Troubleshooting a Gas Refrigerator that Won't Start

A gas refrigerator is commonly used in areas where electricity isn't readily available, whether you are camping or driving in an RV. Since electricity is not available, a gas refrigerator has to use ammonia, water and hydrogen gas, in cycles, to stimulate cold temperatures. Basically, heat from burning gas raises the temperature of the generator, which is a mixture of water and ammonia, to boil the ammonia.

The mixture is separated and the ammonia condenses and mixes with hydrogen gas and evaporates. The result of this cycle is cold inside the fridge. Knowing a little about how the gas refrigerator works can help to diagnose a problem, if it were to come up. If you are having issues with your gas refrigerator, here are some troubleshooting steps that can help you.

Check for Corrosion

Corrosion is a big problem when it comes to gas refrigerators. It is typical for the evaporator piping to rust and wear away. The reason for this is that moist air, when the fridge is running, constantly cycles through that area and causes condensation on the evaporator piping. While it will take a while for the corrosion to happen, it is likely that in the period of time you own that fridge, you will have to replace this piece.

Check for Leaks

In addition to a rusting evaporator pipe, another side effect to moist air moving around is pitting. Over time, pitting turns into a leak and can cause problems within the refrigerator. It usually happens when you have the fridge not running for a long period of time. If you are having trouble with the gas refrigerator cooling in general, a leak may be the culprit. It is important, if this is the case, to get it fixed right away, so that ammonia is not exposed. To remove the rust, you can sand blast or replace the pipes all together. To avoid this problem in the future, be sure to check the manual before shutting off the fridge for a long period of time.

Consider Cooling Unit Position

One essential thing to keep in mind is that when the cooling unit part of the gas refrigerator is out of level, there is a good chance that, if kept there for long, it will become damaged. You do not want to have the cooling unit stuck in the same position at all times. When the cooling unit is uneven, the liquids that are supposed to be cycling will not be sent back to the boiler. Instead, they will pool and form puddles in unwanted areas. If you find that your temperature is getting warmer in the refrigerator, and you have checked for leaks and can't find one, then this is most likely the problem. The boiler begins to dry out when the ammonia mixture vaporizes from pooling, and then the temperature of the fridge will rise. To fix this problem immediately, or prevent it from happening in the future, make sure that the fridge is completely level.