There are lots of horror stories about norcold cooling units; fridge fires, recall ‘fixes’ and a number of problems with the absorption refrigeration system. Fortunately replacing a norcold cooling unit is not only possible but usually much less expensive than replacing an entire refrigerator.

Whether you are a weekend warrior or full timer there’s nothing worse than having an RV refrigerator that won’t cool or smells like ammonia. Often the first sign that your cooling unit has failed is a gurgling sound when you turn on the heat source. This sounds like water boiling and indicates that there is a hole in the boiler tube.

You may also see a yellow residue on the bottom of your freezer or even inside the fridge. Another symptom is that the cooling unit will ‘burn out’ and start leaking ammonia into the refrigerator. If your fridge is not ‘cooling’ or there is a strong ammonia odor, it’s time to replace your cooling unit.

We’ve had a lot of questions about how to replace a norcold cooling unit and have seen some ‘youtube’ videos that show how easy it is to do; however, the videos leave out several important points. First, great care needs to be taken when sealing the evaporator foam pack into the pocket. Some manufacturers suggest using thermal mastic for this seal, which is a bad idea.

The mastic is a thermal conductor and will transfer heat from the fridge to the evaporator coil, which will cause the evaporator coil to fail. Instead use high-quality low expansion spray insulation foam, which will provide a good air seal and not transfer any heat to the evaporator coil. norcold cooling units