Having a fridge on board to help keep your food and beverages cold is one of the (many) benefits RV trips can over standard tent camping. It can be very annoying, however, when your RV fridge/freezer keeps icing over, an occurrence that is more common than you might think (until you experience it for yourself). But why does your RV fridge/freezer keep icing over?
There are a number of reasons that those annoying ice build-ups occur. It could be that there is a problem with the gasket that is supposed to create a seal around the fridge door. Or your RV fridge’s thermistor may be damaged or misaligned. Your fridge may even simply be too old, or even overstuffed.
Careful troubleshooting is the key to finding, and then fixing, these problems. Here we are going to take a closer look at some of the best ways to figure out why your RV fridge is icing over, and then what to do about it when the problem has been diagnosed.
How to Diagnose RV Fridge Ice Issues
There are two main reasons your RV fridge could develop an icing problem; a damaged or inefficient door gasket seal or a bad thermistor. Therefore, you should begin by checking for these issues.
1. Checking for RV Fridge Gasket Seal Problems
You can make use of a very simple test – the dollar bill test – to determine if your fridge’s gasket seal is the problem. Here’s how it’s done:
- With a dollar bill in hand, open the fridge door, place the dollar bill in the upper left hand corner of the fridge.
- Holding the money in place, close the door.
- Now try to remove the dollar bill. If it’s hard to do, and you feel definite resistance, then that portion of your RV fridge’s gasket seal is good. If it slides out easily, the seal has been damaged, and it will need to be replaced.
Repeat this process in every corner, as well as at the top and bottom of the RV fridge to check out the gasket seal properly. While the video below demonstrates the dollar bill test on a domestic in-home refrigerator, the principles and process are the same if you need to test the gasket seal on your RV fridge.
2. Checking for RV Fridge Thermistor Problems
If you’ve determined that the gasket seal on your RV fridge is in good shape, you’ll want to move on to checking the thermistor.
The thermistor is the essential component that controls the temperature of your refrigerator’s thermostat. If it’s positioned incorrectly, excess frost or ice could build up on the fins at the rear of your RV refrigerator.
Before you can test it, you’ll need to know just where the thermistor is on your particular RV fridge, as it can differ from model to model. If you are not sure, you’ll need to check the owner’s manual or, if that’s long gone, contact the manufacturer.
If you are not electronically inclined, you can perform a very simple test to check that the temperature levels in your RV are correct. If they are, your thermistor is fine, and you can move on without worrying about the need to remove the component itself. Follow this process to perform this test:
- Fill a cup with water and place it on the center shelf of the RV fridge.
- Add a simple thermometer (a standard baby thermometer is fine)
- Leave the set-up in place for 24 hours.
- Check the thermometer.
- If the reading matches the temperature set on your fridge, all is well. If not, there may very well be a problem with the thermistor. For example, if the fridge is set to 35 degrees, but the thermometer is reading 32, then the fridge is running too cold, and the thermistor is almost certainly malfunctioning.
The process for removing, and replacing, a thermistor, varies from fridge to fridge, so you’ll need to check what it is for yours, and then decide whether you are confident enough to attempt a repair/replacement yourself or whether to head to a pro to get it taken care of. Given that an RV fridge is a very important component of your RV – and integral to most people’s enjoyment of their trips – you may want to err on the side of caution and do the latter.
3. Other Possible Reasons for RV Fridge Icing
Sometimes a gunk build up in its crevices compromise a gasket seal, and a simple cleaning can be the answer to an icing problem. And, on rare occasions, the fridge may simply be too old to function properly any longer.
5 Easy Ways To Prevent RV Refrigerator From Freezing
Prevention is better than cure, so here are some ways you can help stop your RV fridge from icing over in the first place:
- Always keep the door shut when not actively removing/adding items to your fridge. Leaving the door open for too long can cause all kinds of problems with any fridge, including excessive icing.
- Absorption refrigerators are used in RVs. Instead of using a compressor, an absorption refrigerator uses a chemical reaction to absorb heat from the refrigerator’s interior. This type of refrigerator requires adequate air circulation to function properly. As a result, your refrigerator should not be overloaded. Sometimes just taking a few things out, or even repositioning them, can quickly solve an RV fridge icing problem.
- Keep the fridge door’s gasket seals clean and free of gunk that may hamper the sealing process.
- Defrost your RV fridge after every trip, to prevent ice build up. You should also check the RV fridge’s vents to make sure that they are not obstructed or dusty.
- If you travel a lot in higher temperature areas (think Arizona, California, Florida) you might want to invest in a battery-powered refrigerator fan to help increase air circulation. These are inexpensive and can simply be placed in the RV fridge, with no special installation required.
How Can I Make My RV Fridge More Efficient?
In addition to following all the tips we offered above, you can make your RV fridge more efficient – and easier to use, simply by paying more attention to it and ensuring it’s properly organized. While you might do that at home, it’s easy, in all the fun and excitement of an RV trip – to forget to do too much about organizing your RV fridge. Doing so just takes a little creativity and a minimal time investment, something we are going to discuss next.
How Do I Maximize my RV Fridge Storage?
One of the biggest barriers to an organized RV fridge that functions better – and is less likely to suffer from problems like icing – is just how small they are.
Formal organizers and storage bins are usually very helpful, and the best of them offer both improved RV fridge organization and a better use of the limited storage space you have.
For example, the simple addition of a few standard plastic storage containers to this small fridge instantly makes it more efficient, and the fact that each of those boxes is then clearly labelled makes it even easier to use! Labelling food in your RV fridge will help prevent food waste too, as you’ll be less likely to forget what you have on hand and make unnecessary trips to the grocery store/fast food joint,
Another great way to keep your RV fridge organized and prevent overstuffing is to invest in a set of Camco Refrigerator Bars. These spring-loaded bars are designed to keep everything in place and prevent messy spills. When an RV is on the move, all kinds of things can shift in an RV refrigerator if they are not organized properly! These bars, which simply slot into place and can be expanded for a perfect fit, help prevent all this and install in seconds, something that’s always a plus.
If you travel as a family, or take trips in your RV very often, you may want to consider swapping out your RV fridge for a standard household fridge. Doing so will usually result in more storage space for food and beverages for sure.
Before you do that, you’ll need to check that you’ll be able to do so logistically, both in terms of space and accommodating the additional power usage. The fridge pictured above is a larger dorm model, which are often as suited to an RV as they are to a small dorm space and even relatively cheap to buy.