Electrolux RM4213s Fridge on Gas

May 9, 2018
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This Fridge in our 2001 Autosleepers Symbol Campervan has been working fine up 'till now... and we are only in our second week of a 5 month tour of Italy. Sod's Law!
So... I'm hoping someone here could suggest a probable cause and how to fix it.
It works fine on 240v & 12v, but a couple of days ago it was reluctant to light up on gas... currently Propane. The 12v peizo ignitor was sparking (although a bit weak I thought... maybe) but not igniting. Just a split second after releasing the gas knob there'd be a small "boof" at the back indicating that even a weak spark was capable of igniting something, and that maybe it was getting more gas/not enough air. I then realized I still had the winter covers on (which shouldn't realy stop it working) and took them off. It eventually lit. Problem solved... I thought.
Next morning I turned off the gas side of fridge and onto 12volt and we went for a drive up a mountain pass (in the Dolomites), had a walk, came down to the valley... and it was again very lazy lighting up on gas. Thought it had eventually lit, because the 12v igniter stopped clicking. Woke up this AM and made a brew only to find we had yoghurt instead of milk in the fridge. The fridge had stopped... the ignitor swith was on, but no clicking and no flashing light.
I'm pretty hands on and... retired multi-trade Joiner... have some problem solving skills... and a small tool kit with me. It could be the ignitor... it could be the burner as well... it could even be the gas jet as well as those two. I do know it wont have had a service for a few years before I got it last year.
Any suggestions... or repair manuals etc...?
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Had a similar problem recently with our fridge very difficult to light on gas using the push piezo. At its service couple of weeks ago I reported it and the technician found gas leak on the fridge gas supply which when tightened up sorted the problem out. The worrying thing is that my wife nor I could smell any gas, which shows that the floor vents are working. Yet it must have been a small leak as the gas bottle gauge (rubbish) didnt drop any more than normal. So now it gets isolated when not being used, which isn't a lot as we tend to be on EHU most times.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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I suspect bearing in mind it is 17 yearscold the flue directly above the burner has rusted and allowed debris to drop where it shouldn’t. The fact it does or has recently lit is a good sign. A good clean out looks the order of the day. When was it last professionally serviced?
Make sure all the vents beneath the fridge are clear. What colour was the flame last time? Please be very careful, getting it wrong could be disastrous. Take plenty of photos. Do you have any gas leak detector spray? Unless you are certain what you are doing and have the manual maybe best to seek an expert. They do have them even in Italy B)
 
May 9, 2018
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Thanks to Clive an Dusty for the replies.
We really need to have this fridge running on gas as we are doing a fair bit of off-site wild camping... approx 5 days off and 2 days on-site.
I took the two side vents off yesterday, and the top flue-vent assembly, and discovered that there is actually combustion going on... the top of the cumbustion tube was hot to touch, though not so hot you had to remove your hand, yet the heat exchange matrix was just at ambient air temp.
So, despite not getting any cooling, and seeing no flame in the ridiculously impossible to view through little plastic window in the fridge, which has condensation on the back of it anyway, there must be a flame... but I suspect it's so weak it cant achieve mutch.
So, like you guys, I suspect it needs a good clean out. But access to the back of the fridge is so limited via the appertures (once grills are removed) that its impossible to access the screws to the burner box at the bottom of the heat exchange tube in order to clean out any rust, soot, or spiders.
I did carefully introduce a rubber tube down the burner stack and gave it several enthusiastic blows in the vain hope it might have an effect... but nothing. Put it all back together and it's just as it was before. It sparks, it obviously must light, but nothing to see through the perspex window, only low heat from the flue (though I wouldn't know how hot it should get) and zero discernable cooling... like its turned on to minimum in expectation of a Scottish winter.
As an ex Corgi registered installer, I have no qualms working on gas appliances, but could do with some advice from someone that has removed one of these fridges... cos that is the only way I can see me (or anyone else) getting to that burner. One would hope that it is possible to pull it out without mangling gas and electrical feeds.
Of course, I could try to find a service engineer or depot, but Italy and Italians can be such damned hard work... despite my Italian being fairly functional... I'd probably have to drive 80 miles, the guy would tell me to leave the camper with him for a week, and on return chargee virtually the price of a new fridge for doing a job that might only last a couple of weeks before playing up again. Had a similar unfortunate car experience here.
Any advice much appreciated.
 
May 9, 2018
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Thanks to Clive an Dusty for the replies.
We really need to have this fridge running on gas as we are doing a fair bit of off-site wild camping... approx 5 days off and 2 days on-site.
I took the two side vents off yesterday, and the top flue-vent assembly, and discovered that there is actually combustion going on... the top of the cumbustion tube was hot to touch, though not so hot you had to remove your hand, yet the heat exchange matrix was just at ambient air temp.
So, despite not getting any cooling, and seeing no flame in the ridiculously impossible to view through little plastic window in the fridge, which has condensation on the back of it anyway, there must be a flame... but I suspect it's so weak it cant achieve much.
So, like you guys, I suspect it needs a good clean out. But access to the back of the fridge is so limited via the appertures (once grills are removed) that its impossible to access the screws to the burner box at the bottom of the heat exchange tube in order to clean out any rust, soot, or spiders.
I did carefully introduce a rubber tube down the burner stack and gave it several enthusiastic blows in the vain hope it might have an effect... but nothing. Put it all back together and it's just as it was before. It sparks, it obviously must light, but nothing to see through the perspex window, only low heat from the flue (though I wouldn't know how hot it should get) and zero discernable cooling... like its turned on to minimum in expectation of a Scottish winter.
As an ex Corgi registered installer, I have no qualms working on gas appliances, but could do with some advice from someone that has removed one of these fridges... cos that is the only way I can see me (or anyone else) getting to that burner. One would hope that it is possible to pull it out without mangling gas and electrical feeds.
Of course, I could try to find a service engineer or depot, but Italy and Italians can be such damned hard work... despite my Italian being fairly functional... I'd probably have to drive 80 miles, the guy would tell me to leave the camper with him for a week, and on return charge virtually the price of a new fridge for doing a job that might only last a couple of weeks before playing up again. Had a similar unfortunate car experience here.
Any advice much appreciated.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello PiIchard,

Difficult ignition, unreliable flame retention, heat but no obvious flame visible in the viewing window, strongly suggests a blocked or damaged burner. Many years ago I had a similar problem on a 20 year old fridge whilst on holiday, As a CORGI registered LPG fitter myself, I strip down the burner, and found the gauze on the top of the burner had eroded away.

As an ex CORGI registered fitter, you should be able to remember the practical aspects of working on gas appliances, duty to seal and of course the necessary safety checks. so that gives me some confidence in your ability to safely undertake work on the appliance. However I don't know the Italian law on who can work on caravans, and whether its legal for an owner to do it themselves.

It sounds like you have so far basically done all you can, without having to gain full access to the burner.
 
Sep 29, 2016
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Pilchard,

Instead of trying to blow out dustdebris, could you borrow a vacuum cleaner with the little accessory nozzles and try sucking the debris out?

Worked for me when I had what I think was spider webs and other unknown particles in the burner area, took 3 or 4 attempts as I recall.

Access wasn't that great, probably why it took so many attempts at clearing the obstruction.
 
May 9, 2018
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Two good replies from Proff John & Anseo, and both sound advice.
If I could access a vacuum cleaner Anseo, I'd possibly give it a try. But not knowing what's down the bottom of that heat exchange tube makes me nervous to go prodling about down there. When I blew it out with a gas hose I only stuck it down as low as the spiral difuser reached... just in case. Having an exploded diagram would help. A full workshop manual would be even better.

Regarding safety Proff John, if I were to remove it to work on it, I'd want to ensure absolute safety re CO, gas, & electricity... but other than a soap test, I'm a bit stuck as to how I could test for soundness without a guage, even if there were a test nipple.

Anyway, we took the van on a very short run with 12v on and it "seemed" to cool a little. We have come on-site now for a day or two, and it's deffo working on 240v. But earlier I closed all the curtains and blinds, stuck my head in the fridge with the door at my neck to block out as much light as I could, and spotted the tiniest blue flame... which didn't vary whatever I did with the numbered control knob/valve.
A blue flame (without any suggestion of yellow or orange) might suggest no contamination or blockage on the air side of the burner... and might suggest some sort of constriction or blockage. Well no-one has been bashing gas pipes flat, so I can only assume some sort of contaminant in the gas line... probably at the burner jet. I've seen a post elswhere where a guy had something like this gumming up the feed to the jet. He took the jet off and poked the crud out with a fine panel pin and everything was OK after that.

I'm reluctant to start riving the fridge out without some authorative guidelines so, in the absence of a workshop manual/PDF/or whatever... I'll give Autosleepers (who built this campervan) a buzz and see what they can send me.
Failing that, the nearest Dometic agent is an hour's drive away 40km over a pass to Bolzano.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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From your description then I would suspect the gas jet is partially blocked.

Click here for a DIY description of how to sort this with a minimum of tools.
The refrigerator is not your model but the workings are almost identical.
You would have to remove the refrigerator from it's housing.
I have serviced my 23 year old caravan absorption refrigerator using the same techniques and it works perfectly on gas.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Pilchard, just another thought, Might it be a blocked regulator, from the bottle, to the MH. Restricting the gas. Have you a gas hob in the van and does that work ok. ? Back to basics.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Pilchard,
Most caravan LPG installation don't have gas pressure nipples, so that makes me suspect your ticket was not for LPG. Tthe soundness test used to be done at the gas input ferrule, but since the introduction of bulkhead regulators I'm not sure what provision is now made. Yes I'm that old.

So you can see a small flame. Though to be fair its difficult to judge the size of the flame through the sighting port, but the fact the fridge seems to work correctly on both 12Vdc and Mains does suggest the heat input from the gas side may be too little.

As time goes by , some LPG injectors do suffer with a crud build up forming a small volcano on the injector. Depending on the design of the injector, it can prevent proper aeration in the venturi tube, but this is usually signified by a yellowing flame, and sooting at the exhaust. Some build ups will close down the injector bore restricting the gas flow which would produce a smaller flame.

All this is supposition and cannot be taken as gospel until the burner has been checked.
 
May 9, 2018
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No.... hob, grill, oven, blown air all fine, and presume hot water will be fine to. Worth mentioning though, cos you can never tell....
Gafferbill is the man on this occasion though.
 
May 9, 2018
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Gafferbill... you da man! That's exactly what I'm after. It saves so much worry re breaking things when you have a presumably identical case study documented and photographed. Better than some workshop manuals and installation guides I've had to follow.
Cheers.
 
May 9, 2018
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I agree with every step of your logical analysis, especially the lack of yellow flame. It's lovely and blue but just tiny. So long as I don't find any other probs when I take it apart (ref Gafferbill's link), then I'm expecting a blocked jet or crud in the feed to the jet.
And yes... never did any LPG work and yes... I suspect a drop test was done via a pump and guage at the cylinder end of the supply. As I suspect I'll only be undoing two parts of the system... the connection near the volume control on top of the fridge, and the jet itself... then the old soap test will do the job. Rinse and dry properly after to avoid chance of corrosion.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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When your in a field and have do to what you have too, then getting it done is all that is concerned, you have the Knowledge and CDF to do it. I Found Dental floss picks clear gas jets very well. . Fairy liquid and water as a bubble leak check, but no need . To tell you.
 
May 9, 2018
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EH52ARH said:
When your in a field and have do to what you have too, then getting it done is all that is concerned, you have the Knowledge and CDF to do it. I Found Dental floss picks clear gas jets very well. . Fairy liquid and water as a bubble leak check, but no need . To tell you.

Yes, agree to that first bit, not so sure about the second bit, can't work out what CDF is, never found a single use for dental floss, do they really make picks out of dental floss?, and if I run out of Fairy I've found the old match test can often work a treat.
Joking aside, when me and the missus were starting up our first home and we had a second-hand old gas cooker, she kept complaining about the smell of gas from around the cooker. I told her it'd be leaky taps on the pretty ancient cooker, that we'd get a new one soon, and that the smelly gas they put in natural gas is so strong that the leak would probably be quite minor. A week or two later I had cause to pull the cooker out still attached on its butyl beyonet hose in order to do something to the old kitchen cabs. I felt this little cold blast against my cheek, which turned out to be a tiny pin-prick puncture in the brass ferrule at one end of the hose. I lit it, as you do... just for the crack, and the flame was 3 inches long. We kept the cooker for a bit longer, but did buy a new butyl hose. Good job it was a very large and draughty ground floor kitchen. Eee... the good old days!

But back to this fridge...
I emailed an Italian company who are the appointed Dometic agent in this region, asking if they would fix it for me if I drove over. Their parahrased reply was... "this model of fridge ceased production a few years ago and we can't help you". I did say that the Italians can be hard work, but that reply is completely anal. Chocolate tea-pot, or what?
I also emailed Auto-Sleepers who built the van, and they suggest I try to get guides and PDFs from Dometic. Fair enough, I wasn't expecting much more than that.

But it's you lot here that have come up trumps. Now I just have to wait for the rain to stop, but my wife has just looked up the weather for the next 2 weeks and its biblical. We'll also need to book into a campsite for a couple of days because if I start doing this job in a public carpark I'd have a mob of over-curious Italians around me calling the police and denouncing me on the grounds that I'd broken the cardinal rule of Italian society... Bella Figura! Look it up. They are nuts!
Will let you know what happens, but thanks again for your help.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello Pilchard.

We really appreciate knowing the outcome of this type thread. All too often someone asks for help, we give it and we don't get to know the result. Good or bad, it all helps to extend the knowledge base.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Pilchard

When you do remove the entire fridge keep an eye open for stray earth wires that may be spade fitted. If you can take lots of photos for your reference on reassembly all the better.
When you finally get to the jet / burner I suggest you remove the entire gas feed pipe and clean this thoroughly . internally blowing etc. Some the rust particles do find their way through the burner / jet into the pipe and may cause problems if you only clean the burner. Careful how you clean the jet, but then as agas engineer you will understand that.

Hope you get it all working. Good Luck.
 
Jul 15, 2008
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.........just a further tip.

The gas jet is very crude.......it is basically a small disc of thin sheet non corroding metal with a very small gauge hole. (see pictures in previous post)
This hole gets blocked over time with a build up of crud.........this is not rust or debris.
These burners are very low consumers of gas...... the correct flame is not that big......that is all they need to be to work the refrigerator efficiently.
This makes them vulnerable to any degree of restriction of the jet.
 
Apr 19, 2017
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This has got me thinking about how the thermostat works when on gas. (My Thetford fridge does not need any form of power when operating on gas, so it has to be purely mechanical. It has a manual piezo ignition.).

The pilot flame obviously has to stay on permanently. When the fridge has cooled to the chosen temperature you can clearly hear the thermostat operating (with a 'clank'). When the thermostat cuts back in you can hear the increased 'roar' of the flame if outside and it is quiet.

As far as I know, there is only one burner, so the gas supply must increase/decrease. (I am pretty sure it is just 2 states, rather than fully modulated). A follow-on to this is that a fault in the gas thermostat could mean that the flame is only ever in the maintain-small-pilot-flame state?

(In contrast, my portable 3-way camping fridge has no gas thermostat, and the gas flame simply remains constant).
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Pilchard dental floss picks, various sizes get them in supermarkets and chemists.

20180613_194300.jpg
 
Mar 14, 2005
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EH52ARH said:
Pilchard dental floss picks, various sizes get them in supermarkets and chemists.

20180613_194300.jpg
Hello Hutch,

The injector hole for fridge is minute as it only passes about 125W of gas. I would be surprized if the smallest dental flosser is small enough to pass through the injector. A strand of copper from a fexible cord is going to be nearer the mark, and being copper should not damage the bore of the injector.

Hello Pichard
This video may be interest
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rBxt2BG7JbE

Editing note after Damian's Comment

I only included the video to show the general layout,

I should have pointed out the unsatisfactory way the video guy was working.
He should have:-
mentioned checks on all the supplies (Gas, Mains and 12V ) and to ensure they were all properly up to standard and then fully isolated before starting any work on the appliance.
Using correctly insulated tools for electrical work, and to protect the wire when disconnected from the appliance to prevent touch or shorting.
etc etc tec.

But I get told off for being too pedantic.

It is clear from the quality of Pilchards responses he's knowledgeable, taking reasonable and sensible actions, and whilst it may not be to the letter of the UK regulations, the guy's in Italy with no apparent local help available.
 

Damian

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Mar 14, 2005
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If that is the way they "service" a fridge, don't go there !!!!!

As a Dometic engineer I am absolutely disgusted with the way they handle the fridge and the equipment attached to the fridge

The van they were working on must have been quite an old van as modern vans do not have the gas connection where that one is , it is usually at the back on the left hand side, however all that is another topic.

As an aside, the jet should never ever be "cleaned" using anything like copper wire, dental floss or anything else, it should be replaced with a new jet, and depending on condition ( a lot of rust), a new burner .
 
May 9, 2018
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The volume of contributions on this thread is fantastic... Thanks all. But I bet it's also a good indicator that these fridges might be troublesome on gas.

The Floss Pick... so that's what it is. I tried these once, on my teeth, then threw them away on the basis that I felt they were doing far more harm than good. Re cleaning jets with them? Not a chance! They have a steel support wire down the middle that in itself would probably be too big for the jet bore, would damage as it's too hard, and with the added bulk of the nylon brush.... nah! Good for cleaning larger less critical things, but interdental cavities and gas jets... nope.

By the way, I am not, nor ever was, a gas engineer. I was CORGI registered for a number of years, but foolishly gave it up as I wasn't doing enough gas work to warrant the annual fee and. Should have kept the ticket and punted out for more gas & heating work, done courses etc. Those guys have a licence to print money!

The instructional video is quite useful (only gave it a quickie on my phone so far) but as in all instructionals... video, text, or otherwise... they never cover the exact same model or installation. But it all helps to create a mental map and boost confidence. If the camper was laid up at home and I had weeks to get it working, that fridge would be in pieces on a bench by now. But "in the field" as I am (more like "on the mountain" here) with no facilities of any kind, better I get all my ducks in a row before I start anything. Once it's out, it needs to get fixed, then bunged back in and working first time. Better also to bench test before it goes back in so I need to jerry-rig gas &12v supplies. All needs planning ahead. But it's not possible to book the weather, which is pretty rubbish at the moment... all over Italy apparently.
 

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