Ok folks. I have talked with several of my OLD SCHOOL fellow RV'ers, and Decided to post a blog on Gas fridges.

(Im relaxing before a long haul).

Ok, here goes.

The number one problem the Old Skoolerz,(as we are called) have seemed to notice over the years is Auto ignition, (peizo ignition).

Case in point,, Ole Frankie,(our senior member in the close knit group), had a problem with his Auto ignition clicking ON,even when switched over to full electric. He would hear that ole click,click,click,click, as if the igniter was trying to light. For an old guy who is older then dirt, he has some good hearing. He went in to investigate. He says Sure Nuff, its a clicking, and under close observation he noticed the pilot light *trying to light.

With a gas regulator, NO gas is supposed to pass thru the valve assembly without the Thermocoupler being at set temp, therefore allowing gas to pas through the valving. He watched it for a bit,(laying on the floor he decided hes gonna be there awhile). He watched the pilot light nozzle spurting a little yellow flame,, *trying to ignite.

Each time it Clicked, a small short burst of yellow flame would come out. That is NOT supposed to happen.

OK,, Pay attention now. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.

Frankie took his BBQ lighter and slid it into the firebox (after he took the inspection glass out), and flicked his bic, so to speak.

Frankie lost his eyebrows and part of his mustache.

Now Ole Frankie is in his 90's (like I said,, hes an old timer).

He jumped back and put his eyebrows out and realized his FIREBOX was filling up with gas, from the valve assembly, allowing gas to pass through. Now Ole Frankie says,, THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING AT ALL. He calls his fellow Rv'ers and asks what the problem mite be? 

(Its pretty obvious,,bad gas regulator). Everyone he called verified that.

Frankies regulator was approx 4 yrs old,and it was failing.

Frankie had a youn ac/heating guy who does residential home installs and maintenance come out and look at it,, The young guy spent about 10 minutes checking the system out and verified the gas regulator was failing and installed a new one. He then used sudsy soap at all the connections of the gas line to verify no leaks.

He mentioned to observe the following,,,,,,,

If your fridge makes clicking sounds while ON ELECTRIC only,,, Shut it down completley and turn off Gas at the tank and let, the rig air out, with windows and door open. Check the back of your fridge (thru the access door on the outside), and see if the pilot light is trying to light.

Ive called a few RV repair centers around Waco,Austin and San Antonio and they have said, Gas regulators do go bad and its mostly due to NOT being used, and mother nature takes its toll, with corrosion etc. Especially with moisture IN THE PROPANE itself which causes corrosion inside the regulator valve assembly. Thus causing gas to leak through, and eventually into the fire box.

The same goes with gas furnaces,  The fire box being a large or small one.  Fridges have a smaller, so called fire box,  but it doesnt take much to accumilate enough *gas, to cause a major problem.

Forgot to mention,, Gas water heaters has same concept,,

Gas appliances have a so called fire box to isolate the heat to a specific area and they all have regulators. Some have manual light and auto (peizo) lighting.

So as you do your maintenance checks,,  Check your gas appliances on full electric (if you have the dual option of gas/electric). and listen for the auto ignition and see if its *trying to light.

Some RV manufactures are installing Electric ONLY appliances in their new RV lines, thus avoiding issues with gas.

They have even upgraded with better battery banks,inverters and gensets.

Hope this info helps .........

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Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 17, 2015 at 11:36am
We didn't get a copy of the report yet, but the newspaper quoted the fire Marshall as saying his investigation concluded a propane malfunction in the area of the fridge.
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 15, 2015 at 5:50pm

After doing a lot of reading, it seems the biggest cause of leaks is not corrosion but cracks at the welds, particularly by the boiler. I'm now recalling how I had to force my new cooling unit into place with the mounting bolts because it wouldn't sit flush. Worried about those welds now.

I'll be inspecting mine regularly for sure. 

Comment by Rich Thomas on June 15, 2015 at 5:45pm

Thanks for posting that link Jim. It kinda makes me want to remove my three way and put in a single source electric fridge. Who knows what a 38 year old fridge's mechanics has gone through. could the steel lines be corroded on the inside and just waiting for the right circumstance to let loose. My old fridge NORCOLD  worked flawlessly this past week in 90 deg.heat but it's spooky to say the least to know just how dangerous these things really are. I'm for damn sure going to inspect everything in and around my unit for some of the the tell tell things listed in the link. Maybe a nice size YETTY is in my future.  

Comment by Richard W. Cobbs on June 15, 2015 at 2:50pm

There is some pretty good info on the net under: Investigating absorption refrigerator fires.

Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 15, 2015 at 1:28pm
And here's a link to a local newstory. A firefighter took that picture upon arrival. Note that there is something burning on the ground a decent distance from the trailer in the right side of the pic. That's the fridge side. Dunno what that is. The fridge compartment door, still attached to part of the siding was mangled and on the ground too. I don't know if the fireman tore it off or if it blew out.
http://www.nj.com/morris/index.ssf/2015/06/fire_that_destroyed_fami...
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 15, 2015 at 10:33am
Here is a good article on the subject:http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=dometic+refrigerator...

Sorry about the long URL.

It says that the ruptured pipe is from a fire, but we still don't know the cause. Could have been a propane leak, could have been leaking ammonia. He didn't smell any ammonia and the fridge worked fine. I'm leaning back toward a propane leak in the fridge area.
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 14, 2015 at 7:04pm

Windows did not blow out. The fridge roof vent and side vent door blew off. As you know, the fridge compartment is pretty much a chimney. If something goes bad in there, it's going to spread fast - which it did in this case. The jury is still out, but it's looking more like a fridge failure rather than a propane leak to me. The kicker is that the fridge was working fine. It was full of food and beverages - cold as ice. 

Comment by Richard W. Cobbs on June 14, 2015 at 6:52pm

If it was a propane explosion ignited by the fridge flame, then the propane may have pooled to the height of the flame.  I would expect the outside fridge vent door and the rooftop exhaust vent to be blown off.  Did the windows blow out from the explosion?

Off subject but may warn somebody:

I read about a guy using spray canisters to fumigate his basement apartment- he thought that nine cans would do a better job than one and didn't realize that his gas hot water heater had an open flame!  Blew out all the windows, two walls, and burned down the whole apartment building!

Comment by Lakota Wolf on June 14, 2015 at 6:15pm

Wow,,,, hope it gets solved..... I was questioning my old timers from the initial info, and posted the blog. Keep us posted if they find the exact, or close, cause of this.  

Any info on gas appliances is worthy information,, 

I hope things work out and he can be back on the road again soon.

Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 14, 2015 at 5:58pm

I should have been more descriptive - the first pic is the ruptured pipe on the fridge. The other is zoomed out a bit.

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