Another broken refrigerator (with a happy ending) - Dometic RML8555 - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 11-23-2019, 12:42 PM   #1
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Another broken refrigerator (with a happy ending) - Dometic RML8555

I know there are several threads in the forums on the Dometic refrigerators, but most have been inactive for several years so Iím going to start a new one.

The Dometic RML8555 refrigerator in our 2014 Escape 21 wouldnít turn on for our last camping trip of the year at the end of September. (The RML8555 is the single door refrigerator that was original equipment on the 21. The RMD8555 is the double door unit that some people had replaced in 2015 or so).

The problem actually goes back to a camping trip in August where the refrigerator didnít want to turn on before we left. I pushed the power button and the unit turned on for a moment and then went off. I played around for a while and discovered if I turned the main battery switch off and then back on, the refrigerator would go on for about 15 seconds. Using this technique, I was able to switch it from battery to gas and then to electric. It would go on but not stay on. Since we were leaving that morning, we packed some coolers and headed out. When we got to the campground and plugged into shore power, the refrigerator came on - like magic. We had a nice weekend in New Hampshire, drove home, parked the trailer, unloaded, and forgot about the problem.

I however remembered there was a problem when I went to turn on the refrigerator the morning of a trip the last weekend in September. I pushed the power button and nothing happened. Tried the trick with the battery switch from August. Nothing. Checked the fuses, etc. I was hoping (wishing?) it would work again when we got to the campground. It didnít.

My guess at this point is it was the control panel board. Iíd replaced similar control boards on the hot tub and a few other things. However, I didnít test anything and instead took it to my local RV place first thing Monday morning. I asked them to look at the refrigerator and deal with a few other minor things (fan in bathroom, rotted vent cap). I figured it would be ready later in the week. Wishful thinking.

Thursday the following week the RV guy called with the details. The tech checked the power, connections, etc. There was power to the unit. He and the tech apparently had multiple phone calls with Dometic. At some sequence in these calls Dometic had told him the parts werenít available and suggested ordering a new unit and then they somehow settled on the lower control board as needing replacement. (The lower control board is the one on the back of refrigerator, accessible via the outside panel on the trailer). From what Iíve seen in this forum and some others, apparently the first board Dometic always suggests is the lower control board.

The price I was quoted for the board was about $560 plus $100+ for shipping. The story is Dometic charges shipping by price not size/weight (this was not my experience, see below). Three weeks later the board shows up, they put it in, and nothing happens.

The next step according to the service manager per Dometic is to replace the upper board (aka eyebrow board) at about $350. This is the board with the control buttons that I thought it was all the time.

By now, itís the end of October. Itís getting cold. The trailer hasnít been winterized and I donít want it sitting in an RV yard. They pull out the board that didnít fix anything and put my old board back. I pick up the trailer and pay for the minor repairs and the diagnosis. Iím not charged for the board that didnít fix anything. Presumably itís going back to Dometic.

Both the service manager and my wife suggested the refrigerator probably should be replaced.

After some time in the forums, a few conversations (thank you Paul aka FudgeBrownie), and some research on refrigerator alternatives (beyond Dometic there is only a Norcold N3150), I decide to give it one more try.

This is where the happy ending starts.

I go to the parts section of Dometic website and tell them via their contact form I need an eyebrow board for an RML8555. I also include a picture of the model information plate on the refrigerator (with the model #, Serial #, etc. and also a made in location of Germany).

Later that afternoon I get an email back from Dometic customer service in Elkhart with the part number. Based on the email chain, someone in Dometic USA sent my request to Dometic Sweden (presumably the center for the German built units) who sent an email to Elkhart who then sent me the email with the part number.

The quote for the part is $304.82 plus $25 shipping. I called them and ordered the part. I asked if they could do free shipping. They said yes. Two weeks later the board showed up, I removed the old board and plugged the new one in (a process that takes about 5 minutes) and the refrigerator had power. Hopefully it all still works in April.

For reference Ė the Dometic part number for an upper control board for my RML8555 was 2890639020.

Lessons Learned:

I learned the basics of RV refrigerators. Necessary knowledge but not something previously on my to-know list.

I learned there are few refrigerators that fit in an Escape 21 classic and that theyíre not cheap nor are the parts to fix the OEM units. I also learned you need to tell Dometic itís a German built unit.

I learned through the forums, conversations, and an RV shop that Dometic seems to have a set of procedures for diagnosing a refrigerator that includes throwing parts at it. They donít know any more about the problem than I do. This is one to keep in mind for next time.

Finally, I came away impressed with Dometicís parts and ordering people. After going through the Dometic website with an inquiry (helped Iím guessing by including the picture of the model information plate with the German origin) and interacting with Dometic customer service in Elkhart on the phone and via email, Iím impressed. They took care of me.

Long post, but we need a happy ending for Thanksgiving week.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:47 PM   #2
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Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving....now you can chill your leftovers.....
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Old 11-23-2019, 06:45 PM   #3
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Glad to hear you finally found the solution to your problem .
Hopefully this will be a long term fix .
I admire your patience and tenacity
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:09 AM   #4
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It was a pleasure speaking with you Bill and confirming your suspicions regarding the failing refrigerator. I have not had numerous contact with RV repair locations but based on a limited sampling I think spending time to self diagnose is the best option. It does not work in every situation and it can sometime lead to more issues , but some patience and screen time can lead to a solution.

Having been on the forum since it started, I would venture to say that the #1 issue discussed is refrigerators. These seem to be most subject to failure. Certainly the travel down the highway and the "moving earthquake", a combination of gas and electric for proper operation, the safety requirements, untrained service personnel and a manufacturer that does not have the engineering, customer service or a solution orientated culture contributes to the problem. Perhaps we will see an evolution on RV refrigerators as we have seen on automobiles. There the longevity, durability and quality has made dramatic improvements.
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Old 11-24-2019, 09:33 AM   #5
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Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving....now you can chill your leftovers.....
Hi: cpaharley2008... The only "Leftover" I have from Thanksgiving requires a nap to fix!!!
My fridge fix was easily diag'd. It wouldn't ignite on propane. RVTech in Fla. said I needed a new igniter. My RVTech here added a shrinky dink to cover the bared wire and put the spark back to the right place over the fuel jet. Had to reprogram the eyebrow board after that due to the many tries to light it!!!
Some people want to fix things, some only want to change parts. Alf
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:06 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by steve dunham View Post
Glad to hear you finally found the solution to your problem .
Hopefully this will be a long term fix .
I admire your patience and tenacity

Tenacity with a mix of stubbornness perhaps. I don't think I was patient. The process drove me nuts. There was a point where I was wondering of the economics of just converting the thing into an icebox.
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Old 11-24-2019, 11:28 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
It was a pleasure speaking with you Bill and confirming your suspicions regarding the failing refrigerator. I have not had numerous contact with RV repair locations but based on a limited sampling I think spending time to self diagnose is the best option. It does not work in every situation and it can sometime lead to more issues , but some patience and screen time can lead to a solution.

Having been on the forum since it started, I would venture to say that the #1 issue discussed is refrigerators. These seem to be most subject to failure. Certainly the travel down the highway and the "moving earthquake", a combination of gas and electric for proper operation, the safety requirements, untrained service personnel and a manufacturer that does not have the engineering, customer service or a solution orientated culture contributes to the problem. Perhaps we will see an evolution on RV refrigerators as we have seen on automobiles. There the longevity, durability and quality has made dramatic improvements.

I think the fancy electronics helps the manufacturers sell the trailers and RVs. But fancy electronics don't take well to bouncing down the road. This is one instance where mechanical with a little human hand holding might be better than electronic.
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:12 PM   #8
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Tenacity with a mix of stubbornness perhaps. I don't think I was patient. The process drove me nuts. There was a point where I was wondering of the economics of just converting the thing into an icebox.
You succeeded it getting it fixed and thatís the most important thing in my estimation
My 2018 Escape 21 has tried my patience on numerous occasions
Being easily frustrated / angered is one of my many faults
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Old 11-24-2019, 01:14 PM   #9
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The fridge for my 21 died on the way home from Sumas 5 days after I picked it up IN aug.

Tried numerous things with no joy. I won't go thru all that stuff. It would work for a few hours a couple of times and then fail again. Tried to run it on DC and the power center 30amp fuse MELTED!

Finally took to to an RV dealer in Corpus and they began dealing with Dometic. Cooling unit would not work. Dometic sent a new board and that didn't do the job.

Dometic finally agreed to replace the unit and shipped it last week. I was told the unit I had was no longer available so I would receive a new model. No idea what it will be but it's supposed to be an exact fit. We'll see.

My dealer told me that there would be no cost at all to me. Those folks haver been great! Been in business 45 years. Easy to see why.
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Old 11-24-2019, 02:46 PM   #10
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I think the fancy electronics helps the manufacturers sell the trailers and RVs. But fancy electronics don't take well to bouncing down the road. This is one instance where mechanical with a little human hand holding might be better than electronic.
That might be why the older manual fridges like the RM2510 seem to fare somewhat better. No circuit boards to fail. Iím pretty sure the 12V connection is only for the igniter.
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Old 11-24-2019, 03:19 PM   #11
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That might be why the older manual fridges like the RM2510 seem to fare somewhat better. No circuit boards to fail. Iím pretty sure the 12V connection is only for the igniter.

Yup and yup.
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Old 11-25-2019, 12:46 AM   #12
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That would be great if a Moderator put

Dometic RML8555

in the thread title.
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Old 11-25-2019, 07:47 AM   #13
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That would be great if a Moderator put

Dometic RML8555

in the thread title.
Good idea! Done.
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Old 11-25-2019, 09:08 AM   #14
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Finally, a feel good fridge thread. Good job.
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Old 11-25-2019, 09:41 AM   #15
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That would be great if a Moderator put

Dometic RML8555

in the thread title.

I made sure to put the model # in the post but didn't think to put it in the title. I searched the forums enough and should have thought that way. Thanks for fixing it Donna.
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Old 11-25-2019, 09:53 AM   #16
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Yeah, Happy Thanksgiving....now you can chill your leftovers.....
Hi: cpaharley2008... Yea... bisonbill has a place to keep the "Cold shoulder" now!!! Alf
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Old 11-25-2019, 08:37 PM   #17
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That might be why the older manual fridges like the RM2510 seem to fare somewhat better. No circuit boards to fail. Iím pretty sure the 12V connection is only for the igniter.
True - great for dry campers, but

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Yup and yup.
I don't know about that - I had to replace the thermostat (requires pulling the refrigerator) 3 times in my RM 2510. At least the first was under warrantee. At the time I traded up to a 21, the door gasket was failing - $300.00 since the entire door had to be replaced - the gasket is not a separate part...
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Old 11-26-2019, 07:58 AM   #18
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True - great for dry campers, but



I don't know about that - I had to replace the thermostat (requires pulling the refrigerator) 3 times in my RM 2510. At least the first was under warrantee. At the time I traded up to a 21, the door gasket was failing - $300.00 since the entire door had to be replaced - the gasket is not a separate part...
Dometic is replacing my fridge (new in Aug) but with a newer model and with a black door. I'm thinking about changing the old door with the new so it looks the same. They tell me the fridge will be an exact fit for the old.

Any thoughts on the advisability of doing this?
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Old 11-26-2019, 12:04 PM   #19
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Dometic is replacing my fridge (new in Aug) but with a newer model and with a black door. I'm thinking about changing the old door with the new so it looks the same. They tell me the fridge will be an exact fit for the old.

Any thoughts on the advisability of doing this?
If you are describing the refrigerator in a 2019 21, it won't be a RM2510. That is an older model 5 cu ft refrigerator that is no longer made.

Before changing doors, check the flexibility of the old door gasket. Mine was so stiff it wouldn't pass the dollar bill test.

If your 2019 refrigerator is a Dometic DM2663LBX, the new door will have a black insert - most Dometic doors are designed so an insert can match the rest of the RV decor. I replaced the insert in my 2017 21 refrigerator with photographs.
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