Why Does My RV Fridge Keep Shutting Off? Answered!

Having your RV fridge shut down can be a huge hassle because your food might spoil. Why does my RV fridge keep shutting off? Sometimes, your RV fridge might repeatedly shut off for no obvious reason. Why does this happen, and what can you do about it? 

Why does my RV fridge keep turning off?

Your RV fridge might shut off if the door isn’t airtight, if the vents are blocked, or if there is something wrong with the machinery. The compressor, condenser, or thermostat might be broken. There might also not be enough refrigerant. 

A lot of the time, correcting a problem with your fridge is easy. You can do it yourself, even if you don’t like to fix things. As little as cleaning one or two components on the back of the fridge to get your fridge working as good as new again. 

I know enough about RV appliances that I can avoid costly repairs. The last time my fridge was shutting off, I checked the condenser coils and found that they were dirty, preventing heat from escaping. I cleaned the coils, and the fridge worked perfectly again. 

Why Does My Fridge Keep Turning Itself Off?

Making your fridge and freezer very cold is not necessary to keep your food from spoiling. A normal fridge temperature is better. If you make your fridge ice cold, that will use too much power. 

It is easiest on your fridge if you keep the temperature between 35 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes a lot of power to keep your fridge freezing. This can overload your fridge and make it shut down. 

Sometimes, you will have to adjust the vents at the back of your fridge to change the temperature. It will take at least a few hours for the temperature to change. 

Keep Your Door Closed

Don’t leave your fridge door open accidentally. This can make your fridge heat up and shut off. 

Sometimes, your fridge may open a little bit on its own. If this happens, you can use a wedge to hold the door shut. You can also contact a fridge repair professional to fix your door. 

Your Door May Not Seal the Air In Properly

Even if you keep your door shut all the time, it might still be leaking air. The seal on your door doesn’t always last forever. If you adjust the strike plate, that may tighten the seal. 

Resetting Your Fridge May Work

Sometimes, as little as resetting your fridge is enough to get it working again. Again, fixing a fridge often takes only a moment of your time and doesn’t require a repair company. Living in an RV can save you money, especially if you can do basic repairs yourself. 

Is There a Reset Button on a Camper Refrigerator?

Fridges made for RVs always have reset buttons. They are inside the fridge and usually easy to spot. Each fridge has the reset button in a different location, but it is usually easy to find. 

How Do I Reset My RV Refrigerator?

First off, you need to disconnect the power. Unplug your fridge before you do anything else. Then, open up your fridge and find the reset button. 

Hold the reset button down for ten seconds. Then, wait ten seconds and press the reset button for another ten seconds. Do this a third time to make sure. 

How Your Fridge Works

Before we talk about problems with your air compressor or other machinery, we should go over the basics of how a fridge works. 

It is easier to identify problems if you know a little bit about a fridge’s machinery. Some fridges have water filters and other features useful for off-grid living. 

A Fridge Pumps Heat Out to Keep the Inside Cold

A fridge works by pumping hot air out, leaving the air that remains inside cold. This is why the air coming out of the back of your fridge is warm. 

Your fridge is full of pipes that a liquid refrigerant circulates through, powered by an air compressor. The part of your fridge that actually cools the air is the evaporator. The evaporator turns the refrigerant from a liquid into a gas, this change cools the air around it. 

There is also a condenser, which turns the refrigerant back into a liquid instead of a gas. A thermostat measures the temperature and switches the compressor off if the temperature gets low enough. If there is a problem with any of these parts, your fridge may stop working. 

Make Sure Your Vents Aren’t Blocked

Just as the refrigerant cools off in the evaporator, it also heats up when compressed. This hot air is pumped out of your fridge through the vents at the back. If your vents are blocked, the hot air won’t be able to escape.

It doesn’t take any more than dust or lint to block your vents. Even if your RV is very clean, there will still be some dust in the air.

Problems With the Compressor

The compressor is vital to your fridge’s functioning. If the compressor stops working, it won’t circulate the refrigerant through the condenser and the evaporator. If the liquid isn’t flowing through the evaporator, no cooling will occur. 

If you notice a compressor problem, you should fix it or have it fixed quickly. If you ignore it, it might damage the whole system and wreck your fridge. Any of the following is a sign that your compressor isn’t working:

  • Your fridge is shutting off
  • Your fridge isn’t getting cold enough
  • Your compressor is loud (especially if it used to be silent)
  • The compressor fan isn’t working
  • The compressor is clicking on and off

If your compressor is hot, something is wrong. There might be too little refrigerant, your compressor might be clogged, or the sensor might be faulty. The temperature in your fridge might also be too cold. 

Problems With the Condenser

Your condenser is also vital to your fridge’s functioning. The condenser coils are usually at the back of your fridge. Condenser coils can be either at the top or at the bottom of your RV fridge. 

Sometimes, you only need to clean the condenser coils to get them working again – they might not be damaged, just dirty. 

When the refrigerant runs through the condenser, it heats up. This heat is supposed to escape from your fridge through the vents.

If the coils are covered in dirt, the heat cannot escape and will remain in your fridge. This excess heat can cause your RV fridge to shut down. 

Problems With the Thermostat

If the thermostat isn’t working, your RV fridge might stop working entirely. The thermostat is supposed to ‘notice’ that the air is heating up and switch your compressor on. If it is broken, the compressor will never switch on, and your fridge will shut down. 

Why Does My Propane Fridge Keep Shutting Off?

Despite running on gas rather than electricity, propane fridges have a lot in common with electric fridges. It isn’t a completely different technology. Despite the differences, there is still an evaporator where a liquid becomes a gas and this lowers the temperature. 

Therefore, a propane fridge might stop working for similar reasons. If the vents are blocked your propane fridge will stop working. 

Unlike an electric fridge, a propane fridge has an igniter. Problems with the igniter may make your fridge stop working. If the electrode in the igniter is wet or cracked, it won’t produce a spark, and your fridge will shut off. 

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