The cooling unit is the heart of a gas absorption refrigerator. If it fails the fridge heats instead of cooling and can emit a strong ammonia smell.
It can be replaced fairly easily, if you follow a few important guidelines. This article will cover the following:: 1) The correct thermal mastic needs to be applied.
If your refrigerator has stopped cooling or smells ammonia it is probably time to replace the cooling unit. A new remanufactured Nordic cooler is less expensive than replacing the whole refrigerator.
When the fridge is removed lay it on blocks or plywood to make it easier to remove the rear mounting screws. Then remove the tape around the evaporator foam pack pocket and jiggle the cooling unit to see if it is stuck in the pocket (see the Evaporator Foam Pack Pocket image on this page). If the cooling unit is stuck there it may need to be pryed up out of the pocket. The assembler at the Norcold factory usually uses a tube of putty-like “thermal mastic” to seal and secure the cooling unit to the fridge cabinet. If the mastic is faulty it will allow air and moisture to leak into that area of the fridge.
JC Refrigeration installs the thermostatic switch higher on the absorber coil so it turns on the two rear fans much earlier in the cooling cycle than Norcold. This creates a draft that moves heat out far more quickly than Norcold’s design.
If you have an RV refrigerator that no longer cools, or that has that telltale yellow residue behind the fridge or ammonia smell you probably need a new cooling unit. These units replace the old ammonia refrigeration system and converts it to the Freon based system seen in most residential refrigerators.
The replacement cooling unit can be installed by a person with moderate mechanical skills. It is important to carefully remove the old tape around the evaporator pocket joint and make sure the insulation is intact. It is also a good idea to check the evaporator pocket insulation for water saturation.
It is a good idea to install the ARP Control boiler temperature sensor while the cooling unit is still out of the fridge. It can be very difficult to access this location once the refrigerator is back in place. Our remanufactured Dometic/Norcold replacement cooling units use heavier wall seamless tubing and a more durable boiler design that will not rupture as the older aftermarket cooling units can do.
When the cooling unit is removed, care needs to be taken to remove any tape and clean around the evaporator pocket joint. This area can get soaked with water from the evaporator if it wasn’t sealed correctly, or from condensation in the boiler assembly. This moisture can also saturate the insulation in the refrigerator cabinet. Yellow residue and an ammonia smell are telltale signs of this.
To avoid this, a fridge defend is recommended to be installed before the new cooling unit is used. The fridge defend draws 12V power from the back of the cooling unit to heat a strip on the weak solution tube, preventing it from turning gelatinous and restricting refrigerant flow. It’s thermostatically controlled, so it only comes on when the fridge is cold enough and turns off when the temperature rises above a cutoff point. This will make your fridge dependable for years to come! Dometic & Norcold have documented how important controlling boiler temperature is with their root cause analysis ‘fishbone’ diagram.
If you’re an RVer, you know that refrigerators are one of the most important appliances in your vehicle. Norcold makes a line of quiet, dependable absorption refrigerators that are designed to make your mobile lifestyle easier and more comfortable. These units are great for marine applications as well as trucks and vans.
The refrigerators have a two-year limited warranty. It doesn’t cover damage caused by improper usage, neglect, accident or failure to follow the operating and winterization instructions in the owner’s manual. It also doesn’t cover any repair or replacement parts for a refrigerator that is damaged by rust or corrosion.
If your Norcold refrigerator isn’t cooling or if it smells of ammonia, you may have a problem with the cooling unit. Getting a replacement from our store can help you save money and avoid the inconvenience of having to purchase a new RV refrigerator. Our remanufactured refrigerator cooling units come with a two-year warranty and can be shipped the same day.