Before you begin RV AC Repair, it’s important to know some of the basic parts of an AC unit before you dive in. These are Capacitors, Compressors, condensers and fan motors.
Capacitors provide electricity to the rest of the AC Unit. Blowing one can result in your entire unit being nonfunctional. Thankfully, capacitors are usually a fairly simple and cheap fix. The capacitor is a large cylinder (see below) and is quite liable to fail out of the blue. Since it’s responsible for providing power to the unit, a blown capacitor can mean that your entire system is down. New ones can usually be found online or at any local AC parts shop, just be sure to be careful when handling them as they may still hold some kind of electrical charge. Make sure that the voltage and size of the new cap.
Aside from blown capacitors, it’s worth noting that most AC units are designed for single-use, meaning that once they lose their charge they essentially scrap metal. Most RV AC repair jobs aren’t as simple, and will likely be quite expensive in both time and money.
On the ceiling of your RV, you should find another shroud similar to the one on your roof. Inside of here, you’ll find a foam filter (depending on your unit, you may have multiple). These filters can be simply washed with warm water and reused, provided there’s nothing else wrong with them.
Now that the shroud is off, you should go ahead and start vacuuming the area, trying to reach as far into any ducts or vents as possible.
Fan motors are responsible for circulating air from within the RV to the compressor which then circulates freon through the condenser. Afterwards, the motor then circulates the newly cooled air back into the RV. This cycle is then repeated in accordance with the setting that the RV’s thermostat setting. If you’re finding that the spin of your fan is either weak or won’t start at all, and you’ve deduced that a blown capacitor is not the issue, then there are a few steps that you can try before replacing the unit altogether. If your fan motor happens to have oil tubes at the ends of the motor, then you can simply apply a few drops of machine oil and see if that helps with your spin problems. Keep in mind that less is more, and even a small amount of oil can greatly lubricate and improve the overall spin of your fan.
If you’re using a portable generator to power your AC, make sure that AT MINIMUM it’s rated to at least 3,000 watts. A surefire way to shorten your AC’s lifespan is to run it without proper amperage.
If you find that you have a bad compressor, there are unfortunately very few options available for you. Compressors are by far one of the more difficult aspects of RV AC Repair. If you think you’ve got the skills, pocketbook, and patience, you can certainly try replacing it yourself. However, this is inadvisable for many reasons, and you’d usually be much better off just replacing the whole unit. The compressor is the most expensive part of an AC unit, costing generally $300-$400 alone. Bearing this in mind, an entire AC unit that will generally run you about $500-$600. Similar to using a used car for years, it will eventually get to a point where it’s not worth repairing, replacing and going through the hassle when you could have just gotten a new unit from the start and not had to worry about repairs and extra costs. Most compressors aren’t designed to be recharged with Freon, so it’s really only advisable to go this route if you’re a veteran with RVs, and you happen to snag a used one from a junkyard or other deal.
After climbing up onto your RV’s roof, it would be a good idea to go ahead and clean the condenser coils. After vacuuming and dealing with all the pesky dust build up, go ahead and spray the coils down with some kind of coil cleaning product. Some popular recommendations are Dometic and Nu-Calgon, both of which will get the job done and are trusted by RV AC repair specialists. You should at least check the condenser to make sure it isn’t blocked by debris or clogged by dust as this can easily prevent your unit from cooling your RV.