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How to Replace an RV Refrigerator

Replacing an RV refrigerator may seem like a daunting task, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be a manageable DIY project.

Whether you’re upgrading to a newer model or your current refrigerator is malfunctioning, this article will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to replace your RV refrigerator.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and successful installation process.

Let’s dive right in!

Why Replace Your RV Refrigerator?

Over time, RV refrigerators may start to show signs of wear and tear.

They may lose their cooling efficiency, develop leaks, or experience other issues that compromise their functionality.

Upgrading to a new RV refrigerator can offer several benefits, including improved energy efficiency, better temperature control, and enhanced features such as built-in ice makers or digital temperature displays.

Additionally, if your current refrigerator is beyond repair, replacing it becomes a necessity to ensure you have a reliable and functional cooling unit for your RV adventures.

Choosing the Right Replacement Refrigerator

When selecting a replacement refrigerator for your RV, it’s important to consider several factors.

Start by measuring the dimensions of your existing refrigerator space, including height, width, and depth.

This information will help you find a refrigerator that fits perfectly into your RV without any modifications to the cabinetry.

Additionally, take into account the desired capacity, power source (electric or propane), and any specific features or functions you require.

Researching reputable brands and reading customer reviews is also essential to ensure you choose a reliable and high-quality RV refrigerator.

Some popular manufacturers of RV refrigerators include Dometic, Norcold, and Atwood.

Visit their websites to explore different models and compare specifications to find the best fit for your needs.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before starting the replacement process, gather all the necessary tools and materials.

Here’s a list of commonly required items:

  • Screwdriver set (Phillips and flathead)
  • Wrench set
  • Socket set
  • Nut driver set
  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Electric drill
  • Putty knife
  • Silicone caulk
  • Replacement refrigerator (make sure it fits your RV’s dimensions)
  • Power source (electric or propane)
  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning supplies

Having these tools and materials ready will make the replacement process more efficient and convenient.

Preparing Your RV

To ensure a smooth installation process, it’s crucial to prepare your RV beforehand.

Start by turning off the power supply to the refrigerator. Locate the circuit breaker or fuse box and switch off the corresponding power source.

Next, remove all items from the old refrigerator and clean out any food or debris.

If your RV has a propane-powered refrigerator, shut off the propane supply.

Locate the propane tank and turn the valve to the closed position.

This step is essential for safety reasons and prevents any accidental gas leaks during the replacement process.

Removing the Old Refrigerator

Removing the old refrigerator requires careful attention to detail.

Follow these steps to ensure a successful removal:

  1. Start by disconnecting the power supply. If your refrigerator has an ice maker, disconnect the water supply line as well.
  2. Locate the mounting screws that secure the refrigerator to the RV’s cabinetry. Unscrew them using an appropriate screwdriver or wrench.
  3. Once the mounting screws are removed, gently pull the refrigerator away from the wall. Be cautious of any electrical or gas connections that may still be attached.
  4. Disconnect any remaining electrical or gas connections, ensuring that you turn off the gas supply if applicable.
  5. With the help of another person, carefully lift and remove the old refrigerator from the RV. Take note of its weight, as the new refrigerator should be of a similar weight or lighter for easy installation.

Installing the New Refrigerator

Now that you’ve successfully removed the old refrigerator, it’s time to install the new one.

Follow these steps for a proper installation:

  1. Position the new refrigerator in the designated space, aligning it with the mounting holes.
  2. Using a level, ensure that the refrigerator is perfectly level both horizontally and vertically. This step is crucial for proper functioning and prevents any cooling issues.
  3. Once the refrigerator is level, secure it to the cabinetry using the mounting screws. Use a screwdriver or wrench to tighten the screws securely.
  4. Reconnect any electrical or gas connections, ensuring that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines. Take note of any seals or gaskets that need to be properly installed for a tight and leak-free connection.
  5. If your new refrigerator requires a water supply for an ice maker or water dispenser, carefully connect the water line according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Double-check for any leaks and make necessary adjustments if needed.
  6. Clean the interior of the refrigerator and ensure all shelves, racks, and drawers are properly installed. Remove any protective packaging or films from the interior surfaces.
  1. Slide the refrigerator back against the wall, making sure it is snugly fit into the designated space.

Connecting Power and Testing

After the new refrigerator is installed, it’s time to connect the power and perform a thorough test to ensure everything is functioning correctly.

Follow these steps:

  1. If your refrigerator operates on electricity, reconnect the power supply by switching on the circuit breaker or fuse. For propane-powered refrigerators, turn on the propane supply by opening the valve.
  2. Give the refrigerator some time to cool down before placing any food inside. This process usually takes a few hours.
  3. Once the refrigerator has reached the desired temperature, place a thermometer inside to verify that it is cooling properly.
  4. Test all additional features of the refrigerator, such as the ice maker, water dispenser, or temperature controls, to ensure they are working as intended.
  5. Monitor the refrigerator for the next few days to ensure it maintains the desired temperature and functions properly.

Proper Maintenance for Your New RV Refrigerator

To keep your new RV refrigerator in optimal condition, regular maintenance is essential.

Here are some tips to help you maintain its performance:

  • Clean the refrigerator regularly to remove any spills or food debris. Use a mild soap solution and a soft cloth to wipe down the interior surfaces.
  • Check the seals and gaskets regularly to ensure they are intact and properly sealed. If any signs of wear or damage are present, replace them promptly to maintain the refrigerator’s efficiency.
  • Keep the refrigerator well-stocked but avoid overloading it. Proper airflow is essential for efficient cooling.
  • Regularly inspect and clean the condenser coils at the back of the refrigerator. Dust and debris can accumulate, hindering its cooling efficiency.
  • If your refrigerator has an ice maker, regularly clean and sanitize the ice bin and dispenser area to prevent the buildup of bacteria or mold.

By following these maintenance practices, you can prolong the lifespan of your RV refrigerator and ensure it continues to operate at its best.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to replace an RV refrigerator?

The time required to replace an RV refrigerator can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the installation, your level of experience, and the specific model of the refrigerator. On average, the process can take anywhere from a few hours to a full day.

Can I replace my RV refrigerator myself?

Yes, replacing an RV refrigerator can be a DIY project. However, it’s essential to have a good understanding of the installation process and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with the process, it’s recommended to seek professional assistance.

What are the signs that my RV refrigerator needs replacement?

Some common signs that indicate your RV refrigerator may need replacement include:

  • Inconsistent or inadequate cooling
  • Excessive frost buildup
  • Leaks or water pooling inside the refrigerator
  • Unusual noises or vibrations
  • Frequent breakdowns or malfunctions

If you notice any of these signs, it’s advisable to consult a professional or consider replacing your refrigerator.

Are there any specific safety precautions I should take during the replacement process?

Yes, it’s crucial to prioritize safety during the replacement process. Some important safety precautions to keep in mind include:

  • Ensure the power supply is disconnected before starting any work.
  • If working with a propane-powered refrigerator, turn off the propane supply and be cautious of potential gas leaks.
  • Use appropriate safety gear, such as gloves and safety goggles, to protect yourself from injuries.
  • Follow all manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for a safe and successful installation.

Can I use a household refrigerator in my RV?

Using a household refrigerator in an RV is not recommended. Household refrigerators are not designed to withstand the vibrations and movements of an RV, which can lead to premature breakdowns and malfunctions. Additionally, household refrigerators may require a different power source, making them incompatible with the electrical or propane systems in an RV.

Where can I find a reliable supplier for RV refrigerators?

There are several reputable suppliers for RV refrigerators. You can find them at RV dealerships, specialized RV parts stores, or online retailers. Popular manufacturers such as Dometic, Norcold, and Atwood have authorized dealers and distributors that offer a wide range of RV refrigerators to choose from.


Replacing an RV refrigerator may seem like a complex task, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it can be accomplished successfully.

By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, you can confidently replace your RV refrigerator and enjoy a reliable and efficient cooling unit for your travels.

Remember to prioritize safety, choose a suitable replacement refrigerator, and perform regular maintenance to prolong its lifespan.

Happy RVing!