Your RV air conditioning unit is critical, especially during the hot summer months. A normal unit will often go 3-5 years without issues or mandatory maintenance, but it really helps to engage in preventative maintenance and servicing every year. This ensures you will have cool air pumping without issues during the most heat sensitive months of the year.
Understanding Your AC Unit
Air Conditioning units are most often roof mounted, but some are vertical on the rear. They function by pulling air into a condenser that cools the air and pumps it back into the RV. The fan and condenser are both critical elements of the unit and both must function properly for the system to continually push cold air. Cleaning and servicing the unit on occasion is good for maintenance. Also, maintaining a seal and tracking wear and tear to the cover and exterior shroud will also ensure the unit runs smoothly. Create a maintenance schedule, especially when living in hot areas that demand a high-performance air-conditioning unit throughout the summer months.
Keep the Filters Clean
Air filters are extremely important, and they are easy to clean or to simply replace annually. In regions with constant AC use, replacing filters every 6-months is a good idea. It ensures the filter is capable of trapping dust and particles while returning clean air back into the RV. Not all filters are the same either so pay a couple of extra dollars for a high-quality model. It will perform better and last longer.
Pollens, dust and outdoor particles will clog air filters over time. The filter controls and removes these particulates from your interior. If you suffer from allergies, maintaining a clean filter is especially important. If done properly, you can actually wash the existing filter but replacement is a better option. If you do clean the filter, only use an air gun to blow out the dust. Contact with water will not hurt the filter itself but that water can interfere with the unit and cause damage down the road. For the best results, simply replace the existing filter. It’s easy and cost effective.
Do Regular Inspections
Begin with a visual inspection and really take the time to look closely out the shroud. The shroud is the exterior cover and the most exposed element to the AC unit. It receives wear and tear from the sun, elements and from resistance while driving down the road. It also covers and protects the interior components, saving them from contact with the elements. Inspect the plastic for cracking and fractures indicative of UV damage. Minor damage is easily repaired with glue or epoxy but major cracking and loose pieces may require a complete replacement. A damaged shroud can break loose and fly away while driving down the road which is dangerous. Most shrouds are held to the unit with four to six screws and they are easy to remove and replace. If the shroud looks good, remove the piece for a wipe down and to access the interior air conditioner for further maintenance.
Cleaning and Storage
Cleaning an air conditioner is very easy and anyone can do a basic cleaning once the shroud is removed. The air filter does not catch everything, and you will see a buildup of grime on the condenser coils and metal interior surfaces. If you clean the unit regularly, wiping the coils and interior with a clean cloth is often sufficient. Excessive buildup however calls for a soft bristle brush capable of breaking loose stubborn particles. Use a shop vacuum to pull dust from difficult spaces inside as well. Clean thoroughly and do not use any cleaning products unless you have a condenser specific cleaning agent. Otherwise, simply brush away everything and wipe it down or vacuum up the loose debris.
Also consider covering the AC when it’s not in use. The cover will protect plastic against UV damage while preventing water and debris from infiltrating the interior. The air conditioner manufacturer will sell a cover with the exact dimensions but finding aftermarket covers is also easy. Remember to remove the cover when the air conditioner is active because it must breathe and circulate air to function properly. Otherwise, keep it covered and protected when not in use.