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Do RV Air Conditioners Need To Be Recharged?

Summer is a great time to go out with the family in the RV. However, since the temps can get so hot, you’ll definitely want to have a working air conditioner. However, if your air conditioner is not working like it should, what do you do?

Many RV owners will ask the question: do RV air conditioners need to be recharged? The answer is yes- if it is not working right, it needs to be recharged. However, that may prove to be more challenging in some systems than others because some RV air conditioners are closed systems.

In this article, we’ll learn how to recharge an RV air conditioner, other issues that may arise, and maintenance tips for your air conditioner.

How To Recharge Your RV Air Conditioner

The first thing that you should know is that your RV air conditioner is not the same as the one that you have at home. Most RV air conditioners are not made to be opened up. In fact, if you do open up your AC, you may end up causing more damage to the unit.

If you’re just adding more freon, it’s called a “top-off”, but if you need to fill up an empty tank, it’s considered a full recharge.

So can you recharge an RV air conditioner?

Yes. And here are the steps for recharging your RV’s air conditioning unit:

  • Shut off the power to the unit.
  • Check the owner’s manual to find out what brand you need to use.
  • Get a ladder to get on top of your RV.
  • Remove the plastic cover and lift up to avoid bumping the coils.
  • Find out what level the freon is at by using a coolant gauge.
  • Remove coolant port and add coolant. Have someone inside monitoring the air temperature while you do this.
  • Reassemble the unit.
  • Turn on the unit and test.

If this doesn’t fix the issue with your AC not cooling, you’ll need to call in a professional to figure out the problem.

Other Common AC Issues

Before you try to recharge your AC, you might want to check for some of these other issues that are easier to take care of:

Dirty Filter

This is the most common and easiest to fix the issue. Simply remove the filter and clean it. If it’s too dirty, replace it.

AC Freezing Up

Sometimes, your AC may be “freezing up” or ice developing around the vents or inside the unit. This can be the result of several things:

  • Low/empty freon
  • Dirty air filter
  • High humidity
  • Bad flow dividers
  • Dirty condenser/evaporator coils
  • Broken thermostat

We’ve already looked at the low/empty freon and dirty air filter issues, so let’s take a look at the rest:

High Humidity

When there’s too much moisture in the air, your air conditioner can’t keep up and the condensation will begin to freeze. If this is the case, make sure that you keep the fan running when you’re in a high humidity environment or bring in additional fans to keep the air flowing.

Another option is to make sure you’re cleaning your AC periodically. This can’t be said enough. Almost all RV air conditioner issues are due to the fact that the AC simply needs to be cleaned.

If you tend to visit high humidity areas often, you might want to use a dehumidifier to pull the moisture out of the air.

Bad Flow Dividers

Flow dividers, also known as baffles, keep the hot and cold air separate. If they are not sealed or positioned properly, it can allow cold air to leak into the space where the hot air is and cause ice formation on your unit.

The best way to fix this issue is to get some HVAC foil tape and seal the flow divider after making sure it’s positioned properly.

Dirty Evaporator/Condenser Coils

Most of the time, if your RV air conditioner is freezing up, it’s due to dirty condenser/evaporator coils. These need to be cleaned regularly. When the coils are dirty, your AC has to work that much harder to pull the hot air out and push the cooled air in. Here are the steps to cleaning your coils:

  • Shut off the power. Any time you do any work with your AC, you’ll want to make sure the power is shut off. You can either unplug from your electrical source or turn off the breaker for your AC.
  • Get a ladder and get on top of your RV.
  • Remove the cover to your AC and find the coils. The condenser coils are located in the back and the evaporator coils at the front. Remove the housing, but make sure you don’t damage the gasket, as this is what keeps the rainwater out of your RV.
  • Vacuum your coils, making sure that you block openings into your RV to keep debris out. You will want to be able to enjoy the cool air after this process, not have to clean up a mess.
  • Mix up a soap/water solution and put in a spray bottle. Spray both coils until wet and allow to sit for a few minutes. Then, take a soft cloth and wipe them down. If there’s any remaining debris, run the vacuum over them one more time.
  • Make sure the coils are dry before placing back into the unit. Check for any damage and use a knife, fin comb, or screwdriver to straighten out any dents.
  • Once the coils are replaced, take some time to check the plastic cover and make sure it is free of dirt/debris. If not, clean it.

As you can see, there are several things that can go wrong with your AC. The first thing you need to check is the cleanliness of it. If all else fails, you can usually recharge your RV’s air conditioning unit with a little bit of effort. However, if you can’t, you might want to look into replacing it.

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