Learning that your fridge is not working can be pretty disappointing, especially if it’s been out for a while. A broken fridge means many of your perishables might be expiring faster than their date indicates, and a cold drink or food item is still hours away. Now you have to start the process of figuring out what went wrong.
An RV fridge not working while on electric could be one of many problems. We’ll help you figure out the issues.
Your RV fridge might not be functioning because of a problem with the motor or compressor, or it might need a really good cleaning. Fridges do also wear out generally, so be watchful for signs of wear.
How to tell what’s broken on your RV fridge
Not working can mean a few things in the world of fridges. A fridge can turn on, but produce no cold and not be helpful. A fridge can also just not work at all and make no noise. Your fridge should make noise at least once in a while to produce cold air as the RV’s own temperature rises or people open the door.
Check your outlet
The first thing many tech support lines will ask when called is, “Is the device plugged in and on?”. While this is a very basic question, it’s also a very valid one. The most important way to start a fridge or any appliance is electrical.
If the fridge isn’t doing anything at all, first, unplug the fridge. See if the outlet itself is burned in any way. Attempt to plug in a device or charger that doesn’t matter, just in case the outlet fries it. If another device works, you know it’s a problem with your fridge.
If the next device doesn’t work, you should check your RV electric box to see if a breaker is tripped.
A tripped breaker has a red mark and is usually going in the opposite direction of properly functioning breakers. Flip the tripped breaker back. If it automatically turns back off, the breaker itself is bad. A good breaker will turn your fridge back on, hopefully.
Is coolant leaking?
This is moreso if your fridge sounds like it’s running, but isn’t actually providing cooling to your fridge unit. The coolant that mixes with air and provides chilly temperatures to your fridge is meant to be in a closed system, but can leak out. Also note that coolant rarely leaks.
You are more likely to notice bubbles than significant coolant leaking out since the coolant itself is colorless and odorless.
A coolant leak makes you’ll probably want to call for a service tech to fix the leak, fix the leak, and refill your fridge with coolant. Again, this is fairly rare,
You also can refill coolant yourself, but we strongly suggest finding the source of the coolant leak first or you’ll find it on the floor and fridge walls again.
Clean it out
Your fridge has vents on back and potentially the sides to push out and take in air. These vents can readily get clogged by dust, debris, and even small animals. Little kids also like to put things in them when accessible.
A blocked vent can eventually spell bad news because the fridge is unable to draw air in, or push warm air out. The fridge can over heat and not work well or just not work.
Pul the fridge and use a brush or compressed air to ensure that the vents can breathe well.
Does it make sound?
The compressor and fan will be noticeable if on. If the compressor or fan aren’t running, the fridge is not very useful. Besides cleaning them out, there’s not a lot you can do to fix the compressor or can on the fly.
To clean them out, use some compressed air again and blow any dust away. Debris or dust can cause them to get stuck as they are sensitive to burning themselves out.
The compressor and fan are a bit tougher to replace for the average RV owner, though you can certainly try to do it by yourself.
We suggest calling in a service tech though.
This is more likely to happen if you park your RV in some place very cold. The RV fridge compressor can freeze since it’s already exposed to cold gas and liquid constantly.
In the event that the compressor freezes, your best bets are to ensure the RV itself stays warmer, and potentially remove the fridge from the wall. The wall is most likely colder than the rest of the RV and is cold enough to freeze the compressor. A frozen compressor also suggests that your RV insulation is not great, or that your heat isn’t turned up high enough.
Check your dials
Some fridges have dials on the inside that control the level of cold. If the fridge isn’t getting cold enough, ensure these dials are at the right temperature. The dials are usually high within your fridge. They don’t need to be turned to a specific temperature – just select the right temperature for you.
If it’s not cold enough in the fridge and the temperature is set too high, crank the dial and turn it down. We hope this is amongst your problems because it’s by far the easiest to fix.
A bad fridge can make for a disappointing day. Thankfully, there are multiple potentially easy ways to fix your fridge on the fly.
There are also potential issues with your fridge that will keep it from working until a part is replaced, like the compressor or fan. We suggest you either learn how to replace the parts yourself and order one, or can a service tech and use their expertise to get your fridge back into shape.
Always check your compressor or freezing and ensure there is no leak – you can even possible refill your coolant if it did leak, once you fix it.