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RV Fridge Smells Like Ammonia

Having a fully functional refrigerator is essential for any RV owner, ensuring that your food and beverages stay cool and fresh during your travels.

However, encountering a strong ammonia smell emanating from your RV fridge can quickly put a damper on your adventures.

In this guide, we will explore the causes of an ammonia odor in your RV fridge and provide practical solutions to eliminate the smell, so you can enjoy your journeys with peace of mind.

RV Fridge Smells Like Ammonia – Causes and Solutions

An RV fridge emitting an ammonia odor can be attributed to various factors.

Understanding these causes is crucial for addressing the issue effectively.

Let’s explore the common reasons behind the unpleasant smell and discuss the appropriate solutions.

Aging Cooling Unit – The Culprit Behind the Ammonia Smell

One possible cause of an ammonia smell in your RV fridge is an aging cooling unit.

Over time, the refrigeration system can develop leaks, leading to the release of ammonia gas.

These leaks can result from wear and tear, vibration during travel, or faulty manufacturing.

To resolve this issue, consider the following steps:

  1. Inspect for Leaks: Carefully examine the cooling unit and surrounding components for signs of leakage, such as stains or discoloration. If you spot any leaks, it’s advisable to contact a professional RV technician to handle the repairs.
  2. Replace the Cooling Unit: In severe cases, where the cooling unit is irreparable or the cost of repairs is prohibitive, replacing the cooling unit altogether might be the best course of action. Consult an experienced RV technician to determine the most suitable replacement option for your specific RV model.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Implement a proactive maintenance routine for your RV fridge, including annual inspections and servicing. This can help identify potential issues before they escalate, ensuring a longer lifespan for your cooling unit.

Contaminated Condenser Coils – A Hidden Culprit

Contaminated condenser coils can also contribute to an ammonia smell in your RV fridge.

Dust, dirt, and debris can accumulate on the coils over time, hindering their proper function and causing the fridge to emit unpleasant odors.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Cleaning the Condenser Coils: Regularly clean the condenser coils to remove any buildup of dirt or debris. Refer to your RV fridge’s user manual for specific instructions on accessing and cleaning the coils. Use a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to gently remove the accumulated dirt.
  2. Periodic Maintenance: Make it a habit to include condenser coil cleaning in your routine RV maintenance checklist. Performing this task annually or as recommended by the manufacturer will help keep your fridge running smoothly and odor-free.


Now let’s address some frequently asked questions about RV fridge smells like ammonia and provide you with concise answers to help you navigate this issue with ease.

Why does my RV fridge smell like ammonia?

The presence of an ammonia smell in your RV fridge is often an indication of a leak in the cooling unit.

The refrigerant, which contains ammonia, is released into the air when such a leak occurs.

Is the ammonia smell harmful to my health?

Inhaling ammonia gas can be harmful and irritating to your respiratory system.

It’s important to take immediate action to resolve the issue and prevent any potential health risks.

Can I fix the ammonia smell in my RV fridge myself?

While minor cleaning tasks can be done by RV owners, addressing a leaking cooling unit and repairing the fridge’s refrigeration system should be handled by a qualified RV technician.

Attempting complex repairs without the necessary expertise may cause further damage or compromise your safety.

How much does it cost to repair or replace a cooling unit?

The cost of repairing or replacing a cooling unit in an RV fridge can vary depending on the extent of the damage, the brand, and the model.

It’s best to consult a professional RV technician for an accurate assessment and estimate.

Can I prevent ammonia smells in my RV fridge?

Regular maintenance, including cleaning the condenser coils and scheduling annual inspections, can help prevent ammonia smells in your RV fridge.

Additionally, storing and transporting the fridge properly and avoiding excessive vibrations can minimize the risk of leaks.

Is it time to replace my RV fridge if it smells like ammonia?

If your RV fridge is emitting an ammonia smell due to a leaking cooling unit, it’s recommended to consult with an experienced RV technician.

They can evaluate the extent of the damage and provide guidance on whether repairs or a replacement is the best solution.


Don’t let a persistent ammonia smell from your RV fridge spoil your travel experiences.

By identifying the causes behind the odor and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can restore fresh air to your mobile home on wheels.

Remember to prioritize regular maintenance, seek professional assistance when needed, and take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and odor-free environment in your RV.