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Why my RV Refrigerator freezes everything and how to prevent it.

Your RV fridge has to try a bit harder than your home fridge to prevent a build up of ice and frost. On any given day, an RV fridge a face warm or cold, or face direct sunlight. A home fridge doesn’t move much within the house and don’t need much help.

An icy fridge can be both inconvenient and damaging to food, and create a slippery hazard eventually. Let’s discuss ways to keep your fridge from building up an unnecessary layer of ice.

To begin, there are a couple ways of testing what it causing your fridge to ice over. You’ll want to check the exterior seals of the fridge and potentially replace it. You’ll also want to know what’s happening with your thermostat and vents.

The most basic tests – your fridge seals

You’ve surely spotted the rubber seal on the edges of your fridge often – they are the rubber pieces that are meant to lock cold air in and keep warm air out – and vice versa.

A poor fridge seal can cause cold air to leak out and eventually overwork the fridge, potentially making it too cold. It can also cause uneven cold distribution.

There are a couple of simple ways to test the fridge seal to see how it’s performing. 

One of the most basic tests is to take a paper dollar (literally a bill) and…

  1. Open the fridge door
  2. Stick the bill into a spot where you think it might be leaking
  3. Close the door with the seal around the bill
  4. Attempt to remove the bill from the seal by pulling it (we might suggest a $1 in case you tear it in half!)

The bill should require a tug to remove and not be very easy. You can try to this over and over on different parts of the seal.

Another option is to simple slide your hand around the seal of the door and see if you feel air flowing – though this is more likely to catch a stronger leak than a weak one.

If the bill was easy to remove, you’ll want to replace the seal. The seal is essential to keeping your fridge cold and energy efficient. It’s also one of the easiest parts to maintain and is a cheap fix.

Test your thermistor

Well, first you might be wondering what your thermistor is on your fridge. The thermistor is basically an internal thermostat that tells your fridge when your fridge has reached the right thermostat. Your thermistor helps turn off the internal mechanics that allow the fridge to run.

As you might suspect, it’s possible for this to wear out or otherwise not work correctly. Your icy fridge might be telling you that!

The thermistor can be a little difficult to find we suggest reading the fridge’s owners manual or contacting the manufacturer to know where it’s actually located. 

You can test your thermistor for 24 hours by placing a glass of water with a thermometer for about 24 hours with the temperature set to something specific and above freezing, like 35 degrees.

After 24 hours, remove the glass of water from the fridge. The thermometer should show the same temperature as you asked of the fridge. Also, if the water has turned into ice, you know it’s too cold in there!

If the readings are different by more than a couple of degrees, you either have an issue with the thermistor reading the wrong area or being worn out.

It’s possible to remove the thermistor via the fridge’s control panel and test it’s currency with a multimeter. You can then consult the manufacturer and see what the current range should be. If the temperature is off and the range of the electrical is off, replace the thermistor.

If the thermistor is working properly, consult with the manual and manufacturer to check where it’s supposed to be in order to read the temperature properly.

Parking Level

It sounds odd, but parking on a even surface can help your fridge, too. If your fridge has liquid – or is powered by propane, this is a must. The fluids and air can’t flow properly when parked at an angle, and can lead to issues like icing over.

This isn’t something you can fix within the fridge. Just try to level your RV better.

Don’t overpack

One really basic problem that can lead to an icy fridge is having too much stuff in your fridge. Food items that are well packed together can lead to the thermistor thinking the fridge isn’t cold enough – when in reality, the cold just isn’t reaching the thermistor because it’s surrounded. The fridge will continue to call for the unnecessary cold when your fridge is cold enough.

Try to separate food items a bit more and it might work better.

Fins and vents

The fins and vents on the back of the inside of the fridge can also contribute. They can get icy if they are blocked a bit by too much moisture.

The simple solution is to chip any ice or frost off our vents and ensure they are obstruction free. Obstructed vents can lead to weird air flow, which can cause extra cold and ice to form, even when the rest of the fridge is working right.

Conclusion

A few things can happen mechanically and setup wise to make a fridge start to ice up. You could have issues with your thermistor that cause the fridge to keep cooling when not asked for, or your seal could be improperly leaking. Testing the seal is quite easy and amongst the easiest physical fixes to work on. 

Small pieces of maintenance like frozen fins and vents are a leading issue too, and just require you knock some ice out of the back of your fridge.

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