Motorhomes and travel trailer manufacturers have introduced improvements to the motorhomes over the years. One of them is the invention of AC for RVs.
When on vacation with your family in summer, the last thing you’d want will be when the AC unit stops working midway. You’ll feel as if luck was against you from the start, and you might give up.
But it’s not so; with basic knowledge, you can diagnose the problem stopping your AC from cooling and can fix that problem yourself.
This article will help you throughout the situation and provide you with solutions to most of the problems.
Table of Contents
How Does an RV AC Work?
Most RV owners think that the AC will cool down the RV in mere minutes. They expect the AC to cool down the RV at 95-degree days, even when it’s in the baking sun.
AC is usually fitted in the ceiling or on the floor of an RV. From there, it supplies cool air to whichever compartment you want or the whole RV.
The AC has four Major parts. Out of those, the evaporator is where the magic happens. The evaporator takes out the vehicle’s warm air and supplies a cooler air back into the RV. It is a systematic process in which the AC takes warm air from the RV and evaporates it again.
This is a slow process, as in each turn, the AC will reduce the temperature by hardly 1-2 degrees. And when combining it with the RV and heat size, it might take an hour to cool down the RV completely. The AC can reduce the temperature at a maximum by 22 degrees from the actual temperature.
To get maximum efficiency out of the AC, you should place it in a shady area. As it won’t have direct exposure to the Sun, the base temperature will be lower. And you will get a cooler temperature in the end.
A Few Things to Check If Your AC Is Running but Not Cooling?
If your AC isn’t cooling, you can do a few tests to check why so. There might be a problem with the thermostat because of a loose wire in the connections. The fan motor might require a new capacitor. There might be a leakage in the compressor.
All the problems mentioned above are discussed in the article with their respective solutions.
What Should I Do If My RV AC Isn’t Cooling Air?
The RV AC won’t cool the air properly due to many reasons. It may be due to the AC fans that exhaust the air. You can start by checking the fan wire to make sure it’s in good condition.
If not, then it might have to do something with the thermostat. It tells your AC what its targeted temperature is. There might be a loose wire, or that thermostat isn’t getting enough power. You might have to change the whole thermostat.
Then, there is the main body of AC. It also has many components that play the most important role in cooling. One thing to check is that if there is ice or frost build-up. If so, then you might be low on the refrigerant in the compressor.
Last but not least important, a capacitor. Capacitors store energy to boost any appliances when they are turned on. The capacitor can go bad over time, but they are relatively easier to change. Check for capacitors in the fan and compressor of the RV AC and replace them if needed.
Check If There’s A Problem with The Thermostat and Replace It
The thermostat is the brains of an RV AC. Just like the brain in our body, it tells the AC what temperature it needs to maintain. If the thermostat is malfunctioning, then your AC won’t be able to cool your RV properly. Think of it like this, if our brain isn’t working, we won’t even be able to think.
To make sure if it’s the thermostat that is the one causing a fault in the RV’s AC cooling, you need to check a few things. One problem might be that the thermostat is unresponsive when you touch it or press buttons. The thermostat might not get the power to respond. The thermostat might be working, but its connection to AC or heater can have wiring defects.
Another issue is the obvious one, the temperature inside the RV does not match that on the thermostat. Newer digital thermostats come with batteries that might need to be replaced. The best solution for this would be to change the batteries every year. In case of an unresponsive thermostat, you should cut off its power supply and connect it again. If the thermostat is fried, then you should get a new one.
New ones can be expensive, while the refurbished might end up malfunctioning shortly if none of these solves the thermostat’s problem. Then the final solution would be to test and replace the faulty wires. If you have no such experience in wires and such, we recommend getting services from an electrician.
How to Replace the Fan If There’s A Fault in The RV’s AC Fan?
If the thermostat is in good condition, has no faulty wires, etc., the next thing to check will be the RV air conditioner’s fan. The Fan’s motor can cause faults. One such is that it spins at a constant slow speed. Or that it won’t get faster without increasing the electricity consumption. This can be seen when the lights start dimming as the fan gets faster. Another sign can be that you might notice a burning smell wherever the fan is running.
There are three main reasons for these: the capacitor inside the fan has burned out. If so, it can be placed by getting a new one with the same power. If you find a burning smell or lights dimming when the fan is used, there might be a problem with the wires. Changing the complete wiring of the fan might be the best solution.
The final and most complicated reason would be a problem with the bearings or motor. To solve this, you might require help from a technician. One other option for this would be to get a brand-new fan. You should get the same model fan as RVs have specific electronic appliances for specific use. Check the owner’s manual or consult with RV’s helpline for the fan’s model.
Is There A Problem With The Compressor? How to Replace the Compressor?
We’ve checked the wiring; it’s all in good condition. Next were the thermostat and the fan. They have either been replaced or working fine. Still, the AC cannot function and cool the RV properly; then, it might be a compressor problem. The compressor can overheat or go wrong when there’s a fault in it.
The refrigerant inside the compressor may be low. If so, there might be ice or frost buildup around the compressor. The refrigerants are available at automotive stores. They either fill your compressor up or provide you with a can of freon. When buying it, make sure to get a good quality one by increasing the expenditure.
You could open up the compressor to check the cooling fans if they got dirty. Or if the compressor has burned out, then the final option would be to replace it. You should get a reliable technician to check if the new unit you’re getting is in good condition or not.
Is Gas Leaking from The Compressor? How to Fix It?
The refrigerant isn’t consumed when your air conditioner is cooling the RV. Instead, it goes back and forth inside the compressor, cooling the air. There are many signs that the compressor is leaking the gas. The first is that even though everything works perfectly. The refrigerant isn’t cooling as effectively as it used to.
The unit can produce strange noises. It can be because the refrigerant is leaking or if the compressor is about to break. Air bubbles will be forming in the leaking area as the refrigerant leaks.
Dirt can build up on the Refrigerant line if it has any leak. Contacting a professional to solve it would be the fastest and easiest solution.
Repairing the leak is an expensive process, and it is hard too if the leakage isn’t visible. The professional will release a detection gas that will come out of the leakage area and pinpoint it.
How Do I Test A Bad AC Capacitor and Replace It?
A capacitor kick-starts any electric appliance. It does this by storing electricity and providing an extra boost. To detect a bad capacitor, you need to look for some signs. The air conditioner runs for some time and then blows a fuse. Your AC fan isn’t starting without a push. Or you detect a little smoke where the capacitor is located.
Those were the signs to detect a fault. But there can be more than one capacitor at fault. So, it’s better to test the capacitor before getting a new one. For this, you’d require a multimeter. Connect the multimeter to both ports of the capacitor and check the readings. If they slowly reduce, then the capacitor is fine. If not, you’ve found your culprit.
Replacing bad capacitors is relatively more straightforward. First, note down the capacitor’s model and required voltage and look for it. You can find capacitors in the electrical departments of hardware stores. Once you got it, attach it to the same wires, and you’re good to go.
I Cannot Fix It, What Should I Do? Seek Professional Services
Replacing the bad thermostat or having installed the fan yourself is an easier task. You only need basic knowledge to do it. Changing the refilling the refrigerant in the compressor or changing the capacitor is relatively complicated. But if you have tools, you can do it yourself.
But if you need to change the fan motor’s bearings, you can either completely replace it. Because repairing the bearings is a relatively expensive process to do.
In case of leakage, or any other complicated problem, calling a professional is the best solution. On the local yellow pages, look for an HVAC that specializes in RVs. There you can find experienced technicians to repair your RV Air Conditioner.
How Do I Winterize My RV‘s Ac?
Winterizing means storing/parking your RV safely throughout the winter. If you do so correctly, the next time you need to use an RV, you would have a ready RV for any trip.
Cut off the power to the thermostat and AC so that it doesn’t start on its own automatically during hot days in spring or fall. Next is to clean the RV’s interior components and its AC of dust, dead bugs, etc.
You should store your RV indoors in your garage for winter. If you can’t, then look for RV covers to completely cover the RV. Some companies offer special AC covers for RVs. Even if you get one, tie it down so that solid winds can’t take it away.
Even during the winter, keep a check on RV to ensure that the RV is stored properly. Also, you should be attentive to ice building up on the RV during winter.
Most of the RV’s AC problems are caused because the users don’t maintain it over time. The Air filters of an RV need to be cleaned or changed over time. The fans and all moving parts should be lubricated once in a while for a seamless trip.
This guide has all the necessary tips to repair the AC unit if you fail to do so. In the case of a fried thermostat, the best solution would be getting a new one. If the thermostat isn’t able to keep up with the temperature, it can either be a problem with the wirings or even the compressor itself. The compressor can leak the refrigerant over time.
It may be due to a leakage in the system. To solve it, calling a professional RV AC expert is the perfect solution.
I`m a current Law Enforcement Officer working within the Counterterrorism Bureau in New York State. I have been Camping for over 20 years. My styles of camping include tent, car, truck, van, and RV travel trailer. I have a YouTube channel where I teach all types of camping with an entertaining method: https://youtube.com/@TheSmallsRVAdventures