Chill Out! How to Keep Your RV Air Conditioner from Freezing Up on the Road

Chill Out! How to Keep Your RV Air Conditioner from Freezing Up on the Road

There’s nothing quite like hitting the open road in your RV, soaking in the scenery and enjoying a perfectly chilled interior. That is until your RV air conditioner decides to play Elsa from Frozen and freezes up! Worry not, dear road warriors, for we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll share the secrets to keep your RV AC from freezing up, ensuring a frost-free and comfortable journey.

You’ll learn practical tips and tricks to maintain the perfect RV climate without any unexpected icy surprises. So buckle up, chill out, and explore how to keep cool when your RV AC has other plans.

Table of Contents

As an RV owner, keeping your air conditioning system in top condition is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable trip.

However, one common issue that can arise is the freezing up of your RV AC system. This can lead to reduced cooling efficiency and even potential damage if left unchecked.

In this post, we’ll explore some common causes of RV AC freezing up and provide tips on how to prevent it from happening. Following these simple steps, you can ensure your RV stays cool and comfortable wherever you travel.

Preventing RV Air Conditioner Freezing Up: Tips and Tricks

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Keep the Temperature Consistent

One of the most common reasons RV air conditioners freeze up is fluctuating temperatures. When the temperature inside your RV changes too quickly, it can cause moisture to build up on the evaporator coil.

This moisture then freezes, creating a blockage that prevents cool air circulating throughout your RV.

To prevent this from happening, try to keep the temperature inside your RV as consistent as possible. Avoid sudden changes to the thermostat, and ensure all windows and doors are correctly sealed to prevent drafts.

Clean the Air Filters

Another common cause of RV air conditioner freezing is dirty or clogged air filters. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate on the filters, restricting airflow and causing the evaporator coil to become too cold.

Cleaning or replacing your RV’s air filters regularly is essential to prevent this. Most manufacturers recommend cleaning or replacing them at least once every three months.

Still, you may need to do so more frequently if you’re traveling in dusty or polluted areas.

Check for Leaks

Leaks in your RV’s ductwork or refrigerant lines can also cause your air conditioner to freeze up. In addition, a leak in one of these areas can allow warm air from outside your RV to enter the system, causing moisture to build up on the evaporator coil.

To prevent leaks from occurring, inspect your ductwork and refrigerant lines regularly for any signs of damage or wear.

If you notice any cracks or holes, seal them immediately using duct tape or another appropriate material.

Other Tips and Tricks

In addition to keeping your temperature consistent, cleaning your air filters regularly, and checking for leaks in your ductwork and refrigerant lines, there are several other things you can do to prevent your RV’s air conditioner from freezing up:

Cleaning Evaporator and Condenser Coils to Prevent RV AC Freezing

Dirty evaporator coils can cause RV AC to freeze, a common problem many RV owners face. When the evaporator coil is dirty, it reduces airflow, leading to the RV AC’s freezing up.

Therefore, cleaning the evaporator coils regularly is essential to prevent this issue.

Cleaning the Evaporator Coils

To clean the evaporator coils, you can use a soft brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dirt and debris. It’s important to be gentle while cleaning as these delicate coils can get damaged easily.

If you’re using a brush, make sure it’s soft-bristled so it doesn’t damage the fins on the coil. You should also avoid using too much force while brushing as it can bend or break the fins.

On the other hand, if you’re using a vacuum cleaner, ensure it has a soft brush attachment that won’t scratch or damage the coil.

Also, it would help to use low suction power while cleaning, as high suction power can damage the fins.

It’s recommended to clean your RV AC’s evaporator coils at least once every three months or more frequently if you travel in dusty areas.

Cleaning the Condenser Coils

Besides cleaning the evaporator coils, it’s also important to regularly clean the condenser coils.

This is because the condenser coils are outside your RV and exposed to dust, debris, and other outdoor elements.

To clean them, you can use a garden hose with moderate pressure to rinse off any dirt or debris on them.

Ensure you spray water upward so dirt doesn’t get pushed further into the coil fins.

You should also avoid using high-pressure washers as they can bend or damage the fins on your condenser coil.

Additionally, ensure your RV’s power supply is turned off before cleaning these coils.

Regular Maintenance and Cleaning

Regular maintenance and cleaning of both evaporator and condenser coils can prolong the life of your RV AC unit.

Getting your RV AC serviced by a professional at least once a year is recommended to ensure it’s functioning correctly.

During the service, the technician will check for leaks, clean the coils, and replace worn-out parts if necessary. This will prevent RV AC from freezing up and improve its overall efficiency.

Fixing a Broken Fan or Blower in Your RV AC

A broken fan or blower in your RV AC can be frustrating, especially during the hot summer. It can lead to poor airflow, which can cause the unit to freeze and stop working altogether.

Fortunately, fixing a broken fan or blower is not as difficult as it may seem. In this section, we will discuss some simple steps you can take to fix a broken fan or blower in your RV AC.

Check the Hot Air Inlet

The first step in fixing a broken fan or blower is to check the hot air inlet. This is the area where hot air enters the AC unit from outside.

If this area is blocked by debris or other obstructions, it can prevent proper airflow and cause the unit to freeze.

To check the hot air inlet, remove any debris blocking it. You can use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment hose to suck out any dirt or debris that may have accumulated over time.

Inspect the Fan

If the hot air inlet is clear and you are still experiencing poor airflow, then it’s time to inspect the fan.

The fan is responsible for circulating air throughout the AC unit and pushing hot air out of the RV.

To inspect the fan, turn off the power to your RV’s AC unit and remove any covers that may be blocking access to it. Check for any signs of damage, such as cracks or chips on blades.

If your fan is damaged beyond repair, you will need to replace it with a new one. Be sure to purchase a replacement fan that matches your current model for the best results.

Straighten Bent Fins

Bent fins on an AC unit can also contribute to poor airflow and freezing issues. These fins help direct cool air through the evaporator coils and into your RV.

If you notice bent fins on your AC unit, use a fin comb tool to straighten them out. This will improve airflow and prevent freezing issues from occurring in the future.

Check the Divider

The divider between the evaporator and condenser coils is essential to your RV’s AC unit. It helps separate hot air from cool air, which is crucial for proper functioning.

If the divider is missing or damaged, it can cause poor airflow and freezing issues. Ensure it is in place and not damaged before attempting any repairs.

Turn Off the AC Unit

Before attempting any repairs on your RV’s AC unit, turn off its power first. This will prevent any accidents or injuries while you work on it.

Let It Thaw Completely

Suppose your RV’s AC unit has frozen due to poor airflow or other issues. In that case, it must be let thaw entirely before attempting any repairs.

Depending on the severity of the freeze-up, this can take several hours or even overnight.

Vacuuming the Coils of Your RV Air Conditioner

Maintaining your RV air conditioning system is crucial to ensure its optimal performance and longevity. One of the essential maintenance tasks that you should perform regularly is vacuuming the coils of your RV air conditioner.

The condenser coils on the outside of your RV air conditioning unit can become clogged with dirt, dust, and debris, reducing their efficiency and causing the system to freeze.

Similarly, the evaporator coil inside your RV AC unit can become dirty and clogged, reducing airflow and freezing.

Regularly vacuuming your RV air conditioning system’s air filters, condenser coils, and evaporator coil can help improve its performance, prevent freezing up, and extend its lifespan.

In this section, we will discuss why it’s essential to vacuum these components regularly and how to do it effectively.

Why Vacuuming Your RV Air Conditioner Coils Is Important?

Vacuuming your RV air conditioner coils is essential for several reasons:

  1. It helps maintain proper airflow through the system by removing any dirt or debris blocking it.
  2. It improves energy efficiency by allowing the system to operate at peak performance without overworking itself.
  3. Regular vacuuming helps prevent freezing by ensuring that the condenser and evaporator coils are clean.

When dirt accumulates on the surface of condenser coils outside your RV AC unit or evaporator coil inside it, they act as insulators between refrigerant tubes and surrounding air which reduces heat transfer from refrigerant tubes to surrounding air resulting in poor cooling performance or even complete failure of AC units.

How To Vacuum The Coils Of Your RV Air Conditioner?

Before you start vacuuming any component of your RV AC unit, ensure you have turned off the power supply either by unplugging from shore power or turning off the generator if you are using one.

Vacuuming The Condenser Coils

The condenser coils are located on the outside of your RV air conditioning unit. To vacuum them, follow these steps:

  • Remove any debris or loose dirt from the surface of the coils using a soft brush or compressed air.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool attachment to remove any remaining dirt or debris from between the fins of the coils. Move the tool back and forth across each row of fins to ensure that you remove all debris.

Vacuuming The Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil is inside your RV AC unit behind the air filter. To vacuum it, follow these steps:

  • Remove the air filter by sliding it out of its slot.
  • Use a soft brush or compressed air to remove any loose dirt or debris from the surface of the evaporator coil.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool attachment to remove any remaining dirt or residue between the evaporator coil’s fins. Be gentle while doing this, as fins can be easily bent, which will reduce airflow through it.

Too Much Humidity in the Air: How to Fix It and Prevent RV AC Freezing

One of the most common problems with RV air conditioning systems is freezing up. This occurs when humidity condenses on the evaporator coils, causing ice buildup that eventually leads to freezing.

High humidity levels inside the RV can exacerbate the problem, especially on humid days. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to fix and prevent RV AC from freezing due to high humidity.

Use a Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier is one of the easiest ways to combat high humidity levels in your RV. These devices work by removing excess moisture from the air, which helps prevent humidity from condensing on your AC’s evaporator coils.

Many different types of dehumidifiers are available, ranging from small portable units to larger models designed for use in larger spaces like an RV.

Ensure Proper Ventilation

Another critical factor in preventing RV AC freezing due to high humidity is ensuring proper ventilation throughout your vehicle.

This means opening all vents and windows and allowing fresh air to circulate freely throughout your space.

Consider installing additional fans or other ventilation systems if your current setup doesn’t provide enough airflow.

Seal Any Air Leaks

Finally, it’s important to seal any air leaks that allow humid air to enter your RV in the first place.

Common areas where leaks occur include around windows and doors and through cracks or gaps in walls or ceilings.

To fix these issues, you’ll need to identify areas where the air is escaping and seal them using weatherstripping or other materials designed for this purpose.

Low Refrigerant: How to Fix It and Prevent RV AC Freezing

Signs of Low Refrigerant in RV AC

If you own an RV, you know how important it is to have a properly functioning air conditioning system.

One of the most common AC problems RV owners face is low refrigerant. This can cause your AC to freeze up and stop working altogether.

So, how do you know if your RV’s AC has low refrigerant? Here are some signs to look for:

  1. Warm Air: If your AC is blowing warm air instead of cool air, it could be a sign of low refrigerant in the system.
  2. Reduced Airflow: Another sign of low refrigerant is decreased airflow from the vents. You may notice that the air coming out of the vents is weaker than usual.
  3. Ice Buildup: It could indicate insufficient refrigerant if you see ice buildup on your AC unit or the coils inside.
  4. Unusual Sounds: A hissing or bubbling sound from your AC unit could indicate a refrigerant leak and low levels.

Steps to Fix Low Refrigerant in RV AC

If you suspect that your RV’s AC has low refrigerant levels, here are some steps you can take to fix it:

  1. Check for Leaks: The first step in fixing low refrigerant levels is to check for leaks in the system. You can use a leak detector or soapy water solution around fittings and connections to identify any leaks.
  2. Add Refrigerant: Once you have identified and fixed any leaks, you can add more refrigerant to the system using a recharge kit designed specifically for RVs.
  3. Test System: After adding more refrigerant, turn on your AC unit and let it run for at least 15 minutes before rechecking its performance.

Common Problems That Cause Camper A/C Freeze-Ups: Broken Thermostats and More

A broken thermostat is one of the common reasons why camper A/C freeze-ups occur during summer.

The thermostat plays a crucial role in regulating the temperature inside your camper. It controls when the A/C turns on and off based on the temperature reading it receives from the sensor.

However, if the thermostat malfunctions, it can cause the A/C to run continuously, leading to a drop in temperature and eventual freeze-up.

Checking the thermostat reading regularly is essential to ensure that it’s functioning correctly. In addition, if you notice any issues with your thermostat, such as incorrect readings or unresponsiveness, it’s vital to fix them promptly. Ignoring these problems can lead to costly repairs down the line.

Another common cause of camper A/C freeze-ups is clogged air filters. Air filters trap dirt, dust, and other debris circulating through your camper’s air conditioning system.

Over time, these particles accumulate on the filter surface and restrict airflow through your A/C unit.

When airflow is restricted due to clogged air filters, it causes ice buildup on your evaporator coils.

This ice buildup prevents warm air from circulating through your camper’s interior, resulting in reduced cooling performance and eventually causing a freeze-up.

To avoid this issue, you should check your air filters regularly and replace them as needed. Most manufacturers recommend replacing air filters every three months for optimal performance.

Low refrigerant levels are another reason why camper A/C freeze-ups occur during summer. Refrigerant is responsible for absorbing heat inside your camper’s interior and releasing it outside via condenser coils.

Suppose there isn’t enough refrigerant in your system due to leaks or other issues. In that case, it won’t absorb enough heat from inside your camper’s interior effectively.

This leads to reduced cooling performance and eventual freeze-up.

To avoid this problem, you should have a professional HVAC technician inspect your system regularly for leaks or other issues that could result in low refrigerant levels.

Another common reason for camper A/C freeze-ups is a malfunctioning blower motor. The blower motor is responsible for circulating air through your A/C unit and distributing it throughout your camper’s interior.

Suppose the blower motor isn’t functioning correctly. In that case, it won’t be able to circulate enough air through your system, leading to reduced cooling performance and eventual freeze-up.

To avoid this issue, you should have your blower motor inspected regularly by a professional HVAC technician.

They can identify problems with your blower motor and fix them promptly to prevent further damage to your A/C unit.

Finally, inadequate insulation can also cause camper A/C freeze-ups during summer.

Insulation helps regulate the temperature inside your camper by preventing heat from entering or escaping through walls, floors, and ceilings.

Suppose there needs to be more insulation in your camper, or it’s damaged or worn out. In that case, heat can enter more easily into your interior space.

Unfortunately, this causes your A/C unit to work harder than necessary, leading to reduced cooling performance and eventual freeze-up.

To avoid this problem, you should inspect the insulation in your camper regularly and replace any damaged or worn-out sections as needed.

Add insulation to improve energy efficiency and reduce cooling costs during hot summer months.

How to Defrost Your RV Air Conditioner: Step-by-Step Guide

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Defrost Your RV Air Conditioner

If you own an RV, you know how important it is to have a functioning air conditioner during hot summer days.

However, sometimes your AC unit may freeze up due to various reasons, such as clogged air filters or low refrigerant levels.

When this happens, it’s essential to defrost the unit before turning it back on. In this section, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to defrost your RV air conditioner.

Step 1: Turn off the AC unit and let it thaw naturally for a few hours.

The first step in defrosting your RV air conditioner is turning off the unit and letting it thaw naturally for a few hours.

This will allow any ice buildup on the coils to melt away slowly without causing any damage to the unit.

It’s crucial to avoid rushing this process by using heat sources like heaters or hair dryers, as they can cause damage to the coils.

Step 2: Remove any excess water or ice from the unit using a towel or sponge.

Once the ice has melted away, use a towel or sponge to remove excess water or ice from the unit.

This will prevent any water from pooling inside and causing further damage when you turn on the AC again.

Step 3: Use a hairdryer on low heat to melt any remaining ice on the coils.

After removing all excess water and ice, use a hairdryer set at a low heat setting (not high)to melt any remaining ice stuck in hard-to-reach areas of your AC unit’s coils.

Ensure not to hold the dryer too close, as overheating can cause damage.

Ways To Prevent Future Freezing

Defrosting your RV air conditioner is just one part of maintaining its efficiency; there are other ways you can prevent future freezing episodes:

Clean or replace air filters regularly: Dirty air filters can cause restricted airflow, leading to ice buildup on the coils. Clean or replace your air filters regularly to ensure proper airflow.

Check for proper insulation: Ensure your RV is adequately insulated, especially in areas where the AC unit is installed.

Proper insulation will prevent cold air from escaping and causing condensation on the coils.

Avoid running the AC unit at too low of a temperature: Running your AC unit at too low of a temperature can cause it to freeze up quickly.

Keep an eye on the thermostat and avoid setting it too low.

Keeping Your RV AC from Freezing

In conclusion, preventing your RV air conditioner from freezing is crucial to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable camping experience.

Following the tips and tricks outlined in this article, you can keep your RV AC running smoothly and efficiently.

Cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils regularly is essential to prevent the buildup of dirt and debris that can cause freezing.

In addition, fixing a broken fan or blower can help improve airflow and to avoid freezing.

Vacuuming the coils of your RV air conditioner is also essential to remove any debris that may have accumulated over time.

This will help improve the efficiency of your AC unit and reduce the risk of freezing.

Suppose you notice too much humidity in the air. In that case, fixing it immediately using a dehumidifier or opening windows and doors to allow for better ventilation is essential.

Low refrigerant levels can also cause freezing, so check them regularly and top up if necessary.

Several common problems can cause camper A/C freeze-ups, including a broken thermostat or flow divider.

Identifying these issues early on and fixing them as soon as possible is essential to prevent further damage.

Finally, if your RV air conditioner does freeze up, defrosting it properly is crucial. Follow our step-by-step guide above to safely defrost your unit without causing any damage.


What causes an air conditioner to freeze up in an RV?

An RV air conditioner may freeze up due to low refrigerant levels, dirty air filters, blocked vents, or malfunctioning components. Regular maintenance can help prevent such issues.

How do I make my air conditioner not freeze?

To prevent your air conditioner from freezing, ensure proper airflow by cleaning or replacing air filters, clearing vents, and scheduling routine maintenance to check for refrigerant leaks.

How long does it take for a frozen air conditioner to thaw?

It typically takes between 3 to 24 hours for a frozen air conditioner to thaw, depending on the extent of ice buildup. Turning off the unit and using a fan can help speed up the process.

Why is my RV air conditioner struggling to keep up?

An RV air conditioner may struggle to keep up due to dirty filters, low refrigerant, blocked vents, or inadequate insulation. Regular maintenance and addressing these issues can improve its efficiency.

How can I make my RV AC more efficient?

To improve your RV AC’s efficiency, clean or replace air filters regularly, ensure proper insulation, check refrigerant levels, and keep vents clear to maintain optimal airflow.

How do I know if my evaporator coil is frozen?

Signs of a frozen evaporator coil include reduced airflow, warm air from vents, and visible frost or ice on the coil. If you suspect a frozen coil, turn off the AC and inspect the unit.

Is it OK for an air conditioner to freeze?

No, it is not OK for an air conditioner to freeze, as it can lead to reduced efficiency, higher energy consumption, and potential damage to the system. Regular maintenance can help prevent freezing.


Our team at HighwayDI is a group of passionate RV owners, mechanics, and industry experts who have come together to create the ultimate resource for RV troubleshooting and maintenance. We believe that the best way to learn is through hands-on experience, and we're committed to sharing our expertise with you.