Good Excuse to Eat Out
Last Tuesday Morning, Paul was up early working on the computer when he was startled by the sound of our LP alarm going off. If you think he was startled, the alarm is under the bed, and Margery was asleep! Paul ran back to the bedroom to find Margery beating her alarm clock mumbling something about not knowing how to turn it off. Alarm clocks aren't used much around here since retirement! (LOL) In any case, he couldn't smell any evidence of a gas leak. He checked around the furnace and the front of the fridge - still nothing. He pulled the fuse to get the darned alarm to shut up, then went outside to check the propane tank and some of the storage bays that the gas lines ran through - nothing.
Meanwhile, Margery got up and noticed an unusual smell in the bathroom. Paul checked it out. It was ammonia, and it took Paul a minute to realize that it was from a leak in the cooling unit of our refrigerator. The refrigerator is next to the bathroom, so that's why there was a lot of ammonia ammonia smell in there. Unlike home refrigerators that operate with a compressor and fluorocarbon refrigerant, most RV refrigerators are gas absorption type that use ammonia as a refrigerant.
Paul took off the outside access cover to the back of the refrigerator; and sure enough, there was a strong ammonia smell and a hissing sound.
We have 4-door Norcold refrigerator, and there have been a series of fires associated with those models. Apparently, if coolant leaks out, the cooling unit can overheat and cause a fire. There have been several recalls; and last fall, there was another one that included essentially all Norcold 4-door refrigerators. For the latest recall, a temperature sensor was installed on the heat stack. If the sensor detects excessive temperature, there is a switch that irreversibly shuts down the fridge. We had the recall done when we were in Summerdale, and we're glad we did. We can report that it worked. The red light on the switch was on indicating that there was an alarm condition and that the switch had shut the cooling unit down before it could overheat.
If you haven't had the latest Norcold recall done on your 4-door Norcold, or if you're not sure if yours is included, contact Norcold or an RV repair shop right away.
The refrigerator was still cool inside, so there was no rush to try to find someplace to put our food. Our first order of business was to try to find someone who had a new cooling unit in stock (not likely since they're so expensive), or find someone who could get one quickly. Paul called several RV places we knew about while Margery searched the internet for more names. Most people said it would take two weeks to get a cooling unit in, but two RV repair shops said they would call around to look for one and call us back.
ProTech RV in Clermont, FL, which was one of the names Margery found on the 'net, called back within 20 or 30 minutes and said they could get a cooling unit in by the next day and come out to our site to install it the following day. Sold!
The next order of business was to try to save as much of our food as possible before the fridge warmed up. Paul went to Walmart to buy a cooler and some ice. Meanwhile, Margery called the campground office, and they said we could put our frozen food into one of the freezers in the kitchen in the clubhouse for a couple of days.
The photo below shows our stack of coolers. Paul bought the red one first, and we had the small one. When everything didn't fit, he went back for the cheap styrofoam cooler and more ice.
Since we had to clean out the fridge, we found a few "science projects" that we didn't know were in there. While it was empty, it was a good time for Margery to wipe down all the shelves and food bins. Paul got the job of mopping out the melted ice from the freezer.
We made do with leftovers that first night, but it is really a pain to have to search through the coolers for things to eat without letting too much warm air in. Not only that, all our frozen food was up at the clubhouse, and we didn't want to have to bug the people in the office to get things out of the freezer. So, the next day while we were waiting for the new cooling unit to arrive so they could come and install it, we went out to eat.
OakWood Smokehouse and Grill, where we went a week or so ago for the smoked beef sandwiches, had an internet coupon special for a full rack of ribs and two sides for $9.99 (regular $14.99), and this was the last day of the special. Not only that, but there was some sightseeing we wanted to do near The Villages where OakWood is located. We'll tell you about the sightseeing in our next post, but we want to finish the refrigerator story first.
Back to our dinner. We arrived a little before 4:00 PM, and they were already crowded. We retirees like to eat early when we eat out. They told us there would be a 30 minute wait, but it turned out to only be about 20 minutes.
Paul hated lima beans as a kid, but now he likes them. Margery still hates them, so since Paul never gets them, he ordered them with his ribs. He also had sweet potato fries.
Margery had a baked potato and onion rings with her ribs.
Everything was delish, especially Paul's lima beans. They were served with butter sauce and ham chunks. OakWood Smokehouse and Grill quickly became one of our favorite restaurants. We've both been there twice within a week, and Margery has been there three times in about 10 days...and it won't be soon enough to go back.
The following day, Rick, the ProTech RV Repair technician, showed up a little after lunch with our new cooling unit in the back of his truck.
Paul was surprised they only sent one guy because he knew the refrigerator would have to be removed to replace the cooling unit; and he knew the refrigerator weighs over 100 pounds - even with the doors removed. Although Rick insisted he could get the fridge out by himself, he gratefully accepted Paul's offer to help. After they got it down to the floor, Rick wrestled it into position in the middle of the floor onto a piece of old carpet he brought with him.
Since the fridge is too big to fit through most RV doors, they work on them inside. In the next photo, the old cooling unit has been removed, and the new one has been put into place ready to be fastened down.
After everything was tightened down and rewired, Paul helped Rick put the fridge back into place. Not only was it heavy, but there was barely clearance for it in the hallway.
After Rick hooked everything back up outside, he turned the fridge on, checked the operation on both LP gas and AC electric, and gave it a thumbs up. The next photo shows Rick after all the work was done.
We were very pleased with ProTech RV. They asked the right questions when Paul first called to make sure they could get the right part, they were very professional, and they did what they said they would do. Pro-Tech RV has RV sales, service, parts, and mobile service. In addition, Rick was a real gem. He was considerate, conscientious, thorough, efficient, and an all around nice guy.
We let the fridge run overnight to cool off again before transferring our food from the coolers. Gas absorption refrigerators are notoriously slow to cool and slow to recover if you leave the door open for an extended period. It took almost 36 hours to start cooling fully, but now it's back to where it was.
We mentioned we did some sightseeing when we went out to the OakWood Grill for dinner, and we'll tell you about it in our next post.