The Anxious Fridge

Every now and then a good product can fail which can be simply bad luck. We get it repaired and life goes on. When things like a fridge fails to work or fails to be useable, there are consequences like food going off or a cancelled trip. When there is a failure due to a silly design fault which lead to these consequences, there is plenty of room for an end user to be a bit miffed.

Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend
Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend

About a year ago, I was chatting to a neighbour at Uretiti DOC campground in Waipu. He had a New Euro Motorhome with the same fridge as ours and was showing me how his door lock mechanism had failed so he couldn’t open his fridge door. He ended up taking out the decorative panelling off the front so he could get to a shaft to open his door with a pair of pliers! The shaft had failed when two bits of coat hanger like wire, end on end had slipped past each other rendering the door mechanism useless. There was no proper joining shroud to keep the two bits of wire lined up. He’d gone to some trouble to show me how to get at this shaft and seemed fairly convinced, I was going to be next. This thankfully, hasn’t happened yet but I was very appreciative for the efforts he went to so I knew how to deal with it. My memory from this was how Micky Mouse, the whole setup was for a supposedly quality fridge that was more expensive than my fridge at home.

Friday night was looking good to get away up north for a few days. We’d both just finished work and decided to stop at the Silverdale Roadside Cafe and BP station for some diesel and food.
We’d just got going when the fridge starting beeping with a light flashing as well. It beeped for 30 seconds every 2.5 minutes. It was driving us nuts and we knew we’d never be able to sleep with it like this. At the truck stop, we turned off the fridge while we had tea and got some fuel as it seemed to keeping stuff cold, just making a racket!
After tea, reading through the “book” gave error messages for things like no gas, no power and talked about other buttons beeping with the alarm but nothing for this error. It did talk about having a “door open” alarm and the “light on in the fridge” alarm. That’s what it had to be as the fridge was still working perfectly.
In the meantime, we had a fridge full of food and didn’t know how to fix it.

Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you'll know how to deal with it!
Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you’ll know how to deal with it!

We decided we’d go home, rescue the food and try again Saturday morning if we could find a fix.
Isn’t Google great for this… “Why is my fridge beeping” gave me a list of answers from several caravan sites and they all mentioned two fridges, ours being one of them. The fridge, can’t remember the model number now but it’s definitely the same as our one and they’re in all the newer bigger motorhomes and caravans.

Well, the nitty gritty of it is, they have a bad built in design fault or as some call this “an undocumented feature”! The led light is part of a printed circuit board inside the door catch assembly with an edge connector poking out the back into the fridge space.
Who is the fruit loop who thought putting an unprotected printed circuit board in a fridge was a good idea? Why not give it sealed plastic cover and some heat shrink and make it reliable?

The door catch with the cover on
The door catch with the cover on
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.

I could see by putting my finger in the door switch that the interior led light went off but still had a faint glow so the door switch must be short circuiting by moisture. This was mentioned on various sites as well.

The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back
The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back

The recommended fixes from the Internet: pull the door catch cover off, wipe the plug surfaces dry and reconnect, reset fridge.. This didn’t work. Next step, disassemble again and disable the light by pulling the plug off. Yippee, success, but no light but at least the bloody fridge was quiet, works efficiently and we could sleep without the damn thing beeping all night!

So we shifted all the frozen and perishable foods, cheese and wine etc back into Rafe and we finally got away at 10am. It seems I’ll have to get a new door micro switch.

3 thoughts on “The Anxious Fridge”

  1. Thanks for the info on the fridge light switch. It woke me up with its alarm and I looked all thru the book and not a thing on the flashing lignt and alarm. I had forgotten that it was simply the door alarm and thought the worst that the refrigeration was failing. I found your answer to a caravan forum and remembered the door warning and slept soundly. I followed your blog and dried it all out but still faulty. Even with the plug disconnected it still flashed so cleaned the plug terminals. All go now. I cannot believe that Dometic screw the door catch directly into the fridge wall. Thanks for the help.

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    1. Hi Dave
      There is definitely a lot of room for improvement in the design.

      Also there aren’t any instructions on how to use or what the frame heater is for. Using this will eliminate most of the condensation issues. I use it every two days in summer due to our high humidity and haven’t had a problem since.
      Cheers

      Like

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