Thursday, September 23, 2010

RESIDENTIAL REFRIGERATOR INSTALLATION

Well, we decided to replace our Norcold Refrigerator with a Residential Refrigerator. Our Norcold went on the blink when we arrived in Houston on September 9, 2010. It started beeping with a “no..co” code. After searching the owner's manual, talking to a repairman, and doing some online research, we found out it was either the computer board ($500 to replace) or the cooling unit ($1400 to replace). The problem was it was a crap shoot. The repairman would start with replacing the computer board. If that didn't work he would move on the the cooling unit. So we could have nearly $2000 in repairs with no guarantee that would be it!

That lead us to researching the Residential Refrigerator (RR) replacement. Many new motor homes come with a RR and many owners of older MH are replacing the undependable Norcold and Dometic refrigerators with RR. This too can be an expensive decision but Paul is going to do most of the installation himself saving the labor costs.

We will do the installation in stages to save costs. Here's what we'll do.

Stage 1: Remove the existing Norcold prior to our New Mexico trip.

Stage 2: Install RR as soon as possible.

Stage 3: Battery upgrade. When we replace our aging batteries, consider the upgrade to AGM's

Stage 4: If necessary, Install a pure sine-wave inverter for better performance.

So here we go with Stage 1, the removal of the existing Norcold. The removal was a little tough.

old-one-outer     

old-one-inside

I removed doors and everything else that was removable before trying to get it out of the MH.

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It appears that Tiffin glues in to the floor. Breaking it free from that glue was tough. I had the maintenance man here at the park help me get the refrigerator out of the MH once it was removed from its cabinet . He backed his pick-up truck under the emergency escape window located behind the driver's seat.

Marsha held the window open while we laid it on the window sill. One of us balanced it while the other ran outside. We slid it out, all but the last several inches. I then went out, got in the bed of the truck, and we lowered down inside the truck. EASY! Only took about a minute to hand the old refrigerator out the window.

Next, Paul stripped everything out of the cabinet that housed the refrigerator.

old-one-wiring-empty-hole

Bella had to check it out before Paul was allowed to move on.

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He then pulled up the floor in order to lower it a couple inches. Couple problems here! While removing the floor he accidently cut the propane hose to the portable heater we use in the winter and he also cut the PEX tubing for the waterline to the ice maker. So both of them needed to be repaired.  Both need to be re-routed anyway, so no harm there!

The final cabinet cleaned out of everything thing but some necessary wiring measures: 33 inches wide X 69.5 inches high X 30 inches deep. That should work well with the refrigerator we picked-out. It's a Whirlpool 21.7 square feet side by side. It was on sale at Lowes, and they have free delivery to boot.

The doors will have to be removed to get it inside the MH, but hopefully it will fit after they are removed. He also found out that it will be necessary to remove the entire window – frame and all – for the new frig to fit. Interesting....YOWZIE!!

Saturday, September 18 - Our new residential refrigerator is going to be delivered today. After his morning coffee, Paul got busy preparing for the delivery. He moved the driver-side couch and then removed the large window behind the drivers seat.

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window-out-plastic

It was a surprising simple job. He then cleaned off the old caulk from the window so it would be ready to re-insert after the refrigerator was passed through the opening.

window-out-picnic-table

The Lowes delivery guys pulled-in at 10 a.m. - a half hour early......unbelievable. The delivery crew was surprised they were going to pass it through a window in a MH-something they had never done before......LOL. The young men proved very helpful. They quickly removed the refrigerator doors.

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3-doors-on-ground

Then backed their truck up to the window.

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Passing the refrigerator through the window was accomplished in a matter of a couple minutes.

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We then slid it over to the cabinet, lifted it the sixteen inches up and slid it in position. Fit like a glove!

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20-in 

The guys then replaced the doors and removed some of the packing. The crew even helped Paul replace the window in the MH.....AWESOME!!

21window-back

After a tip to the drivers, they packed up and headed to their next delivery. Total time on the job....fifty minutes. All that worry and it was a simple job....GREAT!

Paul then completed the installation. He attached the water line for the ice maker/cold water dispenser and then plugged in the refrigerator.

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23-water-line

Ahhhhh....cold refrigerator....everything worked as intended. We then cleaned out all the Styrofoam and packing material from inside. All ready for food. The only thing left is to bolt it to the floor before we travel. Paul removed the front bottom grill and drilled 3 holes in the steel refrigerator frame. Then he used three inch lag bolts and secured it to the floor. That should keep it secure while traveling.

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Monday, September 20 – This was the first day of travel with our new residential refrigerator.  When we pulled out of the Houston West RV Park, the freezer temperature as at 7 degrees and the refrigerator box was at 26 degrees.  Five hours later, when we arrived at Junction, TX, the freezer was 26 degrees and the refrigerator box was at 52 degrees.  That was without running the generator or using any battery electricity.  So it stayed fairly cold. 

Tomorrow when we travel, we will conduct our next test. After driving for about 3 hours we will check the temperature in both sections of the refrigerator. If the temps are down, we will then run the generator for awhile to keep the refrigerator a little colder. Paul was happy with the freezer temperature but would like the refrigeration section to stay about 10 degrees colder. We’ll let you know how tomorrow’s experiment works out. 

Tuesday, September 21 - Residential Refrigerator Update: Today we decided to experiment with running the generator for an hour around lunch time to see if the refrigerator would maintain colder temperatures. Sure enough the temperatures stayed within a few degrees of our starting temps. So I think running the generator every few hours is the route to go until we replace our batteries. When we replace the batteries we'll get another inverter, a 1000 watt-pure sine wave model, dedicated entirely to running the refrigerator on battery power. That's the “proven” route to go!

Thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a great day. Hope to see you back soon.

3 comments:

  1. I would be a bit concerned about the target temps for the freezer and refer unless you turn over all your food fairly quickly.

    26 degrees is at least 10 degrees too warm for an ongoing basis in a freezer due to uneven cooling when loaded (walls will get warmer) and loading (new stuff will be warmer) and take longer to cool down, warming up the rest of the freezer for quite awhile.

    Also, same applies to the refer. There, you are talking about food that comes and goes from the box so it is bringing in warm (and often humid) air along with bacteria and mold spores and those guys will take advantage of ever little degree... even below freezing.

    Spoiled food in the refer is not too hard to detect but in frozen, it really is and just being below 32 degrees does not stop spoilage... it just slows it down.

    Just a couple of concerns from experience and research.

    Enjoy the new freedom from Norcold, though.

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  2. Great story and pictures...Thanks for the ideas!

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  3. You were our inspiration, thank you for sharing. Steve replaced our Norcold with a new residential fridge recently. And the fridge is working as expected the last few weeks.
    -MonaLiza

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