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vdiamond47

Norcold 462 Stopped Working

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Hello to all. I am new to this forum and new to the RV world. I just bought a 1993 Dutchmen and it has a Norcold 462. When I first brought it home I plugged it in and the freezer made ice after about six hours. The next day I went and checked and it was not working. I am getting 120V to the power plug, but that is as far as I know how to troubleshoot this type of appliance. Can anyone help?

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vdiamond47, Welcome to FMCA an the Forum.

As you will shortly learn, Norcold has had lots of problems with their 1200 four door units. They have worked very hard to correct the problem with some success. Try calling their tech dept. also go on line to Norcold.com and down load a manual for your unit. In both cases have your model number and serial numbers handy.

Hope this helps.

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Yes, as Herman said, welcome to the FMCA Forum.

There are two heat sources for an absorption refrigerator: 120 VAC and propane.

They share a cooling system-- if the cooling systems leaks, neither will work. Evidence of a cooling system failure would be an ammonia smell and/or yellow powder which could be evidenced either inside the refrigerator or by looking at "all the tubing" in the refrigerator outside access door.

They also share the same thermostat system and the PC board which makes "the decisions" on power source and when to run. So first thing to check is that you have 12 VDC to the PC board. Without that, neither heat source will work, as the PC board will not work.

Next step-- begin troubleshooting the heat sources.

120 VAC: There is a fuse on the PC board (back of refrigerator-- accessed through the outside refrigerator door). If fuse is OK (AND YOU ARE SAFE WORKING AROUND 120 VAC), check for 120 VAC at the leads for the heating element which is in the "stack" above the burner with the refrigerator turned on. It could be a failed heating element. You can also check the heating element with an ohm meter.

Propane: Turn on propane at the tank. Light the stove to verify that any air has been bled from the system. Put the refrigerator control on propane. Listen carefully for a "clicking" noise of the igniter and then visually check for a small flame (outside refrigerator access door). If no flame visible/burner area does not get hot, start with the "burner area tune-up" as described in your refrigerator owners manual. No special tools and no parts are required.

Note: An absorption refrigerator takes overnight to reach proper working temperatures. Cooling starts with the freezer, then the refrigerator.

If you need more help, please tell us what you find works and doesn't work.

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Thank you so much for the info. I will not be able to work on it again til Saturday, but I feel comfortable doing the checks you described. On the propane side I was able to get it lit and have a good blue flame but I noticed that the flame ignitor does not turn off. If I was reading the manual right it is supposed to stop clicking after the flame comes on and automatically come back on when the flame goes out. There is also a flame indicator light that seems to work backwards light goes out when there is a flame.

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I will give you some sound advice here that you will wonder why they didn't do it that way to begin with. First thing to do is measure the size of your fridge, how big is the hole it goes into. Then armed with those measurments, aleo see if there is room to expand the hole, go to your favorite appliance store and take your tape measure and find a fridge that will fit into your hole. It may stick out into the room a bit further and you may have to remove a couple inches at the top to make it fit but I bet you can do it. Rehang the doors, plug it in and you are good from now on. You will have no further fridge problems. You will have nearly twice the interior space to use and will have only spent 1/4th the amount you will end up wasting on the Norcold and still never be satisfied with it. I have been there and done it and not looked back. I live in my coach full time year around and I wouldn't have another RV type fridge if they gave them to me. The replacement cost of your fridge is close to $4000 and that doesn't include labor. It is nearly $2500 just to replace the cooling unit plus labor. You can run your gen-set going down the road for years and still be ahead of the game. Or you can add another battery and invertor for the fridge but really not necessary. We have had ours now for almost 3 years and simply love it. Water and ice through the door lots of room we can put 4 gallons of milk and 2 half gallon jugs of juice just on the top shelf. 2 shelves and 2 drawers below the top one. We have a 7500watt diesel gen-set that will run all day on about a gallon of diesel. We are nearly always hooked up to shore power when parked. Just not worth the hassel and expense to fiddle with the RV fridge. We got our fridge at Sears on sale for around $1300 and I installed it myself. Gave away the Norcold if they would get it out of the coach and my Sears unit in. If you can find a real fridge that will fit by all means make the change you will never regret it.

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There are fuses on the circuit board that you should check. Some are visible without undoing anything,some require the cover to be removed. I had issues that were temporarily resolved by fuse replacement.

Also, check with Norcold for recalls on your unit. Mine hadn't had the recalls done, and when the recall was done, the tech found other issues that needed to be resolved.

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Guest BillAdams

Some tough information on the above post from JimPeoria.

First and foremost, there is no 7500 watt generator that will run "all day" on about a gallon of diesel. Depending upon the load on your generator you will burn between 1/4 and 3/4 gallon PER HOUR. If your coach is not a diesel and uses gas or propane as the source, the price to run your generator changes but do plan to run your generator!

We also have a HH fridge and would not choose any other option, but if you like to dry camp more than you like to stay in FHU RV parks then this choice is likely not a good one unless you add a solar bank and lots of battery capacity. We have 4 - 8D batteries (160# each), but no solar, and we must run our generator about 10 hours per day to ensure we can keep our batteries (and fridge) alive. At $3.50/gallon that means we spend about $35/day to camp "for free".

Second, (remember, I love my HH fridge) be sure you know exactly what you are getting into before you make a casual decision about making this change. Is there room above (likely not)? If there's not room above that means you will have to lower the floor. What's below that floor or just behind the current fridge? The new unit is going to need to be recessed all the way to the wall. Do you have any plumbing or other obstructions that would prevent this?

Yes, HH units are much more user friendly (I have not defrosted my HH fridge in over 10 years) but they are not for everyone. Would I ever buy a coach in the future without a HH fridge? Not a chance! Would I recommend that everyone make this change-over? Not a chance!

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And, this from a long-time refrigeration expert who works with me on the FMCA Technical Advisory Committee:

Things the owner should check starting with the basics.

1 - Is there 12 Volts AT THE REFRIG TERMINAL BLOCK? if yes,

2 - Is there 120 volts at the Duplex outlet?

3 - If Yes, is there 120 volts coming out of the control module to the heater?

If No, bad module

4 - If yes and there is no heat on the boiler, Bad heater

5 - If the heater is getting hot and no cooling -

6 - Then switch to Gas operation -

7 - If still no cooling, bad cooling unit.

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Bill:

Right on. I didn't have the room to consider that change. I spent the $ on replacing the cooling unit in November, $1025 for a new unit (not Norcold, so no more Norcold issues), 6 hrs labour $540 to install. I could have done it myself, likely in no more than 6 hrs, but I chose to watch Mike from West Wind RV service (Temecula CA) who came out to the CG we were in. Anyone who does change over to a HH will need to take out a window big enough to pass both fridges through.

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I noticed that the trailer was not exactly level. I re-leveled and then turned the fridge to A/C. The next morning I had ice in the ice tray. 12 hours later the ice was melted and no cooling. Turned it to gas and ran for 24 hrs. and nothing. All fuses seem to be ok. At least the ones that I found. I did notice that there is no chassis bonding wire, where should this wire be coming from. It doesn't look like the last owner had it hooked up and they claim that the fridge worked for them.

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