How To Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter? (5 Easy Steps)

In order for the RV air conditioner to work flawlessly, it needs to be maintained regularly. First of all, it is important to change the A/C unit filter. This is an important component that is often overlooked when it comes to RVs. Even experienced campers who know everything about RV maintenance sometimes forget to perform a regular AC system service in the first year of owning an RV vehicle.

If the AC filter is dirty, the air quality in your RV will be reduced. No one wants to go on a long trip locked in an RV cabin filled with an unpleasant smell. The good news is that replacing the AC filter on your RV is not difficult. Below we provide instructions on how to maintain the AC system in the RV in five easy steps. So, let’s start!

How To Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter?

So How To Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter? First, turn off the AC unit and remove the AC filter carefully. Use a vacuum cleaner, warm water, and a soft brush to remove the dirt and grime from the filter. Also, be sure to use vinegar to prevent future bacteria growth. Before placing the filter back, make sure it’s completely dry.

Now that we’ve explained how to clean your RV AC filter, we should go through some more things related to this topic to understand the importance of regular maintenance of the RV AC system and what can happen if you don’t do this.

Why It Is Important To Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter?

Cleaning RV Air Conditioner Filter Regularly

The air conditioner works by drawing warm air from the outside through the opening into the unit. You should know that smog, allergens, dust, and many other airborne particles can enter your RV with the air. Even when it comes to the cleanest air from the mountain environment.

The AC filter prevents unwanted elements from getting into your RV with cold air. It does this by retaining various particles on its membrane that accumulate over time on the filter in the form of deposits until the entire filter is completely covered with dirt. If the AC filter isn’t cleaned regularly, you can expect two potential scenarios:

  1. The filter is completely clogged. This prevents cold air from entering the RV. The air supply becomes so weak that the device is inefficient. 
  2. The filter is partially clogged. It still lets the air from the outside but can no longer perform its basic function, and unwanted particles from outside enter your RV. This is a situation where the AC device works but pollutes your living space. 

If there is no regular maintenance regarding the AC filter, one of these two scenarios is likely to occur. This can also cause serious problems with health. At best, you will feel dirt accumulating in your RV, and at worst, you will experience serious consequences for your health, such as worsening asthma symptoms and allergies. Or your AC device will simply stop working.

Where Is RV Air Conditioner Filter Located? 

As is the case in a standard sticks-and-bricks house, the AC air filter in the RV is located on the back of the air vent. In most cases, the ventilation opening of the AC device is located on the ceiling of the RV. As with the AC device in your home, all you need to do is open the vent, and you will be able to see the dirty filter right away.

Steps to Clean RV Air Conditioner Filter

Note: use this instruction only if your AC device has a washable filter. If you have a disposable filter do not follow it. 

1. Remove The AC Filter

Find and remove the AC Filter

The first step is to turn off the AC device and disconnect its power source. The cap covering the ventilation opening should then be removed. Carefully remove the filter, and take care not to damage the device. 

Tip: Refer to the manual for your RV model for better insights on how to remove the filter from the AC device. 

Never start an AC device without a filter inside. Doing so you can cause dirt particles to scatter throughout the interior of the RV, and the AC device can suffer serious damage.

2. Clean The Filter By Using a Vacuum

Use a Vacuum to Clean the Filter

With the help of the suction power of your vacuum cleaner, you will easily remove all the particulates from the filter. During the process, make sure not to damage the filter when vacuuming. You need to find the optimal suction power to avoid damage.

In some cases, just vacuuming the filter will do the job. Therefore, if you do not see any more deposits on the filter after vacuuming, you can put the filter cover back in place and finish cleaning. But when the filter is still dirty due to irregular maintenance, you’ll need to use a more precise approach. However, when you recognize yourself in this situation, continue to follow the next steps to perform a more detailed cleaning.

3. Scrub and Soak The Filter

Make sure to clean the Filter

Prepare warm water and mild detergent to wash the filter of your AC device. The best way to clean the filter is to immerse it in water with detergent and let it soak for about 15 minutes. You can immerse the filter in a large bucket or RV shower. If the filter is very dirty, you can leave it in the liquid for a longer time, even for several hours. 

It is best to use a toothbrush and be very careful not to damage the filter. After removing all the dirt mechanically, flush the filter of soap and small residual dirt particles with a shower head in your RV or garden water hose.

4. Prevent Bacteria Growth By Using Vinegar Solution

Use Vinegar to prevent bacteria growth on the Filter

After cleaning, pass this filter with a vinegar solution, which is a natural disinfectant and which will prevent you from inhaling the remnants of commercial chemicals during your stay in the RV.

Directions

  1. For the solution, you should mix water and vinegar in equal amount. Pu it in a spray bottle.
  2. By using vinegar solution spray the filter from both sides, and wait 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse the filter to prevent your RV from smelling when you turn the AC unit on.

5. Make Sure That Filter Is Dry Before Putting It Back On

The filter must be dry before you put it back on

Since the surface of the AC filter is thick, the filter will need several hours to dry after cleaning. 

Tip: Place the filter in sunlight to dry. This will speed up the whole process, and the sun will destroy any potentially remaining bacteria on the filter. 

Carefully return the filter to the AC device after it is completely dry. Then place the cover over it and reconnect the appliance. The air conditioner in your recreational vehicle is now ready to go again!

Bonus: Cleaning the RV AC Condenser and Evaporator

Owners of RV vehicles should regularly check the condition of their AC filters. They ensure that there is always a good air supply inside RV. Therefore, they require regular maintenance. Over the years, the cooling fans of AC devices will accumulate various debris and dirt, which will significantly reduce the efficiency of the device. You can use a foam or spray cleaner to clean the vanes of the fans, as well as the case itself.

It is recommended to check the filter’s condition and clean it in case you have recently bought an RV-used vehicle. Many people forget to check if there is dirt in the AC device when buying a vehicle, so they are surprised when their new RV does not smell like new. In this case, if you have already decided that the filter needs to be cleaned, it is not a bad idea to immediately check the condition of the evaporator fins and condenser.

Tips on RV Air Conditioner Filter Maintenance

After cleaning, you can’t just put the filter back in place and forget it’s there for the next few months. In order for the AC to be effective and for the filter to last a long time and fulfill its function when it comes to providing your RV with cold air, you need to properly maintain the device between the two cleanings. Below we bring you some tips on how to take care of your AC device after cleaning it.

Use the AC’s Automatic Cleaning Function

If your RV has the AC auto cleaning function, be sure to make use of it. With the help of this function, a system is activated in the device which removes dust from the filter by an internal brush device and transfers it to a small container from which it then goes outside. 

You should definitely use the auto-cleaning function if it is built into your AC system. It will keep the filter clean for a longer period of time. But it should be remembered that it will not be effective for heavier dirt.

Regularly Clean Your AC Filter

Just simply take care of your AC filter regularly. To find out how often your AC filter needs to be cleaned, refer to the manual that came with the vehicle. Some manufacturers require cleaning the filter every two weeks, while others point out that it is enough to clean the filter every 30 days. The filter should be cleaned more often than recommended only if you have allergies or pets.

Replace the Filter if Necessary

It is clear that each AC filter in the RV has its own lifespan and can’t last forever. The moment will come when the filter can no longer be revitalized by cleaning. AC filters in RVs vary, and AC manufacturers even recommend specific filters for some models. It is also important to find information on whether disposable or washable filters go into your AC device.

It is not difficult to notice that the filter of the AC system needs to be changed. This conclusion can be made if you see any damage to the filter. When you notice tears or holes it’s time to change the filter. When you go camping, it is always good to have a supply of a few spare AC filters with you. You can easily buy filters in stores that sell home appliances.

Run the AC Only When Necessary

It is recommended that you use your AC unit in your RV only when really needed. This will definitely reduce the potential contamination of the AC device, but also save energy. Keep in mind that even when you are not forced to save energy, the AC device in the RV should not be kept in operation if you do not need it.

Also, be sure to read this article if you own an RV: How To Hook Up TV To RV Antenna (Step-By-Step Guide).

FAQ: People Also Ask

Can a Single-Use Filter be Cleaned?

Single-Use filters are not intended for washing and are designed to be used one time only. Single-Use filters lose their protective effectiveness when washed and will not do their job well once you put them back in the appliance. In such cases, they can be dangerous to health. Buy a new filter, and don’t put your health and the health of your loved ones at risk.

Can I Prevent Contamination In Air Conditioner Filter?

The more the AC device works, the more dirt will be on the filter. You can reduce the amount by reducing the volume of airflow through the AC device. The best advice about the cleanliness of the filter in your AC unit is to turn it on only when you can’t do without it. It is important to remember that pollution cannot be prevented and that the AC device in the RV must be cleaned at least every few months.

Final Thoughts

If you own an RV vehicle and you have an air conditioning unit on it, it is very important to do regular maintenance. If you do not clean your air filter regularly, your AC system may break down, which will cost you a lot in the end. Another thing that can happen is that it harms your health, which you certainly don’t want. So I hope you have read this article in detail and understood how to maintain your AC unit. Good luck!

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