Tuning up your AC

RV road trips and summer go together like peanut butter and jelly. Traveling in an RV, whether it be for local trips or large road trips, is a more comfortable and affordable way to travel. RVers love having their own space and it’s so much simpler and more convenient than trying to get a hotel for a night. However, traveling in the summer means hot temperatures that usually require air conditioning in your RV and while driving. If your AC hasn’t been as cold as it used to be or you want to give it a tune up, get ready as Harvest Hosts provides you with the best tips to stay cool this summer.

You’ll learn:

  • The benefits of traveling in an RV during summer for comfort and affordability.
  • Tips for maintaining and improving the performance of the RV’s air conditioning system.
  • About ommon issues with weak air flow, warm air, and strange smells from the AC.
  • Maintenance practices for the AC system, including cleaning filters and checking for leaks.
  • Roof AC unit maintenance, including inspecting the cover, seals, and cooling fins.
  • Interior maintenance involving cleaning filters and vacuuming vents and unit.
  • Regular maintenance to prevent damage and ensure optimal AC performance.
  • The importance of checking and addressing AC issues promptly to stay cool during summer travel.


Photo Credit: realsimple.com

Under the Hood

Whether you have a drivable RV, or your tow vehicle AC needs a tune up, we’ve got your back. It’s not fun to drive with low air flow or air conditioning that isn’t as cold as it should be. Chances are, the state of your air conditioning system is also impacting your fuel efficiency too. If your RV or vehicle is experiencing any of the following while driving, then it’s time for a tune up or inspection.

Weak or No Air Flow

If your AC isn’t blowing out as much air as it should or it’s not reaching far enough, then there could be a few issues. Start with the easy step of checking your air filters on your vehicle. If they’re not clogged or dirty, or have been replaced recently, then it could be a more serious issue. 

Additionally, your blower motor could be failing. When it breaks all-together, you won’t have any air flow. If your blower motor is going out, it may be making various noises. If you aren’t experienced in this area, be sure to take it to a repair shop for proper diagnosis and repair. 

Photo Credit: yourmechanic.com

Warm Air

A common issue is leaking refrigerant (also known as freon), which is what cools the air for you. Refrigerant can leak from any number of places, including the hoses, the evaporator, or the condenser. This can happen when parts of your AC become weak, loose or damaged. Thankfully, there are pretty easy ways to identify a leak. One method is by injecting freon with dye in it and using a blacklight to find the leak. Alternatively, you can spray very soapy water on different AC components and look for bubbling, similar to detecting propane leaks. 

Weird Smells

If your vehicle’s AC is blowing out stinky air, then it could be mold or mildew, or a clog. Many air conditioning components involve liquids, so there’s always a chance for a build-up somewhere, especially on the condenser coils. Be sure to check your air filter as well to ensure that nothing unsavory is contaminating it. 


When professionals are doing an AC tune-up, they typically check the air filter to ensure it’s clean and able to do its job. They’ll also clean off the condenser coils. If there’s ever ice build-up on them, then that’s an indication of a problem. They may also flush out your AC’s drain to prevent or break up any clogs. Lastly, they may recharge the freon. A best practice for this is to actually drain out all the old refrigerant, but a quick recharge can help until you can visit a professional.

Photo Credit: autoscopecarcare.com

Roof AC Units

Maintaining your on-board AC units in your RV is a must. This not only keeps you comfortable, but will also reduce the chances of them breaking or developing problems. Follow along as we share some best practices from seasoned RVers when tuning up your RV’s on-board air conditioning. 


Long-time RVers understand the importance of climbing onto the roof at least annually to check it out. Check out our blog on RV roof maintenance if you’d like to know more about what you should be doing. Carefully ascend onto the roof and visually check your AC’s plastic cover for cracks, splits, or damage. This will help keep debris and the elements away from damaging your AC. Next, check the seals and gaskets mounting your AC to the roof to ensure they’re in good condition as well. 

Remove the plastic cover to access the cooling fins. Be sure that they aren’t dirty and are not bent, as they should be straight. If any are bent, very gently use a butter knife or other thin, blunt object to straighten them out.

Photo Credit: evapolar.com


From inside your RV, the majority of maintenance involves cleaning. Start by removing the plastic cover, then remove any foam or fine mesh filters you can immediately see. Some units have one, while others have two or more. Wash them with warm soapy water, and let them dry before replacing them. Each ceiling vent in your RV will also have a filter in it. Carefully remove the vent cover, wipe the dust away, and remove the filter. Use warm soapy water on these as well and wait for them to dry before re-installing.

Lastly, vacuum out any visible dust from your vents and air conditioning unit. Be careful not to bend any visible coils or fins during this process. To prevent accidental damage, never force the vacuum into areas that aren’t visible to you. Vacuuming the vents and unit can keep your coils and fins free of dirt and prevent you from needing to wash your filters sooner than needed. During heavy use, consider checking your filters monthly and always incorporate this step into preparing your RV for its first yearly trip. 

Photo Credit: rvingknowhow.com

Luckily, most RV ACs don’t need a lot of work to keep them running, but if there’s an issue you’ll know pretty quickly. We hope you can stay cool this summer and tend to any AC issues in your car, vehicle, or RV. Be sure to reference our article if you have any problems.

Photo Credit: cntraveler.com

Where are you heading this summer? Do you use air conditioning when you boondock or at Harvest Hosts locations? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!

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