How To Fix: My RV Refrigerator Not Cooling But My Freezer Is


RV refrigerator not working but fridge is

How To Fix: My RV Refrigerator Not Cooling But My Freezer Is

RV refrigerator not working but fridge is
RV refrigerator

Travelling and camping are fun activities you might want to engage in every once in a while. It can be a lot of fun, especially when you are on an RV until something spoils the fun. What could this possibly be? Well, your RV refrigerator is not working.

Think of a scenario where you have many drinks in your RV refrigerator, and then it suddenly stops working. It can be quite frustrating because the whole party is about to close. However, this is a problem that a lot of RV owners and users face each day. But yes, there is always a solution to every problem, and we have the solution to this particular one right here in this article. Read to the end to know what might cause your RV refrigerator to stop working, especially when the fridge is still working.

What is an RV?

To put it simply, RV is a short form for Recreational Vehicles. They are vehicles that include living accommodations and are designed to accommodate people just like a house. Some of the types of recreational vehicles include campervans, caravans, coaches, etc.

RVs are mostly used for outdoor recreation and camping activities. It is a perfect vehicle because it includes living quarters and can stay out for a long time in remote areas.

How does an RV refrigerator work?

Understanding how your RV refrigerator works is important to be able to know where the problem is when you encounter any. An RV refrigerator is sometimes referred to as an absorption refrigerator. Their working principle is pretty simple. RV refrigerators work through a mixture of gases such as ammonia, hydrogen, and water. These mixtures go through a chemical reaction that causes evaporation and condensation, making cooling occur in the refrigerator. The refrigerator continues to cool as long as evaporation is taking place. The refrigerator uses power from a battery or electricity to be able to work properly.

In an RV, the coolant supply is made in such a way that it supplies to the freezer first before going to the refrigerator. This means that you will most likely have a problem with the refrigerator first if there is a compromise in the coolant supply. You should also note that potholes and rough roads make the refrigerant unable to move appropriately. This can also contribute to your problem.

Diagnosis of RV Refrigerator Not Cooling

  • Check the Refrigerator Level

Checking the unit level of your refrigerator is very important for an RV owner. This is the first step you should take when troubleshooting RV refrigerator problems. This is because a series of up and down movements might change the refrigerator’s position, thereby making it difficult to supply refrigerant, which can be a leading cause of RV refrigerator problems. To determine this, use a carpenters level to check if your RV refrigerator is leveled.

  • Check if your Refrigerator is Getting Cold

The next thing to do is to check if your refrigerator is getting cold at all. It might be difficult to know if your refrigerator is getting cold when you are experiencing a fault. To be so sure, you can check by touching the coils inside the freezer. You should also check to see if there is a flame present if you are using gas, but if the refrigerator is electric powered, you should make sure that the heating element is hot and working.

  • Check the Workability of the Freezer

Anytime you have refrigerator problems in your RV, one of the things you should do is to check if your freezer is working. The freezer is the first part that receives coolant before the refrigerator. Therefore, it gets cold faster and is the least to be affected when a problem arises. If the freezer is working fine, you should check the diffuser to see if it is clogged up. The diffuser is most times used to pass cool air from the freezer to the refrigerator. When it is clogged up with dirt, the cool air will find it difficult to get to the refrigerator compartment. To check this, you can listen to know if the evaporator fan is working. If you hear a noise, then it is working. If you don’t hear a noise, then you should check the fan. However, you should wait some minutes before concluding because the evaporator fan cycles on and off.

Causes of Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer is

After diagnosis, here are a few things that might be the reason your RV refrigerator is not working even when the freezer is working.

  • Poor Air Circulation

For an RV refrigerating system, air circulation is very important. If the hydrogen coolant or ammonia coolant burn rate is slower than the ambient air heat rate, then it is certain that the rate wt which your refrigerator cools will slow down. When this happens, the airflow in the refrigerator is increased, causing a temperature balance between the refrigerator chambers and the external environment. This is one of the things that can cause your refrigerator to stop cooling.

  • Faulty Thermistor

A thermistor is a type of resistor whose resistance is solely dependent on temperature. It is a very important part of the RV refrigerator. The rise in temperature of the surrounding environment influences the cooling ability of the RV refrigerator. This can affect the cooling. To fix this, you should replace the thermistor to obtain an optimum result with a controlled temperature.

  • Clogged Refrigerator Exhaust

The RV refrigerator has an exhaust that sends out hot air. When the exhaust is clogged with dirt, the hot air finds it difficult to escape, and this will affect your refrigerator’s cooling. You can fix this by removing the exhaust cover, checking for the clogged part, and then cleaning the dust off.

  • The Refrigerator Door Was Not Properly Closed

Often, we might make the mistake of not closing the door of the RV refrigerator properly. This happens a lot, and it is one of the reasons your refrigerator is not cool. Check to ensure that the door is closed properly and there are no air leakages.

  • Low Refrigerant

Refrigerants can be a mixture f hydrogen or ammonia. The refrigerant is responsible for the cooling of the refrigerator. When your refrigerant becomes low, your refrigerator will certainly stop cooling. You should always check to make sure that the refrigerant does not dry up. Always refill the tank. Also, having an extra tank of refrigerant in your reserve will not be a bad idea.

How to fix an RV refrigerator Not Cooling

The RV refrigerator takes time to cool. It can take between 4 to 24 hours for it to reach maximum cooling. If you observe your refrigerator is not cooling. Here are a few things you should do

  1. If you have ice piled up, then you should defrost them. It might be the cause.
  2. Make sure the door of your refrigerator is closed tight, and it is air sealed.
  3. For a gas-powered refrigerator, try cleaning the burner. If there is an effect on the flaming ability of the burner, it will affect the cooling of your refrigerator.
  4. Check the pressure of your coolant to make sure it is flowing well.
  5. Ensure that the airflow in the vent of the refrigerator is at maximum and there is no obstruction. This is to prevent the accumulation of heat, which can make the refrigerator stop cooling.

How Long Does it Take for an RV Refrigerator to Cool

Based on experience, the RV refrigerator takes between 3 to 8 hours to cool fully. However, this can vary depending on the different conditions of your RV. Old model RV might take up to 24 hours to cool fully, especially if the weather is hot.

The RV refrigerator does not work like the regular fridge, and so you should take care to avoid making the fridge lose its temperature. If you want to get something, you should get them all at once and shut the fridge rather than get item per item. The frequent opening and closing of the refrigerator will make it difficult for it to cool things properly.

If you are leaving for a trip or camping, you should put it on the refrigerator early enough. At least several hours from the time you are leaving to achieve maximum refrigeration of stored items

How Cold Should the RV Refrigerator Be?

The RV refrigerator can have a temperature between 34 to 42 degrees F. This is an ideal temperature for your refrigerator. You should avoid driving o inclined or bumpy roads. This affects the refrigerator and might reduce its life span. Try as much as possible always to use routes that have less inclined and bumpy passages. Ensure always to check your unit level.


Conclusively, owning a recreational vehicle can be fun but sometimes stressful when faced with issues that seem difficult to figure out. This is a common problem in recreational vehicles, and the troubleshooting techniques have been listed above. Ensure you practice all that is listed, and you are sure to enjoy your vacation without having to troubleshoot anything.


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