By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Our RVtravel.com Consumer Support staff got a “help me out” request from reader Gary B. It seems that the Dometic refrigerator in Gary’s Grand Design 5th wheel is giving him grief. Call it, RV refrigerator won’t start.
The reader writes
Gary writes, “Currently our Dometic refrigerator won’t work with propane or AC. I have replaced the power module which includes the PCB as well as one of the four rear fans which fixed the problem for a short while. Someone has suggested replacing the eyebrow.
“So far, I have spent about $600 on parts and service for nothing so I’m hesitant to buy a new eyebrow which may not be a solution. I’m considering purchasing a 12-volt compressor conversion kit for $1200.
“Just today, in conversation with another camper, I learned that he is having a problem with the refrigerator in his 2022 Grand Design Imagine trailer. I have tried to call Dometic and have had no luck at all with their service. They can only read from their website. Any help would be appreciated.”
RVtravel.com’s technical specialist responds
Since we haven’t seen a pattern of Grand Design RVs having a specific problem, we fired a copy of Gary’s email off to our own RV technical specialist, Dave Solberg. Here’s our response to Gary.
Dave suggests that if you haven’t already been able to do so, take a look at your refrigerator owner manual for troubleshooting guidelines. If they didn’t provide them, you should be able to download a copy from the manufacturer’s website. Without having your model number, Dave isn’t able to give much of a precise idea, but since your replacing one of the exhaust fans and then got it working for a while, it points suspicion at an overheat problem. If Dometic has included a temperature sensing probe on your particular model, it may be shutting down cooling function if an overheat is detected.
How things should work: There’s a thermistor inside the fridge that indicates when “cool” is needed. It reports that condition (comparing it to the temperature selection you’ve made on the eyebrow) to the module board, telling it to start the cooling process. Running on LP, it will open the gas valve, spark the igniter, and light the flame. On AC mode, it will turn electricity on to the heating element. In either case, the heat will then heat up the liquid solution in the cooling unit, causing it to flow through the system and take heat out of the refrigerator box. With reference to a 12-volt compressor kit, Dave says he’s not so sure this will resolve your problem, since your refrigerator isn’t operating on either LP or shore power.
A simple home test may pinpoint the problem
What more can you do? Plug your RV into the appropriate shore power outlet – ensure you have plenty of power to the RV. Next, go to the fridge eyebrow board and see if you can turn the refrigerator on. Will it allow you to choose LP or AC mode? If not, Dave’s next point will be a bit tougher. You’ll probably have to pull the refrigerator out of the compartment to access and test the temperature sensor on the top of the cooling unit. If your initial “turn on” sequence does start the refrigerator up, but then it shuts off, verify that the refrigerator is indeed level. There’s a possibility it could be off-level and the cooling unit is overheating.
Hopefully, Gary will find his RV refrigerator soon regains its cool. If your RV refrigerator won’t start, it’s enough to make you hot under the collar. We’re posting this tale for the benefit of those who may suffer a similar problem.