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Refrigerator stopped working on propane

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Bill-GA View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bill-GA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Refrigerator stopped working on propane
    Posted: 11 Sep 2014 at 10:53pm
Half way thru my 4 week trip, a little red light came on when the Refrig was on propane.  The 12V and 120V modes work Ok. All the other propane stuff works .. Stove, water heater.

Are there 1 or 2 things I should check? I saw blowing out the propane vent stack suggestion ... Any other items to check?
Bill & Bev
13 yr old dachshund 'Elsa'
2010 RP-176T (tent & slide-out)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2014 at 9:46am
Better than blowing out the chimney, I would take the top off (1 screw), remove the helix baffle (you'll see the wire it hangs on after removing the top of the stack, just pull it up), and then run a rag through it using a stiff wire.

Next up is to clean the orifice, and this is where you need to be more careful.  One screw will remove the wind shield around the burner assembly.  One screw at the bottom of the stack will free up the assembly and you can carefully bend it towards you a bit so it isn't directly under the stack.  After making sure nothing is above the burner, turn the fridge on propane mode and quickly go outside to observe.  Is there a spark (if not, this may be your problem)?  Small or large flame (constant spark but no flame is another problem)?  If you do get a flame take a mental note of how it looks then turn it off.  One more screw will remove the igniter assembly, you may want to wait a few minutes since it is hot now.  Then that whole rectangular assembly (where the air and fuel mix, not sure if the right term for a fridge is "carburetor") can be removed using the nut where the tube joins it.  BE CAREFUL, you are now exposing the orifice which sits on the end of this nut.  It will look like a mini version of a WWII Army helmet.  It is thin aluminum and can bend easily.  Put it gently aside and then blow out the rest of the air/fuel mixture assembly.  Soak the orifice in alcohol and then gently blow it with air.  Nothing else - no tools, rags, etc.  The pin-prick opening in the middle is easily damaged and must stay the same size.  Reassemble so the igniter is back in place and turn the fridge on again, and compare the flame to what you had before.  If it looks better, turn it off and finish the reassembly, then run it for a few hours to see what happens.

It is possible the flame will look ok to you but you still need a new orifice.  For what they are they aren't cheap - a complete ripoff for 2 cents worth of aluminum foil.

After that you'll need to run checks on the input and output pressure on the gas valve (the silver thing mounted to the fridge on the left side with black wires running to it).  That may be best done by a dealer.  You can measure the voltage going to the gas valve (should be 1.5 or 3 volts depending) and its resistance (dont' remember what it should be, I found it online).

Like yours, mine is 5 years old and the propane mode stopped working on day 2 of a 4-week trip last year.  I had a dealer look at it and they think the gas valve is bad.  These 8501 models are imported and are basically only used by Forest River on the pods, so the parts are through the roof.  Dealer said the valve should cost $69 but it will instead cost $400!  I verified with my own investigation - and only found one place online that had the part.

I hope this isn't a normal problem at the 4-5 year mark for everyone!
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote JStrube Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2014 at 1:42pm
That is an excellent explanation.  Please put this someplace in the manual you have going & bookmark it!  I am sure it will be referenced often.

I still need to troubleshoot my fan staying on issue on the fridge, by the way.
2012 181G
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Bill-GA Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2014 at 1:44pm
Techntrek, thanks for the input. Sounds like I need to schedule  1/2 day for this.
Bill & Bev
13 yr old dachshund 'Elsa'
2010 RP-176T (tent & slide-out)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Budward Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Sep 2014 at 5:33pm
Originally posted by techntrek


It is possible the flame will look ok to you but you still need a new orifice.  For what they are they aren't cheap - a complete ripoff for 2 cents worth of aluminum foil.



Don't know what they cost but the orifice is actually laser bored through an industrial ruby, making them high priced I'm sure.
2014 179
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Sep 2014 at 4:43pm
I found the notes I made when I was researching tests, I'll add any new info when I can (notes are at home, we are out enjoying the new camper).
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Sep 2014 at 6:29pm
Ok, here are some random notes from my research on the Dometic RM8501:

Gas valve part number 2412798338

Internal temperature sensor resistance readings (unverified):
Degrees/KOhms
32 27.7
41 22.29
50 18.07
59 14.74
68 12.11
71 10

Gas valve should see either 1.5 or 3 volts, I believe I measured 3 volts on mine, measured from both ends.  50 ohms per valve (it has 2 valves)

Installation manual, including wiring diagram near the back (enter the security letters then download the PDF):  http://www.manualslib.com/download/40747/Dometic-Absorption-Rmd-8501.html
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote techntrek Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 Sep 2014 at 9:34am
By the way, I added this thread and another recent fridge thread to the Manual thread, with some additional info.
Doug ~ '10 171 (2009-2015) ~ 2008 Salem ~ Pod instruction manual
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Post Options Post Options   Quote Craneman Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 04 Jun 2016 at 6:35pm
Mine stopped working on propane and it ended up being the burner control device, the gray box with the two wires going to the burner
         Moe
Jo and Gary, 2010-174,2011 F150

Jo and Gary
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