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Why Is Your RV Freezer Frosting Up and What to Do

Why Is Your RV Freezer Frosting Up and What to Do

With the heat and humidity of summer in full swing, some RVers are experiencing the nuisance of their RV freezer frosting up. 

So, today we’re tackling the topic of what causes an RV freezer to frost up and what you can do about it.

Let’s jump right in!

What Causes an RV Freezer to Frost Up?

First, it’s important to know that an RV fridge isn’t frost-free like a residential fridge is. 

The freezer has a large metal plate in the back that transfers the heat out of the compartment to cool things down. If the air is humid, moisture builds up and, without a defrost cycle, the frost build-up just continues to get thicker.

Normally, your RV freezer may need to be defrosted every 4-8 weeks, depending on use and on the climate and humidity levels where you are. But, in times of extreme humidity, the need to defrost your RV freezer may be even less than 4 weeks. 

Let’s take a look at the most common causes of an RV freezer frosting up.

High Ambient Humidity

If the ambient humidity in your location is very high, then your RV freezer is far more likely to freeze up. Each time the freezer door is opened, humid air gets inside. This moisture condenses and freezes onto the cooling plate, causing the buildup of frost/ice.

Freezer with the door open, exposing contents

When the ambient humidity is high, opening your RV’s freezer door creates more moisture. This contributes to frost build-up.

Door Seals Not Sealing Properly

If the door seals to your RV fridge and/or freezer aren’t sealing tightly, cool air will escape (causing the refrigerator to run in more frequent cycles) and moisture can get in. 

To find out whether your door seals are sealing properly, use the dollar bill test. Simply close the door on a dollar bill (with the bill sticking halfway out of the door). If you can pull the bill the rest of the way out without feeling much resistance, then the door seal may need to be replaced.

Be sure to try the test in various areas around the door seal to make sure the door seal is sealing properly all the way around.

Door Not Closing Completely or Not Staying Closed

First, check to make sure there’s no item or packaging inside the fridge or freezer that’s keeping the door from closing completely. 

Next, check the latches for any sign they’re not holding the door closed completely. And be sure to inspect the storage latch.  This latch keeps the door from closing completely, which helps prevent mold and mildew from developing when not in use.

You want to make sure those latches are not engaged and aren’t preventing the door from closing completely. 

How to Defrost Your RV Freezer

Follow these steps to defrost your RV’s freezer.

Turn Off the Fridge/Freezer

You can leave the food in the refrigerator. As long as you’re not opening the fridge, the contents should stay cold enough. But if you have a cooler (or have access to another refrigerator), and your RV’s freezer has a tremendous amount of frost built up, then you may want to empty the fridge as well.

Remove Contents from Freezer

This is where a portable freezer can come in very handy. Be sure to empty the freezer completely. 

Keep the Door Open and Allow the Frost/Ice to Melt

You’ll need to use towels, rags, or sponges to soak up water that melts into the freezer compartment. To speed up the process to some degree, you can also put a fan blowing toward the open freezer.

You may be able to gently pull large chunks of frost away with your hands as the melting is underway, but DO NOT use sharp objects to scrape the frost/ice away. This could damage the unit. 

Also, DO NOT use a hair dryer, as this could cause excessive heat build-up that could damage the plastic or other components.

Wipe Down the Interior of the Freezer

Once the frost has been allowed to melt completely, use a towel to wipe down the interior of the freezer completely. Be sure to get the freezer as dry as possible. 

Close the Door and Turn the Unit Back on

Close the door to the freezer and turn the unit back on. Allow the fridge/freezer to cool down completely before returning food to the unit. 

Check your RV freezer for frost periodically, maybe on the first of the month as a matter of routine. The frost is much easier to deal with when you catch the it at the early stage.

And if all else fails, cut your RV refrigerator in half and see if that takes care of the frost! (Yes, we’re kidding… although we’ve actually done this!)…????

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Sunday 4th of June 2023

I need a new freezer door seal. 17 1/2" x 6 1/2" Dometic


Sunday 4th of June 2023

Hi Carolyn... double-check your Dometic fridge's model number first, and then see if this will work for you: If not, you can check with Dyers to see if they have what you need.

Peter Schmid

Saturday 15th of October 2022

I can not find the article on 12v rv air compressors you had a while back. What was the compressor you use? Thanks


Saturday 15th of October 2022

Hi Peter! Here's the article we think you had in mind:


Friday 26th of August 2022

I do my defrosting right before bedtime. That way the fridge has all night to recover. Turn the fridge off. Prop the freezer door open. Watch the fins. When the ice/frost is gone, wipe up any water, close the doors, start the fridge and go to bed. Takes about 20 minutes.

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