrosting our RV fridge, and in the old days this was a big job that, with some methods, could take well over an hour. We now have it down to a super fast method that makes this pesky job a cinch. The last time we did it, I made a note of the time on the clock as we went through each step. From start to finish, it took 20 minutes.
The first step is to turn off the refrigerator and empty the contents of the freezer into cooler bags or a cooler of some kind. Since these things will be out of the freezer for just 20 minutes, they wont defrost and the ice cream wont melt. If your RV is hot inside, covering the cooler bags with blankets for extra insulation can help.
a.m. Turn off fridge and unload freezer into cooler bags
We used to unload the whole refrigerator and empty it out completely, but that isnt necessary and it takes a lot of time. An awful lot of what is in the refrigerator can handle warming up slightly as you keep the refrigerator door open to defrost it.
Instead, just unload the most temperature sensitive items milk, yogurt, lunch meats, mayonaise, etc., into an insulated cooler bag or a cooler. Most of the fruits, veggies, bread, cheese, condiments, etc., can remain right where they are in the fridge for the 20 minutes it takes to defrost it.
Set the cooler bags aside. Covering them with blankets will keep everything even cooler.
Next, put a super absorbant chamois towel in the bottom of the freezer compartment to absorb the water from the melting ice, and use a hair dryer to thaw the walls of the freezer.
a.m. Use a hair dryer to thaw out the freezer.
We live exclusively on solar power, and our 2, watt pure sine wave inverter is what powers all our AC appliances, including the hair dryer. So, we have a low wattage travel hair dryer that draws just watts (available here).
We put it on the high setting and keep a distance of about 8 between the hair dryer and the walls of the freezer. A higher wattage hair dryer may need to be put on the low heat setting. Hold your hand about 8 from the hair dryer and see how hot it feels.
Be sure you keep the hair dryer from heating up the plastic walls or they will crack from being cold and then getting hot. Keep the hair dryer moving and test the temp of the plastic walls with your hands.
After thawing the walls of the freezer a little, move down to the cooling fins in the refrigerator compartment. Keep the hair dryer in constant motion, sweeping it back and forth from side to side.
Slowly wave the hair dryer in front of the cooling fins.
Alternate working on the freezer compartment and the refrigerator compartment.
Alternate between the cooling fins in the refrigerator compartment and the freezer compartment.
At the beginning, when the cooling fins are caked in ice, the hair dryer can be closer to them.
Little ice sheets will begin to fall off the refrigerator cooling fins into the drip tray underneath. As the thawing process continues, increase the distance between the hair dryer and the cooling fins.
As ice drops and the cooling fins thaw, move the hair dryer back a little.
Dont chisel the ice off the fins or the freezer walls with a tool. If you pierce the metal base behind the cooling fins or the walls of the freezer, the refrigerant (ammonia) will leak out. We dont use any chiseling device. We simply assist the thawing process with the hair dryer.
Check beneath the cooling fins and youll see the bits of ice dropping into the drip tray.
Check below the cooling fins where the ice drops off in chunks.
If you go outside, on the back of the RV youll see water seeping out of the refrigerator vent.
Outside the rig, water will be seeping from the refrigerator vent.
A little trickle of water flows down.
Once all the ice has fallen off the cooling fins, pull out the drip tray and dump the ice in the sink.
a.m. Once all the ice has dropped off the cooling fins, empty the tray of ice into the sink.
Up in the freezer compartment, the chamois towel is now fairly wet with water that has dripped down off the walls. Wring it out and use it to wipe down the freezer and the fridge.
a.m. The chamois towel in the freezer is pretty wet. Use it to wipe down the fridge and freezer.
Load the food from the cooler bags back into the refrigerator and freezer compartments, and youre done! Put the fridge at max temp for a few hours to help it cool back down, and then set it to the temperature setting you normally use.
a.m. After loading the food back in the refrigerator, turn it back on. Done!
Other RV Refrigerator Tips
The key to having an RV refrigerator work optimally is having the air circulate inside well. Overstuffing the fridge with food makes this difficult for it. We have used a little RV refrigerator airator fan thats designed to keep the air flowing. Weve had mixed results with this, and when it died we didnt replace it. I think this would work well if there were space between all the food, but our fridge is usually packed (the turf wars between the beer and the veggies can be brutalsometimes we can hear them battling it out in there!).
As a maintenance item, we keep the door seals clean, wiping them down periodically.
We use simple refrigerator thermometers to monitor the temperatures in the fridge and freezer. It has a built in hook, and we hang it from one of the rungs in the top shelf in the refrigerator. The one in the freezer rests against one wall.
We were surprised to learn that RV refrigerators have an expected lifespan of about 8 to 10 years. A classic sign of impending failure is the appearance of yellow dust in the refrigerator vent area behind the fridge (go outside and take the vent cover off and look around with a flashlight). Click the following link to read the funny story of our RV refrigerator replacement and see how an RV fridge replacement is done.
Because of the shorter lifespan, higher price, and use of propane in RV refrigerators, many (most) full-time level fifth wheels and motorhomes are now being built with residential refrigerators that run on AC power only (a dedicated inverter is installed so it can run from the batteries while in transit). For folks that have plans to dry camp and boondock a lot in their RV life, a residential refrigerator will require a much bigger battery bank and solar panel array than would otherwise be needed. We discuss that in more detail at this link in our introductory solar power article.
If our hair dryer method of defrosting an RV fridge seems unorthodox to you, believe me, we have tried many other methods. We tried opening the fridge and freezer doors and letting the fridge thaw out on its own. We tried doing that and helping it along by chiseling the ice off with a small plastic scraper. We tried putting a bowl of hot water in the fridge to help it warm up.
All of these methods were adequate, but they were time consuming. Weve been using our current method with the mini travel hair dryer for a few years now and really, really like it.
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Keeping Your RV Fridge Cold
by Ron deMoya
(La Vegas Nevada )
How to Keep Your RV Fridge Cold
This Tip was submitted on our RVing Tips And Tricks Page
I read with interest, the problems you campers were having with the defrost cycle in your RV motorhome or trailer. As I sit here and watch my Norcold’s temp rising to 42* in the auto defrost mode. This is a built-in feature that most RV refrigerators have. So every 49 hrs or so it routinely goes into this mode.
So it dawned on me, WHAT TIME OF DAY DO YOU START YOUR REFER. !!!!
I normally start mine around noon the day before we leave and everything is great, the freezer freezes and the lower section is cold. Now if you start your refer midday then the refrigerator will start counting down and alas, 49 hrs have passed and your refer goes into defrost mode at the hottest time of the day and of course, the temps go wonky. Try this, when planning a trip, start you refer in the late evening, around 10 pm, and then when it goes into defrost it will be late at night, and in the coolest time of the day.
So if all your troubleshooting efforts are negative, then try it and see what happens. 🧐
Editor's Note:Another great way to help keep your RV's Refridgerator cold is to install a battery-operated RV Fridge Fan(Pictured Below). These fans help to circulate cold air on the inside of the refrigerator.
RV Fridge Fan
Take a look at the video below by RVing Expert Mark Polk from RV Education to learn how an RV Fridge Fancan keep your RV Fridge cooling efficiently.
To instantly download the RV Education Videos available from RVing Expert Mark Polk visit the RV Education Video Download Store
Do you have any suggestions or comments on this topic? You can add them to this page by clicking on the "Click Here To Post Comments" link located near the bottom of this page.
Share Your Favorite RVing Tips and Tricks With Us
Rm defrost cycle
Before you change fans or do anything with your Dometic RM do the following.
Determine what time of day you want the unit to defrost. Preferably a night setting.(When turned on the unit will defrost after 60 hours of operation. So, if you pick PM it will defrost at AM two and a half days later. My problem began when the power to our park went out at AM and I had forgot to turn on the battery switch in my Bighorn The power came on at AM so the unit set a defrost cycle for PM. During the hottest part of the day it was defrosting for two hours.
First, turn OFF the unit.
Next, be sure ALL 12 v. power is off both the battery and the converter.
Wait about 20 minutes. ( I tried 5 and 10 and they didn't work. Factory recommends only 2.)
Now, restore power and turn on unit. But, be sure you pick a time that will allow the unit to defrost during the night. I picked AM so my unit defrosts at PM every day after the first 60 hours. With the two hour defrost cycle that gives the unit all night to recover and return to the cold condition.
Just came home from a month of using the unit and NO problems. On very hot days she kept the temp around at the 4 setting and on cool overcast days she did the same at the 3 setting.
However, I believe that if the unit gets to cold it will automatically defrost. Twice that happened when we were gone for a period of time and before we left I noticed the temp was at to 34 degrees. I reset the temp setting and unit began to work immediately. Check fins in fridge compartment. If wet and cool it's defrosting. If frosted and cold it's working.
The only problem I see with the refrigerator is that Dometic seems to think keeping its operating instructions a secret is how you win customers. They wanted me to take my unit 85 miles to the nearest dealer so I had to figure out how it worked myself along with help from Heartland.
Defrost cycle refrigerator dometic
If desired this refrigerator can be set to defrost manual at any time.
Usually a defrost cycle takes about 1 hour but is depending on the amount of frost and could therefore vary from time
1. Before entering manual defrost mode, switch off the refrigerator with the ON/OFF key.
2. To enter manual defrost, press and hold AUTO/STORE key, then press ON/OFF key. "dE Fr" is displayed on the
If the message "CA LL" is displayed on the LED panel a technical fault that need attention by Dometic personal has
occurred. Call a Dometic service center for assistance as soon as possible and notify displayed error code to the
service agent. Toll free number ()
Heating element in frozen food compartment faulty
Heating element in fresh food compartment faulty
Heating element in drain pipes faulty
Fan in frozen food compartment faulty
Fan in fresh food compartment faulty
Air temperature sensor in frozen food compartment faulty
Air temperature sensor in fresh food compartment faulty
Temperature sensor on cooling surfaces in frozen food
Temperature sensor on cooling surfaces in fresh food
Call For Service
This article shows you what to check and do if your Dometic refrigerator is freezing up.
Dometic Refrigerator Coils Freezing Up – Quick Fix
If the coils of your Dometic refrigerator are freezing up, check the following:
1. Defrost Heater
Assuming your Dometic refrigerator comes with a defrost assembly, which all modern refrigerators do, then check the heater. It is usually wrapped around the coils. Test it with a multimeter to see if it has continuity. If there is no reading on the multimeter, the heater is faulty and could be the reason for the frost buildup on the coils.
During the defrost cycle, the defrost heater comes on to defrost the frost on the coils. If it doesn’t do this, the ice will build up and with time, freeze the coils.
2. Defrost Timer
Locate the timer, usually at the back or inside the compartment that houses the temperature control inside the refrigerator. Turn it counterclockwise with your hand or with a screwdriver. Wait for a click. The compressor and fans should go off and the defrost heater should come on. If this happens as explained here, you know the timer is faulty. You shouldn’t have to turn it manually; it should come on automatically if it is in good working order.
3. Defrost Thermostat
Test the thermostat using a multimeter to see if it still has continuity. If there is no continuity, replace the thermostat.
The thermostat is responsible for sensing the coldness of the coils and allowing the heater to come on during the defrost cycle. If it is defective, it can’t allow the heater to work. Hence, the coils will freeze over time if they are not defrosted.
Additionally, how often you open and close the door of the refrigerator can affect the coils. Opening the door too often will let in a lot of humid outside air. The air which carries a lot of moisture will pass over the cold coils and condense. After some time, the condensate will refreeze and if this process continues, the coils will freeze.
Dometic RV Refrigerator Freezing Up – What to Do
Here are things you can do if a Dometic RV refrigerator is freezing up:
1. Check the Thermostat
If the temperature control thermostat is bad, it will affect the refrigerator. Turn the thermostat from low to high and wait for a click. The click will tell you the thermostat is working fine. But no click means the thermostat could be bad. To be sure, test it for continuity with a multimeter. If there is no continuity at any setting, replace it.
2. Check the Thermistor
Using a multimeter, check the thermistor. The resistance should change with the refrigerator temperature if the thermistor is working fine. If it doesn’t, check for continuity. If you don’t see continuity, change the thermistor.
3. Check the Temperature Setting
You could have set the temperature too low, making the refrigerator too cold. So check the setting of the refrigerator’s temperature to be sure it is at the recommended point. If it is not, adjust it but if it is, try setting it one or two degrees higher. Watch it for a day or two to see if there is any change.
Here is a video that explains how to fix a Dometic refrigerator that is freezing up…
Check out these other in-depth articles on refrigerator freezing up for other refrigerator brands…
Important Note: Let a qualified technician look at your Dometic refrigerator and fix it for you if you are not sure of what to do. And always power off your refrigerator before any repair work begins. This is the first thing to do to keep yourself and your refrigerator safe.
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