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Why Does My RV Fridge Freeze Everything?

Inside RVs and other recreational vehicles, fridges are a nice commodity. However, like any appliance, they are prone to occasional issues. In this case: over freezing, which can be a massive inconvenience.

There are a few reasons why your RV fridge may be having issues. Here are a few common offenders:

  1. A defective door seal
  2. A defective thermistor
  3. Ice buildup in the refrigerator
  4. Overstocking the refrigerator
  5. Low refrigerator coolant

This article will give you need to know about how to fix your RV refrigerator, as well as how to prevent freezing issues in the future. Keep reading to find out more:

What causes RV fridges to freeze?

There are numerous reasons behind your RV fridge freezing. Here are the primary causes:

1. A defective door seal

When the rubber seal of your RV fridge fails, it is likely to let in moisture, as well as warm air. If your fridge is fairly humid, it can cause your items in the fridge to frost.

Check your door seal to ensure that it is in a suitable condition. If your RV fridge has two doors, double-check them on both sides.

2. Defective thermistor

If the thermistor fails, it sends the inappropriate temperature reading values to your fridge’s cooling unit, making your RV fridge too hot or cold. Ensure that you check your RV fridge manual to make sure you adjust your refrigerator’s temperature settings and set it a bit warmer.

You can also opt to install the refrigerator thermometer to know the actual temperature of your fridge accurately. Moreover, if your thermistor fails, you need to replace it since it’s not something that you can fix.

How to remove a thermistor on an RV refrigerator?

If you’re not sure how to remove your thermister, here’s a guide to help you:

  • Step 1: You need to check your resistance range for the model of your fridge. Generally, as the thermistor gets colder, the resistance will increase.
  • Step 2: Go through your fridge’s manual to find where the thermistor is. You’ll need to know where the connection is.
  • Step 3: After that, find the thermistor. It should be attached to one of the cooling fins, which is at the back of your RV fridge.
  • Step 4: Next, find the connection end, which should be behind the eyebrow board (usually). This is the panel with indicator lights and switches that is often located inside the fridge.
  • Step 5: Then, disconnect the thermistor. You may have to unscrew the eyebrow board to do so.

How do you check a thermistor on an RV refrigerator?

Once you remove the thermistor, here’s how to check it:

  • Step 1: Get an ohmmeter. This will help you measure resistance.
  • Step 2: Hook it up to the thermistor. It’s likely to have a dial with an Omega symbol. Continue turning this dial and record the highest number it goes to.
  • Step 3: Compare that to the range that is given with your fridge. If it’s within the range, your thermistor is working and doesn’t need to be changed. You have another issue.

3. Ice buildup in the refrigerator

Excess buildup of ice in your refrigerator, more so on the cooling fins, can make your fridge run too hot or even too cold. However, it can have the opposite impact if the temperature sensor or thermistor becomes engulfed with ice.

If your RV fridge has frozen everything, open it and inspect its backside. You will come across the metal cooling fins. Ensure that these metals have no ice buildup on them.

Liquid condensation on this part is normal, but ice buildup is abnormal. In case the back of the freezer or the fins have the ice buildup, switch off your RV refrigerator and leave it to defrost and thaw completely. After that, wipe thoroughly inside your fridge and switch it on once more.

This should effectively mitigate the effects of freezing.

4. Overstocking the refrigerator

Multiple RVs use absorption refrigerators. An absorption refrigerator doesn’t use a compressor, but rather, relies on the chemical reaction for heat absorption from the refrigerator’s interior.

For this fridge to work, it needs adequate air circulation. Therefore, your fridge should not be too full. If it’s stocked completely, you should try to empty it out a bit.

You can also install a minimal battery-powered refrigerator fan to help maximize air circulation.

Besides that, lack of ventilation can also occur due to vent blockages, which will cause everything in your fridge to freeze. Avoid positioning your fridge close to your back wall.

Insufficient air circulation could also mean that your vents require cleaning since they are likely to clog from debris and time as time goes by.

5. Low refrigerator coolant

RV fridges usually require a coolant that is similar to an ammonia mixture. When this coolant runs out, your fridge can get severely damaged if you keep using it. If the supply ever runs low – turn it off your system altogether.

To refill the empty tank, your fridge needs to be defrosted. Turn off your fridge, take everything out, and let everything thaw. Otherwise, the frozen ice will likely cause nasty odors when you turn it on again.

How to prevent RV fridges from freezing

There are many ways to prevent an RV fridge from freezing, among them being:

1. Check the temperature sensor

It is appropriate that you ensure that the temperature sensor is correctly connected to your fridge’s fin. When you attach the temperature sensor correctly, you can confidently adjust your refrigerator temperature by moving your sensor to and fro. If yours doesn’t work, consider buying this one from Amazon

2. Proper air circulation

Ensure that you position a fan with maximum PRM behind your RV refrigerator opening space. This will automatically boost air circulation in your refrigerator chamber, building a balance between your fridge’s surrounding temperature and the temperature of your RV fridge.

When you do this correctly, your refrigerator chamber is likely to cool excellently.

3. Examine your refrigerator exhaust

Most of the time, the vent gets clogged due to dust, preventing the hot air from getting out. This results in the refrigerator temperature losing its equilibrium, especially with the freezer temperature.

Therefore, always ensure to examine your refrigerator vents. After that, inspect any blockages that could prevent air from escaping.

4. Inspect your thermistor frequently

Make sure that your thermistor doesn’t get too hot or cool. If temperatures exceed ideal conditions (according to your fridge manufacturer), it causes excessive cooling and freezing.

If you inspect the thermistor and realize it has an issue, unplug it from your RV fridge and replace it with a modern one. Your refrigerator will run effectively without any hindrance.

Be aware that you should also avoid using your fridge with no thermistor for a long period of time. This can cause harm to your refrigerator. You should only remove your thermistor in an emergency.

What if I can’t fix my refrigerator?

If none of the above works, it may be time to look into getting a new refrigerator. Click here to see how much they cost on Amazon.

Final thoughts

An RV fridge can be a valuable asset in any camper’s arsenal. Though, sometimes, they cause issues. With the help of this article, I hope that you were able to get down to the bottom of any issues that your fridge may have had.

If you found this post helpful, please feel free to check out my other content on RVs!