To use a propane gas refrigerator safely, it is important to be familiar with the properties of this gas, the working characteristics of this appliance as well as the requirements of its installation.
Installing a propane gas refrigerator
The installation and maintenance of propane gas refrigerators, as any other gas powered appliance, must be performed by a contractor specialized in propane equipment and holding either a class 15.6 licence or an owner-builder’s licence. Propane distributors generally offer these types of services.
At first be patient! A propane gas refrigerator which has just been turned on takes longer to cool than an electric refrigerator. Cooling food items will often take much longer, especially if you place in the refrigerator an important quantity of non-refrigerated food at once, when turning it on. Save for the thermostat adjustments, do not attempt to modify or adjust the burner by yourself, for there is a risk of producing dangerous carbon monoxide releases inside your dwelling unit, which may cause ailments or severe intoxications. It is essential to follow strictly all the manufacturer’s instructions with regard to the installation, levelling and clearances to provide for, failing which the refrigerator may produce a dangerous level of CO inside your dwelling or create a fire risk.
Dwelling units: the requirements of the Construction Code
Since July 31, 2010, it is mandatory that any new installation of a propane gas refrigerator inside a dwelling unit include a direct vent. Propane gas refrigerators other than direct vent-type must be placed in an area which is not normally occupied and does not communicate directly with the occupied areas. The installation of a brand new propane gas refrigerator including the replacement of appliance must therefore be in compliance with this new regulatory requirement.
This requirement is not retroactive to propane gas refrigerators installed before July 31, 2010.
Note: For the period of May 25, 1995 to July 30, 2010 inclusively, the regulation concerning installations designed to be supplied with gas requires that any new propane-powered refrigerator be equipped with a gas detector that can shut off propane supply when the burner gives off CO.
This note applies to refrigerators which are not vented to the outside and are employed for certain domestic or commercial uses. A domestic use is, for instance, any use inside a residence or dwelling unit. Commercial uses refer to, for instance, uses in outfitting cottages or any other public leased accommodations.
Regarding refrigerators which were installed before May 25, 1995 and used for purposes other than domestic, the regulation requires that their owners install a CO detector in the room where the appliance is installed, and maintain it in proper operating condition. Such a gas detector must be certified to standard CSA 6.19, Residential Carbon Monoxide Alarming Devices.
Verify the tuning of the burner
There are a few visual clues that may enable you to verify if the refrigerator’s burner is correctly tuned. The three (3) following observations apply to all propane-powered refrigerators:
The flame produced by the burner must be completely blue; if the flame is partly yellow or orange coloured, it is a sign that the burner needs to be cleaned or adjusted.
At any time, the base of the flame must “sit” directly on the burner: there must be no visible spacing between the flame and the burner.
You must make sure that nothing blocks the gas vent or the chimney of your appliance.
For seasonal use of your refrigerator
When the propane gas refrigerator is used only seasonally, it is essential to clean the burner and, in some cases, to adjust it before restarting it. Indeed, the burner itself or the gas vent might be blocked with insects or small rodents' nests, rust debris or some other matters which prevent a complete combustion of the gas, thus resulting in the production of potentially dangerous CO. Refer to your owner’s guide for detailed maintenance instructions.
If you need to move your refrigerator
You must clean the burner after the refrigerator has been moved, even over a short distance inside the dwelling. When moving the appliance, soot or rust from the walls of the gas vent may detach itself and block the burner, resulting in poor combustion and, consequently, in the production of potentially dangerous CO.
Note: Any adjustment to the burner must be performed by a person holding a certificate of competency in gas installations. As a general rule, propane distributors can offer maintenance services.
Install a CO detector!
Inadequate ventilation, incomplete combustion or poor evacuation of the combustion products may all cause the building-up of carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic gas which can endanger your life. The RBQ recommends installing a CO detector.
Make sure that the ventilation of the premises is adequate
All propane gas refrigerators require a sufficient supply of fresh air to operate safely and efficiently. Propane gas refrigerators which are not equipped with a gas vent to evacuate the combustion products to the outside, will release, under normal conditions, acceptable levels of CO inside the dwelling unit where the appliance is used.
Since various conditions could result in the release of inordinate levels of CO, it is recommended to leave a window open at any time in the room where such a type of propane gas refrigerator is installed, in order to ensure good oxygen supply as well as the evacuation of the combustion products.