Does My RV Refrigerator Freeze Everything?

Every RV owner dreads the day that their refrigerator fails to keep food at a safe temperature. Unfortunately, this is all too common when using an RV refrigerator, and the average life of a fridge in an RV is just four years.

Why does my RV refrigerator freeze everything? The most common problem is that the refrigerators thermostat or thermistor is set too low or is not working properly. Through researching this article I have come across 10 reasons why your RV refrigerator is freezing everything, read on to find solutions for these common problems.

Some RV refrigerator models are notorious for freezing everything. It’s not that these refrigerators are doing anything wrong, it’s that they are made to operate in a different way. In order to keep ice from building up on the evaporator coils and causing the system to stop working, these models have a constant flow of air blowing across the coils. This air can chill items quickly and make them freeze.

10 Common Reasons Why Your RV Fridge Is Freezing Everything

The most common reasons why your RV fridge is freezing everything inside it are:

  • Broken thermistor
  • Broken thermostat
  • Defective door seal
  • Wrong temperature setting
  • The thermostat is covered in ice
  • Lack of ventilation
  • Overstocking the fridge
  • Low refrigerant coolant
  • Broken main control board
  • Open freezer compartment

I’ll go through each problem and give a solution in this article.

The Thermistor Is Broken

The thermistor is an important part of the fridge, it’s a specialist semiconductor that is an integral part in regulating the temperature inside the fridge. It controls the amount of cooling inside the fridge by altering the wattage of the cooling unit. [1] If the thermistor is broken or missing then your fridge won’t be able to regulate the temperature.

If you look inside your RV refrigerator at the back you should be able to see a long wire clipped to a cooling fin, this is the thermistor. Make sure that it isn’t covered with ice and is positioned correctly and has nothing touching it.

To check that it’s working correctly you will need a multimeter and some cold/ice water.

  1. Remove the thermistor from the fridge, the leads will either be attached to the top of the fridge where the light is or you will have to remove the back panel to disconnect them.
  2. Take the resistance of the thermistor by connecting the multimeter probes. Set the setting to resistance on the multimeter and take a note of the resistance level that is shown.
  3. Next put the thermistor in the ice water and take another resistance reading, if the resistance level now shown has increased then your thermistor is working correctly.
  4. If the resistance level doesn’t change then your thermistor is broken and will need replacing.

Broken Thermostat

The thermostat in your fridge is a dial that sets the desired temperature, if this is set too low or is broken then it could be the reason why our RV refrigerator is freezing everything. 

To see if your fridge thermostat is broken you will need the multimeter again. 

  1. Turn your thermostat off and take a resistance reading with the multimeter by touching the probes of the multimeter on the polar ends of the thermostat. The reading should O.L””
  2. Turn the thermostat on to the maximum setting, you should get a reading of 0.0000. This means that your thermostat is working correctly. If you have a reading of 0.000 when the thermostat is off then it’s broken.

Because the thermostat sets the temperature level and regulates it, if it’s broken then it will probably be the reason your fridge is freezing the food inside.

Defective Door Seal

If the door on your RV refrigerator doesn’t seal properly then this can cause over-freezing. If your RV fridge has a defective door seal then the warm humid air can creep into the fridge, the moisture will freeze. 

To check if you have a defective door seal, shut your fridge door on a thin piece of paper. When the door is shut pull the paper, if it tears then your door is shut tight, if it comes out whole then you have a defective fridge door deal. 

You should be able to find a new seal online and it’s a cheap and easy problem to fix by just replacing it.

Wrong Temperature Setting

Check the setting on your refrigerator’s thermostat, the recommended setting for the refrigerator temperature at or below 40° F (4° C). The freezer temperature should be 0° F (-18° C).

If the thermostat is set too low then your refrigerator will turn into a freezer.

The Thermostat Is Covered In Ice

If the thermostat is covered in ice, it could be causing the fridge to malfunction. Unplug the refrigerator and let it thoroughly thaw out before plugging it back in to see if it’s ok.

Lack of ventilation

If some of the vents are blocked in your fridge then air won’t be able to circulate properly which could cause over freezing.

Try pulling your RV fridge forward so it isn’t too close to the wall, which will allow air to circulate around the back. You can also try cleaning the vents as they can become blocked with debris over time.

Overstocking Your Fridge

If you pack your fridge too full then you could be preventing air circulation because of all the food, add this to the fact that your fridge is working hard trying to cool down more things and ice can easily build up.

Try not to put too much in your RV fridge to prevent overstocking as a potential ice build up situation.

Low Refrigerant Coolant

Your RV refrigerator could be running low on coolant, if it runs empty then it could permanently damage your fridge. 

To top up the refrigerant coolant turn off and thaw out your fridge, when it has reached room temperature fill up the tank located in the back and let it settle for a couple of hours. Turn your fridge back on and see if that’s fixed the issue.

Broken Main Control Board

Sometimes the problem lies with the main control board in your fridge, although this is rare it can happen. 

If you’ve tried everything and it’s not solved the problem then it could be the main control board that’s faulty. Check it for damage and try replacing it if it is damaged to see if that solves the problem.

Freezer Compartment Is Open

If the freezer compartment is located inside your refrigerator, check that it closes properly. If it’s left open or ajar it could be the reason why everything in your fridge is freezing.

Final Thoughts

There are a few reasons why your RV refrigerator is freezing everything inside. However, the most common are defective thermistors or thermostats. 

If your fridge is freezing everything inside then start with checking the thermistor and thermostat with a multimeter. If these elements are working fine then run through the list of other problems to find out which one it is.

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