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Last Updated on November 10, 2021 by Jessica Lauren Vine
Learning how to install an RV air conditioner gasket can save you a mobile repair bill or a trip to the shop.
Like most things in life, RV parts and pieces are not meant to last forever. RVs are made in factories and utilize a conveyor belt production style. Because they are manufactured, RVs are prone to human error and are not always perfect when they leave the factory.
Aside from this fact, it’s a rule of nature that things break down over time through wear and tear and need to be replaced. One of these pieces that are prone to malfunction is the RV air conditioner gasket.
Luckily, with the proper tools and know-how, most people have the option to install an RV air conditioner gasket all by their lonesome. Doing this fairly simple repair yourself will save you money and give you that contented feeling of a job well done. That combination is hard to beat! Keep on reading below to learn more about how to install an RV air conditioner gasket.
There is good news and bad news about knowing if your RV AC gasket needs to be replaced.
The good news is that there will be an obvious leaking around your air conditioner to signify the need for replacement.
The bad news? The leak will most likely occur in the middle of your living room or bedroom, directly below where the air conditioner is located.
The first step to replacing and installing the RV air conditioner gasket is to have the proper tools on hand. There are few things more irritating than to be in the middle of a project and realize that you need to run to Lowes to pick up a random tool.
It is much better to have everything you need right from the get-go. Here is the essential list of tools:
- Screwdriver set
- Putty knife or scraper
- Rubbing alcohol
- Soft cloth and old towels
- Heat gun (optional)
- Wrench or socket set
- Gasket replacement kit
Once you have acquired these tools and equipment, you are ready to begin!
1. Take care to ensure you don’t damage the roof of your RV while working
It’s easy to get careless or carried away while working and accidentally cause damage to your roof or other parts of the RV. Take care to cover anything fragile with protective cloths or rags and tape off any areas you don’t want stained or damaged. It’s better to be safe than sorry when making repairs!
2. Remove the protective shroud from around the AC
We will go into further detail about this process below, but it’s a reasonably simple task. Remove the four corner screws that anchor the shroud to the air conditioner and lift the shroud.
3. Lift the air conditioner off of the roof
This step is a little more complicated, as there will be wires and other things involved. Before attempting this step, make sure that power is off to the air conditioner to protect yourself from electrical shock.
RV air conditioners are usually fastened to the roof with a series of nuts or bolts. Simply loosen these nuts and bolts and carefully tilt the air conditioner up on one end. This will allow you to access the electrical connection, either three individual wires or a harness-style connection.
A harness-style connection is usually connected with a clip that can easily be undone. When disconnecting the electrical connection, make sure to take note of where each wire is secured so that you can make the same connections when putting the air conditioner back in place.
4. Dispose of the old gasket and putty or silicone
This step can be completed by using a wrench or socket set to remove the nuts or bolts that fasten the gasket to the roof. Once this is removed, use a putty knife to scrape off any additional putty or silicone.
Rubbing alcohol may be required to be rubbed and scrubbed wherever putty or caulk was present to ensure a clean surface on which to fasten the new gasket. Once these areas are clean and all residual debris is removed, you are ready for the final step!
5. Install the new gasket and restore the air conditioner on top of it
Take the replacement gasket that you purchased and place it exactly where the old one was. If new bolts came with the gasket and fit the old holes, use them to fasten the gasket to the roof. If no new bolts came, simply reuse the old ones, as they should work just fine.
Next, position the air conditioner on top of the gasket and make the appropriate electrical connections. Take care to make sure that the power is still off to the air conditioner. Once this is complete, do a final inspection to ensure that all holes are sealed and apply caulk to any visible gaps. You’re now ready to restart your air conditioner and do a practice run to ensure no leaks and everything is functioning correctly.
Congratulations! You’ve just installed a new RV air conditioner gasket!
How Do You Seal an RV Air Conditioner?
Once the new gasket has been installed and the old gasket has been disposed of, you may realize that you have to reseal the inside and outside of your AC just to be safe.
The easiest way to do this is to use a clear or appropriately colored silicone caulk. The silicone should be applied on the inside of the unit to seal any gaps that may appear where the inside of your AC presses against the ceiling.
This is done as an added protection if the gasket were to be faulty and allow water to leak through the outside. Having your RV protected on the inside could save you some headaches and water damage.
The other place to seal with silicone is around the outside of your newly installed AC gasket. The gasket itself should be enough to stop any water from leaking into your RV, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. This extra layer of sealant protection could mean the difference between having a leak and preventing it.
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Why is My RV Air Conditioner Leaking Water?
There are several different reasons and solutions for why your RV air conditioner may be leaking water into your RV, and we will take a look at each one.
The Drain Pan May Be Clogged
This is one of the more common issues with water leaks. The most common culprit for a clogged drain pan is dirt or self-inflicted damage. It’s common for dirt to sneak through the protective shroud and filters that protect the drain pan from outside elements. When enough of this dirt builds up, a clog is the result. The other most common reason for a clogged pan is when excess caulk falls into the drain pan due to work being done by an RV technician or the RV owner.
A Loose Gasket or an Overly Tightened One
If your gasket is too loosely tightened upon installation, the result can be that the seal isn’t tight enough to stop the flow of water completely. This will result in a slow leak that will eventually find its way inside your RV.
On the other hand, if the gasket is over-tightened, it can cause the gasket to tear apart over time which will have the same result – a slow leak into your RV.
Clogged Drain Pipe
This complication is similar to a clogged drain pan. Condensation and evaporated water from the AC evaporator coils are collected into the drain pan. From here, the water will flow into a drain pipe which directs the water to the perimeter of the RV and off the side of the unit.
Dirt and other particles can get into the drain pan and be sent into the drainpipe with the water. A clog will ensue if enough dirt builds up or a large enough particle gets lodged inside the drainpipe. The result – the clog will act as a dam and block the flow of water, which will cause it to back up and leak into your RV.
It’s essential to pay attention to your air conditioner and notice if a leak has developed. A small leak can be a headache, but if it’s let go for too long, the result can be much worse. Water damage and dangerous mold can develop if leaks are left untreated.
How Tight Should RV AC Bolts Be?
A common mistake when it comes to tightening the bolts on your newly installed gasket can be to over or under tighten. As mentioned above, either of these two extremes can result in a leak.
A good rule to remember when tightening the bolts is to hand tighten them until the bolts are snug to the gasket. From there, a few turns with a wrench or socket set should do the job.
This tightness, accompanied by the weight of the air conditioner on top of the gasket, should be enough to prevent any leakage. If you tighten the bolts to the point where you can’t tighten them any further, you’ve gone too far and have probably ruined your gasket.
How Do I Clean the Drain Pan on My RV Air Conditioner?
If you believe the reason that your AC may be leaking water into your RV is due to a clogged drain pan, then there is an easy way to remedy this. Unclog the drain pan! Have no fear, this is a relatively easy task that can be handled without special tools or know-how.
Climb atop your RV and remove the outer protective cover to the air conditioner. Once this is accomplished, a second cover may need to be removed to get to the drain pan, but this varies from RV to RV.
Using old towels or a shop vac, clean out the existing water and debris inside the drain pan. Take a few of the remaining towels and wipe off the remaining moisture from the evaporator coils and drain pan. Following this step, replace the shroud or protective cover on top of your AC, and voila – your drain pan is clean and ready for action.
How Do I Remove the Top of My RV Air Conditioner?
The top protective cover of your AC, also called a shroud, can be easily removed using a screwdriver. There should be four bolts, one at each corner, holding the shroud in place around the air conditioner. Once these bolts are removed, the shroud simply lifts over top of the air conditioner.
How to Install an RV Air Conditioner Gasket – Conclusion
Hopefully, this has been helpful to anyone with questions about how to install an RV air conditioner gasket. Don’t be intimidated by the idea of attempting to make repairs yourself.
With the proper tools and support, you will be capable of undertaking any task that comes your way. If you hit a wall and simply don’t know what to do, contact an RV service technician, and they will be happy to assist you or undertake the task themselves.
Do you want to learn more helpful tips for RV life? Check out my article on how to travel with pets in an RV.