RV Refrigerator Cooling Unit Installation Instructions
Please carefully review these instructions along with the troubleshooting instructions on our website before
attempting to remove or install any cooling unit.
- Turn off the propane.
a. Light the stove top burner to burn off any propane left in the gas line.
b. Turn off the burner when the flame dies.
- Disconnect the 12-volt DC power supply at the back of the refrigerator.
a. Tape off exposed wires with electrical tape.
- Disconnect the propane line from the refrigerator.
a. Always use two wrenches when disconnecting the line. This will support the other
fittings and prevent damage to them.
b. If the propane is turned on to the rest of the coach before the refrigerator is re-installed,
plug the line to the refrigerator with the proper fitting and check for leaks with soapy
- Unplug the 110-volt AC power cord.
a. Make sure the cord is not wrapped around anything, and then tuck the cord into the
absorber (large coiled tubes).
- Remove the two mounting screws or bolts (the type of fastener will differ by model) that hold the
back of the refrigerator to the cabinet.
- Remove the door(s).
a. Remove the top plastic trim (eyebrow) of the refrigerator.
b. Remove all hinge pins and take off door(s).
c. Remove the four to six plastic screw covers and the screws behind them.
- Silicone is often used to seal the bottom edge of the refrigerator.
a. Cutting the silicone with a razor knife will make the refrigerator removal easier and won’t
rip the paneling.
- Carefully push and pull the refrigerator until it slides out from the cabinet.
a. If possible, remove the refrigerator from the RV to continue with disassembly.
- In the freezer compartment, remove all the screws that go through the back wall or into the freezer
a. Remove any freezer shelf and trim pieces.
- Detach the thermistor or capillary tube from the fins inside the refrigerator compartment.
a. Some models will need to have it carefully removed from the refrigerator compartment.
Dometic models RM 760, 761, 763, 1300, 1301 and 1303 have the capillary tube
entering the back left of the refrigerator through a hollow sleeve. Pull the capillary tube
out of the hollow sleeve and carefully tuck it out of the way of the cooling unit.
b. These parts can add time and expense if you’re not careful in handling them. Capillary
tubes are hollow; if they break, you need to replace the entire thermostat.
- Remove all screws from the refrigerator fin assembly.
a. If the screw heads start to strip, lay the refrigerator on its back so added pressure can
be applied to the screws. This problem is most common with Norcold refrigerators.
- Refrigerator fins are attached in different ways, varying by make and model.
a. Norcold refrigerator fins will remain in place in the box during the entire removal and
installation process. (The screws will be removed).
b. Double-door Dometic fins will be extracted with the cooling unit (with the exception of
the RM 100).
c. Single-door Dometic fins will be removed from inside the refrigerator.
d. If you are unsure of the procedure for your unit, remove all fin screws and determine if
the refrigerator fins are behind or in front of the plastic liner. Fins that are in front of the
liner can be removed before the unit is taken out.
- Lay the refrigerator face down on the floor, using a blanket or some other protection under the front
edge and hinges.
a. Remove all plastic trim to avoid damage to the bottom trim, door locks, etc.
- Dometic double-door refrigerators have exposed freezer tubes that can be used to help extract the
cooling unit. Please place a piece of 6×6 wood, 10 to 11 inches long, on the floor. Lay the
refrigerator face down so the freezer tubes rest on the wood before the refrigerator touches the
floor. This will help push the cooling unit out after the screws are removed.
- Remove all cooling unit mounting screws from the back of the refrigerator.
- Label and disconnect the heating element wires from the terminal junctions.
- Remove the burner cover and mounting screws.
a. Some Dometic refrigerators have a lever lock burner mount. Remove it now.
b. Some models require the complete removal of the burner line and thermocouple so the
cooling unit will clear.
c. Some models require the complete removal of the circuit board and burner so the
cooling unit will clear.
d. Check for a ground wire on the bottom of the cooling unit and remove it.
- Make sure all cooling unit mounting screws have been removed.
a. Dometic models RM 760, 761, 763, 1300, 1301, 1303, 2800, 2801 and 2803 will usually
have hidden screws near the large tube coming from the foam block. Look closely; you
will have to remove some of the foil and foam backing to see them.
- Pry and pull on the large tube near the middle of the cooling unit only.
a. Avoid prying on any brackets, as they may break away from the cooling unit, causing a
spray of ammonia.
b. When using a pry bar, protect the refrigerator box with a block of wood under the pry bar
to help prevent punctures.
c. If you’re using a block of wood in the freezer of Dometic models (see step #14 above),
push hard and steady on the top corners of the refrigerator toward the floor. When the
seal is broken the cooling unit can be removed.
d. If the cooling unit cannot be pried out without deforming the unit, try cutting out foam
material on the cooling unit to relieve pressure on the seam between the cooling unit
and the refrigerator box. To do this, peel back any foil backing on the cooling unit to
expose the seam. Next, along the cooling unit side of the seam, about 1 to 2 inches in,
use a sharp knife to make a cut angled towards the refrigerator box being careful not to
cut into the foam of the refrigerator box. Remove a long wedge shaped piece of foam
material all the way around the seam.
e. All cooling units need a steady lift on the large tube coming out of the foam block to be
- If the fins are still attached, carefully remove them without bending them.
a. If necessary you can chip away some of the foam block of the unit to assist in removal
of the fins. Do not damage the foam of the refrigerator box.
- Remove the sheet metal, insulation, heating element and flue tube baffle from the old cooling unit.
a. Install these items onto your new ATCO America cooling unit.
- If the insulation is wet it has to be dried or replaced with high-temperature
insulation before installing the sheet metal on the cooling unit.
- If the insulation is wet, check your RV refrigerator roof vent and repair or
replace it if it’s damaged or missing, to prevent future leaks. Insulation must
be dry for the unit to function properly.
- Clean all the old thermal mastic from the fins, freezer shelf or the back of the freezer plate.
- Shave down the foam as needed to allow the back of the fins to sit flush and make contact with the
evaporator tubes. A wood rasp works well for this purpose. The secondary evaporator tubes in the
face of the foam block should protrude slightly from the foam.
a. Before applying thermal mastic, dry-fit the cooling unit to the refrigerator box to make
sure the foam block fits correctly. If necessary, trim the foam block to obtain an optimum
fit, keeping the freezer tubes level. Recheck the fit and take the cooling unit back out of
the refrigerator box.
b. Attached to the cooling unit is a tube of thermal mastic. Remove the tube and cut one
c. Apply a 1⁄2-inch bead to the exposed tubes in the foam block and the tubes that are
covered by the aluminum freezer shelf.
d. Do not spread transfer mastic on the foam block!
- Norcold fins remain in the box. Do not attach them before setting the cooling unit in the box.
- To install flush-mount cooling units (Norcold and Dometic):
a. With transfer mastic applied, press the cooling unit in place.
b. Install one screw in the top of Norcold models and two screws in the top of Dometic
models. Carefully stand the refrigerator up and check the alignment of the freezer screw
c. Never drill new holes in the cooling unit!
d. Install all the freezer screws and fin screws.
- You may need to put new holes through the refrigerator fins of Norcold models to align the cooling
unit screw holes.
a. Set the refrigerator down on its face and continue securing the cooling unit.
b. On Norcold models the boiler (generator) tube on the right should be parallel with the
edge of the refrigerator when secured.
- To install Dometic cooling units with perpendicular freezer tubes:
a. With transfer mastic applied, fasten the refrigerator fins to the cooling unit.
b. Set the cooling unit into the box and fasten it to the refrigerator.
c. Stand the refrigerator up and install the freezer trim and shelf. Also make sure the
freezer shelf with the tubes is level, using a two-way level.
d. If the tubes from the cooling unit are not visible, the level should be placed on the
freezer compartment floor.
- Airtight installation is important on all cooling units.
a. We recommend one of two options. The first is to seal the seam between the foam block
and the refrigerator box with silicone caulking. The second is to use a putty knife to push
fiberglass insulation into the crack of the seam and then cover the seam with foil-backed
or duct tape.
b. Failure to seal the seam will cause inadequate cooling.
- Finish attaching all remaining parts: burner, heating element, circuit board, capillary tube, etc.
- Rock the refrigerator 45 degrees off vertical in all four directions to ensure the liquid is at the bottom
a. If possible, test the refrigerator before installing it in the RV.
- Install the refrigerator in the RV.
a. Make all the proper connections.
b. When the propane is turned on, check all the fittings for leaks with soapy water.
c. Tighten all the leaks you discover.
d. Let the refrigerator run for six to eight hours on electric, if possible. Put a thermometer in
the freezer and refrigerator compartments, and do not open the door.