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Old 06-22-2021, 11:20 PM   #1
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Cooling unit replacement for Dometic Fridge, Advice or Suggestions

Hi all,

I have a 2018 Forest River Wildwood X-lite 273qbxl that I bought new in Dec. Of 2017. It was intended to be temporary living arrangements for my family (myself, wife, 2 kids entering teen years), but has become full-time time RV living for 3 1/2 years now. The few problems we have encounter are what makes it difficult for us where it may be enjoyable or exciting for another family.

The main topic for this one is our fridge. It was brand new with the trailer and should have had at least a two year warranty on it. It is a Dometic DM2652 and worked fine for the most part other than the constant build up of ice on the fins. I decided to turn it off and remove everything and let the ice defrost, with a large plastic bin to catch the melting chunks and liquid. After several hours, I lightly tapped the thin sheets of ice still between the fins and most of them just dropped right out. After patiently waiting, I cleaned up the last bits of water and ice and turned the fridge back on. I put the food contents back in and closed the door to allow it to cool down.

Checking back a few hours later, I realize the fridge is only slightly cooler and there is an extremely strong and potent smell of ammonia. Being unfamiliar with this, I immediately Google it and read recommendations to keep the door closed and prevent the ammonia from being inhaled by everyone inside the trailer. Following other suggested troubleshooting tips, I looked at the external access point to the rear of the fridge, only to find a layer of yellow dust covering the base of the cooling system and the smell of ammonia there as well.

This all started towards the end of 2019, 3 months before the warranty was supposed to expire on the fridge. I contacted Dometic and the only option provided was to bring the entire trailer to a certified repair facility. The only problem was my family was living in the RV and they couldn't give us an estimated time frame or even if it would be covered unless we left it with them for an unspecified time. Dometic said we could attempt to have it repaired by an independent contractor and submit it for warranty reimbursement, but we were told it could be up to $2000 or more, just to hope that it would be reimbursed, and we were struggling financially quite a bit.

So now a little over a year has passed, the four of us have been using a mini fridge from Walmart just big enough to have a separate freezer door. But it has been during a pandemic and a lot of service facilities have not been operating regular business hours until recently, and the fridge that should have lasted maybe 10 years didn't last 2. I communicated with Dometic about the problem within the warranty period, but now it is long passed.

Does anyone have any advice or suggestions or experiences with Dometic or fridge problems like this who would be able to advise me on how to handle this situation? Is there anything I can do to get Dometic to cover the cost of the repairs, or do I just need to find the cheapest way to replace the whole fridge, as I have read that it is not worth the effort to replace the cooling unit, and I'm not sure if I can even find the correct cooling unit needed if I wanted to try and repair it for less money. This whole situation has been a pain from the start and I thought it would be a simple warranty repair, but nothing is simple when you are staying in the RV. Any help or guidance is appreciated. Thank you in advance.
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Old 06-23-2021, 06:12 AM   #2
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If you're only using it for semi permanent living I would measure the opening that it's in and replace it with a residential unit.
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:06 PM   #3
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We are living in it full time and have been for about 3 and a half years now. I would like to move into a house or apartment, but certain unfortunate circumstances made that difficult over the past few years. We may be able to find better living arrangements soon, but I would want to sell the trailer and I feel like I'll get much more for it if the fridge works rather than say it's broken and deduct a sum of money from the sale value.
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:16 PM   #4
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Those fridges are so hard to get right now, Forest River has been subbing A/C only fridges in place of a proper AC/propane fridge. This ripple effect from the pestilence is going to continue for some time. And even though they have 2 year warranties, they are generally built for sporadic use, not full-time live-in usage, so I'm not terribly surprised it didn't last.
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:34 PM   #5
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Just replaced the cooling unit on our 2018 Flagstaff. It has the Dometic DMR-702 that had developed a leak and had lost the ammonia out of it. We ordered ours from----
https://rvcoolingunit.com/Dometic-Co...0.aspx?sid=298
Not endorsing any company or product, just what I found and it sounded worthwhile.
A pretty involved switch out of the cooling units but very doable. They provide a instruction video. I had more trouble getting the fridge out and back in than actually changing the unit.

It ended up, even with purchasing the 10 year extended warranty, less than half the cost of new refrigerator. Even if you can find a new one right now.
We also wanted to keep ours as a 2-way refrigerator to use propane while traveling and occasional boondocking in the future.
Happy camping!
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:39 PM   #6
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Good tip Tony!
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Old 06-25-2021, 08:50 PM   #7
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sorry for your circumstances...
I would not replace it with another ammonia type fridge
you found that the lack of a defrost cycle is a pain
I would take measurements and look for a used 120 VAC fridge using craigslist, neighborhood app, even the local rehab store that sells used appliances and such...
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Old 06-27-2021, 04:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tonyz1 View Post
Just replaced the cooling unit on our 2018 Flagstaff. It has the Dometic DMR-702 that had developed a leak and had lost the ammonia out of it. We ordered ours from----
https://rvcoolingunit.com/Dometic-Co...0.aspx?sid=298
Not endorsing any company or product, just what I found and it sounded worthwhile.
A pretty involved switch out of the cooling units but very doable. They provide a instruction video. I had more trouble getting the fridge out and back in than actually changing the unit.

It ended up, even with purchasing the 10 year extended warranty, less than half the cost of new refrigerator. Even if you can find a new one right now.
We also wanted to keep ours as a 2-way refrigerator to use propane while traveling and occasional boondocking in the future.
Happy camping!
I will heartily recommend this guy for a replacement cooling unit. I had to change out the one in our previous camper, same model reefer as yours.

The most difficult part was getting the old cooling unit out of the "box" without breaking the box. I actually cracked mine but I fixed the crack with a bit of fiberglass.

Follow the guys instructions and SEAL THE BACK OF THE NEW UNIT WELL.

I bought the New Amish Built unit and it worked better than the original one ever did. It is built better too.

After you fix it, tell your kids to keep the door shut and it will not build up ice
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Old 06-27-2021, 07:21 AM   #9
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These Dometic type refrigerators are the biggest pieces of junk ever made. The failure rate for these are high usually outside warranty and many require a new cooling unit which is very costly and it may fail on you also.
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Old 06-27-2021, 07:34 AM   #10
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There's also J.C. Refrigeration.

They make an absorption or a compressor replacement for the cooling unit on your fridge.

If I was in your situation and living in the RV for now, I would install the compressor version. It will not hurt the resale value as more and more RVs are coming standard with that type of fridge and it will work better in your plugged in application.
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Old 06-27-2021, 07:52 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Seachaser186 View Post
These Dometic type refrigerators are the biggest pieces of junk ever made. The failure rate for these are high usually outside warranty and many require a new cooling unit which is very costly and it may fail on you also.

Ours has been running problem free since 2012. It gets cold within a couple of hours though we usually turn it on the day prior to our camping trip just to let it get good and cold...............beer is cold and ice is frozen
I do understand they had a problem 15 years ago or so but I have not heard of any problem since.

Most times the problems with them not getting cold enough or fast enough have to do with poor airflow behind the reefer. A fan to move air from the lower vent up over the fins and out the top will do wonders to solve those issues.
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Old 06-27-2021, 11:02 AM   #12
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Mine is at the dealer at the moment. Dometic dmr 702. Freezer gets cold refrigerator doesnt. Fuses good , gas lights, electric element feels like it's getting hot, vents clear. Hope this isnt a month long repair. I know it wont be cheap
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Old 06-27-2021, 11:48 AM   #13
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Mine is at the dealer at the moment. Dometic dmr 702. Freezer gets cold refrigerator doesnt. Fuses good , gas lights, electric element feels like it's getting hot, vents clear. Hope this isnt a month long repair. I know it wont be cheap

Sounds as if the cooling unit is working fine. It is the same for freezer and cooler box.

Did it ever work well? When did it start not cooling?

When you open the reefer door then close it and reopen it again immediately does it act like it is stuck and not want to open up?

If that is the case you have an air leak somewhere. Could be the door seal or it could be on the back of the box where the cooling unit attaches to that box.

Any air entering that box will prevent it from cooling well. The greater the leak the worse it performs
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Old 06-27-2021, 02:08 PM   #14
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The problem is, in the interest of saving money, the metals used are so darn thin they become prone to leaks, then refrigerant leaks out and you have a very expensive storage chest. This is the case for A/C units, household fridges, all of it. They are all made like disposable junk now, and it's hard to say if one brand is better than the next, as they are mostly all made in the same factories with different brand labels slapped on them.


I have a Lennox A/C unit at home that I am loathe to replace, because I know next one will be junk. My existing unit is at least 30 years old. My Kenmore fridge lasted only 10 years. My parents' old Hotpoint lasted at least 20.


All disposable non-servicable junk at very non-disposable prices.
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