Getting Your RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season

Preparing your RV Fridge

If you are like most people, your RV is usually hibernating throughout the fall and winter. As the temperatures start to rise, we look forward to getting our rig ready to go camping, but need to make sure everything is properly running before we get on the road. One of the things you need to take time to get ready is your RV refrigerator. Most RVs have an absorption refrigerator that runs on either LP or 120-volt electricity and has no moving parts. Some larger units are now using residential refrigerators powered by a compressor which only operate on 120-volt electricity. For this article we are going to cover the absorption refrigerator and what you should do to get it ready for camping season.

Clean and Inspect the Refrigerator Vent

If your refrigerator is not in a slide room, the back of the unit has an open cavity that allows hot air to flow up to the roof and a vent with a plastic over on the roof.

Prepping RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season

Remove the plastic cover and you will see a rectangular “flue” or box covered with a screen to keep rodents out, but allow hot air to escape. Make sure the screen is clear of dust and debris to the hot air can escape easily.

Related videos: Keeping Your Cool: RV Refrigerator Vent Inspection and The Various Types Of RV Roof Vents

Open the Vent Door and Clean/Inspect The Burner Assembly

When operating on the LP mode, Liquid Propane is supplied through a copper line to the burner assembly which mixes it with air and the spark ignitor lights a flame.

Prepping RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season

The burner assembly can get contaminated with dust and even obstructed from a spider webs. Propane gas attracts bugs and spiders, because they love the smell! This is a good time to use an air compressor to clean out the soot and any obstructions attaching an air blower and ¼” hose. Clean out the burner assembly as well as the flue that runs up the right side. Make sure you wear safety glass as this could get messy! It’s a good idea to also blow off all the dust on the cooling unit by just sticky the blower up the back of the cavity. Dust on the cooling units creates more heat which makes the unit less efficient.

Related video: RV Refrigerator Repair: Cleaning A Burner Assembly

Reinstall Water Filter to Ice Maker and Turn On Water (If Applicable)

If you have an ice maker, hopefully you removed the filter, shut off the water, and drained the water to the ice maker when it was winterized! If not… that’s another discussion that will take much more time and covered later. For now, replace the filter, turn on the water line, and let the water flow to the ice maker. You will probably need to “cycle” a few times through to get the air out of the lines and get a good water flow.

Prepping RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season

Check Refrigerator Door For Tight Seal

For the refrigerator to operate properly, it needs to have a good seal from the gasket all around the door. If there are any gaps or leaks, warm humid air will enter the refrigerator and cause insufficient cooling, condensation, and frost build up. Placing heavy items in the door shelves like milk, large water bottles, and other items puts weight on the door and with the extremes of traveling down the road, causes the door to sag and the gasket to not align. Open the door slightly and place a dollar bill or piece of paper between the door and the refrigerator frame, shut the door and slightly tug on the bill. If it slides out effortlessly, it is not sealing well. It should have a slight resistance for a good solid seal. Do this on all four sides of the door.

Related video: RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting: Checking Fridge Seals

Clean The Inside With Dish Soap and Water And Check The Thermistor

It’s not uncommon for mold and mildew to grow on the inside of a refrigerator during storage. This is a good time to clean everything inside with a mild cleaner such as dish soap and water. Rinse it with a mixture of baking soda and water and dry it thoroughly. The thermistor is a temperature sensor typically clipped to the coils inside the refrigerator. Moving it up or down will increase or decrease the temperature as the warm air will be higher in the refrigerator box.

Prepping RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season

As condensation forms in the refrigerator, rust can form at the thermistor. A good visual inspection is recommended to reduce condensation ensure this is not getting corroded.

Related videos: RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting: Thermistor

Getting The Refrigerator Ready To Use

Do not put warm food in a warm refrigerator when starting it up for the season as it will take a long time to cool, sometimes a couple of days! Start with an empty refrigerator and plug it into a correctly match electrical source and start the refrigerator on the Auto Mode. This is the default for 120-volt power and will start the heating element. Putting a 5lb bag of ice in the freezer will help with the cooling, however cool all food down in a residential refrigerator and then put it into your RV refrigerator when everything is cool.

Pre-Trip Checklist

Interested in more information about RV refrigerators? Check out some of our other videos and articles:

Tips For RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting
Common RV Refrigerators and Refrigerator Power Sources
Avoid RV Refrigerator Repairs By Not Placing Heavy Items In The Door
RV Refrigerator Tips: The Importance Of Leveling
RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting: Baffle Inspection
RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting: Using Diagnostic Codes
RV Refrigerator Troubleshooting: Checking The 12 Volt Battery
Diagnosing An Inefficient RV Refrigerator

Discussion
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15 Responses to “Getting Your RV Refrigerator Ready For The Camping Season”
  1. Gilbert Sandholzer

    RV Make: Tiffin, RV Model: Allegro Bay, RV Year: 1991, Brand: Norcord, Model Number: 482

    I need the ignightor

    Reply
  2. Jose

    RV Make: cobra, RV Model: trailer, RV Year: 1995

    my fridge do not work I get no cold in my fridge

    Reply
  3. Steve Hemphill

    RV Make: Starcraft, RV Model: Launch, RV Year: 2017

    I like your articles, but I noticed 3 spelling or syntax errors at the start of the refrigerator article you just put out. I hate to think of how many customers you have lost because they have been put off by your lack of editing.

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Steve,

      Thank you for contacting us.

      I appreciate your feedback and it has been forwarded to the proper department. Your comments are important to us and help with the development of our online video streaming community. We will continue to listen and work hard for your complete satisfaction.

      If you have any other questions, please contact us at 1-855-706-3536, or chat with us on our site.

      Sincerely,

      Taylar
      RV Repair Club Video Membership

      Reply
  4. Gerry

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: Sunseeker, RV Year: 2016

    Since I do not own an air compressor, can I use “canned air” sold for cleaner key boards to blw out dust and cobwebs from the fridge, and other propane appliances too for that matter?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Gerry,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      Yes you sure can. I recommend those to people that do not have compressors. The air pressure coming out of those cans are actually pretty low compared to a compressor so it shouldn’t damage anything. Those are nice to have too since the nozzle can reach tough areas that need cleaned. These are great to use for cleaning out the burner tube of water heaters and other propane appliances.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  5. Jim Archibald

    RV Make: National, RV Model: Dolphin, RV Year: 1995, Brand: Dometic

    My 2 door dometic reefer is OK on the freezer side but very slow to cool down on the refrigerator side.
    I use ice bags in both to “jump start” for a weekend. Is there a control unit between the 2 sides which may be at fault?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Jim,

      I would check the door gasket and make sure it is sealing well. The fridge and freezer work off of the same cooling unit so they should both be working the same. There is about a 30 degree difference between the two, so if the freezer is at 20 degrees (which would still freeze items) the fridge may only be at 50 degrees. There could be a venting issue not allowing it to cool more than it is. Check the vents and make sure nothing is blocking it and there is good air flow. There could be other issues like the thermistor is cutting out too soon as well. I would start with the door gasket though. If you take a dollar bill and close it half way in the door when it is shut, pull the bill out and see how it feels. It should have some tension and not come out easy. If it does come out easy you might have to replace the gasket as it is not sealing tight enough. We have some great videos troubleshooting this issue, I will post the link below. I hope this helps!
      https://www.rvrepairclub.com/videos/rv-refrigerator/

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  6. John

    RV Make: Forest River, RV Model: R-POD 189, RV Year: 2019, Brand: Forest River, Model Number: R-Pod 189

    Converter battery problems

    Reply
  7. Timothy Baker

    RV Make: Winnabego, RV Model: Indian, RV Year: 1975, Brand: Winnabego, Model Number: D24

    Need help getting all the systems checked on this beast. New Owner

    Reply
  8. Jimmy Bertoldo

    RV Make: Jatco, RV Model: Melbourne, RV Year: 2010

    At what mileage should the dive belt be replaced?

    Reply
    • Customer Service

      Dear Jimmy,

      Thank you for your patience. In response to your question-

      They can typically last from 60,000 to 100,000 miles under good conditions. I recommend at least checking once a year and replacing once there are any signs of cracking. There really is no mileage to change them but if you want to be on the safer side, I would replace it every 50,000 to 75,000 to be safe.

      Sincerely,
      Dan
      RV Repair Club Technical Expert

      Reply
  9. Raymond ziefel

    RV Make: forest Rivers, RV Model: Flagstaff, RV Year: 2015

    Anyone know a RV parts house selling Smart RV interior Fans Cant find a dealer or re- seller any where.

    Reply