As a leading RV Warranty company, it is part of our job to know which RV components are most likely to experience a breakdown, and our experience clearly shows that a refrigerator issue is the number one reason people open breakdown claims. But, do you know just how dangerous an improperly maintained RV refrigerator can actually be? Statistics vary from source to source, but on average there are about 3,000 RV related fires per year with a large number of them originating from the refrigerator! These fires do claim lives, so it is crucial to know if your refrigerator is at risk and what you can to do to keep them disaster-free.
The first step towards proper refrigerator maintenance is identification. Some of the more common RV refrigerator producers have issued substantial recalls on many of their products, so it is vital that you know what brand your refrigerator is and if a recall has been issued for it. If you find that your vehicle is fitted with a recalled refrigerator, we would highly suggest calling the manufacturer to see what your next best step ought to be. If your refrigerator is not on the recall list, here are a few things to check to be sure that your refrigerator is running optimally and free of danger:
Dust & Dirt
Refrigerators tend to accumulate a lot of dust. Over time, this dust will cause unnecessary strain and can even clog the moving parts of your refrigerator. We recommend a thorough dusting/ wiping down of the entire unit every 6 months. Don’t forget to check behind the refrigerator!
No one is a stranger to a stinky refrigerator, but some smells are more dangerous than others. Chemicals like ammonia and hydrogen gas are compressed within the refrigerator and can ignite under certain conditions. If you smell something other than food in your refrigerator, it could be worth checking out!
Refrigerators move lots of compressed and flammable materials within their plumbing system. If there are any signs of cracks, rust, or melting, there is potential for an explosion and these should be carefully inspected by an RV professional.
Seals and Gaskets
Refrigerators work extra hard when there is an air leak and that can lead to future problems. Door seals and gaskets on refrigerators need to be moist or they will crack. If the seals or gaskets feel particularly stiff, try rubbing some Vaseline on them for some extra moisture.
Regular refrigerator maintenance is your most powerful tool when it comes to refrigerator fire prevention, but what do you do in the off chance that a fire flares up anyways? Your first line of defense lies with your carbon monoxide, smoke, and propane detectors so those should always be checked to ensure they are working properly every year or so. Be sure to plan and practice various fire evacuation drills with the rest of the family, as running through a burning RV is not the best time to learn how to escape or use a fire extinguisher. Experts say that if a fire cannot be put out within the first two minutes, evacuate the entire family and call the fire department. It is natural to want to run in and save as many things as possible but remember: an RV can be replaced, you cannot be.
Do you have any additional tips to help keep your fellow RVer safe? Share them here!