How to Tell If My RV Fridge Is Not Working

How to Tell If My RV Fridge Is Not Working

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RV fridge employs electric igniters, which are used for heating up food items inside it. These igniters get heated by electricity supplied.

The heat generated by these igniters gets transferred through the walls of the refrigerator compartment into the surrounding airspace.

This process helps in cooling down the interior temperature of the refrigerator. However, when there is no power supply or voltage available at all times, then this transfer of heat becomes impossible.

So how do you tell if your RV Fridge is working or not?

Different ways you could tell that the RV fridge isn’t working

You RV refrigerator is different than your home unit. It also operates in much different conditions. Since its operating when the vehicle is moving, its obviously put to hard vibration conditions and hence there are higher chances of issues.

Lets look at different ways by which you could tell that the RV fridge isn’t working fine.

1. Does your appliance work in both modes: LP and Electric?

RV Fridge uses two mode types; one is called “LP” mode while the other is known as “Electric” mode. In the case of an RV fridge, we use a combination of both modes.

When the RV fridge is plugged-in to the AC outlet, it operates on low power mode. But when there is no power source connected, then it switches over to electric mode.

If the RV fridge doesn’t switch over from LP to Electric mode automatically, then chances are high that the RV fridge might be malfunctioning. You should check whether the RV fridge has switched over to electric mode manually.

2. Is the Cooling Unit Leaking?

If the cooling unit leaks water continuously, then chances are very high that the RV fridge is leaking. It means that the cooling system is damaged. To fix such issues, you need to contact a professional service provider. They wi

ll help you repair the leaky cooling unit. How do you know your cooling unit is leaking? Well, the primary signs are yellow stains appearing around the door seal area. Also, you must see any liquid dripping onto the floor. You’ll also notice the smell of ammonia.

3. Has Ammonia Sediment Built Up?

Ammonia sediment build-up occurs due to improper cleaning of the evaporator coil. As soon as the refrigerant gas comes in contact with air, it absorbs moisture present in the atmosphere.

Due to this absorption, ammonium hydroxide forms. NH4OH reacts with CO2 to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid dissolves calcium bicarbonate. Calcium ions react with hydrogen ions to produce Ca 2+. Thus, calcium salts precipitate out of the solution.

Such precipitation causes the build-up of solid material on the coils. Over time, this accumulation leads to clogging of the evaporator tubes. Hence, the RV fridge stops functioning properly.

To prevent such problems, make sure that you clean the evaporator regularly. Cleaning the evaporator requires removing the ice tray cover first. Then remove the ice trays using a soft cloth.

4. Is the Cooling Unit Frozen Solid?

When the cooling unit freezes, the compressor cannot function properly. Therefore, the RV fridge won’t start operating. There are several reasons why the cooling unit freezes. One reason is the lack of proper ventilation. Another reason is too much humidity.

A third reason is an insufficient airflow across the evaporator coils. Lastly, the freezing temperatures outside the RV fridge cause condensation on the evaporator coils. All these factors lead to the formation of frost on the evaporator coils, thereby causing the cooling unit to freeze.

5. Did the Fridge Burner Fail?

The burner inside the refrigerator compartment fails to ignite or burn fuel efficiently. This results in poor performance of the RV fridge. The most common problem associated with the burning stove is the failure of the igniter.

Ignition failures occur for various reasons. For example, the ignition wire gets loose after prolonged usage. Or else the insulation surrounding the wires gets worn off.

Sometimes, the wiring itself becomes corroded. These conditions result in electrical shorts between the terminals. Once the electrical connection breaks down, the flame goes out.

Why RV fridge may not cool

There are several reasons why an RV fridge doesn’t cool.

1. Lack of air circulation

Air circulation helps maintain the optimum temperature within the RV fridge. If there’s no sufficient fresh air circulating through the interior space, heat builds up quickly. In turn, the ambient temperature rises above the desired level. Consequently, the cooling capacity decreases significantly.

2. Insufficient power supply

An RV fridge needs electricity to operate. However, when the battery runs low, the RV fridge shuts down automatically. When the RV fridge starts malfunctioning, check whether the batteries have enough charge left. If they don’t, replace the dead ones immediately.

3. Poorly designed cooling units

RV fridges come equipped with two types of cooling systems: forced convection and natural convection. Both work fine under ideal circumstances. But when things go wrong, one type tends to fail more often than the other. So before buying an RV fridge, be aware of which kind of cooling system it has installed.

4. Improper installation

Problems arise during the installation of the RV fridge. Some people install their RV fridges without following all safety precautions. They forget to disconnect the water line from the RV fridge.

Others connect the water pipe directly to the RV fridge. Yet others leave the RV fridge unplugged while traveling. Any of these mistakes can prove fatal. Make sure that your RV fridge is connected safely to the water source. Also, ensure that the RV fridge remains plugged into the wall outlet at all times.

How to reset my RV fridge

If the RV fridge does not respond to any button presses, try pressing the Reset button located near the front panel. Press this button repeatedly until the display turns back on. You should also press the Power switch once. After doing so, wait a few minutes for the RV fridge to reboot.

The common issue with RV fridges and how to resolve them

1. Unable to turn on

This happens because the RV fridge is either turned off by mistake or due to a faulty circuit board. To fix this problem, first, make sure that the RV fridge is powered on. Then, follow steps 1-5 below to troubleshoot the issue.

  • Check the fuse box
  • Disconnect the RV fridge from the AC unit
  • Remove the cover plate
  • Unscrew the screws holding the control panel assembly together
  • Pull the entire control panel assembly away from the cabinet
  • Look for blown fuses
  • Replace the fuse, as necessary

2. No light flashes

When the RV fridge displays “No Light Flashes,” the fault lies somewhere in the lighting circuitry. Try checking each bulb individually. If none of them works, replace the bulbs.

3. Display shows error codes

Error code displayed on the LCD screen indicates a serious problem. It usually means that the RV fridge is damaged beyond repair. Contact a professional service provider to get help fixing the RV fridge.

How long can RV Fridge last?

The lifespan of an RV fridge depends upon several factors such as the model number, brand name, age, usage pattern, etc. Typically, those using a 12 V DC battery can last 6-8 hours, while using less than 70 watts lasts 30 up to hours.

Some tips maximize the efficiency of an RV fridge and increase its life span. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use a fan to circulate cold air inside the RV fridge. A powerful blower increases airflow throughout the refrigerator compartment.
  • Keep the door open whenever possible. Airflow improves dramatically when the door stays open.
  • Avoid storing food items close to the bottom shelves. Food placed too far from the floor reduces the effectiveness of the refrigeration process.
  • Clean the condenser coils regularly. Dirty coils reduce the performance of the compressor.


RV fridges have become very popular among travelers who want to enjoy fresh foods even after reaching their destination. However, installing one requires proper planning and preparation. The best way to avoid problems associated with RV fridges is to hire professionals to do it for you. This will save time and money.

Karuna N

Karuna is a RV enthusiast who loves outdoors and passionate about writing about RV's and camping in general.
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