In a perfect world, RVs would be the right size all the time, have all the best features perfectly made and none would ever break down. However, since we live in this world, things are going to break down and you need to know how to troubleshoot those problems.
We will get to specific issues in a minute. But first, sometimes doing a little driving over some bumps may break a clog loose and get the ammonia to flow freely again. Once that happens the fridge returns to working like normal. Some days, all it takes is a simple fix to solve a major problem.
To learn more about how to troubleshoot your Norcold 1210 fridge just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about in case you are facing the same issues. Take a few minutes to see if these answers will work for you.
RV fridges, especially the Norcold model, work on a gas absorption system instead of the traditional house fridge compressor system. This makes troubleshooting this appliance a little different.
The fridge uses the changing phases of hydrogen, ammonia, sodium chromate, and water to draw the heat away from the fridge and absorb it. This system relies heavily on gravity.
When your Norcold fridge is not cooling the problem can be as simple as your RV being not level. It also depends on how fast the coolant inside the system can travel through the condenser coils. When the RV, etc., is not level the coolant cannot make it through the coils and that stops the fridge from cooling your food.
If the level is not corrected within 30 minutes, damage can be done to the fridge’s cooling system. This damage is usually irreversible and requires a new replacement fridge.
There are several signs that will indicate there is a problem with the cooling unit:
- its heat source is turned on but the fridge is not cool
- you can smell ammonia and it is a strong odor
- the cooling unit’s boiler temperature is above normal
- the heat source is on but the absorber coil is cool
- there is a hole in the cooling unit. You should hear a gurgling sound
Any one of these signs will tell you that you have a problem. The key will be to identify the problem quickly and get it rectified as soon as possible. This is not an issue that can wait as you can do a lot of damage if you delay the repair.
One of the issues that may arise, and we are not sure if the manufacturer has fixed this oversight or not, is that the error codes for the 1210 are exactly the same as the ones for the earlier models, the 1200 and 120x.
However, the manual for the 1210 is said to be missing vital troubleshooting information. You have to go to the manuals for those earlier models’ manuals to see what is wrong with your 1210 model.
The link to the manuals for the earlier models is here and it is a PDF file that has 68 pages with many of those pages dedicated to the different error codes. Also, it is possible to hotwire your fridge so that it will work if your thermistor fails on you.
The drawback to this repair is that you will lose the interior fridge light as it is on the same system as the thermistor.
We have already given you a link to the 1200 and 120x service manual. To get the one for the 1210 you should go directly to the source and click on this link to get to the 1210 service manual.
Then if you click on this link, you will go to a website that contains service manuals for all 1210 models. If you need the error codes or any extra information possibly left out of the 1210 manual you can click here. Or search that website to see if they have any of the 1210 service manuals ready for download.
There seem to be a lot of sources on the internet that offer this service. If you are not a fan of any of these websites or they do not work for you, just do your own search and find one that is better and more informative.
This mode is found in section 9 pg. 73 of the service manual. According to the manual, this section and tool are designed to help you verify different pieces of information. Not only does it assist in verifying different temperature levels and inputs and outputs it is also designed to retrieve recorded faults that are stored in the system
This mode consists of 10 diagnostic screens to use to help you find the exact problem with the fridge unit. Each screen has its own duties and does not overlap with the 9 other screens in the system. The screen is identified by a number shown on the left side of the panel.
Screen 1 will let you know that you are in diagnostic mode and soon all the LED lights will be it up. If you have a manual it is best to read this chapter and make sure you understand it.
The first source for this problem could be the fact that you were not able to level your RV perfectly for this unit to work properly. You have a short window to correct this problem or risk damaging your fridge beyond repair.
Another cause may be that you are camping in an area where the outside temperature gets above 90 degrees F. Then you need good airflow or the fins may not work properly and cool the fridge interior down. The outside access panel will get you to the fins so you can check them quickly. There should be no obstructions inside either.
Next, if those are not the source of the problem, check the thermistor. If it has failed then your fridge will not work right. The way to check this is to disconnect the thermistor and set the fridge to its slowest cooling level. If the fridge cools, then the thermistor is bad.
This is also a simple problem to diagnose and fix. The freezer usually does get colder than the fridge first. Once it does, it uses a diffuser to transfer some of the cold air down to the fridge level.
If there is a blockage, then the air won’t flow too well and keep the fridge from cooling down. Sometimes it is as simple as a piece of ice that gets in the way. Another source may be the evaporator fan and if it is failing you should call an experienced technician to come out and solve the problem.
This part’s failure is not for the DIY handyman to fix or even mess with. If they do, you could be looking at a higher repair bill than what it would have been if only the technician looked at it.
These are going to be standard electrical problems that you will face with just about every fridge ever made. The first place to look will be the breaker box. If it has been tripped it may indicate that there is a short or a fuse was blown.
The fuse is the second place to look if the breaker was not tripped. This is a common problem with Norcold. If it is blown all you have to do is replace the fuse. But if the fuse keeps on breaking you may have a crossed wire somewhere.
Also, check the control board to make sure it has not failed on you. The problem you may have with fixing these issues yourself is that if you are still under warranty, your repair efforts could void that warranty.
While it is okay to search for and identify the source, don’t touch the fridge or its electronics if you want to remain under warranty. Calling a repairman may not solve your problem as many of them can be booked up for weeks on end.
This too seems to be a common problem for Norcold fridge units, especially with the 4-door models. The good news is that it may not be the control panel or the wiring. Instead, this fuse may continue to blow if there is something wrong with the fridge’s cooling fans.
This fuse is called the automotive fuse and it is a DC-type device. When the fan fails, there is a power surge in the system which knocks out the fuse. It is not just that the fan fails that this problem occurs. The blades can stop spinning and create the same problem or the fan just locks up and your system loses its power.
Fixing the fan will be your only solution to solve this problem.
One location for this fuse will be on the control panel. The control panel is found by removing the rear access panel door. The panel is on the outside of your RV and once you remove it, you will see a plastic box with a bunch of wires running to it.
Inside the box will be both the DC and Ac fuses. Now you have to be careful here as, one, you do not want to remove the cover with the power cord plugged in. Touching the AC fuse will give you a nice surprise.
Also, if the red light attached to the box is lit, you are not to remove the cover but call an experienced technician to handle the next few steps. The good news in all of this is that pages 55 and 56 should show you how to take the black cover off the box.
There is some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that there are two different types of heating elements. The two elements work in the same way and both are made to the same specifications. However, if you have an older 1200 model, the diameter of the heating element will be thicker than the newer 1200s and the 1210s.
To find the right element for your specific 1210 model you will need the serial number which is found on the white decal on the cooling unit. To get the right part though, your fridge’s serial number needs to be above 11231147.
The part number you will need will be AC Heater 630807. You can find these directly at Norcold or you can use the parts number at any outlet that sells parts for these fridge models.
Check your local listings to see which parts dealer is closest to you and carries that part.
These fans are supposed to be on the same circuit but while that circuit controls both fans, there will be times where just one will be working and the other does not. In this scenario, all it means is that one fan has worn out. Power is still getting to the fan ut it has just breathed its last and no repair work will fix it.
You will have to replace the fan in this situation. No matter which heat source you use, the fridge needs solid 12-volt power to operate effectively. The control board works off of 12-volt power and you may have a bad battery if this happens to you.
You will either have to recharge or replace the battery.
This is a simple problem but it turns out to be more complicated than it should be. The complication comes in where Norcold did not make the striker plates adjustable. Getting help may be difficult as well as Norcold has cited liability issues for their refusal to lend support and a dealer may not be able to handle the problem over the phone.
Homemade solutions involve loosening the mounting screws and adjusting the doors’ positions. They also involve using washers as spacers to make sure the doors stay closed all the time.
To put the washers in, you have to unscrew the middle hinges and place nylon washers underneath. It can be a bit of a chore as the upper and lower hinges are difficult to reach.
This may be the easiest part to work with. The screws holding the doors to the brackets should be underneath a little plastic cap. Pry those off and loosen the screws underneath.
Once that is done, you just lift the doors out of their place and put them aside. You may also need to remove the screws from the hinges as well. It is not hard work. If you need to get the plastic off, pry the trim up and simply push the plastic up.
The trim that holds the plastic panels should simply snap in and out of place. The plastic should come out nice and easily. Whenever you are changing parts, make sure to have the serial number and the parts number handy. That will make searching for the parts simple and easy.
You really do not want to bypass this switch as it is a safety device. The Norcold fridges are designed to shut off at about 880 degrees F. They do this when there is a problem and the temperature levels get too high. When they do that, there is a possibility of a fire.
Because of this problem, Norcold installed this safety switch to keep your RV from catching on fire or being damaged by a small one. Bypassing this switch is not a smart move to make. If there is a failure then it is best to replace it or try to reset it.
The reset instructions are quite long and can be found in the first post at this link. Having the right instructions can save you a lot of time and energy as one owner spent 3 days looking for a way to reset that switch.
Norcold fridges will go bad on you someday. It may not be within the first 5 years of ownership but it will happen eventually. It is best to get the information now and store it in a safe place.
That way when you face these issues, you do not have to waste time searching the internet for an answer. You will have them already. Keep a nice book of solutions to help you speed up your repair time. Organize it as well for the same reason.