Author Topic: That dreaded ammonia odor.  (Read 2516 times)

Online TerryH

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That dreaded ammonia odor.
« on: October 18, 2017, 12:37 AM »
I think a lot of us here are aware of the possible deadly consequences of an ammonia leak within your  refrigerator.
Or, maybe not.
Are you aware that many, and possibly your unit, uses ammonia for cooling?
If, especially in a small and enclosed area such as an RV you ever smell ammonia, throw your kids out the door and jump out after them.
This is very serious advice.
Ammonia, as a gas, will KILL YOU AND YOURS VERY QUICKLY!
Do not even consider looking for the source - GET  THE HELL OUT!!!!!!!!!!
 
I am adding a link to a situation at a Hockey Rink - not a 10' X 30' RV, but a

HOCKEY RINK

where 3 people were killed as a result of an ammonia leak.

Please, please, take it to mind.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/ammonia-leak-believed-responsible-for-3-deaths-at-fernie-b-c-arena-1.4359577
If you danced with the devil for a very good reason, have you not still danced with the devil?
Tom Clancy  1947 - 2013

Offline WrigleysBraveWin

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2017, 05:45 AM »
Appreciate the advise, thanks!
Today is the youngest you'll ever be!

Online joanfenn

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2017, 08:00 AM »
And yes it is too dangerous to go and retrieve the bodies right now.  Makes you think doesn't it?

Offline plockit007

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2017, 09:59 AM »
This  is straight up advice..it does not take long to get "DEAD" :)ThmbUp :)ThmbUp :)ThmbUp :)ThmbUp :)ThmbUp :)ThmbUp

Offline Rickf1985

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2017, 05:50 PM »
A lot depends on how well your refrigerator enclosure is sealed and where the leak comes through in the tubing. If the enclosure is not perfectly sealed, as is the case in most 40 plus year old RV's, then you do need to get out fast. I disagree with Frank on this one because I had to remove two bodies from an old mobile home that had an ammonia fridge in it. They had to rinse us down with hoses before we could take off the air pacs due to the amount of ammonia that was clinging to our gear. It was burning the eyes and lungs of the people near us!! These people were in the back bedroom at the far end from the kitchen where the fridge was AND their bedroom window was open. We got the call from neighbors about the smell. This fridge was no bigger than the ones in our RV's.   So, even with the window open in the bedroom the fumes still killed both people. And an RV is substantially smaller and the fridge is usually near the middle.
DO NOT PLAY WITH AMMONIA!!!!


This is not the same stuff that you buy in the cleaning aisle believe me.

Offline Oz

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2017, 08:09 PM »
True story:  When I replaced my original fridge with a large, newer, lovely Norcold, I decided to store the old one in the basement.  It was too large and heavy to just carry, so I worked it down the steps.  At some point when I was almost at the bottom step, I must have severely pinched a line.

The ammonia smell was immediately overwhelming!  I ran up the steps and went outside, closing the basement door behind me.  Thank goodness no one else was home at the time. 

BUT... I knew it couldn't be left like that either.  Our basement was finished and that's where my wife and I had our bedroom and 2nd living room.  So, I took a deep breath, held it and went back in.  I could hardly see, it burned my eyes so badly!  I found I could only handle about 15 to 20 seconds, at the most,before retreating outside as quickly as possible, taking several minutes to cough, gag, and recover from the tearing burning in my eyes, even though I only opened them for a second every few seconds to see where I was.

I took a piece of rope from the RV and tied a hood on each end.  I went back in the basement and hooked one end to the leaking box of death and the other to a handrail support.  Out I went again.

I went back in and moved the unit up, one step at a time, and secured it, then back outside for the recovery process.
There were 30 steps.  A few times, I accidentally breathed in while making effort to lift the unit and nearly blacked out while scrambling to get back outside.

Finally, I got it out of the house.

I went in noticed that the spot where the ammonia had leaked was only about the size of my hand!  It looked like something from an old sci-fi movie... almost a glowing green as if it were radiating an alien poison.  I grabbed a rag, swiped up the offending little puddle and ran outside with it.

I took some baking soda and poured it on the remaining spot.  Outside again.

Went in and opened the basement windows.  Outside again.

Went in and turned two fans toward the windows.  Out again and stayed there for about half an hour.

I went back in and it was at least beginning to get bearable to keep my eyes open, so I ventured a breath.  I ran outside again, choking and coughing.

I stayed outside and cut the ammonia line on the refrigerator completely, allowing all of it to seep out and evaporate.

An hour later, I went in and it was safe enough to see and breathe.  I cleaned up the remaining residue soaked up by the baking soda.  Withing an hour, the smell was gone completely.

It wasn't long after that my wife and kids returned and asked how the refrigerator installation went.  I replied, "Oh, just fine."

I can't believe how stupid I was to go back in there and do that but, I had no idea what else to do and I had to get that thing out before the family got home.  At least, that's what I reasoned.

They could have come home, been forced out immediately by the smell, called 911, and the responders could have just as likely found my body at the bottom of the steps.


Moral of the story:  Don't be me.  Don't be stupid.  You may not be as lucky.


Previously enjoyed our '74 - D24 Indian & '74 - D24 Indian Custom

Offline Rickf1985

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2017, 09:06 AM »
You are lucky you did not lose your eyesight! The fumes will literally burn mucus and retinal membranes.
That is a perfect example of how little of an amount can be lethal. This was in a house, a lot larger than an RV. Same situation I had.



Ammonia and chlorine were two of the gases most used in WWI in the trenches.

Offline legomybago

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #7 on: October 19, 2017, 10:35 AM »
wow Oz, that's a crazy story!
Never get crap happy with a slap happy pappy

Online TerryH

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2017, 12:56 AM »
I originally posted this because I did experience a fridge ammonia leak not too long ago.
Fortunately, I was awake at the time and exited immediately.
I left the door open behind me, opened the exterior fridge vent (dumb idea as I am single and received a snoot full of ammonia).
I then, much I am sure to the consternation of my neighbors, called 911.
ERT set up a series of fans which, given the small amount of ammonia as well as prevailing winds was considered enough of a response.
Fortunately it was.

I am adding this to the original post because it is not only ammonia from your fridge that should be a concern.
You have a propane detector - ensure it is operational. You can and should test it regularly.
You have a smoke detector - same thing.
You have a CO detector - same thing.
This is really no different than checking tire pressure, brake fluid level, etc.
Basic regular safety checks.

Re the original link above - it took 2 1/2 days for ERT to enter the rink and retrieve the bodies.
Area local residents remain under evacuation orders.
 Ammonia.
In your fridge?

Open this:

https://globalnews.ca/news/3814258/shadoe-davis-ammonia-is-a-popular-cooling-agent-in-refrigerators-can-also-lead-to-fatal-leaks/
If you danced with the devil for a very good reason, have you not still danced with the devil?
Tom Clancy  1947 - 2013

Offline WrigleysBraveWin

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2017, 03:16 PM »
I hate reading those types of stories so I just skimmed and believe me I will no go if I smell any thing caustic.

Thanks again for advise, as I am no longer ten foot tall and bullet proof!


Today is the youngest you'll ever be!

Offline tmsnyder

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Re: That dreaded ammonia odor.
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2017, 08:02 AM »
I'm feeling really good about my cheap dorm fridge + modified sine wave invertor setup right now.

 

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