Airstream Travel Trailer Repair: How To Install A New RV Rooftop Air Conditioner AC Unit
Why Buy A New Airstream Rooftop AC?
Your Airstream rooftop AC has seen its best days and you are ready to replace it with a new unit. The newer rooftop units are more efficient and do a better job of cooling your Airstream than the older models ever did. This article is intended help you replace the old rooftop cooling unit yourself with very little effort on your part.
The Airstream travel trailer in this article is a 1986 Airstream Sovereign with an old Coleman Mach rooftop air conditioner which had given good service over the years. The fan motor is giving problems and to replace it would cost too much money when a new unit could be purchased for a little over twice the price of repairs.
Even if the fan motor was replaced, AC compressor is old and could malfunction at any time. This would necessitate spending more money on repairs than a new rooftop unit would cost. So the obvious solution was to install a new cooling unit on the Airstream Sovereign travel trailer.
Choosing and Buying A New Airstream AC
We chose to go back with a Coleman 13,500 BTU rooftop AC because it had the same overhead clearance as the previous Coleman unit. Also, it came complete with the ceiling assembly and nothing else was needed, unlike some of the other units made by Carrier and Dometic.
It was the best rooftop air conditioner for the money of those we researched, plus the ease of replacing a similar unit was taken in consideration. This same RV A/C is sold on this page along with other fine units made by Carrier and Dometic which are also well know for their efficiency and reliability.
The choice is yours to decide as to the make and model of your new cooling unit and as they are all installed similarly, this article will work just as well for all of them. The new Coleman air conditioner arrived in only two days so we began by examining it closely to ascertain it wasn’t damaged while being shipped. It was in perfect shape and we were ready to begin the installation process.
Old Rooftop RV AC Removal
Removing The Old A/C
Because of the shiny aluminum skin covering most Airstream travel trailers, it is very important to use proper support and padding to prevent damage to roof covering while replacing the rooftop unit. This includes removing the old unit carefully and cleaning the roof thoroughly before installing the new one in your Airstream.
Be sure to disconnect the electrical power from the trailer before removing the old unit. Remove the old ceiling assembly and disconnect the main electrical line from the AC unit. If you are hesitant about doing the electrical connections yourself then have someone experienced do this for you.
There are only three wires to disconnect and removing them should pose no problems for you at this time. Remove the 4 bolts used for attaching the old rooftop unit to the ceiling assembly. After removing the AC shroud by loosening the 4 nuts holding it in place, the old rooftop unit can be carefully removed and lowered to the ground.
Rooftop RV AC Units
This RV AC unit will in the standard 14" X 14" vent hole or where the old air conditioner was mounted
This rooftop RV AC unit is for larger Motorhomes and travel trailers with a duct system.
Rooftop Cleaning and Preparation
Airstream A/C Installation Preparation
In some cases the Airstream AC gasket has been treated with a sealant, perhaps several times over the many camping seasons. These sealants usually cause the old rooftop AC units to be stuck in place which requires using a thin putty knife to separate the old gasket from the Airstream roof. Carefully slide the putty knife beneath the old gasket until the unit can be easily removed.
Remove any lingering roof coating adhesive with a strong solvent being careful not to let it discolor the area outside of the new gasket contact area. Check for any jagged edges or rough spots which could cause the gasket to allow moisture to seep through. This is a very important step to prevent leaks around the new rooftop AC unit.
You are now ready to transport the new unit to the rooftop of your Airstream travel trailer. Unless you are very strong you will need some help with this job. Be very careful if using ladders as it is easy to lose your balance while lifting the new air condtioner. First, remove the new protective shroud to facilitate ease of handling and placement.
Installing the new Airstream rooftop AC unit
Installing The New RV Air Conditioner
Situating the new rooftop AC unit correctly requires some help to keep from having to go up and down the ladder several times to check both inside, and on the rooftop, to correctly align the new unit. By loosely connecting the 4 retaining bolts through the ceiling flange, you can move the new rooftop unit around until it is evenly spaced in the 14” square duct hole in the Airstream roof.
Once you have the new unit in the right spot you can tighten the bolts which compresses the new gasket and insure a watertight seal. If you purchased the optional heating element for your rooftop AC, proceed to install it according to the enclosed directions. This is a simple plug in assembly for electrical connections.
Connect the Airstream line electrical wires to the new AC unit by using wire nuts and replacing the cover of the junction box. The ceiling assembly is usually attached by 4 screws to the ceiling flange. Install the new rooftop AC shroud with the 4 retaining nuts. Reconnect the power supply to the Airstream and the job is finished.
Using and maintaining your new Airstream AC
Test the new unit to ensure everything is working correctly with no circuit breakers kicking off. Now you are ready to stay cool for many seasons to come while enjoying your classic Airstream travel trailer. Good luck on the installation and congratulations on the money you will save by installing the rooftop unit on your Airstream yourself.
By doing annual maintenance such as cleaning the coils and oiling the AC fan motor, you will ensure proper efficiency and cooling of your Airstream travel trailer for many years of camping enjoyment for you and your future grandchildren.
Repair Supplies For Campers
Protect that new air conditioner in the off season!
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