Norcold Refrigerator Solutions – Ways to Avoid Problems!

We have had three different refrigerators in the RV’s we have owned: two were Norcold refrigerators and one was a residential fridge.  I personally would take the residential fridge over the gas/electric Norcold refrigerator any day.  However, in certain size RV’s, it just makes more sense for the RV manufacturers to put in the absorption type units.

Norcold Refrigerator Safety

Certainly if you have either a Norcold or Dometic refrigerator you should be sure your unit is not on recall.  You can go to Norcold or Dometic’s website to verify that you are not on the recall list.  Armed with your model, fridge serial number, and cooling unit serial number you can verify that your unit is okay.  You may also have to look for the upgrade kit that may have already been installed in your RV fridge if you have an older unit.  This is Norcold’s process:

Norcold refrigerator solutions

This is what you need to do for a Dometic Unit:

norcold refrigerator solutions

Avoiding Trouble

One of the best ways to avoid trouble with your Dometic or Norcold refrigerator is to be sure when you are using the fridge on either gas or electric, the unit is level!  I have heard RVers say I use my fridge all the time, and the unit is not always level, and I have never had a problem.

That may be true, but the damage that can happen occurs over time.  Each occurrence when the boiler overheats due to a non-level condition reduces the fridges efficiency not allowing it to cool the way it was supposed to.  Our previous Norcold refrigerator could barely keep fifty-five degrees when it was in the nineties outside.

That was in our previous 5th wheel RV before we put hydraulic levelers on it.  You see, even being off three degrees from level can create issues for your absorption fridges boiler assembly / cooling unit.  The best way to avoid this situation is to not run the fridge when you are in unlevel conditions: driving up and down unlevel highways and back roads and parking in unlevel areas.  That way you will avoid damaging your fridges cooling unit. 

If you feel your RV is not level, this is a good time to be sure your Dometic or Norcold refrigerator is not turned on.  Your fridge can stay cold for hours without power.  We can travel eight hours and the fridge will only drop a few degrees if we don’t open the doors.

And by the way, you should never travel with your propane system energized.  It clearly states this on the safety placards in your RV, especially motorized RV’s!  Early on in our RVing lives we were not told this fact. “Sure, you can run the fridge while traveling!  Don’t turn that propane off, just leave it on and you’ll be fine!”  

That’s what the RV rental companies told us.  So we did.  Then a few years later we almost lost our RV to a propane fire if not for dumb luck that we decided to stop and look in the RV and we found a fire brewing.  But, this is what can happen!

norcold refrigerator solutions

Avoiding a Fire!

When trouble occurs in the RV refrigerator cycle, the heat that normally drives the refrigeration cycle can become destructive.   If conditions have been allowed to occur, like operating in an unlevel condition over extended periods of time, trouble could be lurking.  When this heat is not controlled, fire will occur!  

Even Dometic and Norcolds recalls have not stopped their refrigerators from burning an RV to the ground.  The temperatures they are trying to control run around 355 to 400 degrees.  Those are the temperatures involved in these absorption fridges!

Norcold Refrigerator Solutions

The best way to avoid a fire is to control what happens in the refrigerator’s Cooling unit.

Mac the Fire Guy is a proponent of installing a fire suppression system in the cooling unit area of the fridge.  It is a unit that releases a foam in the exterior fridge area that puts out a fire when the temperature in that area reaches a preset level.  I believe the best way to prevent an RV fridge fire is to automatically shut down the unit when the temperature reaches unsafe levels.

The addition of a twelve volt fan in the outside fridge compartment can get air to move more freely over the cooling unit and drastically improve the efficiency.  Camco makes a fridge roof vent kit that uses a fan and solar power.  It replaces the existing roof vent.

I will share another method I believe will also work well in a future blog. So, stay tuned, and as always feel free to comment if you wish!

23 comments

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  1. I have a norcold 621 when I turn it on it blows the 3 amp ac fuse on the back of the fridge. I replaced the board and is still doing the same thing. I have checked all power supplies every thing reads correct voltage. Is there something else I need to check or is it time to replace

    1. Hi Steven!

      When fuses blow it is either due to a short in the system or perhaps more load than the fuse was designed for. The Norcold Service Manual for the n621 has a diagnostic procedure on page 11 that may be helpful for you. If you don’t have that, Google “Norcold n621 Service Manual” and you can download it. I noticed that the F1 fuse if that’s the one that keeps blowing, states it is a 5 amp fuse.

    • Larry C on July 7, 2019 at 8:16 PM
    • Reply

    I’ve got a 2016 Norcold N1095 in my 5th wheel that is giving me fits. Doesn’t cool worth a darn in warm weather. I went thru multiple troubleshooting episodes, verifying the thermistor, bypassing the controller and others, I just replaced the cooling unit and I’m having the same issues. It’s in the slide on my 5th wheel so I’ve added fans at both intake and exhaust vents on the exterior so airflow is more than adequate. I’ve checked clearances and the installation appears correct. It’s on a level paved pad under an RV cover, ambient temp at the intake vent is mid 80’s. I am totally lost?

    1. Hi Larry!

      It sounds like you have tried most everything I would think would work. Has it been this way since you got the RV or is it a recent occurrence? One thing you may not have checked is the clearance between the coils and the inside of the slideout wall. You should be able to get your hand between those. Also, are you sure that the top vent is properly baffled? Even with fans, if the installation by the manufacturer is not completely per Norcold’s installation instructions, air flow could be diminished causing the fridge to not work properly.

      Also, is there some water in the condensate drip tube cup? If not, warm outside air can work back into the fridge in warm weather and decrease cooling.

      Keep us posted.

    • Wanda Wakkinen on June 26, 2019 at 9:35 AM
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    Thanks for all the helpful information. We have a new Norcold N8XF in a 2018 Winnebago Vista LX. It quit cooling 6 weeks ago. It is getting electricity and gas. The freezer starts cooling, even getting crystals on the back wall, then the RV walls on both sides of the refrigerator get very hot, and it shuts off. The Winnebago folks have done a bench test and it runs fine outside of the RV. When it is put back on, it does the same thing. No one at Winnebago or Norcold knows what to do. Any suggestions? Thanks.

    1. Hi Wanda!

      Thanks for stopping by our website and sharing!

      I am very familiar with the Winnebago product. I have inspected them as well and noticed that in some models, the fridge is not installed per the manufacturer’s recommended installation.

      When I here issues of excessive heat and the fridge shutting down, I think poor ventilation. That is why the fridge is shutting down when installed but running fine outside the RV.

      So, check your owner’s packet for the Norcold installation instructions and check clearances where the fridge is installed to see if Winnebago installed your fridge in the Vista per those instructions. If not, and clearances are tight, the baffling is missing, perhaps a few fans installed in the back of the fridge will help move more air to keep things cooler.

      Also, be sure that critters have not built nests that may be impeding airflow in the back of the unit.

      Keep us posted on what you find!!

    • Irene on February 9, 2019 at 9:49 AM
    • Reply

    We’ve had to replace two fridges in our 5th wheel. So we decided to put foam up on top to help keep them colder. But now we’re having frost inside of the fridges is this a bad thing?

    1. Hi Irene!

      When you said you placed foam on top of the fridge, what type and where did you place it? Does the fridge have a roof vent or a sidewall upper vent? Is the condensate drain tube properly located per the manufacturer?

  2. I have a 2004 510.3 Norcold, have a newly purchased battery in the unit, and it maintains power during the day, however every night while dry camping it will show ‘fully powered’ but when we check it first thing in the am the RV battery is totally drained. I have tested it with the refrigerator unplugged and off and the battery is fine, then when the refrigerator is turned on the next day the battery is dead. NOTHING in the RV is on and I have removed several useless items of their fuses just to make certain they are not needless drawing any power. I also have a 115 watt solar panel on the roof. Does this story indicated a bad Controller or possibly a stuck relay or switch in the fridge?
    rich

    1. Hi Richard!

      Have you tried disconnecting the solar system to see what happens in order to isolate the problem? I have not come across a fridge that has created this problem.

    • Kim on May 25, 2018 at 12:23 AM
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    I’m hopeful you can help me. I have a Norcold 2117IMM residential refrigerator. I have downloaded the manuals and read everything regarding an A2 error code. There is no fault A2 (even the manufactured sent me an email saying that) but there is a diagnostic code A2 that says “Defrost on, fresh food fin above 80 F” ……. since it is a diagnostic code there are no troubleshooting recommendations. The diagnostic code goes off almost daily now for the past 5 days and I don’t know where to begin to look for the issue. Any ideas? (the diagnostic code can be found on page 65 of the manual in a very small print – you really had to search for this code) the beeping does not stop until you turn the power off and then back on. This is on electric – plugged into 50amp breaker and we are full-timers. Hoping you have some ideas as the manufactured said they couldn’t help me I’d have to drive it in somwehre and have them look at it.

    1. Hi Kim!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      Does it do the same thing when you run the fridge on propane?

      Sometimes with these issues just starting with the basics is a good thing. It reminds me of a story about flushing the toilet in an RV and the TV going off when not on shore power. What did those two things have in common? The 12-volt power source. A weak battery produced a lower voltage when the water pump came on for the toilet which reduced voltage to the TV, so it turned itself off.

      So, can you tell me what your DC house battery voltages are with the converter on and the converter off. The control board that your fridge has runs on the 12-volt system. It is possible the fridge is seeing something that even the manufacturer does not see very often. If you have a voltmeter and can relay those voltages to me, we can start there. Also, when you have the shore power off, run your water pump with some of the lights on. Tell me if they flicker a bit while the pump is running.

    • Clark on May 8, 2018 at 11:47 AM
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    Our Norcold refrigerator started beeping during a storm and quit working. It put up an error code “LI OP”. What is wrong with it? We have tried unplugging electric and plugging back in. Every time we turn the refrigerator on it beeps and gives the same error code and cuts back off.

    1. Hi Clark!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      Please refer to this website and follow the instructions. This could be a potentially serious issue.

      Please visit: http://thenorcoldguy.com/norcold-technical-blog/norcold-fault-codes-li-op-o-or-6-flashes-potential-fire-hazard/

    • Greg Dalton on April 3, 2018 at 12:43 PM
    • Reply

    I have a Norcold 9821M refrigerator that works well on AC voltage or gas, but the control panel went bad that would not allow either mode to operate. I have since bypassed the control panel with hard wiring through a timer to keep the temperature a constant cold.
    one
    I am looking for a replacement control panel. Do you know where I can find one, or is repair practical?

    1. Hi Greg!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      Check this link to see if this might help you: http://www.thetford.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/1275/Parts-List.pdf

      There are some part numbers that might help you search online for either the control assembly replacement or its inside parts.

    • Ronald Killgo on May 11, 2017 at 3:00 PM
    • Reply

    I have a Norcold 662 refrigerator. I can’t get the lights on the front of the unit to come on. The ones that indicate Auto, gas, and electric. I was told it was a 112 volt problem. I have changed all the fuses and it still won’t work. There is power to the elect. outlet and everything else on the motor home is working fine. what should I check next?

    1. Hi, Ronald!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!

      What is the voltage going into the fridge 12-volt control circuit board? If that has voltage but nothing coming out of it, then replacement may be necessary. If you don’t have 12+ volts going into the control circuit board then you are going to have to trace the circuit back to the battery and find out why.

    • ron on September 5, 2016 at 5:57 PM
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    I have a Norcold fridge, purchased the Jayco Eagle in March 2013 the rig is a 08 anyway these past 18 months the fridge goes on when it feels like it and goes of same thing I don’t travel anymore have it hooked up to 50 amp service have a new battery deep cycle. my question is do I need the battery to operate the fridge controls, thank you e-mail ronsbm@yahoo.ca

    1. Hi, Ron!

      Thanks for stopping by our website!!

      The Norcold fridge needs 12-volt power to run the control board for the refrigerator. If there is a problem with the converter or your batteries, that could be the source of your problem.

    • sally on January 27, 2016 at 11:08 PM
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    I dont see any reason to keep using such a monstrocity, there are so many gotcha’s if you will, even a new unit carries no gaurantees. We have been reading about this for 10 months now, we got a new 5th wheel in may 2015, and the first thing we did was disconnect the fridge. We bought a Whynter 95 qrt fridge/freezer as a stop gap until we can pickup a residential. we would rather be out the fridge than out the coach. Even with insurance you never get everything back.

    • steve on December 7, 2015 at 4:30 AM
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    I have a norcold fridge that just recently decides to shut down you have to turn it off then reset it for ac since I am plugged into 110 any suggestions will be appreciated
    t/y steve

    1. Which model do you have Steve? I am assuming the unit works on propane but not AC and you have the needed 120v at the receptacle located inside by the lower vent on the outside wall of the RV. There are three main reasons that I can think of that the unit will not work on AC power: Problems with ac power to the unit, possibly a fuse in the power board is open, or the AC heating unit has failed. These would be items to check first before going any further.

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