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Randall, RVIA Certification
Category: RV
Satisfied Customers: 10328
Experience:  RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Technician with many years experience.
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I bought an 'off the grid' cabin in Ontario, CA that has an

Customer Question

I bought an 'off the grid' cabin in Ontario, CA that has an old Servel propane refrigerator. It is Model R-600A. It actually works pretty good, but needs to be cleaned. The burner seems adjusted correctly and gives a good blue flame, but I am sure the flue, etc. has not been cleaned recently. I have looked for service manuals and cannot find any anywhere. All I want to know is how to clean the flue and burner, probably mostly the flue.
Can you direct me to a manual or provide information on cleaning the flue and burner?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: RV
Expert:  Michael Reush replied 1 year ago.

good morning, you will want to clean out the heat stack, is the refer mounted in a cabinet or is it free standing? thanks

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The refrigerator is a free standing unit. The mechanism/burner/heat exchanger, is at the bottom of the unit, burner on the right side underneath with a horizontal burner with flame into the exchanger mounted left of the burner and running all the way to the left side of the unit. The flue must come off the back of this and then up the back to a vent on the back top of the unit. It is fine to say I need to clean the 'heat stack', but I don't know what or where that is on the unit and how to access it. I would assume I would need to take the vent grate off the top of the unit to access it, and probably from the back of the unit. I do not know how to clean it or even what the 'heat stack' looks like. Those are the things I would need to know from you.
Expert:  Michael Reush replied 1 year ago.

the heat stack is directly above the flame, and runs to the top in the rear, it does have a cap on it, take the cap off, and run a brush, or rag on a stick down to clean it out.......remove the burner assembly, clean it, and blow it dry. also remove the gas jet to the burner, also soak in acetone, dry, and reinstall. Is it cooling properly?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
All right, I am starting to gain understanding, but still a bit unclear on the location of the heat stack. First, yes, it is cooling properly. The small freezer freezes stuff and the refrigerator portion keep things nice and cool. But back to the mechanism at the bottom of the unit. The burner is mounted horizontally, left to right. On the burner unit, flame comes out horizontally and enters a unit (I am assuming the heat exchanger) that is about a foot high, maybe 14 inches wide, and 6 inches or so deep. Above the burner is a bimetallic plate about the size of a quarter that when I first light the pilot, it heats this up, and when hot, turns on gas to the burner which then lites. Then the burner flame enters the box unit described above. I can see no 'flue' above the flame, or running from above the flame to the back of the unit and then to the top of the unit. On one picture I found on the internet, it did show a horizontal burner, and then the heat stack (?) running horizontally first left to the left side of the unit (through the box described above) and then horizontally to the back of the unit, and then vertically up the back of the unit to the top of it (where the vent on top is). I cannot see this from the front at the bottom of the unit due to the box (heat exchanger?) the flame enters, so I am assuming this runs through the heat exchanger to the back left and then up the back. The back has a cover over it which I have never removed. Again, any clarification on how to access the flue and heat stack that needs to be cleaned would be helpful. Since the burner is easily accessed from the bottom front, and appears to be burning like has been described to me that it should by a local shop, I am assuming that has been attended to more recently, but the rest of the heat stack and flue apparently being hard to access, I suspect has not been attended to. So the question really comes down to an explanation of how to access the heat stack and flue to clean it. It is not above the burner, but apparently to the left of the burner in this box I described, and then apparently somehow runs through that to the back and up the back. Any ideas on how to access that? If I do, I am to understand some sort of rag and/or brush run through this is how to clean it. The one picture I did find also showed a baffle like a flat piece of metal twisted to look something like an auger, in this horizontal pipe before it reaches the back and runs up to the vent. Are we getting anywhere on accessing and cleaning this?
Expert:  Michael Reush replied 1 year ago.

thanks, ***** ***** your input, the more we speak, the more I realize I am not familiar with this model, I have searched my records to find some literature on it.......I have nothing, and can find nothing at my vendors sites.............with that I will remove myself from your question, and put it back up so that perhaps someone with this knowledge can help you,,,,,,,,,,,,,I've been in the industry since the 70's, and this one has me mystified , thanks for your patience,

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I do believe this is an 'antique' unit and I also had no luck looking for literature on it on the internet, so I am not surprised you have found nothing either. Last question: You say you will 'put it up' for someone else who might be more familiar with it to respond. How will I know if someone 'picks it up' and gets back to me? Will they send me an email at***@******.*** so I don't have to stay on your site not knowing if/when someone will get back to me? Thanks for your efforts!!!! Just let me know how I will hear more if I do.
Expert:  Randall replied 1 year ago.
Hi. Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** perhaps I can assist you with this issue.
I was reading this thread and just thought I should make you aware that these early model Servel fridges have been condemned and that we are not allowed to repair them in any fashion. And by "we" I am referring to any of us that are licensed by RVIa/RVDA. We are made aware of this during our training and others who are not licensed, though they may be very knowledgeable about repairs, might not have been made privy to this information. I would recommend that you take this fridge and dispose of it and get another one that has built in safely features and isn't a fire hazzard. Why take a chance of burning down your cabin or causing someone hurt? You can buy a good used or rebuilt unit for less than $1,000 and have something that is better made and reliable and best of! Hope that proves helpful here. Please get back to me if you need more later as all follow ups are incuded in our fee. R.J.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I am aware of the rebate available for taking them out of service, and other issues with this unit. What info I have been able to find - by talking to a local dealer of propane refrigerators, and on the internet, is that the main issue with the CO history and other problems with these Servel units is improper maintenance - hence my interest in finding out how to clean it. I have taken precautions re: CO as explained earlier in this conversation. I do plan on replacing the unit at the beginning of next season, but will be there several times yet this year before ice up. I thought if I could find out how to clean it, I would then minimize risks yet this year. So, I am still unclear on how to access the heat stack and flue to clean it. Any help with that would be appreciated. I just need to know where these components are located (I sort of know), but mostly how to access them and clean them.
Expert:  Randall replied 1 year ago.
I am not allowed to give you that or instruct you in any way how to work on this appliance due to the obvious liability for doing so. I wouldn't take any risks here for those obvious reasons and those you have apparently read about. Sorry I can't do more here than make you aware of the risks.......R.J.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I got an email about rating your service. Here is how things look from my end. I first communicated with someone who, as the conversation evolved, ended up saying they didn't know about my situation, and 'backed out' of providing me with the info I requested. Then you picked it up. You ended up saying you would not provide me with the information requested. So, what did I get for my $20 ($19). Nothing that was of any use to me given my original request. So, worrying about you being compensated for information you would not give me doesn't ring true to me. I got nothing for my $19.
Expert:  Randall replied 1 year ago.

EXCEPT some information about possibly saving your much is that worth?????

Expert:  Randall replied 1 year ago.

And you can always ask for a refund if you feel nothing was gained here..........but, if the situation were reversed, I would say "thanks for thinking of my safety" here. We answer a lot of questions we never get paid for.........just part of our service that most others don't offer. I work here mainly to help others, like yourself out............I have a successful full time RV business. R.J.