RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting – What You Must Know

Last updated on May 20th, 2021 at 09:05 am. Originally published on April 26th, 2015

Is your RV refrigerator on the fritz?  Do you need some serious RV refrigerator troubleshooting?  If so, this is the post for you.  In this article, we will discuss the top seven RV refrigerator troubleshooting tricks and tips.  Don’t throw your fridge out until you try every one of these suggestions.  You might just be surprised!

Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit

If you own a propane-powered RV fridge, check to see if the pilot light is operational.  Many times the light won’t stay lit, which may mean you have a bad gas-flow.  The flow of propane to the refrigerator is controlled by the thermocouple.  First, make sure to clean the flue, burner tube, and the orifice inside the flame area.  On the outside of the coach, there is a fridge access.  Remove that, along with the tin cover.  You may see a rusty build-up that needs to be cleaned off.  Residue can often confuse the sensor, and turn the flame off.

Your Coach Isn’t Level Or Hasn’t Been Used

The number one RV refrigerator troubleshooting tip is to make sure your coach is completely level.  If your trailer, camper, or motorhome is not level, it can affect the cooling unit.  Everything must be level, in order to evaluate the operation.   Long-term storage can cause issues with the operation of your RV refrigerator.  If the fridge is off, the fluid isn’t flowing.  Over time sediment will build up in the cooling system, stopping its operation.

No Cooling Fuel Source

This RV troubleshooting requires several steps.  First, remember that most of the components under a fridge are HOT.  Be careful, and use gloves when possible.  Feel the cooling unit, and make sure that the heat is even in the boiler, absorber and the middle portion of the unit.  If it’s not, there may be a blockage, and one area will be much hotter than the others.  A blockage means that the cooling liquid is not flowing through the entire unit.  If you have parked uneven for an extended period, gravity may have shifted the liquid coolant.  Unfortunately, there is no way to fix this problem.  Even if you are able to tip the fridge, eventually the build-up will happen again.  Your choice is simple.  Rebuild the cooling unit, or buy a new RV fridge.

Leaking Cooling Unit

Let’s say that the boiler is pretty warm and the absorber is very hot.  This means there is a leak somewhere.  The unit is still working, but the gas is escaping.  If you smell ammonia, this confirms the problem.  Look for yellow residue outside of the cooling unit.  This can also confirm a leak.  If you have a leak in your cooling unit, it will need to be replaced, or you can have it professionally re-built.  Be aware though, rebuilding a cooling unit can cost more than buying a new fridge.

Photo Credit: realstealsanddeals

Many RV owners are embracing the use of residential refrigerators within their trailers, 5th wheels, and motorhomes.  You can usually replace a fridge in less than one hour, whereas rebuilding an old unit could take days.  Whatever you decide, be sure to work with an RV technician that is certified in refrigeration repair.

Hopefully this article helped you troubleshoot your RV refrigerator, so you can get to the next step in your journey.

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