If you have a Godzilla-sized cat (and if you do, send pics plz), getting punched in the face with the overwhelming smell of ammonia while you’re sitting in your living area may not be a cause for concern.
Alas, we don’t currently have a Godzilla-sized cat (If I ever do, I’ll share pics) and yet the kitchen of the RV started smelling like several thousand gallons of the most righteous cat wee.
It was cold, it was dark, and we just wanted to mind our own business and watch Gold Rush. But it was clear we had a little bit of a problem.
So we paused the sluicing and manufactured drama, threw some windows open, and began to investigate the only thing we own that could cause the disgusting chemical burn-y smell of ammonia — our RV refrigerator.
What happened to our RV refrigerator
Our 2006 Fleetwood motorhome came with a Norcold 1200 refrigerator. It was never great, but it (sort of) got the job done. It served us (kinda) faithfully for three years, keeping our food cold (enough) and our frozen things (mostly) frozen. And hey, if it ain’t broken (yet) don’t replace it (yet), am I right?
The coolest (pun absolutely intended) thing about our Norcold was that it could run on electric or propane. Which is where the very real Godzilla-sized smell of our imaginary Godzilla-sized cat with a urinary problem was coming from — the cooling unit in the back of the fridge noped out and started spewin’.
After turning our meth factory in the making off and securing a flow of fresh air in the RV, we busted out the tape measure and got up on the Google to begin the inevitable conclusion of this epic, unexpected adventure — replacing our RV refrigerator with a residential one.
Finding a new refrigerator
After a lot of measuring, researching, cursing, and a cold night of sleeping with every exhaust fan on we found ourselves at Best Buy looking at a Samsung RF-18 refrigerator.
It fit the space we had available, it stayed within our budget, and it would keep our beer cold. (It put a dent in our beer budget, but we don’t need to talk about that right now.)
Unfortunately, either this refrigerator wins all the popularity contests or that particular Best Buy doesn’t like cash money because it wasn’t in stock and they wouldn’t let us buy the floor model.
So we took our thawed-popsicle having selves over to Lowe’s and found our salad crisper of choice in stock and $100 cheaper. We declined installation assistance because we were about 98% sure we’d be removing a window to get our new refrigerator in the motorhome.
After fielding looks of disbelief and amusement from Lowe’s staff and patrons alike, our purchase was made and delivery was scheduled for the next morning.
How we got our new refrigerator in the motorhome
Installing our new residential refrigerator began with taking out the old one. And taking out the old one ended with it in pieces, partly because we needed it to fit out the door but also because fuck that thing.
After a couple more episodes of ammonia release and us evacuating the motorhome for fresh air, we and our most excellent friend John had the old refrigerator removed and the space prepared for the shiny new Samsung.
Lowe’s is amazing and delivered our fridge the next morning on New Year’s Day and we got to work on the next step in the process — removing a window to put the new refrigerator through.
Yup, you read that right. We had to remove a freaking window and shove a refrigerator through it. Do we know how to party on New Years or what?
A drill, ladder, and a hair dryer made quick work of removing our kitchen window and with the help of a few brawny friends we had our new pizza keeper yeeted through the window and ready to hook up.
We were thankful for some inside work to do because the local nibshits were all up in our business and that was getting beyond old. The gawking, comments, and circling of cars by our site as we worked added unneeded annoyance to an already stressful situation. Get a hobby, people.
How it’s going with the new refrigerator
We’ve had our new refrigerator for a few days now, and although the timing and expense of the whole situation could have been better, we couldn’t be happier.
The Samsung has way more space than the Norcold, LED lights, a helpful control panel, and it makes its own ice. Oh, and we can use MAGNETS! That sounds like a simple thing, but you’d be surprised how much you miss having a magnetic front on your refrigerator. (How do they work tho?)
We still have a little bit of finish work to do, but it looks great in the space and we think having more refrigerator space will help us eat out less. Me and my 30 extra rona pounds salute you, Samsung refrigerator.
We’re looking forward to enjoying it for many years, and we hope sharing our RV refrigerator replacement process makes it a little less scary for anyone out there who may be going through the same thing.
A toast to cold beers and actually being able to buy full size frozen pizzas!
Sign up to hear from us when we have something new to share. Expect photos we don't share anywhere else, camping gear we love, and be the first to know when we have a new blog post or video.