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Old 07-02-2014, 05:48 PM   #1
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Default Atwood Helium Refrigerator - 2015 189FDS

Dan asked that I keep you posted on the progress of the fridge issue. I thought, for future reference, it should have it's own thread.

The fridge, when set to AUTO, and plugged into shore power, and then unplugged from shore power, will not switch over to propane without having to turn the fridge off and back on manually.

As far as I'm concerned, that is not acceptable...what if the power goes out while I'm away from the trailer and then comes back on?

The first time it happened was on the trailer's maiden voyage. I didn't know anything was wrong until I stopped for the night and everything in the freezer had mostly defrosted! WTH? It happened again on my return trip.

On last week's trip, I was aware to watch for the problem.

When initially unplugged, the fridge makes a bunch of clicking noises 3 times and then goes into "CHECK" mode.

I took it to my dealer the day I got back from Nashville. When I got home from Nashville, I plugged the trailer in and called the dealer. Dealer said to bring it in that day. So, after about an hour of being plugged in at home, I unplugged the trailer. The fridge did NOT fail.

For a couple of days, the dealer could not get it to fail by plugging it in and unplugging it. It finally failed yesterday afternoon and again this morning.

Everyone is thinking perhaps a gas supply problem. When the fridge was failing for me, I tried the stove - both burners lit.

Dealership is closed now until Monday. They'll tackle the problem then.

Sigh.
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Old 07-03-2014, 08:10 AM   #2
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The clicking noise you hear is the burner trying to light. Not getting propane is one reason for it not to light. But it could also be something else. If the gas pressure is too low your stove would light but maybe not the burner. Or there could be something misadjusted or clogging the burner. At any rate you really need a qualified tech to check it out. Hope it turns out to be something simple.
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Old 07-03-2014, 11:07 AM   #3
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Quote:
I didn't know anything was wrong until I stopped for the night and everything in the freezer had mostly defrosted! WTH?
Do you drive around with the fridge full en route to your destination ?
We never put anything in the fridge until we get to the campsite. Too much
chance of things getting tossed around. At $1200 for a replacement fridge, it's not worth keeping my sprouts cold in the fridge, cooler does the job.
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:03 PM   #4
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Default My fridge is doing the same thing

The Atwood helium fridge in my 2014 233rbs is doing the same thing. Lights quick on Gas, but won't auto switch from electric to gas. Took unit in to get this and a few minor issues repaired this morning. I have had very few issues for a new trailer. Do think they are made cheap but everything works so far, two weeks on hookups and one week dry camping.

Yes, I carry food in the fridge and use the spring bars, never had a problem with food rearranging itself.
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Old 07-03-2014, 12:05 PM   #5
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I use those smaller tension rods to keep fridge stuff in place. Never had a problem.

So, if you don't fill your fridge until you arrive at the campground, is it in coolers or do you buy it after you've arrived? I am not understanding how things being tossed around could ruin your fridge? Color me dense.
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Old 07-03-2014, 02:54 PM   #6
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Default Motherboard??

I did a search for other folks with the same problem and came up empty! I am sure that the techs at the dealership are way ahead of me on this, but if there is plenty of propane, and the electronic ignition is working (that would be the clicking noise), it sounds like there is a flaw in the motherboard.

When the fridge is on shore power, the board cuts off the flow of propane to the burner. When the fridge is on auto and is unplugged, the board should allow fuel to flow and should then begin the ignition sequence -- the burner tries to light for a short while (under a minute, I think) and then shuts down if the burner does not light. If the burner did light, I think there is a thermocouple or sensor that tells the board to keep the flow of fuel going.

Here is a possible workaround -- leave the fridge on propane all the time! It uses very little gas, and the fridge works great on propane.

Keep us posted, Michelle -- this is not a trivial problem at all.
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Old 07-03-2014, 03:48 PM   #7
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Default It is not the sensor

Michelle --

One more thought -- assuming the unit runs at all on propane, we know the fault is not in the sensor/thermocouple that sits over the burner in the flue. It must be functioning properly, or else the control board would cut off the flow of gas, and the burner would never stay lit.

My amateur guess is the relay in the control board that is supposed to trip when you unplug the shore power. It is supposed to allow fuel to the burner and also start the ignition sequence. The latter is happening, but not the former.

Dan

PS -- and if this is an intermittent problem (as it seems to be), then that tells us the relay still works but (perhaps) there is a soldering fault that causes it to lose power. Don't know if the service tech can diagnose at that level to find that specific fault -- I certainly can't. Might be easier to replace the whole board.
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Old 07-20-2014, 08:32 PM   #8
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I am having the same issue and think it's the atwoods gas shut off valve. Every time it won't start i turn it off, then back on, and it works.

It seems like it needs to sense the gas cycle on and off before it works.
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Old 07-21-2014, 06:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michellep
I use those smaller tension rods to keep fridge stuff in place. Never had a problem.

So, if you don't fill your fridge until you arrive at the campground, is it in coolers or do you buy it after you've arrived? I am not understanding how things being tossed around could ruin your fridge? Color me dense.
Same here. I have the frig running for about a day so it's cold before leaving on a trip and load it at home. Everything remains cold/frozen enroute and during the trip. Never had a problem with things 'shifting' enroute either.
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:29 PM   #10
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Fridge still having issues with switching from electric to gas when set to auto. My dealer had the unit for almost 2 weeks and put in a new board, a new burner, and a new gas line (I think).

Just got back from a week+ camping and the problem occurred each of 3 times that I unplugged from electric - fridge would not start on gas. Goes into fault (check) mode and these 3 times, the red "GAS" light was blinking. I don't remember that happening before, but could be a feature of the newer control board.

Dealer is going to have his tech talk to Atwood again tomorrow. Atwood is being far from cooperative. I am not happy.
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Old 07-22-2014, 05:32 PM   #11
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I think the issue is it doesn't turn on the gas supply for some reason. Here's a quick work around:

Before unplugging, open the fridge access panel on the side of you trailer. IN the bottom right, just before the silver cover plate, you will see the gass shut off valve.

Turn it to off, then on again. Now unplug and your fridge should start. Repeat if necessary. You don't have to plug back in, just turn the fridge on and off using the button on it's front.

Works every time.
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:36 PM   #12
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The fridge will start on gas if I turn it off and then back on.

My point is that I shouldn't have to work around some sort of design flaw. What if I'm away from camp for a time and there's a power outage...just shrug and say, "Oh, well - I didn't want to eat all that food in the freezer anyway." I'm very frustrated.

Seems like the general public has become beta testers for all sorts of industries, with little recourse.
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:47 PM   #13
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Wasn't saying you should live with it, just saying you don't have to be without your trailer or fridge until Atwood figures it out.

The dealer could replace every component and it won't make a difference, if it's an Atwood problem and until they figure it out, may as well enjoy the trailer before winter comes.
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Old 07-23-2014, 09:20 AM   #14
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I called Atwood for info and will diagnose myself. I was asked to measure the incoming voltage to the control board and outgoing voltage to the solenoid. It needs to have AT LEAST 11.1 V going in and making it to the solenoid. My guess is that the incoming voltage is weak if the board swap didn't help.

My theory is that turning that cycling the gas on and off helps the solenoid slide into position when it needs to.

Any chance you have a cheap volt meter and would be willing to do a 3 minute voltage test if I post instructions?

I will do mine tonight and post results. My guess is that we will see an issue before the board.
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Old 07-23-2014, 10:25 AM   #15
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I do have a volt meter and would love to do the test - DETAILED INSTRUCTIONS REQUIRED (to both prevent further damage to the unit and to myself!! )

As an update, however, got an email from my dealer a little bit ago - Atwood is sending us a new fridge!! Isn't that something? I was really surprised.
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Old 07-23-2014, 11:45 AM   #16
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That is amazing, I would never have expected that. It is a huge expense for everyone involved.

I only wish they could have diagnosed the problem before, it will be a huge letdown if you have the same problem. Maybe they had some issue that they are aware of and not making public.

I will post pics this evening when I get home.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:02 AM   #17
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Default Atwood Fridge

OP HERE - My brand new Fun Finder has been in the shop this time for over 2 weeks (possibly 3). Here is part of an email I received from the dealer this morning:

After sitting all weekend on electric, the refrigerator failed to light this morning. Went through three full cycles before it lit. After it lit, we turned it off and then back on and it immediately lit the first cycle. Seems that after it sits on electric for a few days it has to purge before it can light. I donít know anything else to do. We can call Atwood again to see if they can give us some suggestions or you are welcomed to take it and try it.

My reply:

What about a brand of refrigerator that actually works??
I don't think I can just accept an appliance that does not function properly in a brand new RV for which I am paying a lot of money.



The frustration just keeps growing...[/i]
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:08 AM   #18
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I keep having this problem as well. This weekend however, things worked without a hitch.

I have gotten in the habit of checking the fridge every time I unplug and when it does not start, I fire up the stove to purge the lines.

I know its not ideal but until they figure out the valve issue, I can live with it because I just cannot see myself going bac to a domestic.
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:11 AM   #19
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OP HERE.

With the original fridge, purging with the stove did not help.

Why wouldn't you go back to a different brand? The Dometic on my first FF worked flawlessly (too well, even...)

And what's gonna happen if you're away from the trailer and the power goes out? (I obviously don't mean "you" per se...)
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Old 09-02-2014, 07:15 AM   #20
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I may not have seen the latest Dometics but they remind me of my old boat fridge. Seems like a 30 year old design, just depresses me. The Atwood looks like a modern refrigerator.

As I said, it's probably just me.

On another note, I suspect they are having issues with the gas solenoid valve. It does not seem to cycle reliably.

Have you had any issues with it turning off once on gas?
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