Refrigerator Failing To Cool While Driving - Escape Trailer Owners Community

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Old 03-03-2017, 05:35 PM   #1
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Refrigerator Failing To Cool While Driving

I have struggled for several years with my refrigerator failing to cool properly while driving. My efforts have been: installing a Dometic flame guard, performing a pressure test, replacing the propane regulator, resealing the vent box, installing furnace filters on the lower vent and sealing the inside of that vent with a closed cell foam. I even replaced the refrigerator. My current model is the RMD 8555.

Nothing would keep the refrigerator from warming 10-15 degrees on a four hour trip. I have been monitoring using a Sensor Push, which includes graphing so the rise in temperature is clearly visible.

My conclusion was the flame was going out while driving, but no proof.

In my trials, I had installed some aluminum flanges on the roof vent based on a recommendation. They did not help. However, in my searching I found a reference from an owner on another RV Forum that had experimented using a leaf blower across the roof top vent. He found he could extinguish the refrigerator flame. Not sure just how he was using the blower but that put me on to efforts with that top vent, hey, there was not much left to do.

I looked for a method to reduce the opening. The photo shows the installed mesh from Dometic with the cover cap removed. There is but a simple screen to keep the larger critters out, pretty large openings in the mesh. I wanted some way to reduce potential air flow into or across that opening yet allow the vent to work properly when parked in hot temperatures.

I knew the vent had to remain open but the opening needed to be minimized. I found decorative aluminum. It seems to be used on screen doors so Home Depot carries it, this came from Hobby Lobby. Very easy installation. Four screws to remove the vent and then cut the aluminum to fit. You may note I used Zip ties to fasten the aluminum to the screen, it is in there pretty tight so not sure that is necessary. I made sure to use materials that would not rust or deteriorate. You will need Dicor or similar sealant to fill the screw holes after reinstalling.

This has worked very well in our current 87 degree temps, while driving the refrigerator has actually cooled down from its starting temp. On two occasions we have seen this drop, one of them being with the 87 degree temperature and driving for seven hours. Our confidence in the refrigerator has been restored.

One unknown, is how the vent filter will affect cooling when even warmer temperatures are encountered. In theory those nifty fans on the back of the refrigerator should kick on. Has anyone heard theirs go on? Our peak temperature was 87, it worked well in keeping the refrigerator cool. I cannot speak for higher temps.

My conclusions are that some Escapes, and perhaps other brands, have different aerodynamics going on at roof top level. Perhaps a slightly different placement of the vent, the angle of the vent or maybe other rooftop appliances creating a different air flow. Who knows for sure. I do not think the brand and model of the refrigerator is critical, the venting used by Escape is from Dometic, that maybe more relevant. It is that air flow that seems to create issues.

If you are having a similar issue this is an easy and inexpensive fix.
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:26 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
I have struggled for several years with my refrigerator failing to cool properly while driving.

Ditto, temp rises, but only to about 50, with the outside temps around 60. This on longer drives.

My conclusion was the flame was going out while driving, but no proof.

This is what the tech who swapped in the RMC thought the problem is.


One unknown, is how the vent filter will affect cooling when even warmer temperatures are encountered. In theory those nifty fans on the back of the refrigerator should kick on. Has anyone heard theirs go on?

Have yet to hear mine go on, only when I throw the switch I put in.

If you are having a similar issue this is an easy and inexpensive fix.
Worth a shot, thanks for the idea.
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:33 PM   #3
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Bob,
I knew you were a candidate for this potential fix. I believe you mentioned the extensions to the top vent openings. Since this is a seat of the pants solution "you" may need more or less blocking of the top vent.
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Old 03-03-2017, 07:13 PM   #4
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Nice, well documented and helpful information, Paul.
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Old 03-03-2017, 07:17 PM   #5
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Paul,
I had the same model refer in my 21 and I disconnected my thermister and let it hang inside, I also put water in my condensate cup to keep the end covered. I only covered the bottom part of the side vent. These all helped. Finally those fans will not come on, the thermocouple is too hot. I bypassed them with a manual switch and operated them manually. See post #70 here RMD 8555 Two Door Fridge - performance stats
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Old 03-03-2017, 07:28 PM   #6
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I have the same year and model Escape, the same fridge, and the same problem: the fridge gets too warm when driving. So your post is timely for me, thanks! But-- my fridge gets too warm when driving when it is on either propane or 12V power, so in my case at least it's not just the flame blowing out (when on 12V); it's something to do with the airflow in the fridge compartment. I wondered about modifying the roof vent as well but I didn't know what to do. I like your method and I'll try it out.

I'm really glad I read this thread, and I appreciate the info.
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Old 03-04-2017, 07:10 PM   #7
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Mike,
You add an interesting angle to the failure to cool down while driving. With both sources of power it seems more like venting or door leak. I thought in the scheme of cooling performance the 12 volt was quite far below 120 volt and propane. Can that account for the difference?

Jim,
I reread all 200+ posts on the discussion you linked to. Several things struck me, 1) there did not seem to be a resolution to the issue, just lots of things to try and 2) has anyone installed a replacement heat sensor (I thought 110-120 F was settled on) that turns those beautiful, but silent, fans on automatically?
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:15 PM   #8
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Mike,
You add an interesting angle to the failure to cool down while driving. With both sources of power it seems more like venting or door leak. I thought in the scheme of cooling performance the 12 volt was quite far below 120 volt and propane. Can that account for the difference?
I don't think it's a door leak, but I'll make sure the fridge doors are shut securely from now on. I'm doing a static test right now with the fridge running for a day or two on each power source, to make sure that I only see a problem when the trailer is being towed. I should know more in a few days.
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:31 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Mike,
You add an interesting angle to the failure to cool down while driving. With both sources of power it seems more like venting or door leak. I thought in the scheme of cooling performance the 12 volt was quite far below 120 volt and propane. Can that account for the difference?

Jim,
I reread all 200+ posts on the discussion you linked to. Several things struck me, 1) there did not seem to be a resolution to the issue, just lots of things to try and 2) has anyone installed a replacement heat sensor (I thought 110-120 F was settled on) that turns those beautiful, but silent, fans on automatically?
I spoke with the manufacturer of these heat sensors for fan control and they agreed what Dometic was using as a on/off point was too hot. However the cost for a new lower sensor ws about $30. The manual on/off switch was a more economical answer. Your choice....
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:33 AM   #10
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I don't think it's a door leak, but I'll make sure the fridge doors are shut securely from now on. I'm doing a static test right now with the fridge running for a day or two on each power source, to make sure that I only see a problem when the trailer is being towed. I should know more in a few days.
Mike, just remember the defrost hose is a source of warm air and it should be immersed in water or have a loop to keep water in blocking the air intrusion.
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