One of the best aspects of RVing is the ability to bring the comforts of home on the road with you – with one of the main comforts being air conditioning!
Unfortunately, there will come a time when that comfort breaks down. And let me tell you, your A/C never breaks down at a convenient time.
In our RV air conditioner repair and troubleshooting guide below, we cover some of the most common A/C issues along with tips on how to repair them. This will help you save time and money that you can spend on the road!
Table of Contents
Regular RV A/C Maintenance Tips
Before we jump into our air conditioner troubleshooting and repair guide for your RV, we first want to stress the importance of proper maintenance.
Regularly following these maintenance tips will save you time and money in A/C repair costs. Plus, they will greatly reduce the chances you get stuck out in the middle of nowhere with no A/C!
Important: Before performing any maintenance on your A/C unit, be sure to turn the unit off and disconnect it from the power source to avoid electrical shock.
Clean the Air Filters
Be sure to clean the air filter(s) in your RVs A/C after every two weeks of operation. Check out our guide on how to clean an RV air conditioner filter for the exact step-by-step process.
Important: Do NOT run your A/C without the filter in place! This can cause the evaporator to become clogged with dust and reduce performance.
Clean A/C Box Housing
Clean the air distribution box housing and the control panel regularly with mild soap and a soft cloth.
Important: Do NOT use an abrasive scouring pad or furniture polish to clean the housing or control panel.
Keep Your RV A/C Covered When Not in Use
There are days, even months when the RV air conditioner isn’t running. During this time it’s easy to accumulate soot and dirt in the air conditioner, which can cause a host of issues. By investing in a good A/C cover, you can keep a lot of that debris out, thus keeping the unit clean.
Tip: While you’re on your roof, check any seals and tighten any screws or bolts as needed. This will help ensure a tight seal to prevent leaks and help keep your RV AC quiet when operating.
Inspect the Condenser & Evaporator Coils
At least once a year be sure to inspect the air conditioner condenser and evaporator coils. Look for coils that have been blocked by dirt or leaves. This is especially important if you start to notice your A/C not blowing as cold of air as it used to.
Check out our video below on how to properly clean these coils.
Lubricate the Fan Motor
Some units may require you to lubricate the blower motor periodically. Check the owner’s manual to see if this is necessary and for the type of oil needed. SAE 20 non-detergent type oil is most commonly used and can be found on Amazon at the link below or at a heating and cooling parts supplier.
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RV Air Conditioner Repair & Troubleshooting Guide
Even the best RV air conditioner will eventually run into problems. And when it does, there are three main cases you will run into:
- The air conditioner has no power and won’t turn on
- It will turn on but won’t run
- It runs but isn’t blowing cold air
If you’re experiencing one of these three issues then jump down to the appropriate section below for tips to repair it.
Important: Before performing any repairs on your A/C unit, be sure to turn the unit off and disconnect it from the power source to avoid electrical shock.
RV Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On
If your RV air conditioner is not receiving power and won’t turn on it’s typically an issue with the power supply or the breakers.
- Test the RVs power supply. Plug an appliance into a 110v outlet in the RV to see if it works. If it works, then the power coming into your vehicle is fine.
- Check the breakers. If your RV is receiving power, next we need to check the breakers. It’s not too uncommon for a breaker to trip in the RV and cause the A/C to stop working.
- Check the transfer switch. If your unit powers on with shore power, but not while using a generator then it could be a bad transfer switch.
If everything checks out, it’s time to call in a qualified professional to service your air conditioner.
My RV Air Conditioner Won’t Run
If your RV air conditioner powers on but will not run then it’s typically an issue within the unit itself.
- Check the fault codes (if applicable). Many RV air conditioner models, for example, the Dometic Brisk 2, will display a fault code on the unit when there is an issue. Check your owner’s manual for the meaning of the code.
- Check the high-pressure switch circuit. If your A/C model has a high-pressure switch safety circuit, then it could have been tripped due to abnormal conditions (dirty filters, etc.). Refer to your owner’s manual for steps to reset the circuit. In some models, it’s as easy as turning the RV’s power supply off and then back on.
- Check the capacitors. Your RV air conditioner unit will typically have two capacitors – a run capacitor and a start capacitor. Oftentimes when you hear a humming sound, but your fan won’t kick on, it’s due to a bad capacitor. You can test your capacitors using a standard multimeter. If you find a bad one, you will need to contact the manufacturer for a new one or find a suitable replacement.
- Check the thermostat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but make sure the temperature on the thermostat is low enough for the unit to kick on.
If all the above check out, you will need to contact a qualified service technician to service the unit.
My RV AC is Not Blowing Cold Air
If your RV air conditioner turns on but isn’t blowing cold air, then it typically needs proper maintenance performed on it or it simply can’t keep up.
- Check the outside temperature. On extremely hot days it can be difficult for your RV A/C to keep up. Especially if your RV has a high heat gain. If your vehicle is poorly insulated, has a lot of windows, is located directly in the sun, and so on, it can be difficult for even the best air conditioner to keep the vehicle cool. Try parking your RV in the shade, keep doors and windows shut, and don’t use heat-producing indoor appliances like your stove to help keep your RV cool.
- Check the air conditioner filters. Checking and cleaning the filters every two weeks will help keep your A/C blowing cold air.
- Inspect the condenser and evaporator coils. Dirty condenser and evaporator coils are another common culprit of A/Cs not blowing cold air as they should. They can also lead to your high-pressure switch circuit tripping. Check out this video on how to clean your RV air conditioner coils.
- Check the refrigerant levels. Low refrigerant levels in the compressor are another common cause for your A/C not blowing cold air, though in our experience it’s rarely the culprit. How you check the refrigerant level will depend on the model you have (if you are even able to). And while you might be able to check the levels and even recharge the air conditioner yourself, we recommend you leave this to a qualified technician. They will be able to identify why your refrigerant levels are low and will be sure to discard the old freon responsibly (hopefully).
- Is your A/C unit old? Let’s face it, nothing lasts forever. The older your A/C gets, the more of a chance that it won’t be able to keep up with the high demand of keeping your RV cool. So, it may be time to invest in a new unit for your RV. We can’t recommend the Dometic brisk II enough! Coleman also has several high-quality models.
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How Much Does It Cost To Replace an RV Air Conditioner?
It can cost between $500 to $1100 on average for a new RV air conditioner, plus an additional $400 to $700 (or more) to have it installed.
Keep in mind running costs will change, as well, depending on the size of the new air conditioner. Luckily, newer models tend to be a little more energy efficient.
Can RV Air Conditioners Be Recharged?
While you can recharge some RV air conditioners, most models do not allow you to without some customization by a qualified service technician.
Why Does My RV Air Conditioner Leak When It Rains?
If your RV air conditioner only leaks when it rains, it’s likely due to a bad seal or rubber gasket where the unit meets the roof of the RV. Read RV Air Conditioner Leaks When it Rains? Do This! for more information on how to identify the cause and fix it.
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Where is the reset button on my RV AC unit? ›
Most reset buttons are red, marked as "Reset," and located on the back along the bottom of the unit. Some models have the reset button on the inside of the unit. In this case, the button is usually behind the service panel. Make sure to switch off the breaker before you look for the button inside.How do I know if my RV AC compressor is working? ›
One of the most common signs of an RV air conditioner compressor failure is the thermostat showing that the system is active and the fan is running, but only warm, stale air comes out. One of the first things to look at in a situation like this is the RV air conditioner compressor's capacitors.Why is my AC running but not cooling? ›
If your air conditioner is running, but not lowering temperatures inside, one issue could be a blocked or clogged condenser coil. When operating correctly, the condenser fan draws air into the outdoor unit through the condenser coil to pull heat energy out of your home.Why is my AC kicking on but not cooling? ›
If your air conditioner will turn on, and your thermostat is set properly, but your system is not cooling you may have a dirty or blocked air condenser. Your first step is to check the outside unit and clean around and remove any debris or weeds that are blocking air circulation.What are the symptoms of a failing run capacitor? ›
If a run capacitor fails, the motor can display a variety of problems including not starting, overheating, and vibrating. A bad run capacitor deprives the motor of the full voltage it needs to operate correctly.What are the signs of a failing capacitor? ›
- AC Not Blowing Cold Air. An air conditioner that doesn't blow cold air is one of the first signs of a problem many homeowners notice. ...
- High and Rising Energy Bills. ...
- Humming Noise. ...
- Old HVAC System. ...
- AC Turns Off On Its Own. ...
- AC Doesn't Turn On Immediately. ...
- AC Won't Turn On.
- Your AC system isn't blowing cold air.
- You hear a humming noise coming from the outdoor unit.
- Your monthly energy bills are rising unexpectedly.
- Your air conditioner will shut off unexpectedly.
- Your AC unit doesn't come on at all.
- Power down your AC. Start at your circuit breaker panel and flip the breaker that powers your AC. ...
- Find the button. Most air conditioning units are equipped with a reset button. ...
- Hold down the reset button for 3 to 5 seconds and then release.
- Restore power to your AC.
If your AC control module has gone bad, youll need to reset it. You can do this by disconnecting the negative battery cable for about 30 seconds. This will reset the AC control module and should get your AC working again. If your AC control module is still not working after youve reset it, you may need to replace it.How do I know if my compressor fuse is blown? ›
If there is the voltage on the “line” side, test for voltage on the “load” side of the fuses by placing the meter's leads on the load wire lugs. If you read voltage on this side(220-240V), this means the current is flowing through the fuse. If you get a zero-voltage reading on the load, this means your fuse is blown.
How do I know if my condenser compressor is bad? ›
- Strange noises coming from the outside unit.
- System overheats.
- Lukewarm air coming from the vent.
- Low levels of refrigerant.
- Moisture leaks from parts of the HVAC system.
- Dirty condenser coils.
- High energy bills.
While this prevents serious trouble such as electrical fires, it also means that a single blown fuse can cause the entire air conditioner to stop working. Some of the most common causes of AC failure are rooted in electronics.
- Replace the cabin air filter. The cabin air filter prevents dust, pollen, dirt and other pollutants from entering your car through the A/C and heat vents. ...
- Park in the shade whenever possible. ...
- Supercharge your A/C system. ...
- Don't switch to max A/C right away. ...
- Source: Firestone Complete Auto Care.
The common faults of capacitors include wire break, short circuit, leakage and failure.Can I replace AC capacitor myself? ›
Anyone is free to write down the capacitor size for their system, buy another one online, and install it. However, we recommend not doing that. Capacitors can be dangerous. Even after you disconnect the power to the AC, the capacitor still holds a lot of charge.What happens when an AC capacitor goes bad? ›
A bad capacitor prevents the exterior unit from properly functioning, which hinders the cooling process as a whole. Second, improper voltage delivery to exterior unit components forces the system to work harder as it attempts to perform its job. Additional components often sustain damage due to a faulty capacitor.What are the symptoms of a bad capacitor on an electric motor? ›
There are also a number of symptoms that will tell you if the capacitor on a motor is faulty: The motor will not start its load, but if you spin the load by hand, the motor will run properly. On air-handling equipment, the motor may start but will always fall short of normal operating speed.What does it cost to replace a capacitor on an air conditioner? ›
The average AC capacitor cost is around $170. Prices generally range between $100 and $250, including professional installation. Branded units are more expensive, costing upwards of $380. The price depends on the brand, model, voltage, and labor required for installation.Will AC compressor run if capacitor is bad? ›
The simple answer is “No.” There are two types of capacitors–the start capacitor that signals the AC motors to start up, and the run capacitor that keeps those motors running through each cooling cycle.Will a bad capacitor keep the compressor from running? ›
One of the most important parts of the electrical system in your air conditioning unit is the capacitors. Without these working smoothly, the motors that power both the compressor and the fans cannot work properly.
How do you check and reset an air conditioner? ›
- Press the reset button.
- Plug the cord into the power outlet.
- Press the test button, the reset button should pop up.
- Press reset button for use.
- Do not use room air conditioner if above test fails.
After you've turned the system back on, it will take a bit of time for the air conditioner's internal circuitry to reset. It usually takes about 30 minutes, so sit tight until then.Is there a reset button on a thermostat? ›
Most heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system thermostats have more than just temperature control buttons. They often have a reset button as well. Whether your HVAC system features a standard thermostat or a smart thermostat, you may discover a reset button on it.Is there a fuse that controls the AC? ›
When the summer heat is at its worst and you need your air conditioner the most, that's when you're most likely to experience a system breakdown. This is due to the fact that AC systems rely on fuses to operate, which are more susceptible to blowing out when temperatures are particularly high.How do you clear AC codes? ›
- Go to where the outdoor air conditioning unit is.
- Locate the isolator switch on the unit or on the wall beside the unit, which looks like a commercial on/off electrical switch.
- Turn the switch off and leave it off for an hour.
- Turn the isolator switch back on after an hour.
- Check for a dirty air filter.
- Check your thermostat settings.
- Check your air conditioner circuit breakers.
- Check your outdoor unit.
- Check all air vents.
You may reset an RV air conditioner by removing the switch from the vehicle's fuse box. Then, reinstall the circuit after a few minutes to reset the cooling unit. But take note that some RV AC models may not require you to tinker with the circuit breaker box to reset the appliance.How do you reset an RV regulator? ›
To reset a pressure regulator just turn off the propane tank, and make sure all of your propane appliances are off inside your RV. Wait a few minutes, and the pressure regulator will reset itself. Then turn the propane tank valve on extremely slowly to allow the lines to become appropriately pressurized.What happens when air conditioner fuse is blown? ›
The blowing of the fuse is a safety control that prevents serious problems like electrical fires. Once the fuse is blown, the unit does not get the current to operate. As a result, the AC stops working. Therefore, yes, a blown fuse can cause the air conditioner to stop working.Where is the air conditioner fuse located? ›
The fuse is a wire inside a glass casing, found in the disconnection box connected to your AC. The fuse is a protective measure meant to protect your air conditioner from electrical damage.
Can you tell if a fuse is blown without taking it out? ›
The blown fuse will be apparent because the wire element within will have melted or burned from the higher electrical current. You can also use a test light or a multimeter to identify the dead fuse without having to pull it out.What is the most common cause of compressor failure? ›
AUTOPSY OF A COMPRESSOR: The two most common causes of compressor failure are loss of lubrication and slugging, according to Brainerd Compressor Inc.What are typical condenser problems? ›
The condenser fan can develop several issues such as a blown capacitor, electrical issues with wiring, fan motor issues, bent or loose blades, and/or worn fan belt. If any of these issues arise with the condenser fan, it will fail to cool down the coils and release the heat outside.How do you know if your AC compressor needs to be replaced? ›
- Clicking or Ticking. If you notice a clicking or ticking sound as soon as you turn on your compressor, it usually means that there's an issue with an electrical component. ...
- Rattling. ...
- Insufficient Cooling. ...
- Decrease In Airflow. ...
- Difficulty To Start. ...
- Tripped Circuit Breaker.
If you're the RV's air conditioner system not blowing cold air or overheats easily, the coils and fins may need to be cleaned and dusted. While you are at it, you should also check the roof portions of the AC unit for leaks, loose bolts or gaskets.How do I reset my air conditioner? ›
- Turn off your air conditioning system using the thermostat. ...
- Search for the breaker box. ...
- Shut off your AC unit at the breaker. ...
- Wait at least a full minute before switching the breaker back to the “on” position.
- Wait for 30 minutes before turning your unit back on at the thermostat.
Turn off the thermostat. Remove the AC's switch from the circuit breaker box for about 5 minutes. Reinstall the switch but wait another 5 minutes until you turn on the AC. Turn on the vehicle's cooling system to check for recurring issues.Can you clean AC coils without removing? ›
Yes, you can clean an AC coil without removing it from the unit. Use compressed air in a canister to blow the dirt and debris free.How do you clear a clogged evaporator coil? ›
A little compressed air can go a long way, especially if you only have a light coating of dust or debris on your evaporator coil. You can use a can of compressed air or a portable air compressor to blow away dust and various bits of dirt and debris on the coil.