About two months before the busy Memorial Day traveling season, one of the nation's top manufacturers of RV refrigerators has issued a recall for some units because of a potential fire hazard.
More than 926,000 recreational vehicles nationwide are affected by the recall of some Dometic two-door refrigerators manufactured between April 1997 and May 2003, according to the Elkhart, Ind.,-based corporation.
One local repairman said he's seen several RVs damaged by fires caused by the Dometic refrigerators. A company executive said Thursday that they have investigated many fires and in most cases found that they were not caused by the refrigerator.
"This is a voluntary recall. We're doing it because we're trying to be a responsible corporate citizen," said Brad Sargent, vice-president of marketing for Dometic Corp. "Because of the design of the product in that period of time, it could leak and could result in a fire."
Whole units are not being replaced because only .01 percent of them could have this problem.
John Larson, owner of Nevada Mobile RV Service, said customers have brought in malfunctioning units for replacement.
"This needs to be done as soon as possible," he said. "Under the recall it tells you to shut off your gas, and that's a problem because when you go camping you have to run off gas. This will ruin their whole Memorial Day if they don't do it now."
Cooling units that malfunction will smell like ammonia and a yellow powder will be around the burner. In these cases, a whole new cooling unit must be purchased, which is covered under the recall.
Dometic customers were informed about the recall in late February and March. The problem was reported federally in August. The company is offering free service to the 10 different models that are defective.
Sargent said no injuries have been reported associated with the refrigeration fires. He was not aware of how extensive damage can be to a RV if a fire is ignited.
Mechanics will not receive the specialty part to fix the defective units until April 16. Customers can take affected units to any RV center for repair, Sargent said. Mechanics will enclose the tube and add two thermal fuses that will identify heat, which will shut down the refrigerator and stop a fire.
Wes Tipton, owner of Tipton RV Repair, said that he hasn't encountered any malfunctioning units.
"I'm just getting calls from consumers and making a list," he said. He has a list of about 20 Dometic customers who need the recall kit installed.
Dometic is a privately owned corporation under a conglomerate based out of Stockholm. Dometic has 1,000 employees and conducts $89 million in sales per year, according to Hoovers.com.
For your information
What: Recall of some RV two-door refrigerators manufactured by Dometic
Models affected: NDR1062, RM2652, RM2662, RM2663, RM2852, RM2862, RM3662, RM3663, RM3862 and RM3863. All manufactured between April 1997 and May 2003. The serial numbers will start with 713 up to 952 and 001 up to 319.
Why: The root cause of the problem is an oversized heating element that crystallizes one boiler tube. When that happens, it cracks, emitting a solution inside. This leads to a fire when the RV refrigerator is operating on gas.
For information: Call the Dometic customer hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or visit www.dometicusa.com/recall.php
- Source: Dometic
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.