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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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