Your Guide to Easy RV Refrigerator Repair

Your Guide to Easy RV Refrigerator Repair


George Cummings
November 24, 2021

As your home away from home, you want to make sure your RV is functional, especially the kitchen.

When your refrigerator seems to be on the fritz and you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s easy to get in a panic, but with a few tips on RV refrigeration repair, you might find that it’s a problem you can fix yourself.

Can you fix an RV refrigerator? A broken or malfunctioning RV refrigerator might not always mean it needs to be replaced and the most common issues can usually be repaired.

Depending on the symptoms, you can troubleshoot and come up with a solution that will keep the fridge running.

The last thing you want to deal with is a broken refrigerator full of food, so having a few tricks up your sleeve to get it running again is the smartest approach.

This guide will walk you through the signs to look for and quick fixes for common problems that will get your fridge cold and running again.

Signs That Your RV Refrigerator Has a Problem

Signs That Your RV Refrigerator Has a Problem

Although not integral to its operation, living without a fridge in your RV isn’t something that anyone wants to do. If you notice any of these troubling signs, it likely means there’s a bigger issue at play that needs repairing.

  • Fridge not keeping food as cool as it should
  • Adjustment of fridge thermostat not working
  • Leaking from the fridge
  • Seals coming loose
  • Fridge door not closing at it should
  • Freezer staying cold but fridge not
  • Fridge pilot light keeps going out

How to Troubleshoot Issues with Your RV Fridge

Before you jump in and start tinkering with the refrigerator, have a quick check that the RV is level.

Once you’ve secured it and ensured that it’s level, you can begin troubleshooting through some of the most likely issues.

Electrical issues

Electrical issues

You can get to the bottom of any electrical issues by testing the power modes that it operates on, and seeing if the problem gets better when you switch between propane and electricity.

If you find that the fridge cools on one but not the other, it’s a problem with the electrical supply, and if neither works, it’s an issue solely with the refrigerator.

For electrical supply issues, check that it’s connected and there’s no damage to the fuses, and then check the heating element of the fridge to see if it’s working.

Gas supply issues

If you’re experiencing issues with the gas supply, you’ll need to first assess the pilot light and see if it’s working.

Check if there’s fuel in there and the valve has been turned on to allow gas to move, and then clean around the burner to remove any obstructions.

Ammonia smell around the refrigerator

Smell around the fridge and take note of any ammonia smells. If you do notice the scent of ammonia, it’s likely this is due to faulty coils.

Unfortunately, this isn’t an issue you should rectify yourself and it needs professional assistance. You’ll either have to replace the coils entirely or purchase a brand new RV fridge, depending on the damage.

Freezer working but fridge isn’t

Freezer working but fridge isn’t

Stick your hand in the freezer and fridge to see if one is cooling but not the other. If the freezer is working but not the fridge, the likely cause is an evaporator fan.

This fan and a diffuser move the cold air from the freezer to the fridge, and it can sometimes become blocked which stops it from moving. If nothing is blocking it, the fan needs to be removed and replaced with a new one.

Frozen cooling unit

If you’re traveling in harsh winter conditions, it can freeze the liquid solution in the refrigerator. You’ll need either a space heater or some form of heat you can hold up to the back of the fridge in an effort to melt it.

Prevention is key here, so make sure you winterize your RV if you’re not using it in cold conditions.

Refrigerator door not closing

The most common cause of a fridge door, not closing is that something is obstructing it, and if you leave it this way, the fridge’s motor may end up burning out because it’s having to work too hard to regular the temperature.

Check around all seals of the fridge to see there’s nothing in the way and then give them a deep clean to remove buildup. If they’re come loose or are damaged, you may need to replace all of the seals on the fridge.

Tips for Keeping Your RV Fridge Functional

It’s not enough to wait for a problem with your RV fridge to pop up before you start taking care of it, and this is an appliance that must be treated with caution.

We’ve got a few tips you can follow that will ensure the correct usage of your RV’s fridge and what you can do to keep it in good shape.

  • Park in the shade when you can: Parking in the shade is always recommended to RV owners but it can be especially helpful for your refrigerator. Appliances inside the RV, like the refrigerator, are affected by the temperature outside and if they overheat, it can lead to other issues.
  • Don’t open and close it too often: Your RV fridge isn’t like the one at home and it can’t be left open for five minutes while you daydream and look inside. Know exactly what you’re going to get before you open it and consider leaving a list of what’s in there on the front of the fridge to deter aimless searching.
  • Don’t over pack it: It can be tempting to get as much as you can at the grocery store while you have access to it, but it’s not a good idea for your fridge. You should never keep too many items in the fridge otherwise it can cause it to work too hard and experience issues, which will spoil all of the perishables it had inside. Aim for only one-third of the fridge being utilized so that the air can flow through it effectively.
  • Give it room to break: All fridges need adequate ventilation to give them space to breathe and release hot air and moisture. Make sure when you set up your RV fridge, it’s got the recommended space around it so that the grills and vents aren’t being covered.
  • Keep it level: Among the other things in your RV that can be affected when it’s not level, the refrigerator is one of the most important. Keeping it parked at an angle can cause sediment to build up on one side and this will block the important cooling functions of the fridge. Always make a point of parking level and use leveling blocks and wheel chocks whenever necessary.

An Easy Fix for Your RV Fridge

As the most important appliance in the RV kitchen, you’ll want to do whatever you can to your refrigerator up and running again if it experiences problems.

With a little troubleshooting and some patience, you’ll find that most of the issues these appliances face can be fixed, so you can get back on the road with all of your favorite foods intact.

Related Questions

The kitchen of an RV is a critical component and one of the main things that separate it from other types of campers and trailers.

Within the kitchen, though, there’s a lot to learn, so read on for some commonly asked questions about these RV galleys to get a basic understanding.

Can You Put a Full Size Oven in an RV?

RVs are generally designed to accommodate gas and electric-powered ovens that are suited to the smaller space of their kitchens, and it’s not recommended to try and fit a full-size oven in there.

The only exception would be an extra-large class A RV that might be able to fit one of these ovens, but even then, it would be considered overkill.

How Big Is a Dinette In an RV?

How Big Is a Dinette In an RV?

The dinette booth in an RV is usually sized according to the overall length of the RV itself.

The most common measurement for one of these single booths is 30 inches tall and 24 inches, and if you have two with a small table in the middle, the overall length would reach around 80 inches.

Can You Use an RV Kitchen While Driving?

It’s not recommended to use the kitchen of your RV while driving due to safety concerns, and you should attempt to have all passengers seated and wearing their seatbelts.

When the RV has pulled over, it’s okay to start operating appliances in the kitchen, including the oven and microwave.


George Cummings

George Cummings enjoys connecting with nature, meeting new people, and making friends from all over the world. RVing and camping create the perfect opportunity for [him/her] to take part in these activities. After spending several years on the road and exploring the great outdoors, George Cummings shares some of his best pieces of advice on how to make the most of your time while camping. TourTheOutdoors is his way of helping outdoorsy individuals like [him/her] start on a right footing with amazing recommendations and buying guides.