If your RV has a fridge, and your RV is over 3 years old, your RV has a hidden time bomb in it.
Apparently, even if your RV is hundreds of thousands of dollars, most RV manufactures have chosen to use a plastic drain hose that has a retail value of a nickel. In addition to being cheaply made, the hose runs next to a lot of hot components. The average lifespan of the hose before damage is about 3 years, mainly due to the heat.
I have talked to a few other RVers and almost all of them had water damage from this little cheap hose breaking.
Think about it – your RV could have a rotting floor right now because of this ridiculous hose.
The first step to fix our fridge is we needed to buy some tools. I have been using a tool kit for the last 8 years that Tracy bought for me at a discount store as a stocking stuffer. It was a screw driver and a socket set. I think the price was about $7. This tool set has worked great for me over the last few years, but parts have been missing. The tools also sat in an old camera bag so it was hard to find anything when you needed.
I had always heard about a store called Harbor Freight. Apparently they sell tools really cheap. We managed to buy a 140 piece tool kit for $29 and I owned my first needle nose pliers!
Next step was to figure out how to fix the hose.
Step One: Watch these 2 YouTube videos:
So if this lady can fix an RV fridge why can’t I? I can’t because I am terrible with tools. Lucky for me Tracy is great with tools. I just have to keep my mouth shut, and help!
Tracy went to a box store and bought a thick plastic drain hose to replace the cheap brittle hose. The hose had a half-inch diameter inside opening. It was really long. We ended up needing to cut the hose after the installation.
The first step was to remove all power to the fridge. That means first you turn off and unplug the RV from the wall. Then you hit the battery disconnect so the 12 volt house batteries stop feeding power to the fridge. Then you turn off the propane. Don’t forget to turn off the propane!
Now your house is dark. Its hot out. You open up all your windows and let in some light. Don’t pull down the outside awning cause you are hot because you need the outside light to see. Or pull down the awning cause you are hot, and you don’t want to scream at each other, because you are hot and stressed, while you work on the refrigerator.
The next step was how to remove the fridge. This is not the first step. This was just the first step we did. Notice we did not do the real first step. The real first step is to empty the fridge and freezer.
Notice the videos don’t really cover that subject of fridge removal. It probably took us an hour total to remove the refrigerator. The repair lady was kind enough to show us how to remove the access panel. She was kind enough to warn you about bugs, and yes, we saw some creepy bugs behind the fridge.
You need your fridge manual to remove the fridge. Look online if you lost your manual. Don’t start without the manual. Even with the manual it took us awhile to decipher the screw locations. We had 6 screws to remove total. It wasn’t until we started yanking on the fridge did we find the last 2 screws.
Once the screws were out of the fridge I just grabbed the handles and I yanked on the door until the fridge started sliding. The first yank revealed a screw that was stuck and needed removed.
Then we realized we had to remove the wiring for the 12-volt system. Then we realized we had to unhook the propane.
I was very hesitant about unhooking the propane. Propane kills people. I used one of my new Harbor Freight adjustable wrenches to yank on the nut connecting the propane line. I could see the entire brass line twisting as I yanked on the nut.
I looked around for the park maintenance people for some advice but I couldn’t find anyone. My neighbor is putting a new roof on his RV. I stopped by to ask him, but he was sleeping.
Propane fixtures are difficult. They all operate the wrong way (propane fixtures are lefty tighty, righty loosy). Plus if everything doesn’t work out well you have a leak and then you die.
After thinking about the situation in the sweltering heat, I decided to try a vice grip. The vice grip worked great. Instead just gripping a part of the bolt, the vice grip snuggly wrapped around the bolt and the bolt moved easily.
After the 12-volt was disconnect and the gas line was removed I was able to grab the fridge handles and drag the fridge out of the hole it was in.
Actually I didn’t have to totally remove the fridge. I was able to tilt the fridge forward. Then the boy was able to yank off the brittle drain hose.
Next while I held the fridge Tracy opened the door to access the drip catcher. This of course resulted in lots of food falling out of the fridge. At this point we decided to empty the fridge, but we left the freezer alone!
Tracy held the drip catcher in place while the boy shoved the new drain tube on. The boy then took a few tries and managed to put a zip-tie around the tube. This will prevent the hose from falling off the back of the fridge again. I have no intention of doing this procedure again. Ever.
We also zip tied the line in a few places as it ran down the back of the fridge. Quite a few of the fridge parts get hot and we wanted to make sure that nothing hot was next to the drain hose.
After the new drain hose was hooked up I gave a mighty shove, chipped some trim, and put the fridge back in place. Tracy put the screws in, I hooked up the propane, then I hooked up the power.
We didn’t get all the screws back in. We don’t have a drill so Tracy couldn’t force the screws in. 2 of the screws didn’t re-align perfect with their old spots so we couldn’t put them back. One screw is missing in the back and one in the front. I figure that the fridge is heavy enough that it won’t fall over when I am driving.
After that fiasco I hooked up all the power. I plugged the 50amp into the wall, hit the fuses, and reconnected the batteries via the battery cut-off switch. I switched on the propane and the fridge.
The fridge error light was on. When you opened the door you could feel the fridge was working, but no lights were on.
The 12-volt didn’t get hooked up. We also didn’t note what wire was positive and what wire was negative.
One wire was purple and said House TT, The other wire was white and said nothing.
After googling around I determined changing the wire polarity (hooking up the positive and negative to the wrong terminal) was a very bad thing.
Then I had a brilliant idea. I balanced a new Harbor freight wrench in the fridge access vent. Then I hit the wrench with the white wire. Nothing. Then I hit the wrench with the purple wire. Sparks! Problem solved!
I turned off the batteries and Tracy reconnected the wires. I turned back on the fridge.
Error lights again.
I check the fuse panel. The fridge fuse is blown on the 12 volt system. Apparently my spark test had a price. 1 15amp car fuse style breaker is blown.
I switch the fridge fuse with the fuse for the outdoor radio. We have used that outdoor radio twice so far. Once was to see if even worked!
I turn the fridge back on. No error light. I open the door. The interior light is on.
Now that the fridge is working we had to finish putting on the rear access panel. Tracy bent the drain tube into a p-trap, then she re-attached the access panel to the RV.
Tracy trimmed the end of the hose to a proper length. We don’t have a drain plug like in the video, so we shoved a sponge into the end of the tube to keep out the bugs.
We now had a working fridge. A new tool set. And we somehow lost about $50 somewhere.
So what did we learn?
- We can do some repairs and save some real money. This fix would not have been cheap if we went to a dealership or repair facility.
- If I was buying a new RV or a used RV, I would demand the hose gets changed out. I would make it conditional of purchase. Yes, I would do that even on a new RV. What crazy person at an RV factory thought those cheap hoses were a good idea?
- You should check your hose. Our drain hose was not even sticking out the access panel like it was supposed to be. When I walk through the RV park I can’t see drain hoses on most of the RVs. If you don’t see your drain hose, then your fridge is probably draining into the floor of your RV.
Moral of the story. Check your drain hose. Now. Don’t let this crazy story happen to you!