Summers are wonderful for RV-ing (as we all know) but high and/or extreme hot temperatures can make living inside your RV very uncomfortable if you don’t have a (working) Air Conditioning unit.
Most RV’s nowadays are fully equipped with an A/C unit – there are several recommended brands with different price ranges, usually available in 2 different sizes: 11,000 btu and 13,500 btu.
While most common problems with a broken or defunct RV A/C units are usually simple to fix, such as changing a damaged shroud (A/C cover) or unclogging a drain pan, electrical problems are quite a different story.
The three (3) most common questions we get from our customers are:
RV A/C Troubleshooting
Some of the most common issues our customers have with their RV A/C are:
a) RV A/C won’t turn on
Check for power, and ensure that no breakers have been tripped, and that all fuses are intact. Make sure that you have enough power to actually run your RV A/C unit, especially if the power is being shared/divided between several other appliances inside your RV. Sometimes the problem is not with the A/C unit itself, but could be with the (remote) controller or the thermostat.
If all is in good order, try to reset your A/C unit. This process may vary depending on the type/brand of A/C unit, so check the user manual first. If the unit still doesn’t turn on after resetting the system, there may be an issue with either the circuit board or possibly the thermostat.
This means you will need to either check your warranty, or you might consider having the RV A/C unit checked by a certified RV technician. Don’t try to repair the unit yourself if it is still covered under warranty, or you will lose this.
b) RV A/C turns On and Off repeatedly
When your RV A/C unit constantly cycles on and off there may be an issue with the coils. These coils can actually become frozen from perhaps a dirty air filter, or extreme humidity, which ultimately results in the A/C turning on and off repeatedly. This may be a simple fix, by leaving the A/C off until the coils have thawed out.
However, if the problem lies with the control board inside the RV A/C unit, the entire system could short cycle when it begins to fail, or it could also be a bad thermostat.
Either way, this is where a certified RV technician would step in to diagnose and fix the problem.
c) RV A/C is leaking
Next to power problems the biggest issue most people are dealing with is a leaky system. There could be a couple of reasons why the RV A/C is leaking: A/C unit refrigerant, leaks due to condensation or rain, or a damaged RV roof . Obviously any of these leaking problems could possibly damage the RV A/C unit, along with anything inside the RV.
Seeing water dripping from your RV A/C unit inside your RV during dry weather can be the cause of condensation inside your RV A/C unit. Normally, a slow trickle down the exterior of your RV isn’t unusual for units with a drain pan, but that water should stay outside and not run indoors. A poorly handled caulking or silicone job could however cause water to run back into your RV.
Condensation from the system needs to go somewhere, but if the passage becomes blocked with silicone, water will eventually find its way inside. Check your RV A/C unit for a drain pan, and if it has one, make sure to keep it as clean as possible, so that small debris and dirt cannot clog up the small hole in the drain pan.
If the A/C unit leaks due to rain, this could mean that the unit has loosened on top of the RV roof due to the RV being in continuous motion, going over bumps and holes in the road. By tightening the bolts of the RV A/C unit this issue may be resolved.
However, if the unit is not loose, either worn caulking or the rubber gasket (sitting between the system and the RV) may have to be replaced.
This rubber gasket is constantly exposed to the elements and will eventually break down. Although it is highly recommended to have this done by a certified RV technician, it is a fairly easy fix,
as long as the RV A/C unit is carefully removed and properly re-installed after the old rubber gasket has been replaced by a brand new one.
Damage to the RV roof and the A/C unit shroud (cover) could occur from road debris, low hanging branches, hail and/or strong wind. Although this cannot always be seen from the ground, or inside the RV, it should be checked frequently, especially after inclement weather, in order to prevent any water leaks in general.
d) RV A/C not blowing cold air
When the RV A/C unit functions, but is not blowing cold air it may cause the system to lose efficiency. Dirt and debris could get stuck between the fins, and these fins are very easy to break down. A special fine comb and some elbow grease may help to clean and straighten them out, but this is not an easy task and will be time consuming. This process also will vary depending on the brand and model of the RV A/C unit.
It is always important to properly maintain your RV A/C unit in order to keep it running efficiently, but it may still not solve the issue of not blowing any cold air.
Some RV A/C systems are compressor-based and rely on Freon for cooling. These units may experience slow leaks or run low on Freon over time.
In some cases they can be recharged, however this should be handled by a certified RV technician, rather than handling a dangerous liquid such as Freon yourself.
e) RV A/C is very noisy
A noisy RV A/C unit is a very common problem, however once it starts to sound like an aircraft flying low right over your RV, it is time to do some checking. Again, the A/C unit mounting bolts on top of your RV roof may have been jolted loose due to the RV bouncing around on the road, and will need tightening. At the same time, it could also be one or more loose screws or nuts rattling around. Most RV A/C units come with an anti-vibration pad, but these also may become worn over time and are relatively cheap and simple to replace.
Fan motors can be noisy as well, along with RV A/C systems that have clogged air filters. A bad fan will need to be replaced by a certified RV technician, but a dirty air filter can easily be either cleaned or replaced.
RV A/C manufacturers usually recommend to clean air filters once every few months with regular use.
Please, be careful when climbing on the roof of your RV if you want to inspect your A/C unit yourself.
Unfortunately there have been many trips and falls off an RV roof by RV owners, which resulted in hospital stays.
There are some high quality waterproof covers for RV A/C’s available for purchase, which will help maintain your A/C system during the off-season.