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Norcold tripping GFCI, heating element replacement, tool for twisting elements.


ok-rver
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There are many out there that have already replaced there Norcold with a residential. THIS POST IS NOT FOR YOU.  This post is for those that for one or more of many different reasons have elected to continue using our Norcold. I am aware that this refrigerator has caused fires.

For the second time in the last 40 days, GFCI at our storage bay started tripping. This time, several to many minutes after the Norcold was turned on to 120v. About the only thing on the frig that would trip the GFCI is the heating elements. Our 1200 has two elements. Sure enough, the insulation at the entrance of the wires into the sheath were grounding out on the element closest to the outside wall. I was able to get under the element with a small pair of channel locks and twist the element within the boiler sleeve.  Rust buster on both elements.  I used sheet plastic and towels to keep the spray from the boiler insulation.  I did find that puddling a bit of the RB liquid in a cup and using a screw driver tip to carry a drop of liquid to the tube top was the most efficient way to get lube to flow down around the element. Probably the first time the element has been replaced as I had to cut the boiler insulation above the element. Finally got the element out. The back element does not have much room and it never turned. Electrical insulation on the back element was good so elected to leave in place for now.

Been thinking over the last few days of how to get in to rotate the element if(when) it has to be replace. I came up with the idea of cutting a notch in a socket that would accept the element and a racket could be used to apply leverage. Picture shows the element inside the slot cut in the socket. This has NOT been tested. I know there is room under the front element. I am pretty sure I can get under the back element. The socket was a cheap no name 13/16" 1/2" drive Taiwanese that I have no idea were it came from. Easy to carry in the tool box and will give it a try the next time someone needs to free up an element. When you are pulling an element, you probably have tested the element and know it is bad. There is a possibility that the contact with the slot will dimple the sheath of the element. If you get a chance to use something like this or have a better tool, let use know.

A washer inside the socket and a screw into a 2x4 did a good job of holding the socket in place while I ground.

HRS Norcold heat element wrench.JPG

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I cannot help you on your question of removing the heating element, but if you are not aware of a reliable safety fix to prevent a fire caused by the 120v element, you should install the ARP (see arprv.com). It's inexpensive. I recommend installing the display in the main living area where you can frequently observe the temperature: I found it educational in better understanding the Norcold operation, such as propane vs 120v, whether it's cutting off the heaters and automatically restarting, stack temp vs outside ambient, etc).

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13 hours ago, ok-rver said:

There are many out there that have already replaced there Norcold with a residential. THIS POST IS NOT FOR YOU.  This post is for those that for one or more of many different reasons have elected to continue using our Norcold. I am aware that this refrigerator has caused fires.

For the second time in the last 40 days, GFCI at our storage bay started tripping. This time, several to many minutes after the Norcold was turned on to 120v. About the only thing on the frig that would trip the GFCI is the heating elements. Our 1200 has two elements. Sure enough, the insulation at the entrance of the wires into the sheath were grounding out on the element closest to the outside wall. I was able to get under the element with a small pair of channel locks and twist the element within the boiler sleeve.  Rust buster on both elements.  I used sheet plastic and towels to keep the spray from the boiler insulation.  I did find that puddling a bit of the RB liquid in a cup and using a screw driver tip to carry a drop of liquid to the tube top was the most efficient way to get lube to flow down around the element. Probably the first time the element has been replaced as I had to cut the boiler insulation above the element. Finally got the element out. The back element does not have much room and it never turned. Electrical insulation on the back element was good so elected to leave in place for now.

Been thinking over the last few days of how to get in to rotate the element if(when) it has to be replace. I came up with the idea of cutting a notch in a socket that would accept the element and a racket could be used to apply leverage. Picture shows the element inside the slot cut in the socket. This has NOT been tested. I know there is room under the front element. I am pretty sure I can get under the back element. The socket was a cheap no name 13/16" 1/2" drive Taiwanese that I have no idea were it came from. Easy to carry in the tool box and will give it a try the next time someone needs to free up an element. When you are pulling an element, you probably have tested the element and know it is bad. There is a possibility that the contact with the slot will dimple the sheath of the element. If you get a chance to use something like this or have a better tool, let use know.

A washer inside the socket and a screw into a 2x4 did a good job of holding the socket in place while I ground.

HRS Norcold heat element wrench.JPG

Norcold has a fix that replaces the metal tube where it enters the flu tube with a Bakelite type wire fixture.  The tube was a poor design that causes many of fires. 

I was a part of a class action law suit against Norcold.  Norcold settled the suit with a montary payments over a several year time.  

Chuck B 2004 Windsor

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Mike,

if you can clear enough space you could try heating the outer tube with a small propane or butane torch to release the element. You only need 100-200 degrees heat to expand it enough to release the corrosion. 
I know I might get wire brushed for suggesting this, so please don’t. I’ve done this and understand the risks.

Roy

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Mike I always use an impact, letting it hammer for a bit , when working with seized threads. They are inexpensive and can prevent a small job from turning into a disaster. Broken stainless steel bolt in aluminum bike block- couldn't save block- expensive lesson for a newbie.

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I would get rid of those two heaters and install the upgraded redesigned heaters that Norcold switch to after discovering why the old original heaters were causing fires.

https://jc-refrigeration.com/product/heating-element-225w-120v-u/

Definitely recommend the Fridge Defend Unit for any NotSoCold still in service. https://www.arprv.com/norcold-ac-heater.php

 

 

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