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What Causes Norcold Cooling Unit Failures?

Posted by The Norcold Guy on

What causes Norcold refrigerators to stop/ quit working?!

Nearly everyone with a Norcold RV refrigerator has heard of the dreaded high temperature sensor recall. Is your refrigerator safe?!

Norcold gas absorption model refrigerators (RV models) have cooling units that operate through the heating, evaporating, and condensing of an ammonia solution. This solution contains chemicals designed to fight corrosion. During normal operation, the cooling unit boiler will maintain an approximate temperature of 350 degrees F (rarely exceeding 400 degrees F). Problems arise when the cooling unit is overheated, usually by off-level operation. This overheating of the ammonia solution actually changes the chemical composition, breaking down the anti-corrosion chemicals and causing thermal stress in the cooling units boiler. This will cause cooling unit failure in one of two ways:

  1. This thermal stress causes metal fatigue and over time will cause a cooling unit rupture. 
  2. The overheating of the ammonia solution can cause a cooling unit blockage caused from the crystallization of Sodium Chromate.

You may have been wondering why your refrigerator contains an HTS (high temperature switch) and now you know, however, it's important to understand the parameters of your Norcold safety switch. As stated above, the overheating of the ammonia solution is the underlying reason behind cooling unit ruptures and blockages. The Norcold safety switch is designed to go off at 800 degrees F and prevent against a potential fire in the RV.

A company by the name of ARP makes a high temperature switch that prevents overheating of the ammonia, however, their unit cannot legally be installed without the Norcold recall switch first being installed. DO NOT install the ARP without calling Norcold at 800-543-1219 and getting your current high temperature switch replaced. There is a Federal mandate on it requiring you to keep it installed. Many RVers think that they can just install the ARP in place of the Norcold switch, you cannot! 

We no longer stand behind the ARP switch for safety reasons. Too many people are installing it without replacing the Norcold recall switch which is a serious safety hazard. We recommend you contact Norcold and then simply make sure you level your RV when you arrive at your destination!

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