Why Is RV Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is?

empty RV Refrigerator

Published Date: September 27, 2020

Last Updated on June 22, 2023 by Camper Front

Why is the RV refrigerator not cooling but the freezer Is? Well, there are many things that can cause this, and that’s what we’ll be discussing here today.

There’s nothing more infuriating than getting to your campsite with your RV, only to find some of your favorite items already going bad because your RV refrigerator stopped working even though the freezer is working.

It might even be confusing as they are both in one fridge, but it’s nothing to worry about because this type of occurrence is prevalent and easy to fix. In this article, we’ll tell you Why your RV refrigerator is not cooling, but the freezer is, and how to fix it.

Why Is Rv Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is?

If this is your first time experiencing a situation like this, it can be very confusing as to why the freezer is working, but the refrigerator isn’t. But there’s an explanation for that.

You see! the coolant liquid reaches the freezer first before moving to the refrigerator section, and the rougher the terrain you took, the more chances that you will have issues with your refrigerator, a really rough drive can cause the coolant to become clogged up.

When you notice this problem, there are a few things you can do to get it back on track. First, you want to make the refrigerator as level as possible; you can make use of a carpenter’s level.

And before you start going practical with tools, you will need to check the temperature of the refrigerator using a refrigerator thermometer and see if it’s within the normal range.

An RV’s refrigerator temperature should be around 34 to 40 degrees while the RV freezer should be at zero degrees, anything higher than this, and you know that your refrigerator isn’t working properly.

You can also go ahead and touch the coils inside the RV refrigerator, as well as the freezer.

If you are using a propane-powered refrigerator, you can check behind the refrigerator and see if the flame is burning or not. If it is electrically powered, you can check the heating element for sufficient heating. But be very careful not to touch it as it can cause severe burns.

If your freezer is working just fine and your refrigerator isn’t, it’s a major sign of an airflow problem, because most times the refrigerator receives cool air from the freezer through a diffuser, and this diffuser can get clogged with ice, so there’s an obstruction in the flow of air.

You can find out if this is the case by listening to the sound of the evaporator fan and even if you don’t get to hear the noise of the fan immediately, try again after a few minutes as The evaporator fans tend to cycle on and off.

Diagnosing/Troubleshooting an RV Refrigerator

Why Is RV Refrigerator Not Cooling But Freezer Is

RV refrigerators are different from domestic or household refrigerators. They are prone to errors and faultiness despite their sturdiness and durability. Also, frequent opening of the refrigerator door will cause it to start warming up quickly.

It takes anywhere from 8 to 24 hours for the refrigerator to start cooling, so you will need to stock up your fridge with the essentials before heading out or even the day before, and if you turn off your refrigerator while driving, you need to give it enough time to resume cooling.

Having only the freezer working while the refrigerator doesn’t is a very common problem with RV refrigerators and is mostly caused by the heating elements, control boards, and thermostats. Let’s look at the common causes of a working freezer but not a working refrigerator.

1. Problems with the thermistor

A thermistor is a vital part of an RV refrigerator; it processes the negative temperature coefficient; the cooling cycle of your RV refrigerator, when the outside temperature gets too high and warm, the cooling ability of the thermistor is reduced.

This causes a faster flow of the coolant, which leads to excessive cooling inside the refrigerator and a significant drop in cooling. The solution is to have the thermistor replaced as this will allow the refrigerator to run efficiently, without any hindrance in the temperature regulation.

2. Rough terrain

Ammonia, which is the main coolant gas, is less dense than water, which causes it to move at a plodding pace compared to water, so it needs a clear path without any clogs or obstacles to be able to supply the chambers swiftly and efficiently.

When navigating rough and bumpy roads, the supply of the burned mixture goes out of proportion, and this causes the refrigerator not to work to its fullest capacity. To fix this, you need to keep the fridge straight or not incline it for more than 6 degrees.

This will allow the freezer and refrigerator to stay in equilibrium. As one of the significant hurdles to the flow of ammonia mixture is the angle at which the cooling unit and the supply vent are placed.

3. Lack of air circulation

If you are camping out in a hot, dry area, you tend to deal with poor air circulation due to the heat. This causes the rate at which ammonia and hydrogen burn to become slower than the pace at which surrounding air heats up, thereby making the refrigerator unable to provide the cooling it should.

You can undo this by fixing a fan with a higher PRM behind the opening space of the RV refrigerator. This will help to increase the flow of air in the refrigerator’s chamber, and this causes the fridge to work efficiently.

4. Temperature sensors

This is another cause of malfunctioning refrigerators; if the temperature sensors are attached loosely, it causes them to move out of position or even fall off.

So you have to ensure that the temperature sensor is appropriately connected to the fin. If it is properly attached, you can go ahead and adjust the temperature of the refrigerator to suit your desired cooling output.

5. The coolant gas

Ammonia mixture is the coolant gas used in both RV refrigerators and household refrigerators. As stated earlier, this gas reaches the freezer before getting to the refrigerator. So the refrigerator is the first to start experiencing issues if there’s a problem with this dispersion of air.

And one of these problems is the drying up of the ammonia mixture, and the fridge running on an empty tank. All you have to do in this case is fill up the gas tank and keep the refrigerator shut down till you do so.

If you are already at a campsite and don’t have access to an ammonia mixture filling site, you should keep the fridge defrosted and shut down, because if it remains frosted without continuous cooling, it may lead to a nasty smell inside the fridge.

6. Clogged ventilator

When the exhaust/ventilator of an RV refrigerator is blocked, it can cause hot air buildup inside the refrigerator, this exhaust is usually located at the back of the refrigerator, and the hot air passes through the vent cover, which is situated in the roof of the RV.

Accumulation of dust and dirt can cause the vent to become blocked and prevent the hot air from escaping. This causes the refrigerator temperature to lose equilibrium with the temperature in the freezer.

To fix this, you have to start by removing the vent cover on the roof and inspect it for any blockage that is preventing hot air from escaping. Then carefully clean and remove any dust and pollutant accumulated on the vent, then place it back.

General RV Refrigerator Tips

General RV Refrigerator Tips

  • Defrost layers of ice if there’s more than a quarter worth of an inch piled up.
  • Check to see if the refrigerator’s door seals are loose.
  • It helps to have a manometer handy to check the pressure of the propane.
  • Check to see if the airflow in the top and bottom of the outside area is unobstructed. The upper refrigerator vent must have maximum airflow; otherwise, the heat will accumulate.
  • Clean the refrigerator’s burner as directed in your domestic manual. Because if it is left dirty, it will negatively affect the refrigerator’s cooling performance.
  • Try shutting off the Climate Control switch to see if it makes any difference. Doing this is known to improve cooling efficiency in the long run.


If you are wondering why an RV refrigerator is not cooling but a freezer is, you don’t have to worry or fret as it is something that can be easily remedied.

Apart from the problems mentioned above, your RV electrical load also has an impact on the efficiency of your refrigerator as an overloaded electrical line hinders the flow of electricity to the refrigerator, which results in a lack of cooling.

The voltage is also a point of consideration as a reduction in the voltage will affect not only the refrigerator but also other appliances installed within the RV.

You want to make sure the voltage is not lower than 110 volts, and you tick all the other boxes, and you will be enjoying a cold bottle of beer in no time.

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