Dometic & Norcold Class Action | RV Refrigerator Fire | Root Causes

This page is to inform the RV public about possible root causes of refrigerator fires and exploding RV refrigerators that have lead to Dometic and Norcold class action suits. One root cause is preventable, off level operation and boiler overheating.

For the following discussion, brown font is used for the respective manufactures document quotes. The manuals are listed in the foot notes.

N3104 & N3150 Norcold Owner's Manual


Owner's Manual Page 3
norcold caution


This signal word means a hazard, which if ignored, can cause small personal injury or much property damage*.


norcold warning


This signal word means a hazard, which if ignored, can cause dangerous personal injury, death, or much property damage*.


Owner's Manual Page 5
norcold caution

The refrigerator is made to operate within 3 degrees off level side-to-side and 6 degrees off level front-to-back (as looking at the front of the refrigerator). Operating it at more than these limits can cause damage to the cooling system and create a risk of personal injury or property damage. Make sure that vehicle is level before you operate the refrigerator*.

Operation During Travel*
While the refrigerator should be level when the vehicle is stopped, performance during travel is not usually affected*.


norcold confused

Gee, let's think about this for a moment: If "Operating it at more than these limits can cause damage to the cooling system and create a risk of personal injury or property damage*", does this not sound more like a WARNING found in an Owner's Manual?

How confusing! If operation during travel is not "usually affected*", are there situations that are unusual that can result in a hazardous situation?

Following we will introduce Dometic Operating Instructions** to help us clarify this last statement, that is, can unusual conditions damage the fridge while driving?

Dometic RM3762 & RM3962 Operating Instructions


Operating Instructions Page 5

LEVELING THE REFRIGERATOR**
Leveling is one of the requirements for proper operation with absorption refrigerators. To ensure proper leveling the vehicle needs to be leveled so it is comfortable to live in (no noticeable sloping of floor or walls). Any time the vehicle is parked for several hours with the refrigerator operating, the vehicle should be leveled to allow proper cooling. When the vehicle is moving, the leveling is not critical, as the rolling and pitching movement of the vehicle will pass to either side of level, keeping the liquid ammonia from accumulating in the evaporator tubing**.


Feeling a little lost about now, we will help you find your way on the RV highway!

how to find my way RV highway

Let's start by looking at some of the comments from the Dometic statement on -- requirements for proper operation**.

UNSURE AVENUE: No noticeable sloping of floor or walls** is subjective, humans observe level by reference to other objects around them. Please read about the Parthenon and how the walls tapered giving a perpendicular to level feel.

UNCLEAR HIGHWAY: Any time the vehicle is parked for several hours**, is one hour OK to park off-level if two hours is not??

PERPLEXED PARKWAY: When the vehicle is moving, the leveling is not critical**. How about climbing a long steep pass slowly? Does the vehicles acceleration and angle of climb help the ammonia to accumulate, or prevent the liquid ammonia from accumulating in the evaporator tubing**, which is the correct answer??


Allow Us to Clear Things Up

Un-Obfuscate RV Fridge Fires

Our testing of many RV refrigerators ( Click Here For Video Test Results ), both Norcold and Dometic, shows that the ammonia can accumulate in the cooling unit tubing when at 3 degrees off-level or even less. The angle at which the fridge quits working depends on the ambient temperature, the cooling unit ventelation, and other factors. It also shows that temperatures in the cooling unit can quickly skyrocket when the unit goes off-level for as little as 6 minutes, so the fact that you are driving does not always guarantee safe operation ( Click here to read about RV Fridge Damage while Driving ). Furthermore, even brief episodes of higher temperatures will cause damage to the cooling unit over time from heat stress and degradation of the sodium chromate anti-corrosion additive.

You may ask: Can this be prevented? Industrial boiler and evaporative systems use active temperature monitors to maintain temperatures in a narrow and optimal operating range. You can have the benefit of this same technology to make sure your RV fridge remains healthy and happy for many years. The addition of an ARP controller will assure that your fridge is immune to the many causes of overheating, plus the optional fan control feature can dramatically improve cooling performance in hot weather or where the RV manufacturer has not provided good convection cooling for the fridge cabinet area.

Norcold & Dometic Class Action Suits

It is clear by reading the operator manuals that improper operation of the refrigerator can result in damage to the fridge which may result in a fire. This also may be the root cause for litigation. Why not address a known root cause by installing an ARP Control? An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Benjamin Franklin.

Please click here for more information by Malia's Miles on Dometic and Norcold Recall Information


Foot Notes

* Norcold Installation and Owner's Manual for N3000 Models, Part No. 635607E(2013/05/14)
** Dometic RM3762 and RM3962 Operating Instructions, revision 3313513.016


Click here to see if your Dometic is involved in litigation.