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RV Roof Air Conditioner Preventive Maintenance

Updated on December 20, 2020
Don Bobbitt profile image

Don has been an avid traveler and motorhome owner for most of his life and he shares his experiences along with valuable tips for RV owners.

RV Air Conditioner mounted on an RV's roof

Standard RV Air Conditioner on the Roof of an RV which illustrates the size and profile.
Standard RV Air Conditioner on the Roof of an RV which illustrates the size and profile. | Source

RV Air Conditioner PM Tips

Those Air Conditioners on the roof of your RV are reliable devices which are designed to provide your RV with years of comfortable cool air as you travel and camp around the country.

But you should be aware that over time, there are several common problems which can reduce an Air Conditioner's efficiency dramatically, or even cause the unit to break down completely.

You can keep your RV's Air Conditioners operating at peak performance levels by following a few simple preventive maintenance tips that you will find listed here.

Most of these preventive maintenance tasks are ones that you can do yourself, and even though a few may require your using a trained technician to perform them, the symptoms given here can help you determine the causes of your more common AC problems.

Air Filters need cleaning

Your roof air conditioner uses an air filter on the air intake that you should pull down and clean regularly. When this air intake begins to become blocked, you will have less air flow and your air conditioner will start to operate less efficiently.

You should drop the air filter cover down and inspect it regularly (at least monthly) and take the time to clean the air filter itself. The cover will hold a simple thin "foam rubber type" filter that you can clean by washing it in water.

Once it dries out, you can replace it and you will have better air flow through the Air Conditioner unit.

AC-Voltage Level in your RV

Either use a multimeter or a simple AC-Voltage meter that plugs into a receptacle on your RV to regularly check the campsite voltage to your RV. Do this both with the Air Conditioner OFF and ON.

Your Air Conditioner units are designed to operate best at AC Voltages in the range of 103-VAC to 125-VAC.

When they are operated at voltages outside this range, typically lower, they can suffer damage over time. Low AC voltage levels (below 100-VAC) can even cause the unit to overheat and be damaged.

Dirty Evaporator Fins

If you go onto the roof of your RV, and remove its cover, you will notice that there is a section that has a series of fins on it. These fins are part of the Evaporator and they should be cleaned regularly (annually) so that it operates more efficiently, especially when running in high outdoor temperatures.

These fins can become loaded with dirt, dust and even insect nests over time, but they can usually be cleaned with an air hose or even a "Shop Vac".

As I mentioned, the Evaporator can be accessed from the roof of your RV after you remove the Air Conditioner cover and this only entails removing a few screws that are holding the cover in place..

Aging or Bad Capacitors

Over time, the most common failure in an RV Air Conditioner is with one of the Capacitors ( typically,one is used to start the AC and one is used while it is running).

If your Air conditioner unit is starting Ok and then quickly stops operating then you most likely have a bad capacitor that will need replacing.

NOTE: The Capacitor should only be changed by a trained electrician because they are energy storage devices and they can harm an unskilled person who tries to change the capacitor themselves.

Also, note that the capacitor must be replaced with one that is exactly the same value.

Fan Dragging or Not Running

Your Air Conditioner has a fan that can start making noise or it may stop running al together. This kind of failure is usually due to dirt buildup on the blades and this causes it to start dragging in the fan holder.

On older units, after years of use, the fan can also go bad and need replacing.

The good thing is that the fan is relatively cheap and it is usually easy to replace by an RV technician.

Replacing An Aging Air Conditioner

If you have an older RV, you may start to have problems with it cooling as well as it once did, and everything listed here seems to be OK. Well, Air Conditioners do age and you may be better off having the whole unit replaced.

You should keep in mind that older air conditioners were simpler devices than the newer units which operate as Heat Pumps.

Make sure that you replace your old unit with the same kind of unit because a Heat Pump is capable of not only cooling, but being a heat source for you until the outside temperatures drop down to around 40-degrees fahrenheit.

Newer RVs with Heat Pumps also have logic circuitry in the temperature control panel that is capable of managing the switch-over while older temperature controller panels do not, but they use the Furnace alone for heating.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Don Bobbitt


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