Dometic RV Refrigerator Stopped Cooling | Quick and Easy Fix

Having your RV refrigerator suddenly stop cooling properly can be a real inconvenience, especially if it leads to food spoilage. As one of the leading manufacturers of RV refrigerators, Dometic’s products are known for their reliability.

However, there are several common causes including the fridge becoming unlevel, loss of power, thermostat malfunction, or obstruction of the vents that could result in a Dometic RV refrigerator not cooling correctly.

Identifying and addressing these issues promptly is important to get your fridge back to keeping foods properly chilled and avoid having to throw out spoiled food. With some focused troubleshooting, you can likely get your Dometic RV refrigerator back to working order and avoid unnecessary food waste.

Dometic RV Refrigerator Stopped Cooling

Potential Cause of the Problem

A malfunctioning thermostat is a common culprit for Dometic RV refrigerator cooling issues. Whether displaying inaccurate temperatures or failing altogether, addressing thermostat problems promptly is essential for maintaining optimal cooling performance and food safety on the road.

1. Power Source Issues

Electric Mode:

– Verify the RV is properly connected to shore power or the battery is charged and supplying adequate voltage (12V). Low voltage can prevent proper cooling.

– Check that the interior thermostat is set correctly, usually around mid-range on the dial. If set too high, the fridge may not run long enough to maintain cooling.

– Inspect the wiring connection from the battery to the fridge for corrosion or loose/damaged terminals. Also check for a tripped circuit breaker that needs resetting.

Propane Mode:

– Make sure propane tanks are full and the valve is open. Tanks that run empty or are not properly connected can cut off gas supply.

– Clean the burner orifice for any dirt, debris, spider webs that could block proper gas flow. Use compressed air or a pipe cleaner.

– Examine the igniter and thermocouple. Weak sparking at the igniter or damaged thermocouple can cause insufficient gas flow and erratic flaming.

2. Thermostat or Sensor Malfunction

– The temperature sensor inside the fridge compartment can fail, preventing accurate temperature regulation. Test with a multimeter.

– Inspect control panel and thermostat buttons for damage. Ensure buttons make proper contact and the thermostat responds to setting changes.

– Check that the thermistor (temperature sensor) is firmly secured in place. If loose, inaccurate readings may occur.

3. Cooling System Problems

Absorption System:

– Low ammonia or hydrogen levels require diagnosis by a technician to identify leaks and properly recharge the system.

– Sediment buildup in cooling coils can block proper coolant flow. System may need a thorough flush.

Compression System:

– If the compressor fails or overheats, the fridge will shut down. Compressor may need replacement. 

– Refrigerant leaks make cooling impossible. Have professionally diagnosed through pressure testing and recharged if low.

4. Other Possible Causes 

– Ensure the ventilation area behind the fridge is clear. Insufficient airflow around the back of the fridge reduces efficiency.

– Inspect door seals for cracks or pliability. If not sealing well, cool air escapes. Adjust or replace the gasket.

– Overpacking food in the fridge restricts airflow. Only fill to 70% capacity max to allow proper circulation.

Essential Tools for DIY Troubleshooting of a Dometic RV Fridge 

Even without electrical experience, RV owners can perform many basic troubleshooting steps on a Dometic refrigerator. Having a few key tools on hand makes the process much easier.

Multimeter- An inexpensive multimeter allows testing voltage at the fuse box to determine if power is getting to the fridge. Also useful for testing compressor, thermistor, and other fridge components.

Basic Screwdrivers- Standard and Phillips head screwdrivers can remove interior and exterior access panels to inspect wires, relays, control boards, etc. Proper tool prevents stripped screws.

Compressed Air- Canned air is excellent for blowing out dust or debris that may clog venting, burner orifices, condenser coils, and cooling unit fins. Keeps components clear.

Flashlight- For peeking behind and underneath the fridge to check piping, ventilation, leveling, and other hard to see areas that could affect performance.

Gasket Cleaner- Specialty cleaner to scrub door gaskets keeps seals supple and prevents cool air leaks. Ensure doors seal tightly.

Having this basic DIY toolkit along makes it possible to troubleshoot many common Dometic refrigerator issues without an expert. Always consult repair manuals when attempting to service or repair components. Proper tools allow RV owners to quickly diagnose and fix minor problems before they ruin a camping trip or lead to costly repairs.

Step-by-Step Diagnosis and Solutions of Dometic RV Refrigerator

Ensuring the optimal functioning of your Dometic RV refrigerator involves a systematic approach. Start with a thorough diagnosis, beginning with the power supply. Follow these steps for effective troubleshooting:

Step-01. Power Supply Check

1. Verifying Power Sources

– Plug your RV into a reliable shore power source and confirm the connection is secure. Check if any breakers have tripped within the RV or at the campsite.

– Ensure your RV batteries are fully charged and connected properly. Verify the battery voltage meets the refrigerator’s operating requirements.

– Make sure your propane cylinders are adequately filled and properly connected to the refrigerator. A gas gauge or weight check can confirm their status.

– Using a soapy water solution, check for gas leaks around connections and valves. Bubbles indicate a potential leak, requiring immediate professional attention.

2. Inspecting and Replacing Faulty Power Cords

– Check the power cords for any visible damage like fraying, cuts, or exposed wires. These can disrupt the flow of electricity and hinder operation.

– Wiggle the connections at both ends of the power cord and observe any flickering lights or changes in the refrigerator’s behavior. This could indicate a loose connection.

– If visual inspection and testing reveal damage, invest in a new, high-quality power cord compatible with your specific Dometic model.

Step-02. Thermostat Calibration

1. Adjusting Thermostat Settings

– It may sound simple, but sometimes a misadjusted thermostat can be the culprit. Verify that the thermostat is set to the desired cooling level. If it’s accidentally set too high, the refrigerator won’t initiate cooling.

– If the refrigerator still isn’t cooling properly after confirming the setting, try adjusting the thermostat a few degrees lower. This can sometimes nudge a sluggish system back into action.

2. Replacement of Malfunctioning Thermostats

– If adjusting the thermostat doesn’t bring about the desired change, or if the control panel seems unresponsive, a faulty thermostat might be to blame.

– Refer to your Dometic refrigerator’s manual for specific instructions on accessing and replacing the thermostat. If you’re not comfortable with DIY repairs, enlist the help of a qualified RV technician.

Step-03. Ventilation Inspection

1. Cleaning and Clearing Ventilation Pathways

– Consult your Dometic refrigerator’s manual to identify the specific ventilation openings on your model. They’re typically found on the exterior of the unit, often near the top and bottom.

– Remove any debris, dust, or objects that might be blocking the vents. Pay attention to both the interior and exterior vents for optimal airflow.

– Gently vacuum the vents to remove any stubborn dust or lint. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe away any remaining dirt or grime.

2. Adding Supplementary Ventilation if Necessary

– If your RV is parked in a particularly hot or enclosed space, consider boosting ventilation to aid heat dissipation.

– If possible, create additional airflow around the refrigerator by opening nearby windows or doors.

– If external conditions are consistently challenging, consider installing small fans near the refrigerator’s vents to promote better airflow.

Step-04. Refrigerant Leak Detection

1. DIY Leak Detection Techniques

– Refrigerant leaks often have a distinct ammonia-like odor. While a faint whiff might be normal, a strong or persistent smell requires further investigation.

– Look for any oily residue or discoloration around the refrigerator’s connections or tubing. This could indicate a leak.

– Mix up a soapy solution and apply it to suspected leak points. If bubbles form and persist, it suggests a leak.

2. Professional Inspection and Repair

– Refrigerant leaks require specialized knowledge and equipment for proper diagnosis and repair. Attempting DIY fixes can be dangerous and can worsen the problem.

– Reach out to Dometic customer service or a certified RV technician to schedule a professional inspection and repair. They have the tools and expertise to safely handle refrigerant leaks and restore your refrigerator to its frosty glory.

Step-05. Cooling Unit Troubleshooting

Now we arrive at the heart of the refrigerator’s cooling prowess: the cooling unit itself. This complex system, whether absorption or compressor-based, is responsible for creating the chilling effect that keeps your food fresh and your drinks frosty. Let’s explore its inner workings.

1. Examining Cooling Unit Components

a. Absorption Systems:

– Ammonia and Hydrogen Levels: These chemicals are essential for the absorption process. If levels are low, a technician can refill them.

– Burner Assembly: Inspect the burner for blockages or weak flame, as it powers the absorption process. Clean or replace components as needed.

b. Compressor Systems:

– Compressor Function: Listen for the compressor’s clicking sound, indicating it’s attempting to start. If absent, it might be faulty.

– Condenser Fan: Ensure the fan is spinning freely and unobstructed, as it helps dissipate heat. Clear any debris or replace a faulty fan.

2. Repairing or Replacing Defective Parts

– Cooling unit repairs often require specialized knowledge and tools. Consult Dometic or a certified RV technician for assistance.

– If specific parts like the compressor, burner, or fan are defective, they’ll need to be replaced with compatible components.

– In some cases, the cooling system might need a thorough flush and recharge with refrigerant or chemicals. This is best handled by professionals.

Remember, patience and safety are paramount when troubleshooting cooling unit issues. Consulting experts and following their guidance can help avoid further damage and ensure proper repairs.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

Regular inspection and maintenance is key to keeping your RV refrigerator running efficiently and avoiding unexpected breakdowns. Establishing a routine schedule for checking components and watching for signs of potential problems can help catch issues early.

A. Regular Inspection Schedule

1. Establishing Routine Checkups

– Inspect door seals, venting, and dust buildup monthly 

– Check operation of thermometer, thermostat, and controls

– Visually inspect burner, orifice, and flame pattern every 3 months

– Have absorption system professionally serviced once a year

2. Notable Signs of Potential Issues

– Door not sealing tightly or unevenly

– Longer cooling time, inability to maintain set temperature

– Soot residue around burner, yellow or uneven flame 

– Unusual noises, leaks, or odors

B. Proper Ventilation Practices

To optimize Dometic RV refrigerator performance, maintain at least a few inches of clearance around the ventilation areas. Avoid overcrowding the fridge interior to allow proper air circulation, ensuring efficient cooling.

Regularly inspect and clean ventilation components, including vents and fans. Remove any dust, debris, or obstructions that could hinder airflow. Proper ventilation maintenance promotes consistent cooling and extends the lifespan of the refrigerator.

C. Temperature Monitoring

Set the Dometic RV refrigerator to the recommended temperature range for safe food storage. Typically, temperatures between 34°F and 40°F (1°C to 4°C) are suitable. Adjust settings based on your specific needs.

Enhance temperature control by using external thermometers inside the fridge. Place thermometers strategically to monitor variations in different areas. This extra measure ensures precise temperature readings, safeguarding your perishables during travels.

D. Professional Servicing

Schedule routine maintenance with certified technicians to inspect and tune your Dometic RV refrigerator. Regular professional checks identify potential issues early, preventing major breakdowns and ensuring continuous, reliable cooling.

Seeking Expert Assistance for Complex Issues: If faced with intricate problems beyond DIY troubleshooting, don’t hesitate to seek expert help. Professional technicians possess the expertise to diagnose complex issues accurately and implement effective solutions, restoring your refrigerator’s functionality.

Common Questions

Q1: What are some visible signs my Dometic fridge is having issues?

Uneven or incomplete door seal, bent/misaligned doors, damaged components

Q2: My fridge gets cold but can’t maintain the set temperature, what should I check?

Low refrigerant charge, faulty thermocouple or thermistor, clogged ventilation ports

Q3: I hear odd noises from my Dometic fridge, is this normal?

Unusual noises like gurgling, grinding, or loud popping likely indicate a malfunction needing repair.

Q4: How often should I have my absorption cooling system serviced?

Annual professional servicing flushes sediment and prevents corrosion related leaks.

Q5: Can I troubleshoot my Dometic fridge myself or do I need a repair technician?

Many common issues can be DIY diagnosed but repairs like recharging refrigerants require a certified tech.

Q6: What preventative maintenance should I do on my RV refrigerator?

Regularly clean, inspect seals, door alignment, safety valves, venting, and verify level.

Final Words

Many minor cooling issues with Dometic RV refrigerators can be fixed through routine inspection and basic troubleshooting. However, major component failures likely require professional service and repair. Staying on top of preventative maintenance like cleaning coils, testing door seals, and checking proper ventilation can help avoid bigger problems down the road. With regular care, Dometic fridges will provide reliable cooling for all your RV adventures.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *