Norcold DC558 Compressor Fridge not cooling - Escape Trailer Owners Community
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Old 07-12-2023, 01:32 PM   #1
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Norcold DC558 Compressor Fridge not cooling

Hi all, first post here. After a year-long wait we received our Escape 21NE in Jan 2022 but unfortunately didn't have an adequate tow vehicle at the time, so we didn't start using it until this spring, after the 1-year manufacturer warranty on the fridge had expired.

Before our first trip I ran the fridge for 24 hours to cool it and also froze some ice cubes in the freezer, so it seemed alright. We loaded up the fridge/freezer (probably a little too much) and went on a short trip, 3 days / 2 nites. Gradually everything in the freezer melted and the main compartment was barely cool. The fridge never seemed to stop running, but luckily it was a short trip and we had a hard cooler with ice to save the food.

The trailer is now in our driveway on shore power. I let everything sit for a while turned off, and have tried to run the fridge again with nothing in it and freeze some ice, which is unable to do. My Inkbird is not working so I haven't measured the actual temperature.

Trailer is perfectly level in our driveway and was also level in the campsite on our trip. The road to our campsite included about 36 km of rough FSR, so maybe something got knocked loose? I took the indoor vent (above the fridge) off to look inside but didn't see anything out of order. Door seems to seal fine as well.

Anyways, just wondering if anyone has any ideas of what I might be missing.

Looks like I will need to get someone to look at it. What do most people do with these kinds of problems? Tow the trailer to a service centre or get a mobile tech out? Any recommendations?
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Old 07-12-2023, 02:04 PM   #2
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A compressor fridge will operate just fine if it is not perfectly level so that is not the problem.
Good luck with your fix.
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Old 07-13-2023, 01:17 PM   #3
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Pull your unit out and check the wiring for connection. Your trailer was built shortly after ours,& ours was not wired correctly. Escape Trailers, good design and components, just lacking in build quality.
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Old 07-13-2023, 03:01 PM   #4
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Pull your unit out and check the wiring for connection. Your trailer was built shortly after ours,& ours was not wired correctly. Escape Trailers, good design and components, just lacking in build quality.
Yes, I noticed the build quality is not top notch. There's a few issues here and there but the fridge is the main one.

Our fridge does run, so it's getting power. Can you elaborate what you mean by "not wired correctly"? Are there different 12V and 24V connections and mixed them up? Did you have Escape fix it or a mobile RV repair?
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Old 07-13-2023, 05:39 PM   #5
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Refrig

If you are getting power to the refrig that's better than ours. We found that the red wire was not connected.
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Old 07-14-2023, 04:19 PM   #6
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The 12V Dometic compressor refrigerator in my prior trailer failed exactly as you described your problem, though mine lasted two years. For diagnosis I took it to the refrigerator repair service the local RV dealers use. The compressor had failed, cost to repair exceeded the cost of a new refrigerator. I replaced the refrigerator with a Norcold which was still running 7 years later when I sold the trailer. If your compressor motor is running but not cooling, it either lost its charge or the compressor motor failed. Cost of repairs will probably be about the cost of a new unit. My current trailer has a Norcold DE0061 12V compressor refrigerator, and after 3 years it cools flawlessly, even in 100 degree heat.
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Old 07-15-2023, 10:29 AM   #7
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.... Gradually everything in the freezer melted and the main compartment was barely cool. The fridge never seemed to stop running, ....
If your refrigerator was cooling when you picked it up and now the the compressor runs but refrigerator does not cool, it probably lost it's refrigerant. Probably a leak in a connection of one of the lines to the the compressor, evaporator, etc. Refrigerator repair guy can find the leak and repair it and then recharge the system. It is not difficult to do. If the compressor is leaking then he can replace it too.
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Old 07-19-2023, 04:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5thhorseman View Post
Hi all, first post here. After a year-long wait we received our Escape 21NE in Jan 2022 but unfortunately didn't have an adequate tow vehicle at the time, so we didn't start using it until this spring, after the 1-year manufacturer warranty on the fridge had expired.

Before our first trip I ran the fridge for 24 hours to cool it and also froze some ice cubes in the freezer, so it seemed alright. We loaded up the fridge/freezer (probably a little too much) and went on a short trip, 3 days / 2 nites. Gradually everything in the freezer melted and the main compartment was barely cool. The fridge never seemed to stop running, but luckily it was a short trip and we had a hard cooler with ice to save the food.

The trailer is now in our driveway on shore power. I let everything sit for a while turned off, and have tried to run the fridge again with nothing in it and freeze some ice, which is unable to do. My Inkbird is not working so I haven't measured the actual temperature.

Trailer is perfectly level in our driveway and was also level in the campsite on our trip. The road to our campsite included about 36 km of rough FSR, so maybe something got knocked loose? I took the indoor vent (above the fridge) off to look inside but didn't see anything out of order. Door seems to seal fine as well.

Anyways, just wondering if anyone has any ideas of what I might be missing.

Looks like I will need to get someone to look at it. What do most people do with these kinds of problems? Tow the trailer to a service centre or get a mobile tech out? Any recommendations?
Our 12v Norcold has vastly wide temperatures. We noticed items near the freezer tend to freeze. Temps vary from 32 to 43 Fahrenheit. Putting in a refrigerator fan definitively helped in stabilizing temperatures. Not sure, but donít think Norcold offers replacement parts. IOO, itís a throwaway refrigerator.
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Old 04-07-2024, 04:48 PM   #9
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So I finally got around to calling a mobile RV tech to come take a look at the Norcold. He said he could look at it next week but then called me later on in the morning with some info he found out about the DC558:

1. The model is discontinued
2. Parts may still be available but I'd need to replace the entire cooling unit which is almost as expensive as the fridge itself.
3. If it's just a leak it's probably not repairable as it's a sealed unit and probably no service port/valve exists to recharge.

So I pulled the unit out to see for myself if (3) is correct and I found a refrigerant line had broken right where it enters the cooling assembly/fins (not sure what that part is called).

Anybody have any idea if this can be repaired?

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Old 04-07-2024, 05:34 PM   #10
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Based upon my experience, this broken fitting is fatal. It is also a factory defect, but unfortunately revealed after the warranty period.
I did a bit of research, and it appears either the Norcold N2152 or N4141 will fit. You need to verify the measurements, Norcold has several DC compressor refrigerators of similar size.
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Old 04-07-2024, 09:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 5thhorseman View Post

3. If it's just a leak it's probably not repairable as it's a sealed unit and probably no service port/valve exists to recharge.

Anybody have any idea if this can be repaired?
I'm a little puzzled by that comment as clamp on fittings exist, I have one, that cover the situation. That isn't a new situation and service folk have been recharging systems for years using them.

The soldered the connection very close to the break. I'd probably try and solder the break. Might be a lost cause but I'd still try.

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Old 04-08-2024, 05:50 AM   #12
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I had a compressor go out in Mexico. The refrigeration guy was able to replace it with a new comparable compressor. He brazed the connections. One connection eventually leaked; a refrigeration guy repaired it when I was on Quadra Island in Canada. He came out of Campbell River. It looks to me like there are ports on your system for recharging. Neither repair was very expensive. I think it would be worth having someone look at it or at least send pictures to a repair guy and ask.
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Old 04-09-2024, 04:18 PM   #13
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Hey guys, thanks for all the feedback. Much appreciated!

I reached out a few places and found a radiator shop that said they would fix it. Certified HVAC place. The job looks a bit sloppy because they cut back the fins on the condenser. Anyways they soldered it back together with a sleeve on the inside of the join. I was worried that this would be too much of a restriction since it would be narrower than the original line but he said it should be fine since there was an even narrower restriction in the system elsewhere.

Anyways picked it up today brought it back plugged it in didn't drop temp for 2 hours. I then realized I should have let it sit upright for, what, they say 24 hours. Anyways unplugged it and letting it sit now I hope I didn't mess it up.

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Old 04-09-2024, 04:27 PM   #14
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... I then realized I should have let it sit upright for, what, they say 24 hours. Anyways unplugged it and letting it sit now I hope I didn't mess it up.

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I never let mine sit after repairs. The repairs were tested by the refrigerator guy as soon as he made the repair. Both repairs were done on site.
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Old 04-09-2024, 04:53 PM   #15
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That's fine if it's kept upright all the time, is what I understand.

I had mine lying on its side with the door up while transporting it home.
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Old 04-09-2024, 05:21 PM   #16
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Glad that it could soldered. Hope after sitting upright it cools down.

I'm a little surprised by the use of a hose barb stuck into the copper tube, presumably to hold a quick disconnect fitting. Looks very bush league considering that there are fittings that attach directly to copper tube.

Also the tube in question appears unsupported. Maybe when it's hooked up it's supported. If not, it should be otherwise it's in danger of fatigue cracking.

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Old 04-10-2024, 08:15 PM   #17
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Glad that it could soldered. Hope after sitting upright it cools down.

I'm a little surprised by the use of a hose barb stuck into the copper tube, presumably to hold a quick disconnect fitting. Looks very bush league considering that there are fittings that attach directly to copper tube.

Also the tube in question appears unsupported. Maybe when it's hooked up it's supported. If not, it should be otherwise it's in danger of fatigue cracking.

Ron
Yes the whole job looks a bit sloppy from my perspective, but as long as it doesn't leak I guess. Doesn't give me good vibes though, I prefer places where their pride shows in their work.

As for the unsupported tube, yes I think this was the reason for the original failure. Whereas the upper line from the condenser leads directly to the compressor and does not move, the lower line leads to a bulbous tube thingy suspended in mid-air, that I imagine stressed the joint to as we traveled down the FSR. I had asked them to see if they could strap that down somehow which they did if you look in the photo there's some black sticky tape a type which I've never seen before holding it down.

Anyways I ran it for 3 hours today and no cooling at all. The compressor was quite hot, I could barely keep my hand on it. Talked with the shop and will be in Friday to check it out. Probably not enough refrigerant put in the system they said. Their equipment is made for larger systems so it was difficult to measure the amount of refrigerant that was injected, they say.

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I never let mine sit after repairs. The repairs were tested by the refrigerator guy as soon as he made the repair. Both repairs were done on site.
This was another thing that was confirmed to me today by the shop. They said I could bring it in on its side no problem as this issue doesn't occur with the system this small.

Usually with large fridges you need to leave them standing upright because the oil needs to flow back into the compressor which is at the very bottom of the system. But with this camper fridge the compressor sits on top of the fridge so how would this even apply? So it makes sense that they tell me it's a non-issue
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Old 04-11-2024, 04:44 PM   #18
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So I had a chat with an acquaintance who does refrigeration work. He confirms that with these small systems it's very hard to get the right amount of refrigerant into the system because the tools used don't measure amounts that small (I believe my system takes 58 grams).

You don't have to be exact but it has to be within a certain range. Too little and it obviously won't work. Too much and it will back up into the condenser, with the same result.
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Old 04-13-2024, 10:14 AM   #19
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Success!

Took the fridge back yesterday afternoon. A pressure test revealed a leak where the small tube (looks like a wire) enter the bulbous thingy. This is where freon goes from a high to low pressure environment, which is what cools it down. It took several tries to solder/braze, possibly due to different metal types. In the end the pressure test passed, a small amount of freon was injected into the system, and we turned it on. The evaporator plates were definitely cooling so it looked good. Here's the weld:

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At home I let it sit for half an hour and then plugged it in. Checked it this morning and it was reading minus 8.9į C. Will check again later before installing back into it's cabinet. I might add some extra insulation but I'm not sure that's really necessary.

We had to zap strap a couple of lines together to keep things stable. I'm thinking of encasing a large part of it in expanding foam to eliminate any movement whatsoever. This thing could last one trip or 20 years, who knows?

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If it does faiI I will check into the Nova Kool conversion kits to either put one in this fridge or convert the entire cabinet into a cool box.
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Old 04-13-2024, 10:53 AM   #20
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3. If it's just a leak it's probably not repairable as it's a sealed unit and probably no service port/valve exists to recharge.
Glad he was wrong. As I said previously I just hate to throw things out without at least giving a repair a try.

May it keep your beer cool for a long time.

If the worst happens I had great success with the Nova Kool unit in my boat.

Ron
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