Troubleshooting Your RV Air Conditioner Surging Problem

These days, nothing puts a damper on your summer vacation quite so quickly as a surly RV air conditioner. You know the drill: you crank up the AC, and the engine briefly surges, then fades. You can almost feel the vibrations throughout the RV. In the course of a few minutes, your air conditioner is gradually cranking up in temperature, and you’re left scrambling to find a solution. But don’t worry – we have you covered! In this post, we’ll provide you with some top-notch troubleshooting tips for your RV air conditioner surging problem. With a few simple tweaks here and there, you should be back to enjoying your vacation in no time. So keep reading and find out how you can keep your AC in top-notch shape all summer long!

Quick Insight into Key Points

The most likely cause of your RV air conditioner surging is a faulty capacitor. If the capacitor has too much or too little charge, it can cause the unit to surge. You should have a professional inspect and repair your air conditioner as soon as possible.

Identifying an RV Air Conditioner Surge

Identifying an RV Air Conditioner Surge can be tricky as it can present itself in various ways. Generally, the symptoms of an RV air conditioner surge will involve the sudden, but temporary, increase and decrease in power output from your AC unit. Symptoms include a loud noise, clicking sound, and/or noticeable changes in air temperature coming from the vents. This cycle may repeat several times and can be accompanied by a burning smell coming from the air conditioner or electrical panel. As this phenomenon is not always easy to identify, you may have been noticing unexplained power surges throughout your RV for some time before finally understanding their source.

The debate around identifying an RV air conditioner surge lies in discerning it from other kinds of power surges that could be affecting the RV at the same time. It is important to distinguish these types of issues as they are often caused by different sources and require different solutions. For example, if your RV has a faulty generator, your AC might be experiencing power surges due to a lack of consistent electricity being supplied. On the other hand, if your AC unit itself is malfunctioning then it will cause its own kind of power surge that is less situational and more cyclic due to how the system works internally. Many people try to fix their own power surge issues without determining what is truly causing them, which can lead to further complications if these underlying issues aren’t addressed.

Once you have determined that it you are dealing with an RV air conditioner surge and not another form of power surge problem, you can move on to uncovering the potential causes behind it. The next section will outline some possible causes of an RV air conditioner surge so you can start finding a solution for this issue.

  • According to a study published in 2019, one of the main causes of an RV air conditioner surging is due to a too-small generator or inadequate power output.
  • Research conducted in 2020 found that age and frequent use can also cause an RV air conditioner to surge, as well as dirt build up in the unit’s filters.
  • The most common symptom of a surge in an RV air conditioner is inefficient cooling, which can be caused by insufficient voltage or an overload in the system.

The Causes of an RV Air Conditioner Surge

The RV air conditioner surge problem can be caused by a multitude of issues in the air conditioning system itself. From a faulty compressor, capacitor, power relay, or control board, to a loose connection or wiring issue, any problems with an individual component within the system can potentially cause the unit to surge and become excessively noisy. Furthermore, the issue can stem from older units that are no longer running as efficiently as their newer counterparts, forcing the air conditioner to work harder than necessary and potentially leading to surging.

On the other hand, it is possible for the issue to arise from outside sources that may be completely unrelated to the air conditioner such as circumstances in which high levels of humidity force extra stress on the RV cooling systems, or when large amounts of debris or dust accumulate around or inside of the unit. In these cases, proper maintenance of the RV and its components is essential in ensuring that surges do not occur.

Ultimately, diagnosing an air conditioner surge problem accurately requires a thorough inspection of the RV’s cooling system components as well as an assessment of any external influences on the unit itself.

Now that we have identified some potential causes for an RV air conditioner surge problem let’s take a look at how this might manifest if the compressor motor is not running smoothly in our next section.

Top Summary Points

RV air conditioner surge problems can have both internal and external causes. Issues with a faulty compressor, capacitor, power relay or control board, loose connection or wiring or an inefficient older unit can be the cause of surging. External issues such as high humidity, an accumulation of debris or dust, and lack of maintenance can also cause RV air conditioner surges. Diagnosing the issue accurately requires a thorough inspection of cooling system components and any external influences on the unit.

Compressor Motor is Not Running Smoothly

The compressor motor may be running erratically or experiencing difficulty starting if the RV air conditioner is having a surging problem. This is usually caused by dirty or defective start components, such as capacitors and relays. If the starter components are clogged with dirt and debris, they can cause the compressor motor to run erratically, drawing too much current and leading to a surge in temperature. Corroded terminals can also cause this issue. When this happens it is important to clean any dirt and debris from terminal connections, inspect for corrosion, check all wiring connections and replace any worn, faulty or damaged parts.

On the other hand, some motors may need to be rewound or completely replaced if they experience excessive wear-and-tear from longtime use. In these cases it is important to evaluate the overall condition of the motor and determine if replacement is necessary. Rewinding may be more cost effective depending on the particular case and should always be an option thoroughly considered before opting for outright replacement.

Now that we have discussed how to address issues related to keeping the compressor motor running smoothly, let’s move on to another common issue: running amperage being too high.

Running Amperage is Too High

Running amperage that is too high is a very common cause of RV air conditioner surging. This occurs when the potential difference (voltage) across the motor circuit is too great, resulting in the motor drawing more amperage than it is designed to handle. As a result, the motor overloads and fails to regulate itself and the air conditioner’s fan speed.

To determine if your RV air conditioner’s running amperage is too high, you must measure the current draw of the motor while it is running. Most RV air conditioners are equipped with an internal amp meter located on the front panel that displays both voltage and current readings. If these readings are higher than your air conditioner’s specifications, then you need to take corrective action.

Several methods can be employed for lowering your RV air conditioner’s running amperage levels. One option is to reduce its fan speed using your RV’s thermostat controls. This will help reduce the amount of current required to power the unit and should bring it back into its design parameters. Another option is to limit or adjust any external accessories connected to your AC, such as wall outlets or built-in speakers. These type of devices will increase the load on your AC, so either reducing their power output or adjusting their positioning could help bring down the current draw of your system. Additionally, inspecting and servicing all of your AC’s electrical components regularly, such as wiring and switches, will also help ensure there are no issues with short circuits or loose connections that could be leading to excessive running amperage.

If none of these measures resolve the problem, then you should consider performing some more in-depth troubleshooting efforts by checking capacitors, verifying voltage levels at each connection point, or even consulting a professional electrician for further assistance. Ultimately, resolving this issue requires making sure that all components receive adequate power while ensuring they do not exceed their design limits.

Now that we have discussed running amperage being too high, let’s move onto detecting and resolving electrical issues related to your RV air conditioner in our next section.

Detecting and Resolving Electrical Issues

When troubleshooting RV air conditioner surging issues, inspecting and resolving electrical issues should be the first step. Electrical problems can be difficult to diagnose, so it’s important to take a systematic approach. To start, check that the power is connected properly and that the source is functioning correctly. Then, check all internal connections for loose wiring or faulty components. Make sure power is running through all parts of the system, including the outlet and air conditioning unit itself.

If any signs of damage are detected, like exposed wires or burnt terminals, repair or replace them with the proper grade before continuing. Additionally, verify that circuit breakers are properly sized and rated to avoid overloading and tripping of the breaker when operating at higher amperage loads.

Finally, double-check that all grounds are present and securely attached when using 110 volts AC power to eliminate potential shock hazards and damaged components. With these tasks completed, you can rest assured that your RV air conditioner is safely operating without any risk of an electrical surge or overload.

With electric issues ruled out, it’s time to move on to inspecting the air conditioner unit and insulated coils. Inspecting these components can help identify any wear or damage caused by an overload due to other underlying causes such as low refrigerant levels or blocked condenser lines.

Inspecting AC Unit and Insulated Coils

In order to troubleshoot your RV air conditioner surging problem, it is important to inspect the air conditioner unit and insulated coils. Before moving forward in the troubleshooting process, check that any dust or debris has been cleared from the fins of the radiator and condenser. If there are obstructions blocking airflow, they should be removed using a vacuum cleaner or soft brush attachment. Any plants or landscaping should also be cleared away from the air conditioner unit.

Next, make sure the fan blades are clean to ensure adequate airflow. Use a damp cloth to remove any dirt buildup, and check for fan blade wear; if necessary replace with new blades from an RV parts store. Additionally, visually inspect the wiring harnesses that connect to both the indoor and outdoor sections of the air conditioner unit. Make sure all of the wires are connected properly and without signs of malfunction. If any issues are detected during inspection contact your local technician for service or repair.

Finally, be sure to inspect all parts of the insulated coils for damage. Check for signs of leakage such as corrosion or blockages due to pests or rodents. The coils should also be examined for bent fins, blocked passages between the evaporator coil leads and vents, and any obstructions at either end of the circuit line that could impact airflow circulation.

Now that you have inspected your RV air conditioner unit’s insulated coils its time get familiar with overload protectors and timing controls; features essential in maintaining a functioning air conditioner with proper temperature control center next section discusses these components in detail.

Overload Protectors and Timing Controls

Reliable RV air conditioning depends on two key components, overload protectors and timing controls. Overload protectors, also known as overcurrent or circuit breakers, serve to protect the compressor motor from overloading. They are designed as a safety feature that will shut off power if the current is higher than it should be.

Timing controls control the amount of time that the coil receives power each cycle. This helps prevent shock to the system and helps keep temperatures more consistent across multiple cycles. Additionally, timing controls reduce the risk of thermal breakdown in the coil so that it can function more effectively over a longer period of time.

Both overload protectors and timing controls are important to consider when troubleshooting RV air conditioner surging problems. If these components are not functioning correctly, then the unit may experience too much power at certain points during a cycle and become overloaded, resulting in surging that could potentially damage not only the air conditioning unit itself but other components as well. Yet these components should never interfere with proper operation of an RV’s air conditioner; if they are malfunctioning, they should be replaced before any repairs are attempted.

To avoid surge-related issues such as those caused by overloaded components or incorrect timing, necessary maintenance must be performed to ensure proper operation of your RV air conditioner. In the next section, we will discuss how regularly scheduled preventive maintenance can help you avoid potential air conditioner surge problems.

Necessary Maintenance to Avoid a Surge

Proper maintenance of an RV air conditioner is essential to avoiding a surging problem. While you might be tempted to cut corners and leave things until they break, this could lead to much more costly repairs in the future. To ensure your RV air conditioner is not susceptible to surging, some maintenance practices should be adhered to.

First and foremost, it’s important to keep the system clean. This means periodic cleaning of the coils and fins that reside on the outside unit of the AC, as well as changing out the furnace filter and checking hoses for proper air flow. Cleaning these areas will help keep debris from clogging up and preventing proper air flow throughout the AC unit, reducing instances of surging.

In addition to cleaning and clearing away debris, periodically checking pressure switches is another way to avoid a surging problem. Pressure switches can get stuck or blocked if dirt or other substances are present in the RV’s ductwork system. If there is a build-up here, the pressure switch may not pick up the drop in pressure that causes a low refrigerant level. When this happens, cool air will not flow correctly through the RV, causing an increase in pressure that can lead to a surge in power or frequency in your AC unit.

Finally, scheduling regular tune-ups for your AC system is also recommended for maintaining optimal performance and avoiding a surge issue. Doing this regularly will allow technicians at professional RV service centers to inspect key components such as the compressor, blower motor and electrical connections. This helps ensure everything is working properly and performing efficiently so that it doesn’t cause any unexpected surprises while you’re out on vacation!

Necessary maintenance practices are essential for avoiding issues like a surging problem with an RV air conditioner. While some may be tempted to skip these procedures due to time constraints or costs involved, failure to do so could mean more costly repairs down the line or being left without comfort during summer vacations! With that said, let’s move on to discussing the conclusion of this article about troubleshooting your RV air conditioner surging problem.


When it comes to troubleshooting a surging air conditioner problem in an RV, the most important thing to remember is to not just gloss over the issue. Taking time to look into the cause and properly diagnose the issue is key. It’s also important to work with a professional who is experienced in RV systems, as they will be able to help determine the underlying cause quickly and get your air conditioner back up and running.

In some cases, a simple fix may be all that’s needed, such as an adjustment or replacing parts, while other times you may have to look deeper into the system and make more extensive repairs. For example, if the problem is caused by a clog in the duct system then you may need to call in a contractor to come out and inspect and possibly replace the air handler or ducts in order to resolve the issue.

It’s important to always keep safety in mind when diagnosing issues with your RV, as electricity can be dangerous. Always turn off power first and always contact a qualified technician if any doubts arise about how best to handle certain problems. By following these steps and putting in the necessary effort, you can identify and remedy any surging air conditioner problems quickly and safely.

Most Common Questions

Why does my RV air conditioner surge?

Your RV air conditioner may be surging because it is not receiving enough power. This could be due to a number of reasons, such as a loose wire connection, low voltage in the electrical system, or an issue with the compressor’s capacitor. It could also be caused by dirt and debris clogging the air filter or cooling fan blades. Furthermore, a seized up motor, worn out compressor coils, or low refrigerant levels can cause your air conditioner to surge as well. In order to determine the exact cause of the issue, you will need to have it inspected by a qualified service technician.

What maintenance should I do to ensure my RV air conditioner doesn’t surge?

To ensure that your RV air conditioner doesn’t surge, it is important to do regular preventative maintenance. You should check the filter often and replace or clean it if needed. Be sure to inspect the unit for any signs of wear or damage. You should also make sure that your air conditioner has the correct amount of refrigerant in it for maximum efficiency. Finally, be sure to have an electrician inspect the electrical connections and system as surges can be caused by improper wiring and low voltage issues. By taking these steps you can ensure that your RV air conditioner runs efficiently and without surging.

How can I diagnose and fix a surging RV air conditioner?

To diagnose and fix a surging RV air conditioner, you should first check the electrical circuit breaker and Reset it if needed. If the breaker is not tripped, then check the voltage of your RV battery. A low voltage can cause fluctuations in your air conditioner’s output. Checking for any loose wiring and or faulty connections to the AC unit itself may also help. Finally, you should check for any obstructions in your outside air intake ducts, which can cause a decrease in airflow to the AC unit, thus resulting in a surge. Once these diagnostics have been completed, you can then look into replacing any faulty components or replenishing refrigerant levels if necessary.


Question: What are the most common causes of an RV air conditioner surging problem?

Answer: The most common causes of an RV air conditioner surging problem are an undersized unit, not properly sealing and insulating the cooling system, a faulty compressor relay, and/or malfunctioning electrical components. An undersized air conditioner will struggle to keep up with demands as ambient temperatures climb, leading to overheating of the components and excessive cycling. Properly sealing and insulating the cooling system ensures that cold air is not escaping and warm air is not entering. A faulty compressor relay prevents the compressor from turning on or off reliably; this can cause overcycling which leads to surges in performance. Finally, defective electrical components can also cause surging by preventing proper operation of the motor or refrigerant pressure control.

What are the possible causes of an RV air conditioner surging?

RV air conditioner surging can be caused by a variety of factors, including improper refrigerant levels, clogged filters, blocked airflow, and worn components.

5-1: Improper Refrigerant Level: A low refrigerant level can cause the evaporator coil to become saturated with liquid refrigerant which will result in an increased current draw when the compressor attempts to push out the excess liquid.

5-2: Clogged Filters: When a filter becomes clogged, it reduces the amount of air that can flow through the system, resulting in higher operating pressures and higher head pressure.

5-3: Blocked Airflow: A blocked airflow, such as from an obstruction in the front of the RV, will cause the unit to work harder than necessary while trying to cool down your RV.

5-4 Worn Components: Wear and tear on components, such as the suction line accumulator or pressure control device (PCD), may signal for reduced air conditioning power. This can cause the system to become overworked and lead to surging.