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How to Check Ammonia Level in RV Fridge

The ammonia absorption refrigeration system is a crucial component of your RV, ensuring that you have fresh and cool food during your travels.

However, over time, the ammonia levels may fluctuate, affecting the performance of your refrigerator.

In this guide, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of checking the ammonia level in your RV fridge to ensure optimal functionality.

Understanding the Importance of Ammonia Level in RV Fridge

The ammonia level in an RV fridge is critical for its proper functioning.

The cooling process in an absorption refrigerator relies on the circulation of ammonia, hydrogen gas, and water through the cooling unit.

Ammonia acts as the refrigerant, absorbing heat from the fridge’s interior and releasing it to the outside.

Signs of Ammonia Level Imbalance in an RV Fridge

If your RV fridge is not cooling as efficiently as before or is showing signs of malfunction, it might indicate an ammonia level imbalance.

Some common signs include:

  • Inconsistent cooling performance.
  • The fridge takes longer to reach the desired temperature.
  • Unusual noises coming from the cooling unit.
  • Yellow or greenish discoloration around the cooling unit.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to check the ammonia level promptly to prevent further damage to your RV fridge.

Safety Precautions Before Checking Ammonia Level

Before you begin checking the ammonia level in your RV fridge, ensure your safety by following these precautions:

  • Turn off the propane supply and disconnect the power source.
  • Allow the fridge to cool down for at least 24 hours.
  • Wear protective gloves and safety goggles to prevent any contact with harmful substances.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling any fumes.

Tools and Equipment Needed

To check the ammonia level in your RV fridge, you will need the following tools and equipment:

  • Safety gloves and goggles
  • Screwdriver set
  • Multimeter
  • Flashlight
  • Soft brush or cloth
  • Ammonia test kit (available at RV supply stores)

Step 1: Disconnect the Power Supply

To ensure your safety, disconnect the power supply to your RV fridge.

This step will prevent any electrical accidents while you’re working on the cooling unit.

Step 2: Locate the Access Panel

Find the access panel on the outside of your RV that provides access to the back of the refrigerator.

The location of the panel may vary depending on your RV model, but it is usually situated behind the fridge.

Step 3: Removing the Access Panel

Using the appropriate screwdriver, carefully remove the screws securing the access panel.

Keep the screws in a safe place for reassembly later.

Step 4: Identifying the Cooling Unit

Once the access panel is removed, locate the cooling unit.

It is a metal structure usually located at the bottom of the refrigerator. It consists of a series of pipes and fins.

Step 5: Checking the Ammonia Level

Using the ammonia test kit, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to check the ammonia level in your RV fridge.

Typically, the test kit includes test strips or a liquid solution that changes color based on the ammonia concentration.

Carefully apply the test kit to the cooling unit and wait for the specified time to observe the color change. Compare the color to the provided reference chart to determine the ammonia level.

Step 6: Interpreting the Results

Based on the color change, you can interpret the ammonia level in your RV fridge.

Ensure you refer to the test kit’s instructions or consult with an RV professional for accurate interpretation.

If the ammonia level is within the recommended range, your fridge is functioning correctly. However, if the level is too high or too low, it indicates an imbalance that may require professional assistance.

Step 7: Reassembling the Access Panel

After you have checked the ammonia level, reassemble the access panel using the screws you removed earlier.

Ensure the panel is securely fastened to protect the cooling unit.

Step 8: Reconnecting the Power Supply

Finally, reconnect the power supply to your RV fridge, and if applicable, turn on the propane supply.

Now, your fridge is ready to operate again.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I check the ammonia level in my RV fridge without professional assistance?

Yes, you can check the ammonia level in your RV fridge using an ammonia test kit. However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s always recommended to seek professional help.

How often should I check the ammonia level in my RV fridge?

It’s advisable to check the ammonia level in your RV fridge annually or whenever you notice signs of malfunction.

Can I fix an imbalance in the ammonia level myself?

It’s not recommended to fix an ammonia level imbalance on your own, as it requires specialized knowledge and equipment. Contact an RV technician for proper diagnosis and repairs.

Are there any DIY methods to prevent ammonia level imbalances?

While checking the ammonia level yourself is possible, preventive maintenance such as regular cleaning, proper ventilation, and avoiding excessive heat exposure can help minimize the chances of imbalances.

Can ammonia level imbalances lead to irreversible damage?

Yes, prolonged ammonia level imbalances can cause severe damage to your RV fridge’s cooling unit, leading to costly repairs or even replacement.

How can I find a professional technician to check and repair my RV fridge?

Look for RV service centers, dealerships, or certified technicians in your area. Ask for recommendations from fellow RV owners or check online directories for reliable service providers.


Regularly checking the ammonia level in your RV fridge is essential to ensure optimal cooling performance.

By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide and taking the necessary safety precautions, you can identify and address any ammonia level imbalances.

Remember, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s always best to seek professional assistance.

Maintaining the ammonia level in your RV fridge will contribute to a more enjoyable and worry-free camping experience.