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5 Overlooked RV Refrigerator Maintenance Tasks

absorption fridge RV refrigerator

5 RV Refrigerator Maintenance Tips You Should Know

RV absorption refrigerator maintenance is not high on the list of regular maintenance tasks for most RVers. Part of the reason is that there is little information available instructing owners what needs to be done. 

Online you will find tips for making your refrigerator cool better, along with checking the door seals, etc. Videos like this one will show you how to clean the burner and igniter. That is about the only type of information you will find on RV refrigerator maintenance; however, most actual maintenance items are overlooked.

“Much like other parts of RV ownership, the refrigerator requires basic maintenance.”

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Per blogger Sam Leash

1. Keep the upper vent clear of debris

Proper air flow across the back of an absorption refrigerator is critical to proper operation. The upper exterior refrigerator vent allows rising hot air created by your refrigerator to escape to the outdoors. Often times, the vent is on the roof, but some smaller RVs and RVs with the refrigerator mounted in the slideout will have an upper vent located in the sidewall.

Leaves, pine needles, critter nests, and other debris can get under the vent cover on RVs with roof vents. Periodically, you should remove the roof vent and clean any debris from the vent screen. While you have the vent cover off, be sure to inspect the vent screen, as damaged screens can allow birds and rodents to gain entry to the back of the refrigerator.

refrigerator maintenance - clean vent
Clean and inspect the screen

2. Inspect the top of the condenser fins

While you have the upper vent removed, check for leaves or critter nests on top of the condenser fins. As noted above, debris can get onto the upper vent.

Even if the screen on the vent is intact, pine needles, insects, and other items can get through and land on the top of the fins at the top of your refrigerator. Birds love to nest at this location if they can gain entry.

3. Inspect the drain tube

The drain tube drains water from the drip tray located in the refrigerator. The drip tray catches water that drips from the evaporator fins across the top rear of the refrigerator box. Make sure the hose is draining properly and is not damaged. Damaged hoses can let water leak and cause damage at the back of the refrigerator.

4. Clean the flue

The video below demonstrates gaining access to the back of the refrigerator to clean the igniter and burner. These are both important RV refrigerator maintenance items.

It also mentions rust falling from the flue (chimney) onto the burner. It fails to mention that the flue should be cleaned if you find an accumulation of rust flakes on or piled below the burner. The flue is located directly above the burner. If you have access to compressed air, you can blow compressed air up the flue to dislodge rust particles.

Perform the following if you don’t have access to compressed air or encounter heavy rust scale inside of the flue.

  1. Cover the burner so that rust won’t fall into it.
  2. Using the butt end of an adjustable wrench or similar, gently tap against the fluted end of the flue. Tap until no more rust or flakes drop out of the flue. Vacuum up the pile of rust when done. Those of you that store your RV near bodies of saltwater will likely be surprised at how much rust drops out of the flue. Flakes of rust falling from the flue onto the igniter are often the cause of RV refrigerators failing to light on gas as they ground out the igniter.

5. Vacuum debris from behind the base of the refrigerator

Once you have performed all the of the above RV refrigerator maintenance items, finish the job by vacuuming up any debris that fell from above or was present to start with.

Just as needles and other debris can gain access through the top vent, the same items can gain entry through the lower vent. Since there is an open flame when the absorption refrigerator is operating on gas, it is important to keep any dry flammable vegetable matter away from the burner. Use a crevicing tool or a small hose to access the area under the refrigerator while vacuuming.

Track your RV maintenance

Completing these five overlooked refrigerator maintenance items periodically will keep your RV’s absorption refrigerator running safely and efficiently.

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.

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