Frequently Asked Questions About Gas Absorption Refrigeration and RV Replacement Cooling Units.

RV refrigerators are some of the most misunderstood and often talked about RV appliances. In this post, we will provide answers to frequently asked questions about RV Gas Absorption refrigerators and their cooling units.


Top Questions to Ask Yourself When Troubleshooting an RV Fridge

Is the Unit Level?

All ammonia absorption refrigerators (RV refrigerators) must be level when stationary and turned on to any heat source. Not doing so will permanently damage the cooling unit. If stationary, on, and out of level, liquids in the cooling unit pool in places they shouldn’t and cause the boiler to overheat and plug or crack.

All refrigerators need to be leveled on the freezer plate (if present) or the freezer floor if there is no freezer plate. Use a small torpedo level to properly level the RV Refrigerator from front to back and side to side.

Traveling with the refrigerator on is acceptable since the liquids in the cooling unit are sloshing around and not pooling.

Does the Refrigerator Work on Either Gas or Electric?
Always test the refrigerator on the electric heat source unless you cannot because you have a gas-only refrigerator. The reason for testing on the electric side is that if the electric heating element gets hot, chances are good that you have the correct heat.

To ensure that the heating element is getting hot, you can touch the insulation pack (a rectangular or round sheet metal container filled with insulation located directly above the propane burner) to see if it is warm after about a half hour of operation.

CAUTION: touch the insulation can lightly at first; it is possible under certain conditions for the insulation can get super-hot and burn you. If the insulation pack does not get warm, you have an electrical problem that needs to be corrected before continuing.

Confirm that some other electrical component (such as a thermostat) is not interrupting the heating element. Then, you can hot wire the heating element for better testing conditions.

Do You Smell Ammonia, Either Inside the Refrigerator or Outside?
If you smell ammonia either inside the refrigerator or outside of it, the cooling unit is defective and must be replaced.
Do You See any Yellow Staining on the Back of the Unit?

Sodium chromate is a greenish-yellow powder inside the cooling unit. If you see any signs of a greenish-yellow staining outside the cooling unit, your unit has a leak and will need to be replaced.

If You Recently Installed a New or Rebuilt Cooling Unit, was it Installed Properly?

If you recently installed a new or rebuilt cooling unit, there are a few common mistakes that may prevent the cooling unit from working correctly.

  • First: Was thermal mastic applied to all the exposed tubing on the evaporator as per the instructions? If not, your unit will not cool properly.
  • Second: The baffle must be placed back in the flue pipe, or the unit may not work correctly on gas.
  • Third: Was the heating element transferred from the defective unit to the new cooling unit? If not, the refrigerator will not work on electric.
  • Fourth: Ensure the insulation is correctly installed where the insulation is wrapped around the boiler.
  • Fifth: What was the outside temperature when you started the unit? When the outside temperature approaches or passes 100 degrees, waiting to start the unit later in the evening is best, we recommend rocking the refrigerator to allow the ammonia and gases to settle. In high temperatures, the unit can vapor lock during startup. Once started, it should operate adequately after that.


Questions that RV Owners Frequently Ask Us Regarding their Refrigerators.

What is the Difference Between a Rebuilt Cooling Unit and a New Cooling Unit?

At Cool-Fun RV, most of our units are rebuilt with new tubing. As a result, our units will perform equally well, if not better, than a new unit for a fraction of the cost. In addition, we currently offer a 2-year warranty, whereas most factory cooling units only carry a one-year warranty.

Do I Need to Return the Old Unit? (How do I dispose of the old core?)
Our price includes the return of the old core so that we can continue the rebuilding process. We use the old cores to rebuild. If needed, we replace the evaporators in specific units and the tubing in boilers. We send a return label with most units. You place your defective cooling unit in the same box your replacement cooling unit came in, use the prepaid shipping label, usually behind the original label, tape the box up, and contact the carrier (FedEx or UPS). They will pick up the unit within a few business days and return it to our facility.
Do I Need a New refrigerator, or Will a Replacement Cooling Unit Work?
If your refrigerator box is in good condition, the most economical thing to do is replace the cooling unit. While many RV repair facilities advocate replacing the refrigerator, replacing a cooling unit that is rebuilt with thicker tubing and charged to perfection is far more cost-effective.
Can I Replace the Cooling unit, or Do I Need a Professional to Install it?
Most cooling units can be replaced by persons with average mechanical skills. No special tools are required, and the units can be replaced within a few hours. If you have room to work on the refrigerator inside the coach, it will not even be necessary to remove it from the coach. For detailed instructions on replacing a unit, see our installation instructions.
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