Many years ago, an air conditioner was more a luxury- but these days, it’s difficult to find an RV without one. Most RVs will have at least one, if not two or three, depending on the size of the RV. Of course, this leads to questions about maintenance.
Do RV air conditioners need to be serviced? Yes, they do require regular maintenance.
Sure, it is true that your RV air conditioner pretty much takes care of itself- but it should still be given a good once-over annually. After all, depending on where you travel, you’re going to want your AC to be in perfect running order. In this article, we’ll look at how you can do your own maintenance on your RV air conditioner. While there are several different brands and models of RV air conditioner units, the maintenance is basically the same.
You’ll want to get a ladder to get on top of your RV to get a closer look at the air conditioner unit on the roof.
Plastic Cover On AC Unit
You’ll want to make sure the plastic cover is still in good shape and doesn’t have any splits/cracks. The cover gives the unit a fairly attractive look- but it’s not just aesthetics- it also provides protection for the AC against rain and snow.
Over time, the plastic cover could sustain damage due to the sun’s UV rays, and from the trauma of being struck by low-hanging branches. The UV rays of the sun will weaken the plastic so much that it may even fall into pieces.
This is easy to fix, simply look online for replacement covers. You might even want to consider getting a more expensive one so that you’re less likely to have to replace it in the future.
Check For Leaks & Water Intrusion
While you’re on the roof, you’ll also want to make sure that the AC is mounted securely on the roof. If it’s loose, rain could be getting into your RV, which will cause many other issues that you don’t want to have to deal with.
When rain does get into the camper, it will follow the rafters and frame, causing water damage where you wouldn’t expect. You’ll assume the leak is from that area, or at least nearby. You’d never think that perhaps it was caused by a loose gasket around the AC unit on the roof.
If the water damage is bad enough, you may end up having to repair (or even replace) the wood flooring of your RV.
Check Cooling Fins
The cooling fins on your RV air conditioner should be straight. If they are bent, the airflow through the unit is restricted, which decreases the ability of the unit to cool.
If you find that they are bent, you can straighten them with a dull knife or comb. It is critical that you are very careful when doing this because you may end up putting a hole in your condenser tube. This will render your AC useless and will be about as good as a boat anchor.
Keep in mind that an RV air conditioner is a single-use appliance. Once it has reached a point where it’s not cooling effectively anymore- and you’ve tried all the simple fixes- it’s basically scrap. These units are not made to be recharged like a home AC and many repairs are just not economical. The only part that can really be replaced is the capacitor.
Why Would Capacitor Fail?
The primary reason your capacitor would fail would be trying to run the AC on a circuit rated for under 30 amps. Additionally, using a 15-amp reducer plug will cause a condition called brownout. This is a situation where the AC is not able to get the amperage it needs and eventually destroys itself.
Some larger RVs have two AC units running off one 30-amp cord. If you have this set-up, one AC will run while the other is off. Then, when the first one cycles off, the other one will cycle on. This way, you don’t need to upgrade to a 50-amp cord.
Part of your inspection should be running both ACs to make sure that proper load sharing is occurring. This way, you don’t head out on a trip only to find out one of the units isn’t working.
Now that you’ve completed the outside inspection, it’s time to check the unit inside the RV.
Check & Clean Filters
You’ll find the foam filters under the plastic cover on the ceiling of your RV. You can remove these and wash them with warm soapy water. Allow drying before replacing them in the unit. While you’ve got the cover off, you’ll want to vacuum the area, getting as far into the ductwork as you can.
If you’re not using adequate amperage to run your AC, it’s not going to last very long. If you use a portable generator, it will need to be rated for at least 3,000 watts. As we’ve already mentioned, if your RV air conditioner fails- and you’ve tried all the “easy” fixes- it’s basically junk and needs to be replaced.
The best thing you can do is perform the proper maintenance on them and hope they last as long as your RV does.
Keep Track Of Maintenance
Of course, you’ll want to make sure that you’re keeping track of all your annual inspections and maintenance you perform on your RV air conditioner. This way, if you find that you’re continuing to have the same issues, you can address them properly.
The bottom line is, while it’s true that RV air conditioner systems are different than your home AC, there are still things that you need to do to properly maintain it.