RV AC Maintenance: Keep Your Rig Cool & Comfortable
Almost every modern RV comes fitted with an air conditioner, with larger models often featuring two or three, ensuring every room is climate-controlled. This integral feature enables you to comfortably camp anywhere, any time of the year. However, these cooling systems aren’t foolproof and may falter, highlighting the crucial importance of regular RV AC maintenance.
Air conditioners, teeming with moving parts, provide several opportunities for potential failures, but the good news is, regular AC maintenance can prevent most issues. As an RV owner, you can perform a majority of this maintenance yourself, enhancing the longevity and efficiency of your cooling systems. For more complicated AC maintenance issues, calling an HVAC specialist is advisable, but many problems can be resolved with simple cleaning and adjusting procedures.
Before embarking on your next trip, be proactive with your AC maintenance. Run a test on your heating and cooling systems, stay vigilant for any unusual sounds or smells, and check the temperature near the vents. Being stuck in a hot climate without a working AC is not a situation you’d want to experience! Continue reading to learn more about effective AC maintenance, ensuring your RV’s cooling systems stay in top condition.
Check the filters
The air filter is always one of the first things you should check. Ideally, these should be cleaned or replaced every month. If these filters become clogged, they won’t allow air to pass through. This often leads to lukewarm temperatures, stale air, and a lack of ventilation.
Most RV air filters can be removed and cleaned. Use a vacuum to pull off the loose dust and debris, then wash them in warm water. Be gentle during this process because you don’t want to rip anything! Let the filters air dry before you reinstall them. If they are too damaged or dirty to fix, you can also buy replacement filters.
Clean the evaporator and condenser coils
Air conditioners function by blowing air across the condenser and evaporator coils. If these coils are dirty and clogged, they won’t be able to function properly. Therefore, cleaning the coils is an important part of RV air conditioning maintenance.
You can use a vacuum hose to remove the majority of the buildup, then finish up with a damp washcloth. Check for frozen coils during this process too. That could indicate that there’s a leak somewhere in the system.
Inspect the exterior shroud
Most AC systems include interior and exterior components. RVs are no exception! The exterior shroud is a hooded vent that sits on the roof of your RV. It allows air to flow in and out of the system. Unfortunately, it’s also exposed to the elements.
As part of your maintenance check-up, inspect and remove the shroud. Check for any debris that may be clogging this area. Cracks and leaks are also a possibility, so leave no stone unturned. Carefully clean the shroud and lock it back into place afterward.
Align condenser fins
As you check the rooftop attachment, examine the condenser fins as well. These are usually hidden below the shroud. It’s a fairly sensitive component, and you could run into a problem if anything is bent out of shape.
Visually examine the condenser fins, then use a butter knife or a similar instrument to push the fins back into alignment. Just be careful not to break the fins or connected tubing!
Lubricate the AC fan
The fan is the component that blows air across the coils and into the rest of your RV. Most fans will work just fine throughout the year, but it never hurts to give them a bit of extra help. Clean and lubricate the fan while you check the rest of the system. This treatment ensures that the fan runs more smoothly, and it also eliminates annoying squeaking.
Check for leaks
As mentioned above, a part of RV air conditioning systems connects to an exterior vent. That means there’s a possibility for water to leak in through the top. In addition, the AC unit itself can develop leaks. Water damage has the potential to cause catastrophic damage within an RV, so you always need to be on the lookout for leaks.
Look for any leaks or pooling water as you inspect the system. You may need to patch tubes or replace rubber gaskets in order to seal these drips. Contact a professional HVAC technician if you can’t locate the source of the problem!
Check breakers and power supply
If your AC isn’t working properly (or refuses to turn on at all), you may be dealing with an electrical problem. Most RV cooling systems are powered by the vehicle battery, so you should always make sure that you have enough power to operate it. It’s also possible that a breaker has been tripped somewhere. Always check these sources first.
Replace thermostat batteries
Another important element of your RV air conditioning unit is the thermostat. This is where you will program specific times and temperatures for activation. As part of your routine checkups, it’s a good idea to test or replace the batteries in these devices. If your AC system stops working without warning, the culprit might be something as small as a dead battery.
Consider replacing the system
Finally, you should remember that fixing your AC system will eventually become a losing battle. These units are not designed to last forever, and sometimes the only solution is a full replacement. If you bought a secondhand RV, just remember that you may need to replace the heating and cooling systems within a short period of time.
Call an HVAC technician for a second opinion and compare the prices for fixing a system versus replacing it. Eventually, it becomes more economical to switch to a new model.
How to extend the lifespan of your RV air conditioner
Maintenance is an important part of owning an RV. By following the tips above, you can keep your heating and cooling systems in good shape for the future! But it’s also helpful to form a few preventive habits. If you can protect the AC unit and reduce strain, it will last much longer.
1. Set a reasonable internal temperature
For starters, don’t abuse the power of your thermostat! During hot days, it might be tempting to crank down the temperature as far as it can go. However, this will put a lot of pressure on your AC. It’s better to maintain a comfortable, stable temperature rather than switching to extremes. Try not to mess with the controls too much.
2. Use alternative methods to keep your RV cool
You can also try other ways to lower the temperature within your RV. If you only use your air conditioner, it will wear out pretty quickly. Try parking in the shade, opening the windows at night, using window shades to block sunlight, etc. The less your air conditioner has to do, the longer it will last.
3. Cover the AC during storage
Make sure you cover up the AC shroud when it’s not in use. When you park or store your RV for long periods, there’s a chance that water, pests, and other damaging forces can slip into the air conditioner. So save yourself some hassle by covering up the vents!
4. Stay on top of RV maintenance
Make sure you keep track of all your RV maintenance and repairs with an online tool such as RV LIFE Maintenance. Not only can you keep all of your documents in one place, but you’ll also receive timely reminders when maintenance is due to help you avoid costly repairs and potentially serious accidents.