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Old 01-06-2011, 04:21 AM   #1
WaltandLynne
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Refrigerator Safety

I was reading a thread on another list to which I belong and a question came up about the safety of refrigerators. The concern was about them possibly catching on fire if the rig is not perfectly level. Is this a problem? I do understand that being level is the goal. However, if you are off somewhat, is the refrigerator more likely to catch fire? The brand that this other person was referring to was Norcold, although I think they all work on a similar premise.

Thanks for your input!

Best - Lynne
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:31 AM   #2
racerjoe
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there was a recall of dometics a few years back to add a shield because of a possible fire hazard. But not having them level is a new one. I know that some units won't cool right but that is all I have ever heard of.
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:32 AM   #3
camper4
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My understanding is they should be "reasonably" level so they refrigerate. I have not heard about a fire issue.
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Old 01-06-2011, 04:36 AM   #4
helmick
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We have did an awful lot of mountain driving with the refrigerator on and we have never had a fire.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:32 AM   #5
8.1al
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A Dometic rep. told me "As long as you don't pick up speed going from one end of your rig to the other you're OK". As far as fires caused by off level that's a new one for me.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:14 AM   #6
Art-n-Marge
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Fires are caused by electrical shorts or leaking refrigerant that drops onto a hot surface like the fridge burner or something else very hot. The recalls put shielding so that if a leak occurs the liquid would be diverted from any heat sources. (They didn't fix the chance of the leak, they just fixed where the leak goes, go figure.)

Being off level means that the refrigerant settles off center and cannot be circulated correctly, therefore will not cool. How this would cause a fire I do not know. Plus the fridge has to be very unlevel to be off level. I've read as much as 6%! Most of us owners can't stand being off level by two degrees, so the chances of the rig being off level enough for the fridge to be off level are slim, except...

I tow about 1 degree off level (higher at the pin). I have towed up and down as much as 7 degree hills with my fridge on. I believe if this was a concern NO ONE would be traveling with their fridge turned on when driving. Hill driving is temporary and with all the movement going on, I think the refrigerant will do fine. If the fridge has been on, the contents are cold and the fridge might not even be running most of the time anyway and this is when the refrigerant is needed.

Maybe if you tow with your fridge on and a leak occurs and you are way off level so that the refrigerant bypasses the diverter shielding then falls onto something hot.... naw... that's a stretch and even then this is a fault of a leak, not being off level.

I finally started traveling with my fridge on because many reknown RV experts admitted they traveled with their fridge on and how to maintain safety (turn off propane prior to fuel stations and tunnels) so I doubt being unlevel will be the cause. I was shocked to hear them doing this at first, but after hearing from experts what the concerns are, how to overcome them or prevent them then I don't worry any more and try to pass on what I've learned.

A bit of knowledge can go a long way. A little bit of wrong information will go even further.
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Old 01-06-2011, 10:37 AM   #7
Lee F.
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Art,
Quick question off topic. I've always shut off propane prior to fueling but wonder if it's really necessary with diesel, especially if gasoline isn't available at your location?
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:30 PM   #8
camper4
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For me, when I am at a truck stop and there is only diesel within 100 feet or more, I do not shut off the propane.
Pulling into a station with gasoline close by, I shut off propane before I get to the pumps.
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Old 01-06-2011, 12:49 PM   #9
Art-n-Marge
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Since most of the diesel areas I go to also say "no smoking" I would imagine it would also be dangerous. Whether it's posted or not, I do turn things off.

It's not the open propane bottle that's the issue, the issue is the devices that get turned on when they try to use the propane as they try to reignite. The arcs and sparks of igniters for these devices are what causes fumes to ignite and become the problem at a fuel stop or in a tunnel (where lingering fumes can have difficulty evacuating), not the propane bottle being left on.

When I stop I only turn off the devices that use propane (in my case, just the fridge), but not the propane when I stop. Even if the propane is on there should not be a problem unless a device demands it. If the devices are off, then no demand and no chance of a spark. This goes for RV refrigerators, water heaters and furnaces since owners have been known to run with any of these turned on.

I never run with the oven, stove or pilot so I didn't list it, because a pilot will be a problem if the flame goes out somehow - there will be unburnt propane entering the rig since RV ranges do not have autoigniters for the propane. Most other devices have hardware that will relight propane devices, just not ovens, but you don't want any of this ignition occurring around a fuel or fume source.

I hope this helps.
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Old 03-05-2011, 05:35 AM   #10
OldRetiredMSGT
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This is a little off subject but here goes. I plan on a two or three day Ferry Ride when comming back from Alaska this Summer. I read where they shut off amd seal the propane tanks before you get on. How do you keep all the expensive fish frozen that you just caught?????????????????
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:20 AM   #11
BB_TX
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Lee F.

...... I've always shut off propane prior to fueling but wonder if it's really necessary with diesel, especially if gasoline isn't available at your location?
Off the original topic somewhat and probably better for a new topic. But since we are already there.
Diesel does not produce the fumes gasoline does. I use diesel to help start burn piles when I clear brush on some land I own. I pour a little diesel on the pile. And then I actually have to touch the flame of the match to the diesel to get it started, much like starting charcoal lighter fluid. Even then it starts slowly, not explosive like gasoline.
And gasoline fumes are heavier than air and settle to the ground. Unless they can accumulate above the lower explosive limit in the area of the ignition source, it will not ignite. So the chance of that amount of fumes rising several feet from the ground and entering into the grill of the fridge is so remote as to not even consider, IMHO.
So no, I do not turn my propane off when fueling.
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Old 03-05-2011, 02:28 PM   #12
mhs4771
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Frank, I would think you could use a small DC to AC inverter so you could run the Fridge on AC. You would have to determine the current required by the electric element so that a proper sized inverter could be used. Depending on the load would determine how much battery power would be required. Just a thought, or you could have a big fish dinner for the crew of the ferry. Best of luck
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Old 03-06-2011, 12:02 AM   #13
Ozz
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After watching 'Myth Busters' and their experiments on exploding things, I feel more comfortable around my Propane appliances, fueling up and so on. The amount of Propane, or gas required to explode in free air would be great. You wouldn't be able to breathe easily if the fuel-to-air mixture was high enough to explode, or ignite.
I have worked on enough rooftop furnaces to see the difficulty a spark ignition has igniting a gas pilot. Everything has to be almost perfect.
In a freezer, a thaw takes a long time. When we travel our chest freezer easily survives even 4 to 6 hrs off power. The thermal mass of the frozen product keeps the cold. Now, the ice cream does get a little soft.
Water freezes at 32 Ice cream freezes at around 0 to 10 depending on the cream content.
I always ask the restaurant owner if the ice cream is hard when they call me on a problematic freezer. Tells me how bad the problem is, or if it is on defrost.(Temporary temperature rise.)
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