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Key Takeaways

  • The most common reasons the camper refrigerator is not working are a cooling unit leak, poor air circulation, faulty thermistors, or an electrical overload.
  • Camper refrigerator maintenance is essential and is as simple as keeping the fridge door closed, parking only on flat surfaces, and performing regular cleaning and inspections.
  • Try to reset the refrigerator before any expensive fixes to see if this solves the problem.

If the camper refrigerator is not working, it can be a significant inconvenience. Luckily, the problem is usually minor and can be fixed quickly.

If the camper refrigerator is not working, it could be a cooling unit leak, poor air circulation, faulty thermistors, or an electrical overload. This can be fixed by checking the propane, inspecting electrical connections, looking for leaks, testing the sensors, or a fridge reset.

We have previously dealt with various camper refrigerator brands and most struggle with the same issues. This guide will explain possible causes of why the fridge is not working and what can be done to fix it.



Camper Refrigerator Not Working?

Most campers want to avoid issues, so they don't need to spend the time or money to fix problems like a broken refrigerator. When this happens, it can hold up an entire trip until the damage gets repaired.

The camper refrigerator not working can be caused by many reasons, some of which are as follows:

  • Cooling unit leak
  • Poor air circulation
  • Faulty thermistors or sensors
  • Electrical overload

Cooling Unit Leak

The cooling unit leak is one of the most common camper fridge problems. It’s easy to identify if there is any ammonia inside the fridge or any potent ammonia smells inside the RV.

When this happens, remove the fridge from the camper as quickly as possible to address the problem.

Poor Air Circulation

We also need to check that something isn't blocking the airflow in the refrigerator's cooling system. This is common, especially if the fridge is overpacked with food or drink.

When there is lousy airflow, it’s harder for the sensors to maintain the correct temperature. This usually leads to the cooling system working too hard, malfunctioning, or leaking.

Faulty Thermistor Or Temperature Sensors

Faulty thermistors are a significant cause of camper refrigerators not working. They can't maintain cold temperatures, or the fridge gets too cold. Ideally, the refrigerator should maintain a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

There is no one reason why the thermistor or sensors stop working. Sometimes, they are just overused, and it's time for a replacement.

Electrical Overload

A 12V battery usually powers camper refrigerators. The 12V battery is connected to the refrigerator with a power cord. If the power cord is not correctly plugged in, it will not work.

The refrigerator will stop working if there is no power to it. In this case, you should check the voltage regulator on your camper's battery and ensure it's set appropriately for its current load.

5 Ways To Fix A Camper Refrigerator Not Working

A refrigerator is a major appliance for any RV, and when it stops working, it can be a big problem, especially in the summertime. The key is knowing how to identify and fix the issue.

There are many reasons why your camper fridge may not be working, and there are some easy fixes for them as well. We have listed the most common fixes below.

Check Propane And Coolant Levels

The camper refrigerator relies on both propane and coolant to function correctly. The fridge can malfunction or stop working entirely when these levels get low.

We recommend checking the coolant/ammonia and propane levels as the first step because the solution is the easiest.

Inspect Electrical Connections

If the camper refrigerator is not working, the issue could likely be with the power cord or the inverter. It’s also possible we are overloading our electrical connection, leading to problems with the refrigerator.

When this happens, the fridge will likely trip. This is an obvious sign the electrical connection is the cause. In many cases, bringing in a professional electrician or repairman is the best solution for wiring.

Look For Any Smells Or Leaks

First, identify any leaks inside the fridge or smells that may indicate something is leaking. When the coolant or cooling system leaks, it will smell like ammonia.

Afterward, we need to check the seals on the doors to ensure they are not cracked or broken and replace them if necessary. We want to avoid leaks in the door gaskets because they can lead to bigger problems.

If we notice any leaks, we can look into replacing the seal gaskets or cooling unit inside the fridge.

Reset The Fridge

If none of these fixes has worked, it could be a simple malfunction. Try resetting the fridge to see if this solves the issue.

Test The Sensors

Next, we can assume something is wrong with the thermistor or temperature sensors. We can determine if they are broken by running a quick test on them.

This can be done using an ohm meter or multimeter. We can remove the thermistor and use the meter to test if it’s functioning how it should be. If not, a quick and cheap replacement will solve the problem.

How Do You Reset A Camper Refrigerator?

A refrigerator is an essential appliance in a camper. However, as discussed, it is common for camper refrigerators to malfunction and require maintenance.

Here are some steps to follow to reset a camper refrigerator.

Park The RV On A Level Surface

First, we recommend parking the camper on a level surface before trying to fix the refrigerator. They have many moving parts and vulnerable components, so it’s safer to be level and stopped before trying a reset.

In many cases, there is a need to move the fridge around to find the plugs or buttons too.

Look For The Reset Button

Next, we can look for and locate the reset button once the camper has been stopped. Many of the top brands, like Dometic, do come with a reset button, but it’s also possible for a fridge not to have one.

Typically, the reset button gets pressed, and the refrigerator will initiate a turn-off and turn-on procedure to fix many issues. If there is no button, we can try the manual reset instead.

Try The Manual Reset

The fastest way to perform a manual reset is by unplugging and plugging the refrigerator in. However, this is only a successful solution sometimes to fix why the fridge is not working in the first place.

There is also a “Refrigerate” button on most fridges. This button can be pressed and held for up to 10 seconds, and it will initiate a fridge reset.

Important Camper Refrigerator Maintenance

Because of how often the camper refrigerator gets used, things can go wrong. The fridge also has regular maintenance that needs to be done for it to work correctly and last longer.

Keep The Fridge Door Closed

Continually monitor the refrigerator door and the seal gasket too. Leaving the door open or having a weak seal causes the thermistors and sensors to go bad or the cooling unit to leak.

This is because the fridge needs to work harder to maintain desired temperature levels, which can quickly cause the refrigerator to break.

Avoid Parking On Uneven Surfaces For Long

We should avoid parking on uneven surfaces for a long time in a camper because it can cause problems for the camper refrigerator.

For example, if we park on a sloping surface, the refrigerator could see leaks in the cooling unit. This isn't the most likely outcome, but it can happen.

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections, cleaning, and maintenance are helpful. For example, the cooling coils need to be cleaned regularly.

This is because they collect dust and debris from the air and will eventually cause trouble for the refrigerator's cooling system. Always check areas like the cooling unit, air vents, and electrical connections for any issues.

Sometimes, we may need professional help fixing our camper refrigerator. After performing all maintenance and potential fixes without any positive results, this is the best approach to get the refrigerator working again.