An expert at Norcold, a leading manufacturer of RV gas-absorption refrigerators, advises an annual checkup at a local dealer or service center to optimize refrigerator performance and help prevent problems on the road.
“RV refrigerators have very different maintenance requirements than their home-use counterparts,” said Raphael Hernandez, Norcold’s technical support manager. “Unlike at home, for example, 90 percent of RV refrigerator failures are caused by dirty burners.
“Annual cleaning and inspection, performed by a qualified service technician to avoid propane leaks, should be standard procedure to prevent problems and also helps RVers maintain their refrigerators’ warranties.”
In addition to annual service, Hernandez said there are many day-to-day procedures that RVers can perform to assure proper functioning.
Periodically, especially after long periods of storage, RVers should inspect vents, the ventilation pathway and refrigerator flue to assess that they are clear of debris or other obstructions caused by animals or insects.
To ensure a RV refrigerator reaches the proper internal operating temperature, Hernandez said, a large model should be pre-cooled for at least eight hours before it’s ready to store food.
There are many tips for storing food properly and avoiding spoilage, he said. For example, pre-cool food in a home refrigerator before placing it inside a unit. Also, he noted, inserting warm food in a warm RV refrigerator can “double its cool-down time.”
Most gas-absorption refrigerators don’t have internal fans, so their cooling efficiency depends on air circulation inside the unit. For best results, pack food loosely and don’t line shelves with paper.
Hernandez said frost build-up on cooling fins inside the refrigerator isn’t a problem unless it becomes so excessive that it affects cooling performance. To reduce frost, limit the time that refrigerator doors are open and avoid storing fresh or warm foods – they release water vapor – in open containers.
To defrost a gas-absorption refrigerator, Hernandez recommends that owners:
•Remove all food and turn off the unit.
•Place a pan or tray of warm water in the fresh food and freezer compartments to speedup the defrosting process.
•Use at least a half-gallon container to capture water exiting the drain hose at the rear of the refrigerator.
•Use dry towels to soak up water from melting frost.
•NEVER remove frost with hot water, fire, knives or hair dryers — they’ll damage the unit.
Lastly, Hernandez strongly recommends always parking a RV on a fairly level surface. Because gas-absorption units use a gravity-flow system, being on an angle of more than three degrees for extended periods of time stops the refrigeration process.
Consumers only need to utilize these few simple and effective do-it-yourself tips to properly maintain their RV refrigerators.
Norcold is a subsidiary of Thetford Corp. of Ann Arbor, Mich., the world’s leading supplier of sanitation and refrigeration products for the RV, marine and heavy-duty truck industries.