Keeping Cool: Troubleshooting Forest River RV Air Conditioners

RVs allow us the freedom to travel while enjoying many comforts of home. However, when the air conditioning in a Forest River RV fails on a hot summer day, it can quickly turn an enjoyable trip into a miserable experience. As Forest River is one of the largest RV manufacturers, air conditioner problems are common in their models spanning Class A, B, and C motorhomes as well as travel trailers.

In this blog post, we’ll explore why air conditioners in Forest River RVs encounter problems and how to diagnose and fix common AC issues yourself or know when to call in a professional. With some basic mechanical know-how and troubleshooting tips, you can get your RV air conditioner working again and get back to creating priceless vacation memories.

Air Conditioner Basics in Forest River RVs

Most Forest River RVs utilize roof-mounted air conditioning units to cool the interior. They operate much like household AC systems but are subjected to greater stresses from road vibration, moisture, and extreme temperatures. Common AC units found in Forest River RVs include models from Dometic, Coleman, and Suburban.

Forest River RVs can have one or multiple air conditioning units depending on the size and floor plan. For example, a small Class B camper van may have just one 13,500 BTU air conditioner while a large Class A may have two or more 15,000 BTU AC units.

The basic components found in RV ACs include:

  • Compressor: Circulates refrigerant to remove heat from the RV interior
  • Condenser: Releases the collected heat from the refrigerant to the outside air
  • Evaporator: Blows cool air into the RV interior using a fan and cools the refrigerant
  • Thermostat: Allows temperature control and signals the AC when to run
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Malfunctions in any of these components can lead to AC troubles ranging from inadequate cooling to complete failure.

Most Common Air Conditioner Problems

most common air conditioner problems
Most Common Air Conditioner Problems

Several issues commonly crop up with Factory River RV air conditioners:

Problem #1: AC Blowing Warm Air

The most common problem is an RV air conditioner not providing cool air. A soily air filter, debris on the condenser coil outside, low refrigerant levels, or electrical issues can all prevent proper cooling.

Start troubleshooting by checking your Forest River RV manual to locate and clean the AC filter. Then inspect the external condenser unit on the roof for any obstructions like leaves or soil that could block airflow.

If the coils seem clean, have an RV technician test refrigerant levels in case of leaks. Faulty AC wiring causing voltage drops can also prevent an air conditioner from cooling properly.

Problem #2: AC Not Turning On

If your Forest River air conditioner won’t turn on at all, start by checking if power is getting to the unit or if breakers have tripped.

Next inspect the control panel to see if an error code displays indicating a specific malfunction like low pressure detected in the refrigeration system. Cycling power on and off can sometimes clear errors and reset the AC if it’s receiving electricity otherwise.

Faulty capacitors and burned out motors are other possible culprits for RVs ACs not powering on. Note buzzing noises, burning smells, or uneven performance before complete failure which signal worn internal parts.

Problem #3: AC Leaking Water

Finding water puddles inside under a ceiling-mounted AC vent or seeing water cascading down RV walls from the roof AC is understandably alarming. Clogged condensate drains cause most leaks as humidity drained from the RV interior has nowhere to go.

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Carefully climb up to inspect and clear debris from AC drain lines. Use a wet/dry shop vac to suck standing water out of drip pans underneath the rooftop units. Prevent future leaks by annually cleaning the condensate line before camping season. Installing an inline drain filter can also catch gunk before it clogs drains.

Excess humidity and very cold interior temps can overwhelm RV AC systems and cause unusual icing, runoff issues, or standing water in drip pans too. Adjust your thermostat to achieve a moderate temperature instead of extremely cold settings. Also run a dehumidifier appliance inside the rig if the living space feels damp.

DIY or Hire It Done? Fixing Forest River AC Systems

Many common Forest River RV air conditioner problems like cleaning soily filters, clearing debris outside, or unblocking drain lines can be tackled as DIY repairs. However, if you aren’t comfortable climbing on the roof or lack electrical/refrigeration skills, don’t hesitate to have a professional diagnose and fix an ailing AC system.

Most RV repair centers can assess AC issues with Forest River or other RV brands. It’s smart to proactively replace capacitors every 3-4 years before they fail anyway to avoid being stranded without air conditioning.

Recharging refrigerant requires certified HVAC technicians with specialized gear for capturing, evacuating and refilling AC components safely. Always demand OEM factory parts instead of knock-offs if replacements are needed for long-term reliability too.

Be sure to examine any extended RV warranty coverage you have as more comprehensive policies can offset the cost of AC repairs significantly. Even if the root cause isn’t covered, ancillary damage to roof seals or interior surfaces might qualify under some insurance plans when addressing major AC problems.

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Maintaining Your Forest River RV Air Conditioner

maintaining your forest river rv air conditioner
Maintaining Your Forest River RV Air Conditioner

While ACs in Forest River products are designed for life on the road, doing routine preventative maintenance allows them to withstand years of continuous use across thousands of miles:

  • Clear debris: Carefully use a ladder, shop vac and compressor air to keep the external fan, coils and vents clean.
  • Change filters 3-4 times per camping season: Clogged air filters reduce performance dramatically over time.
  • Inspect wiring connections: Ensure tight, corrosion-free connections exist on all HVAC circuits.
  • Check duct seals: Air leaks around vents and ducts makes ACs work overtime wasting energy. Reseal as needed with RV-specific tape.
  • Flush drains: Use AC cleaner spray and compressed air in drain lines to prevent obstructions leading to leaks.
  • Lubricate parts: Oil motors and apply dielectric grease on electrical contacts according to your AC manual.
  • Confirm adequate ventilation: Don’t block exterior vents needed for hot air exchange on the roof units.
  • Verify sufficient power: Use at least 15-amp circuits and appropriate extension cords.
  • Travel carefully: Drive smoothly on roads and take extra caution on rough, uneven terrain to minimize vibration damage to ACs.

By giving your Forest River RV air conditioner some TLC each season, it will deliver reliable cooling for many years without disruption even in punishing conditions.

Cool Travels Ahead!

Don’t let a busted RV air conditioner ruin your next planned vacation when issues often relate more to maintenance and wear vs. catastrophic failures. Armed with knowledge on the common problems Forest River AC units experience along with troubleshooting tips, you can get the situation remedied quickly.

Remember for major repairs, don’t hesitate to visit trusted RV repair shops to get back on the road. Investing in preventative maintenance is truly the best way to avoid getting stranded without cooling.

With a properly functioning air conditioning system keeping your RV cool and comfy, you can relax and enjoy the freedom of RVing for seasons to come! Escape the summer heat knowing you have the tools and techniques to handle any AC problems lurking ahead.

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