How RV A/C Maintenance Makes Camping Better
Taking care of your RV is important for ensuring it lasts for years and years of camping fun. Obviously, this means cleaning and resealing the body of your RV, but it also means maintaining the appliances within your RV.
One of the most important appliances to keep in good shape is your air conditioning unit, meaning RV AC maintenance should definitely make its way onto your to-do list every 6 months or so.
Wondering what you need to know about RV AC maintenance? You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will cover the top 5 things you should know about maintaining the air conditioner on your trailer or motorhome so you can ensure you stay nice and cool on all of your camping adventures.
1. Inspect the RV A/C Cover
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at your air conditioner from the outside is the plastic shroud or cover that goes over the unit. This cover is more important than you might imagine.
It isn’t just for covering up the unit and making your RV more aesthetically pleasing. Nope, this cover also protects your RV AC unit from dirt, debris, and other foreign objects that might want to make their way inside. Additionally, it helps prevent low-hanging limbs from damaging the unit should you drive under them.
Unfortunately, these shrouds tend to become damaged over time. Bright sunlight can cause the plastic AC covers to become brittle, making it easy for them to crack and break. Of course, driving under low-hanging branches and other objects that may scrape can also cause damage, as can hail.
Because it’s so common for AC shrouds to become damaged, it’s important that you peek at yours a couple times a year to ensure it’s still in good shape and able to do its job.
2. Check for A/C leaks
When you own an RV, water is your worst enemy. Even the smallest leak can cause damage over time, meaning it’s imperative to take care of areas where water can enter your rig as quickly as possible.
One place where many people don’t know to watch for leaks is around the AC unit. RV air conditioners are set into a big hole in the roof, and rather than being sealed with the usual caulk-type sealant, they are designed to keep water out with a rubber ring. This ring must be properly placed, tightened down, and free of damage to function properly, meaning it isn’t unheard of for it to let water in. To make matters worse, RV air conditioners produce a lot of water themselves. This means it isn’t just rainwater that can sneak in under that seal.
In order to ensure you aren’t a victim of water leaks around the AC, check the rubber ring for damage or wear every 6 months or so. While you’re at it, tighten the screws that hold your air conditioner in place.
3. Straight fins are key
If you remove the shroud from your AC, you will notice a set of metal fins on the unit. These fins are very delicate and can get bent out of shape over time.
Because the AC unit works best when the fins are straight and free of debris, it’s a good idea to use a comb to very carefully straighten any bent fins, and a vacuum to get rid of dirt. You can also spray the fins with a spray bottle of water and mild soap. Like the other RV AC maintenance tasks on this list, this should be done every 6 months or so.
4. Recharging isn’t possible
When a typical house air conditioner stops working properly, it could be that the unit needs to be recharged. However, this isn’t the case with RV air conditioners. These units cannot be recharged, so if you’re having problems with one, you will need to look elsewhere for a solution.
5. Filters can (and should) be washed
One very basic thing you can do if you’re having air conditioner trouble in your trailer or motorhome is to check out the AC filter. These filters are made to be washed in warm soapy water and should be set in the sun to dry. This should happen at least every six months, but if you’re using the air conditioner on a regular basis, you might find yourself cleaning the filter every month or so.
Eventually, your air conditioner filter will become too worn to wash and reuse. In this case, you will need to purchase a new filter. If you can’t find a filter to perfectly fit your unit, buying a larger one and cutting it down to fit is perfectly acceptable.
Other RV air conditioner tips
The things mentioned above are the most important RV AC maintenance tips. That said, there are a few other things we think you should know about your AC unit.
Ensure you have enough power
RV air conditioners require a lot of power to run. The majority of this power is used on startup to get the compressor up and running. Starting an air conditioner with too little power can lead to damage over time.
For this reason, we discourage people from running their AC when plugged into a 15- or 20-amp outlet.
Use a soft starter
If you find yourself needing to run your AC when plugged into a 20-amp outlet, or you want to be able to run the air conditioner while using a smaller generator, you might find it useful to install an air conditioner soft starter. This cuts back on the amount of power needed to start the AC, meaning you won’t damage the unit by using it whenever less power is available. With the SoftStartRV, you can even run 2 A/C units on just 30 amps of power.
Track your maintenance
Because there are several things to keep track of in terms of AC maintenance, and because your RV as whole comes with an enormous list of maintenance tasks, we highly recommend finding a way to track your maintenance. Some people use a paper calendar or planner, but we prefer using RV LIFE Maintenance for this purpose.
For more RV AC maintenance tips, check out this video from Love Your RV: