North Port Florida

Now in North Port, Florida

We are now in Del Rio Texas

We are now in Del Rio Texas

RV Fridge Repair

April 20 - 27, 2017: 

Now that our friends Debbie and Steve have left us here in Beaumont TX we can concentrate on our refrigerator. 

OK, before we work on the fridge, we went to see Jeff Dunham the puppet comedian.  His show was just a mile up the road at the FORD Entertainment Complex.

Inside the entertainment complex before the show.  The show was good but its just as good to see him on TV really, unless you have seats in the first few rows! Still, it was a fun time!

We also had a bit of administration to do.  We just found out that you need to have a Class A non-CDL drivers license in TX.  The requirements are not very easy to find out about either.  Mostly it comes down to your GCVWR.  Anything over 26,001 requires the Class A in TX. 

We decided to check on this and see what was involved at the local DMV in Beaumont TX.  We found out that we need to take a written test and a driving test with our rig.  WOW!  We also found out that it will take at least 2 weeks to schedule and take the driving test at this location.

We decided to wait and do this at the end of our 2018 winter season when we return to Texas.

We also got a crack in our front windshield again!  This is a problem in TX it seems.  Everybody complains about it here and most vehicles here have cracked windshields!

It's not terribly expensive to have the truck windshield replaced because it is so common here.  It's just under $200 for the replacement and took about an hour.
Usually when we travel we have the fridge running on propane as we did on our travel from Victoria to Beaumont. And usually the fridge temp goes up a little bit, like from 38 on electric to 41 while traveling.  The same happened this time but the temp was a little higher this time, it was up to 44 when we arrived in Beaumont.  We can’t ever remember it being that high ever! So the fridge goes to electric when we plug in and now we need to wait to see if it goes down as it has before.   

On Saturday Morning the fridge temp was up to 50 in the fridge!  Not good at all.  I do some internet research and decide to investigate the things that I found there.  I took off the outside vent covers and made sure that the pipes were hot/warm and they were.  Then I got on the ladder and checked to make sure there wasn’t any obstructions on the top of the unit that would block the airflow.  At that time I checked to make sure that the cooling fans ran and were running in the correct direction.  No air blockage and the direction was correct as it was coming out the top of the unit.

The bad thing and as Murphy’s Law of RVing would have it, this happens on a weekend when all of the RV repair places here are closed until Monday.  Not much we can do with the fridge until Monday so we go to the closest store we can buy dry ice to put in the fridge to keep stuff cold until Monday. We only needed the dry ice so far for the fridge section as the freezer was still staying cold enough to keep stuff frozen.

Monday rolls around and I first decide to replace the thermistor (fridge inside temp sensor) before we call for service.  Thinking I would need to take the RV in for service was the main reason I tried the thermistor replacement first. I got a replacement and got it replaced by Monday afternoon. 

The thermistor is at the end of the white wire in the picture
and runs out the back of the fridge.

To replace the thermistor I removed it from its holder at the top of the fridge.

This is where the thermistor wire connects in the back of the fridge.

To put the new one in I taped the new one to the old one and just pulled it through the hole in the back of the fridge.

And there it is out the back and ready to connect into the control panel. 

New one installed!

The fridge was holding a temp of 40 with the dry ice and the freezer was still OK but was just starting to warm up a bit.  I run to the store again and get $30 more of dry ice. We are now up to $60 in Dry Ice.  

Tuesday morning the freezer is now over the freezing temperature of 32 and things are just starting to thaw!  The thermistor was not the problem.  Now it’s time for professional help.  

The first place I call is Duvall’s RV about 10 miles away.  I called them first for 2 reasons, they sell the same extended warranty we have and 2,  they have a mobile repair service. 

Come to find out I should have called them first on Monday. They sent a repair crew out right away to take a look at it.  
After just 15 minutes they decided that we need a new cooling unit.  Now, how happy are we that we have the extended warranty! The cooling unit with installation is going to be $2,400 and we just need to pay the $50 deductible! The bad news is that they don’t have a cooling unit but the good news is that they can get one in just 2 days!

Now it’s Wednesday and we decide to remove all of the food from the fridge including the freezer.  We know that the replacement of the cooling unit will require that the fridge is removed from the wall and turned on its front to expose the rear of the unit.  We have a large cooler and a large bag type cooler to use for this.  Again I need more dry ice and get another $30 worth of it.  Now we are up to $90 worth of dry ice and wondering if we should have just thrown away the food and bought new after the fix.  Oh well, we are too far in now!

Friday the repair crew shows up at 8:45 AM with the new cooling unit!  This was a great experience to see how the fridge comes out of the slide wall.  It was much easier than I thought it would be.  No trim had to come off, just removes a few holding screws, disconnect the electric and gas, and man-handle it out.  The crew had the fridge out and on the floor in our living room in just 30 minutes.  I had thought it would take an hour or longer.

Getting ready to remove the fridge.  They are using a small wheeled jack to do the work.  They had one guy in the back and 2 in the front.

And there is the hole left by the fridge!

Fridge on the floor with the cooling unit removed waiting for the new one.

 Replacing the cooling unit wasn’t exactly hard either.  The job was mostly about handling the big unit in and out of the back of the fridge.  The job really needs 2 people to do it too.  The replacement of the cooling unit took another 45 minutes.  And then the replacement of the fridge back into the slide wall took another 45 minutes.  After cleanup, the entire cooling unit replacement start to finish took 3 hours.  I was impressed!

New unit being readied for install.

Old and new cooling units with the new one on the cardboard. 

As for day ice, we spent $120 to keep probably the same amount of food cold!  The problem is that we didn’t know that going in so by the time we figured it out we were already too far in to stop getting dry ice.  Anyway, we managed to keep most of the food so all was good there.

We decided to leave right after the repair was done.  We were watching the weather and a big storm (the one that made all of the news) was coming through tomorrow, Saturday, and we didn’t want to drive in it and we really didn’t want to stay here another 2 nights.  We were taking up camp as the crew was finishing up the job.  We kept the food in the coolers with the dry ice so the fridge would have time to cool down.  We rolled out of Robbin’s RV about 1pm, a lot later than usual for us.  We were also traveling quite a long distance for us to our next stop, about 250 miles.

We arrived at our next stop between Baton Rouge and New Orleans LA around 6 pm, much later than our usual 2-3 pm time.  We open the RV door and see that the fridge was still only 55 degrees after 6 hours of running!  As all of us RVers know, these chemical type fridges take a long time to get cold but this seemed excessive.  And now here we are 250 miles from where the cooling unit was replaced and it was a weekend again!  That big storm was coming here on Sunday so we decided to spend 3 nights instead of our usual 2 nights so we would not be driving in the storm.

One picture of the unit next to our site in Mississippi.  People live in this full time!  This was not a great place but cheap and we just needed it to let a storm pass by.

There was a Walmart close by in the town of Ponchatoula MS, so it wasn't too bad.
We wait out the storm and continue to watch the fridge temperature.  The fridge continues to get colder as the weekend progresses.  By Sunday evening the fridge temp is 41 as we go to bed.  We are going to have a big decision to make in the morning, do we go back to Beaumont to have Duvall’s look at the fridge or not.   If we move on we will not be back to Texas for 7 months and the warranty is just for 3 months.  We will decide in the morning.

Monday morning the first of May and the fridge temperature is 34!  Holy crap!  I decided to call Duvall’s and let them know what is happening with the fridge.  They got the tech that did the work on his cell phone to talk to me.  He said that he had never heard of a fridge taking that long to cool down. However, he said given the fact that it did cool down means that it working correctly.  He also said that if we do have any problems in the next few months that Duvall’s will help us get it repaired under the warranty anywhere in the country at an authorized Dometic dealer.  OK, that settled it for us, we are moving on!

We are now off to Atlanta (Stone Mountain) via Quitman MS and Birmingham AL.

Stay Tuned!

No comments: