Dometic Ventless Washer/Dryer Troubleshooting

The washer/dryer combo unit we have in our RV is a Dometic brand, model #: WDCVLW… It stopped drying our clothes recently, throwing an obscure error code, and we finally had time to investigate over the holiday weekend. 

A lot of the ventless combo units are really similar, regardless of what brand the sticker on the front is. There’s Haier, Midea, Best Appliance, even Magic Chef. I’m not guaranteeing that all of these units are the exact same inside, but I’d be willing to bet they are pretty close.

Clockwise from top left: Edgestar, Magic Chef, Dometic, Midea

We’ve had our washer/dryer combo since we bought our Momentum 5th wheel in March 2015. (My mom got it for us as a housewarming gift-love her)! We’ve used it almost daily to wash clothes since then, sometimes doing more than one load a day, except when we are boondocking or on the road.

For a few months now, the dry cycle hasn’t been working well. We’ve had to hang dry our clothes even after running it 2-3 times. Just recently our unit kept throwing an error code: E3A.

My first step was to check the manual… That code isn’t listed in troubleshooting section. So then I called the Dometic customer service number. What a joke!

The representative claimed to only have access to the same manual I had in my lap. She told me I would have to call a service center and either take the unit in or pay a mobile tech  to find out what the code meant. (She stated dealers and certified service techs are the only ones who have access to technical support, that not even she did.)  After wasting lots of breath and time, I finally requested to speak to her manager. After another 10 minutes on hold, the same rep came back with what the code meant, saying her manager found it. Basically, the unit is overheating or not heating properly. 

We’d never cleaned the unit, only emptied the coin trap and kept the drum clean, but never opened it up or anything like that. I honestly didn’t think we needed to, as the manual doesn’t say anything to that nature, even in the care & cleaning section. But from now on, we will clean it probably every 9 months or so since we use it so often. img_9547

Once I googled the code and the explanation, I came across this video that Edgestar made. Edgestar also made a similar unit but it’s since been discontinued. Edgestar put out some how-to DIY fix videos for their unit and that’s where we got just about all of our info on how to diagnose and fix ours. I watched it twice, then made Allen watch it, so we would know what we were up against, then we got to work.

We unscrewed the feet from the shelf (a robertson bit) and pulled the unit out of the nook in the closet and removed the top.img_9545

There are two screws in the back holding it on (phillips head). Then we took the fan off to access the condenser. That’s held on with 4-5 phillips head screws, and there’s one wire you need to disconnect (that’s a star bit).

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The wire held on with the star bit is on the right… We removed the black plastic cover holding the fan to get to the condenser underneath.

The condenser was definitely clogged! Lint galore! I got most of it out with my hands, we tried to shop vac some of it, then finished up with a Lysol wipe tied to the handle of a fly swatter! Gotta be inventive sometimes!

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Looking down into the condenser once the fan was removed. Left: before, yuck!! Right: after…

So with a clean condenser, we put it all back together and started a cycle. Low and behold… E3A yet again!

So we got it out again, pressed play on the Edgestar video, and continued to investigate. Allen got his volt meter out and we tested the fan: all good.

Then we tested the thermistors. These are what the red and black plastic pieces plug into. img_9557img_9555img_9560Neither the main one or the safety would put out any volts. So we removed those, and found the problem. One of them was corroded pretty badly.

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You can see the corrosion on the back side of this thermistor.

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This is where it plugged into.

I think what happened is the condenser got clogged, causing the element to overheat, ruining the thermostat.

So I called Dometic yet again, this time I got someone helpful so it made the call a LOT shorter and more pleasant! I explained what I needed and Carrie emailed me a parts list with a diagram. Super helpful! Allen and I picked out the part number and called back to order it. $3.10 plus $5 for shipping… We went ahead and ordered two sets so we will have a back up if it ever happens again.

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We needed #33. The condenser that was all gross and clogged is pictured on the top right hand side of this page.

And even though the parts list says “manual limit switch”, the rep I ordered from referred to it as a “thermistor limit switch”… I told Allen last night that I really thought it was called a thermistor but I’m still not sure where I got that from. I feel pretty smart!

So those should be here by Friday hopefully, and we can get them in and cross our fingers it’s fixed! If not, I’m thinking our heating element is shot, in which case that would be part #30 and it is $78.15 plus probably at least $5 for shipping…

Here’s the rest of the parts list in case it can help anyone else out!

UPDATE: DIY fixes feel the best! Domestic Washer/Dryer Combo, Error Code: E3A

Related posts:

E3A code again 

Control Board burnt up

Leaking drain pipe from Dometic washer/dryer

Dometic customer service

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14 thoughts on “Dometic Ventless Washer/Dryer Troubleshooting

  1. These problems can be frustrating but really give ya a good feeling when you finally fix it. Because you guys and a couple others are using the combo with success we have decided that’s the way to go. Not sure yet what the difference is between a vented and ventless however. Not even sure yet if getting a vent in a trailer is an option or not.

    Do think it would be worth the effort to go with a vented unit now that you have used the ventless?

    Liked by 1 person

    • The ventless is all electric and dries with condensed water, or steam… I’m not sure how the vented ones work but I’m kind of guessing they run on propane. It just depends where you’ll be camping and if you’ll be paying for electric, that weighed against the cost of propane.

      Like

  2. Wow impressive blog post… so very detailed!

    Thermistor is supposed to be like a variable resistor based on temperature. As the temp rises or falls (depending on thermistor type) the voltage output will vary based on temp.

    Thanks for another great post…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for the very informative blogs on this issue. I had this issue pop up out of the blue yesterday. After beating my brains out all evening Googling and trying various things, it really helped me nail down the E3A problem since neither the fan or condenser were really that clogged (though I went ahead and cleaned what gunk was there). I do want to also point out the rep you spoke to was incorrect on the terminology, these really are manual limit thermo reset switches. Thermistors are a completely different part (if you Google a picture you will see what I mean). One of mine had tripped, I reset it and put it back in. Tried a refresh/short dry cycle after and it worked. Don’t know what will happen on a regular dry cycle yet but at least I know what caused this thanks to you. No one else brought this up on various sites as people kept referring to the Edgestar video (they make this same exact washer also, as well as Midea which is what I have) to clean the fan. It’s also worth noting finding these parts online is very hard to do if you need a replacement, although it looks like White Rodgers makes a 160 that would be compatible with this unit.

    It’s really a shame you have to go through all these hoops to find this out, as 99% of people would never be able to solve this type of thing on their own since the manual makes no reference to most of the error codes or possible solutions.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that offer! I’m thinking if I have to replace one or both I may go with the Emerson/White Rodgers Thermostat 3L02-160 Snap Disc Limit Control (can be found on Amazon).
        Especially given the ones that come with the washer seem to be a bit faulty anyway. If for some reason in the future that doesn’t work out or proves incompatible, you may hear from me again!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Well I have an update. After about a month of no problems E3A popped up again this week. Maybe legitimately though as the coils got so hot the other night you could smell it. The next day I tried again, first attempt the coils wouldn’t heat. Second attempt, worked normal. I ordered the replacement limit switches and unfortunately while the right temp limit, they were way big! So at any rate I have contacted Midea customer service and a repair will be scheduled hopefully next week. I have read a review from another person who was getting these errors and replacing the limit switches did not work and they had to just get a refund. Makes no sense why so many of these units are faulty, especially now they’ve had a few years to fix these kinds of issues for future batches. If the repairman can’t fix the machine, I may opt for the refund. Not sure yet because honestly this was the perfect size for the area I have it installed.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wanted to add one other thing. I tested the voltage on the limit switches yesterday and they were both normal (readings were 0 or 0.1). So that’s officially eliminated as a possible problem. However after discussing with my landlord about the fan/blower and it’s inconsistency on velocity at times, we both looked at the surge suppressor it was plugged into. Reason being if there is interference with the power supply it obviously would affect operation. After opening it up, the metal strip the washer was plugged into was a little warped and had some scorching. Despite being rated 15 amps/125v I now wonder if that was the problem. I now have the unit plugged directly into the wall and the dryer fan is operating normally today (if you can’t hear the air being pushed it isn’t spinning hard enough to keep air circulated). So, we shall see. I always have plugged appliances into surge suppressors with the proper rating before with no issues, but perhaps this is a lesson learned?

    Liked by 1 person

    • So we have an update also. Ours started throwing the E3A code again last weekend. We replaced the limit switches but as soon as the cycle ran, we got the code again. We had a mobile tech come out to test and it turns out it’s the control panel that is shot. So we have a replacement on the way. I will be posting about that shortly.
      Just a note though, our limit switches, when we back probe them while the unit is running should read 120V. Same with the fan motor, heating element and all wires to and from the control panel.

      Like

      • Interesting and good to know if this happens to me again. At least I can give the tech a heads up about maybe what to look at first (I have since asked them not to send one to see if what I have done will work. It’s a pain to have to leave work and come home, etc). I should note whenever the E3A happened, I had to wait a day before I could use the dryer again. It needs quite a bit of time to cool down. Otherwise if I tried again within the hour or even same night, still will get E3A. BTW funny thing is after I sent the email asking to cancel the work order last night, they sent me a reply today saying one was scheduled for Friday. The guy didn’t even bother to read my reply from yesterday! I had to call them to cancel it. After reading what you just posted though I am wondering if my troubles are over or just beginning. Stay tuned right?

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  6. So here’s the latest. After a week of good behavior, the overheating has started again. The motor on the fan barely spins hard enough to blow a leaf, so the coils just get red hot and the unit shuts off. Now it is happening every time too, so the unit can no longer dry at all. I have asked for a tech to come and have ordered a dryer that I am going to use regardless of when/if this gets fixed. A unit with no lint filter was a bad idea anyway but I knew that in the beginning. If they offer a refund at some point, I am going to take it and just order a regular washer. Never a combo again!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Very very good article – THANK YOU. I plan on purchasing this unit or the Splendide 7100. I be been researching and researching these units for a while and they all seem to NOT FUNCTION for very long. So it is really testing me whether it’s worth the aggravation. Can’t understand why if your gonna sell something to the public that it should work as advertised- YA THINK

    Liked by 1 person

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