Why Does My RV Fridge Freeze Everything?

The vast majority of RV’s out there do of course come complete with fridges and freezers. yes, just like with the fridge and freezer in your home, these RV fridges sometimes have problems. Sometimes, RV fridges get way too cold and just freeze everything. So, what causes this to happen?

Common reasons for an RV fridge freezing are a defective door seal, a broken thermistor, ice buildup in the fridge, overstocking the fridge, and low refrigerator coolant levels.

why does my rv fridge freeze everything

5 Reasons Why Your RV Fridge Is Freezing Everything

Here are the 5 common reasons why your RV fridge is not behaving, and solutions to each of the problems.

1. The Door Seal is Bad

One of the most common causes is if the rubber seal that keeps everything closed is broken. 

The door on your fridge has a rubber strip that makes an airtight seal between the door and the frame of the fridge. If this rubber seal is broken, it’s going to let in both warm air and moisture. 

This is going to cause your fridge to work overtime and pump in tons of cold air. However, because the door is also slightly open, moisture will also get in, this combination of increased cold air being pumped in along with moisture is going to create frost on the goods in your fridge. 

Therefore, you want to ensure that the seal on the door of your RV fridge is intact and functioning. If the seal is no longer good, it will need to be replaced.

2. A Faulty or Broken Thermistor

While some people may call it a thermostat, technically speaking, in a fridge, it is called a thermistor. Whatever you want to call it, the fact of the matter is that this temperature regulating and sensing unit may be broken

It may be broken or defective, in which case it is sending the wrong temperature reading values to the fridge’s cooling unit, which can therefore make the RV fridge either too hot or too cold. Obviously, today we are talking about the fridge being too cold. 

Therefore, one thing that you want to do is to check the manual for your specific fridge to see how you can adjust the temperature settings. You can always just increase the temperature of your fridge slightly to stop this from happening. 

However, if the thermistor is just completely broken, and even raising the temperature of the fridge by a degree or two isn’t working, you will need to replace it. The thermistor is not something you will be able to fix, and has to be replaced if it is broken.

If you need to remove this unit to put in a new one, you can always just check the manual to see where it is located. Once you know where the thermistor and the connection are, you can find the connection end, behind the eyebrow board, and then disconnect the thermistor. You may have to unscrew that eyebrow panel in order to do this.

Now, you do want to check this unit to see if it is functioning properly because there is no point in replacing it if it is working. Therefore, you need to get yourself either an ohmmeter or a multimeter, as both of these can measure resistance. 

You should see a dial with an Omega symbol on your meter, so continue turning it. Record the highest number it goes to. If that number is within the range provided in your manual, then the thermistor is not broken, and the issue is something else.

RV fridge issues

3. Too Much Ice Buildup in the Fridge

If your fridge has far too much ice built up inside of it, particularly on the cooling fins, then it can cause your fridge to run either too hot or too cold. This effect will only be compounded if the ice buildup has also covered the temperature sensor and the thermistor.

If your RV fridge is freezing everything, open up the backside and take a closer look at the metal cooling fins. If these metal cooling fins have ice on them, you need to clean off the ice, and preferably defrost the whole fridge.

It is normal for these metal cooling fins to have some condensation built up on them, but ice buildup is not normal. If you properly defrost your RV fridge and freezer, this should solve the problem quite quickly. If it doesn’t solve it, then this isn’t the problem.

4. Too Much in the Fridge and Too Little Air Circulation

What you need to know about many fridges that are in RV’s is that they use absorption. In other words, these don’t use any kind of compressor for cooling but actually use a chemical reaction to absorb heat from the inside of the fridge. In order for this absorption technology to work, the inside of the fridge needs to have adequate air circulation. 

Therefore, if your fridge is way too full, air won’t be able to properly circulate, and this function won’t be able to work. If your fridge is stocked to the brim, try emptying it out a bit. There are even special small battery powered refrigerator fans designed to maximize circulation inside of a fridge.

On that note, the issue could just be a general lack of circulation, but not caused by the fridge being overstocked. Rather, this could be caused by vents being blocked. 

If the vent is blocked, everything in the fridge is going to freeze. Therefore, you want to avoid placing the fridge in such a way that the vent is going to be blocked. 

On that note, the vents could also just be extremely dirty and clogged with debris, in which case you want to open them up and clean them. 

5. Low Coolant Levels

RV fridges usually always need some kind of coolant, something that is relatively similar to an ammonia mixture. However, if this coolant runs out or leaks, your fridge can become damaged, which may cause it to freeze everything on the inside. 

This is something that is really hard to check for yourself, but if you suspect that low coolant levels are the issue, then you need to turn off the fridge. 

You’re going to need to defrost the fridge and then refill the coolant tank. That said, not all fridges allow you to refill the coolant, in which case you’ll actually need to replace the unit as a whole.


How To Prevent Your RV Fridge From Freezing

The good news here is that there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent the fridge from freezing over in the first place.

1. Regularly Inspect the Thermistor

To prevent your RV fridge from freezing over, one thing that you should do is to ensure that the thermistor doesn’t get either too cool or too hot. According to your manufacturer, if the temperatures in the fridge exceed ideal conditions in either direction, it’s going to cause cooling and freezing. 

Therefore, if you see that your thermistor has an issue, unplug it and replace it with a new one. With a new and functional thermostat, your fridge is going to function properly. That said, don’t use your fridge without the thermistor, as this can cause damage.

2. Ensure Your Fridge has Good Air Circulation

In order to prevent your fridge from freezing due to a lack of air circulation, make sure that you don’t put too much inside of it. Remember that too much inside of your fridge can block air circulation from happening. 

You then also want to make sure that the vent is not blocked. Therefore, make sure that your fridge is positioned properly so that air can escape out of the vent. On that note, putting a small fan inside of the refrigerator to increase airflow will also work.

3. Take a Look at the Exhaust

Speaking of the vent or exhaust, these can also get clogged. Therefore, a good idea is to regularly clean out this vent of any debris or dirt. This will allow good air circulation to continue.

4. Maintain the Temperature Sensor 

Something else you need to do here is to make sure that the temperature sensor is always properly connected to the thin of the fridge.

When it is properly attached, you can easily adjust the temperature as needed. If you see that the sensor is somehow broken, it needs to be replaced.

5. Defrost it Regularly

If there is some sort of ice buildup that is causing this issue to occur, then the other thing that you can do is to defrost it. Keep on reading to find out exactly how to defrost an RV fridge in an easy way.

Why is Ice Building Up in My RV Fridge?

The reasons why ice is building up in your RV fridge may be due to the fact that the door seal is no longer good, that the thermostat is defective, that there is an ice buildup in the fridge, that the fridge is overstocked, that there isn’t good air circulation, or that the refrigerator coolant is low.

Tips to Quickly Defrost Your RV Fridge

If you need to defrost your RV fridge, this is very easily done. All you have to do is to remove all of the items from the inside, unplug it, and then put some towels on the ground in front of it. At the same time, you also want to leave all of the doors to the fridge open.

If the fridge is not turned on, and the doors are open, the inside will get warm, and all of the ice will melt. 

You do want to place the towels on the ground, or else all that space is going to melt and create quite the mess. If you really need to defrost your fridge quickly, using a little heater or even a hairdryer will also help.

What’s The Ideal RV Refrigerator Temperature? 

The ideal temperature for an RV fridge is somewhere between 38 and 43 degrees Fahrenheit. However, if you have a lot of sensitive things, such as meats and dairy, somewhere around 40 degrees or even lower is ideal. 

According to official research, however, 38 degrees Fahrenheit or around 3 degrees Celsius is best. However, speaking of things freezing, if you go any below that, chances are that things are going to start to freeze.

Related: How a propane RV fridge actually works.


A good working RV fridge is essential for your RV travels, like home fridges they are prudent to the occasional faults but we hope this article has helped you fix your fridge.

Madeline Cooper