RV Refrigerator Failures — Removing an RV Fridge Without Removing the Windshield

TheRVgeeks Repair, Updates & Upgrades 18 Comments

We’ve had our second RV, our 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire, for 15 years, and consider ourselves lucky that it’s held up so well (with a lot of RVgeeks TLC, of course 😉). But there’s been one particular part that has plagued us with troubles over the years: the refrigerator! Or more accurately, refrigerators.

We started out with a pretty standard propane-electric RV refrigerator, which had the pretty typical issues (temperature fluctuations, freezer not cold enough, no automatic defrost, etc), multiple repairs, and recalls (at least two that we can remember in the 6+ years we had it, mostly due to fire hazard issues)! So when it finally died on us, we weren’t too eager to just replace it with another identical unit. Instead we opted to upgrade to a residential refrigerator… for more storage room, more consistent (and colder) temperatures, no need to defrost it, and no more fire hazard!!

But large appliances like refrigerators are often installed into RVs BEFORE the walls are put on… so they’re often too big to get back out of the RV through the front door! If you’re lucky, you may have a window that’s large enough to pass the fridge through once it’s removed (we didn’t), but if not… you can remove the windshield (on a motorized RV, anyway), like we did when we changed from the RV fridge to our first residential model.

Or… you can get a bit more creative!  😉 LOL! Watch the video to see how we got our behemoth of a residential refrigerator out of our RV!

If you’re interested, the refrigerator we have now is the Samsung 18 cu. ft. Counter Depth French Door in stainless steel (model #RF18HFENBSR)… a common unit installed by RV manufacturers as a factory option… AND it can fit in/out of a door on a 2005 Newmar Mountain Aire! LOL!

Thanks to Tyler at Tough Top Awnings for the help!

Be sure to check out more of Tom & Cait Morton’s great content over on their website (https://www.mortonsonthemove.com) and on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/mortonsonthemove).

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Comments 18

  1. I have to wonder WHY you didn’t remove the old fridge FIRST? Doing so would have given you MUCH more working room. Last year, I had an OEM 22 cubic foot fridge replaced (by an RV up fitter in Elkhart, IN). I have a 2015 Dynamax DX3-37RB Super-C. A side window was removed. That allowed the workmen to use a hydraulic platform lift which I’m sure made the job easier. Speaking with friends and relatives who have had to replace major appliances in their homes, the build quality of many of today’s appliances are NO WHERE NEAR the quality of appliances made even a decade ago. Samsung now has a residential style fridge (compressor, NOT absorbtion) intended for use in an RV but it is smaller than the space offered by many residential refrigerators commonly used in modern RVs. Not only are the appliances getting larger but, so are many RV owners. The first RV builder that uses a door LARGE ENOUGH to allow owners to add / remove furniture and appliances EASILY will win a large share of the market. We’re only talking about an extra 2″~4″ here.

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      Hi John. Good question… we considered taking the old fridge out first to make room for the new. But we didn’t do that because we weren’t 100% sure the new fridge would fit through the door. If it didn’t, it meant we were going to have to bite the bullet and remove the windshield… at which point, it would be a lot easier to just take the old fridge out that way, instead of sawing it in half (although, admittedly, it was QUITE gratifying doing it that way, LOL!). And we know what you mean about appliances not being made the way they used to be… we keep catching ourselves sounding like our parents! 😉

  2. Peter & John:

    Suffering the trials and tribulations of RV refrigeration is something we all share at one time or another. If we hadn’t been tipped by your email promotion, we’d never have guessed how you could have gotten the old fridge out short of removing a big piece of glass from somewhere. But you certainly came up with a very inventive and most entertaining solution. Thanks again for putting another piece of ingenuity out there.

    Hope to run into you two again down the road. Until then, stay safe.


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  3. Guys, it looked like a fun project – kill the old fridge – that made for a great video. You talked about going in and out the windshield but Newmar designs the side windows…dinette window and over the couch window…to have sufficient clearance to replace a refrigerator. Ken Williamson at Newmar told me that the overhead cabinets are designed to be lowered and then one window is removed to shuttle the refrigerators in and out. I hadn’t really thought about it as an alternative until he told me this. I thought that the only way to get a big fridge in or out of a motorhome would be through the windshield. And, you guys have already showed us how to remove and reseal motorhome windows in a previous video making that a doable DIY project. That approach may work better for some folks’ replacements. As always, thanks for your excellent videos that help us all. Owners really need to do some DIY projects to help afford RVing. You help us do that!

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      Thanks for the insights, Doug. We’ll have to look into that. We inspected our cabinetry, and didn’t see any way to remove it. But if there’s a way to do it that we missed, we should know about it for future reference!

  4. Another entertaining video with a supporting cast. Question: What are you going to do with the extra space behind the new fridge? It’s not convenient to get at but has the potential for something useful.

    Also, Tyler reminded me of a person in the Vinyl Cafe story called “Odd Jobs”. Don’t know if you have ever heard about the Stuart McLean “Vinyl Cafe” podcasts but you will probably enjoy them.

    This one is a classic: https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2695632311
    (The link has two stories, the first is the one your video reminded mo of.)

    Take care, John

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      Thanks for the link, John. We’ll have to check that out. As far as the space behind the fridge, we basically split it in two. We pushed the new fridge further into the recess so that it doesn’t stick out as much, and still left about half of the extra space open to allow easier installation and access, and better airflow.

  5. Hi Guys Love your videos. Very helpful. I have a 2007, 42 ft Holiday Rambler Sceptor. The cooling unit on my Dometic fridge and one of my duo therm rooftop airs went out after 5 yrs. Both my dealer and Campingworld wanted $2200 to repair the cooling unit and said they don’t repair the rooftop airs. I would have to buy new at $1500. Then I came upon National RV Refrigeration in Indiana, or fixyourfridge.com. They rebuild your cooling unit from $500 to $1100 depending on size and give you a 3 yr warranty on top of that. They also repaired cooling leak in my rooftop air for $150. They explained that part of the reason why the cooling unit failed was that my fridge is mounted in one of the slides. And instead of venting through the roof, it vents through the side where excess heat builds up. so they put in an additional fan to help with cooling. It’s been 8 yrs since they repaired it, and it works better now then when it was brand new. They are in Shipshewana, IN. and since they are close to Elkhart they have a great deal on new scratch and dent units to save you money.

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      Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for sharing this information… we’re sure it will come in handy for someone else on the blog (and we’ll be sure to let others know about it… always good to have options)! And, yes, we’ve heard that slide-mounted fridges have more troubles due to poor air circulation… glad that the cooling fan has been working to solve that issue for you! Safe travels!

  6. Another great video. Very informative with great ideas. Y’all do such a wonderful job. Thanks for sharing. We like the versality of our RV frige but not the defrosting and I miss ice through the door. I would not replace it as long as it works but doubt that will be forever. I’ve been wondering, with all of the residential refrigerators being installed in RVs, if some makes/models fair better than others. I’m hoping you know something about that since you bought another Samsung.

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      Aw, thanks Elizabeth! So nice to hear! The switch from an RV fridge to a residential style is definitely an issue when it comes to certain things. The single biggest “pro” for the RV fridge is that it’s much better at power usage (being able to run on propane is a HUGE help). Having to keep the inverter on in order to keep a residential fridge powered up is a big drain on batteries… and a big part of our upgrade to lithium batteries and so much solar. We’re not sure if there’s any one particular residential fridge brand that stands out from the others… seems like Samsung, Whirlpool, and Kitchenaid tend to be the ones most often installed by manufacturers, but that could just be a size/weight issue. The main reason we went with another Samsung was the size… there are only so many makes/models that will fit in the opening we have, and we didn’t want to have to do any major retrofitting to get a different size fridge installed. So we were limited… and went with the smaller Samsung unit as a result.

      If (when?) this fridge calls it quits, we’d love to install one of the new generation of RV refrigerators… that are compressor cooled like a residential fridge (no risk of fire and better cooling performance) but run on 12V power (so they’re a little bit less power hungry). Dometic just released their first line of them (the “DMC Series”), so we’re keeping a close eye on that. They only have 8-cubic foot and 10-cubic foot models available so far, which are too small for us. But if they came out with a 14+ cubic foot unit, we’d switch in a heartbeat. The 12V compressor refrigerators are the best compromise of the best features of both an RV fridge and a residential unit.

  7. Wow, unbelievable. I have a Class “A” and a much smaller fridge, I also use a separate ice maker. Thank you for sharing I can understand why you would want a large fridge at home I have two refrigerators and two freezers one in the kitchen two freezers & a fridge in a three car garage. I hope my RV fridge is small enough to get through the door. Thank you for sharing. I really appreciate what you guys do very very helpful.

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      Hi Ken! Good question… there were two reasons: (1) we weren’t 100% sure the new refrigerator was going to make it in through the door, so we didn’t want to be 100% without a fridge if it didn’t and (2) if the new refrigerator didn’t make it in through the door, there wasn’t any sense cutting the old one in half… since we’d have to arrange to have the windshield removed… and could just take the old one out before the new one came in.

  8. Love the tips you send out.
    Our refrigerator freezer frosts really bad. The refrigerator is only 2 years old. Warranty has expired. What to do?

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      Hi Jennifer… is that in a standard RV refrigerator? If so… that’s pretty normal. RV freezers don’t have a defrost cycle, so the frost builds up. In our old one, we’d have to eat stuff down so we could do a defrost on it every couple of months. Try to avoid leaving the door open too much. And try not to put any hot/moist things in the freezer, as it’s just contributing to the frost. If it’s a residential fridge… that’s a different story! Could be the seal on the freezer door is bad and/or not aligning properly, allowing moist air in and causing it to frost up more than the defrost cycle can handle (which, now that we typed that, could also be the issue on an RV fridge if the seal wasn’t sealing properly).

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