Troubleshooting the Problem of RV Refrigerator Not Cooling but Freezer Is is reader supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The RV refrigerator preserves your food supplies on the road. Without a working fridge, it’s kind of impossible to stay in the RV for a long time. How can you survive without a few days worth of food supply? One common problem of this machine is RV refrigerator not cooling but freezer is. It’s confusing because the fridge is still technically working, but you don’t get the full service.

How is this possible that one section of a fridge is working and the other not? It’s quite simple actually, assuming you understand the refrigerant distribution pattern in a refrigerator. The coolant goes to the freezer section before traveling to the refrigerator section. As the coolant has to make rounds through spiraled coils, any problem with its supply affects the refrigerator section first. Also, the coolant supply pipe from the freezer to the refrigerator could be clogged.

rv refrigerator not cooling

How to Diagnose the Cooling Problem

What’s the ideal temperature of a fridge? It’s 34°F (and in no way more than 40°F) for the refrigerator and 0°F for the freezer.

There is a thermometer especially designed for measuring fridge’s temperature. Measure the temperatures to see if the readings are within the ideal range. This inexpensive thermometer is a lifesaver since it offers an easy way to find out whether the fridge is too warm or too cold.

More ways to find out the issue.

Using a thermometer is the simplest way to find out whether the RV refrigerator not cooling but freezer is. But there are a few other techniques too. Before proceeding, make sure that the fridge is sitting on a plane surface, use a carpenter’s level to be sure of that.

RV refrigerator
Check various cooling and heating components of the fridge.

Now, there are cooling coils inside both sections. Touch with your hands to see if they are cold enough. If it’s run on gas, look behind the fridge to see if there is a flame. Check the heating element if electricity is the power source, but be careful not to touch it with your bare hands because it may cause burning.

Another problem could be the blocking of airflow. In some models, cool air from the freezer to the refrigerator moves through the diffuser and it can get clogged with ice, cutting the supply. If this happens, it will stop the elevator fan. So, if you don’t hear the fan’s rotating cycles, it could be due to a blocked diffuser duct.

RV fridges differ slightly from traditional household fridges. When you start them after a long time or before a trip, they take somewhere between eight and twenty-four hours to cool. Also, they warm up quicker than traditional units when you open the door. So, don’t panic if the refrigerator section does not have the desired temperature within 24 hours of starting it. You can quicken the cooling process by storing cold items in the refrigerator.

Troubleshooting RV Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is

It’s better to take professional service if you have no mechanical knowledge. But DIY lovers can troubleshoot this problem by themselves. Most popular RV fridge models have a similar mechanism, so these common steps will apply to all of them.

Create a Free Airflow Passage

Unobtrusive airflow is integral in maintaining the cold state of a fridge. The top and bottom air passages should not be covered with anything to obstruct the flow. Especially, the upper vent should have maximum ventilation to make sure that the refrigerator does not get warmer. Any blockage will cause an accumulation of heat.

Help with Better Air Circulation

If you think the fridge is struggling with the cooling process, help it with the air circulation. Fortunately, it does not require any expensive equipment. Just purchase an inexpensive battery-operated refrigerator fan and install it in an upward direction in front of the fridge compartment. It would be ideal if it’s a thermostatically-controlled 12V fan.

This little help will boost the fridge’s efficiency by a great margin and reduce the initial cooldown time by a few hours. In fact, a strategically-placed fan can optimize the cooling capacity by as high as 50%.

The installation should not break any sweat if you are familiar with using tools and stuff. But calling a professional would be the best way for anyone inexperienced.

Check the Roof Vents

Ensuring good ventilation is significant to solve the issue of RV refrigerator not cooling but freezer is. The next step toward a better air circulation process is to examine the RV’s roof vent. It’s because it works as a ventilator for the hot air produced by the fridge.

RV refrigerator not cooling but freezer is
Install a roof vent fan for a better result.

The hot air that comes out of the fridge’s vent exits the RV through the roof vent. This heat release process is one way the refrigerator stays cold. If the roof vent is partially clogged, the high interior temperature will lower the fridge’s cooling capacity.

You can place the fan mentioned above at the top of the roof vent for increasing the flow of hot air through that passage. It will take the heat away from the fridge.

Do Some Cleaning

cleaning rv refrigerators

A clogged roof ventilator or the air passageways in the fridge will trap the heat inside, making the compressor work harder for the cooling process. So, clean these vents at regular intervals. If it’s a gas-run fridge, clean the burner because a dirty burner hampers the cooling efficiency.

RV refrigerators have a Climate Control or Humidity feature that controls frost upon a high amount of humidity in the air. Shutting this switch off improves the cooling capacity sometimes. Also, clean ice layers when they pile up to an inch and keep the doors always sealed tightly. These little things may give a huge boost in the cooling performance and solve the problem of RV refrigerator not cooling but freezer is.

About Peter Wade

Peter Wade is a co-ordinator and writer at His hobbies are coffee, RV camping and photography. He now enjoys exploring the U.S. by RV with his two dogs. After obtaining a MA degree in Public Relations and Journalism, he had 8 years of experience working for the R&D Department of Outdoorsy. Peter provides a unique look and insightful knowledge about the RV lifestyle, and fills his blog with everything from RV camping guides to reviews about necessary RV accessories. If you are an RV enthusiast and want to get the most-updated trends of the RV industry, Peter’s articles are the must-visit contents.

Leave a Comment