Why your RV fridge Does not Cool (+ Makes Gurgling sounds)

Concerned that you may have to put off that camping trip you’ve been planning for weeks because your RV fridge has stopped cooling its contents?

Is your fridge also making those gurgling sounds?

An RV fridge can stop cooling for several reasons. Fortunately, it is possible in some cases to fix the underlying problem easily without a significant investment depending on the nature of the cause, and how long the fridge has been in service.

This post looks at some of the common reasons why your RV fridge may stop cooling and suggests some fixes that may be able to get it working again.

Tip. If your two-way RV fridge is not cooling, as a first step, check whether it is able to cool when switched to propane or electric. This helps narrow down the likely reasons why the fridge may not be cooling.

Is Gurgling in RV Fridges Normal?

Yes, it is normal to hear gurgling sounds as the RV fridge runs in both propane and electric fridges.

As the refrigerant flows through the tubes in the fridge’s cooling system, you can expect to hear those gurgles.

Why an RV fridge may not be Cooling (+ Makes Gurgling sounds)

You should expect an RV fridge to make gurgling sounds occasionally. If the fridge is not cooling then it might be :

#1. The cooling coils are blocked. An RV fridge can experience blockages in the cooling system that restrict the refrigerant from flowing freely. When this happens then the fridge will not be able to cool whether using propane or electricity.

#2. The heater element or propane burner may be damaged. Absorption type refrigerators the type used in several RVs rely on the heat generated by a heated electric element or propane to circulate the refrigerant to cool the fridge.

If either one of the is affected, then the fridge will not cool with that system.

#3. Cooling system tubes may be corroded. If the RV fridge cooling system tubes are corroded, common with old fridges then the fridge will not cool.

#4. There is a leak. Your RV fridge will not cool if there is no refrigerant. You may be able to determine this if you smell any ammonia at the back of the fridge.

Ammonia has a strong, sweaty, or urine-like smell. You may have a leak if the cooling system tubes are damaged.

In addition to corrosion, the cooling system tubes may be damaged and leak resulting in the loss of the refrigerant. When this happens the fridge will not cool.

Tips to Fix an RV Fridge that is Not Cooling (5 Fixes)

While several tips to fix a fridge that is not cooling are provided below, always consider the cost of parts and labor against buying a new unit with a warranty especially if the fridge has been in service for several years.

#1. Try burping to remove air or other blockages. If you suspect there is a blockage that is restricting the flow of the refrigerant, you can remove the RV fridge from its location and place it upside down for about 15 minutes.

Use a rubber hammer to gently tap along the cooling tubes. This can help with removing any blockages that there might be allowing the refrigerant to flow freely to cool the fridge.

Note: This will not work in all cases and even when it does, there is no guarantee on how long the fix will last, nonetheless, I think it is worth a try.

#2. Replace the Faulty propane or electric element. If the heating element is not heating sufficiently (consult the RV fridge manual) then replace the element.

If the fridge is not heating with propane switch to electric and vice versa. If one heating source works while the other does not, then there is a problem with the other.

#3. Faulty cooling unit. If the cooling unit at the back of the RV fridge is rusty and leaking then you’ll need to replace it.

Check if the replacement cooling units are available and compare the cost of replacing them against a new RV refrigerator before investing any money in a replacement cooling unit.

Final Thoughts

Gurgling in RV fridges is normal. If your RV fridge is not cooling, it may be because of blockages in the cooling system.

Try burping as a way to free up any blockages in the cooling system. It works in some cases. Other common reasons why the fridge may not be cooking are the propane or heater element may be faulty or the cooling system may be damaged.

Always consider the repair costs to the cost of purchasing a new RV fridge with a warranty.

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