It’s a bit disconcerting: You’ve got the RV out for a trip and you notice water dripping. Dripping down the side of the rig. There’s not a cloud in the sky, but water is flowing away merrily. Or it could even be worse. You flip on the air conditioner for a hot day and after a short while what happens? A nasty drip, drip, drip of water falls from your air conditioning unit. It drips—onto the floor—INSIDE your RV!
What’s going on? In one instance, it’s nothing unusual. Not a thing to be worried about. In the latter, a normal thing, but happening in a place where it ought not. The water you see streaming down the side of your rig (or off your awning) is simply a byproduct of the weather. Condensation.
Where the drips should be…
When you fire up your RV air conditioner, it pulls humidity out of the inside air and pumps it outside. The higher the humidity, the greater the amount of water produced. Typically the “condensate” drips into a pan in the base of the air conditioning unit. That drip pan has small holes that allow the water to harmlessly drip out on the roof. If the weather is hot enough, and there’s not much condensate, it may evaporate immediately. If not, then it will likely run down the roof and down the side of your rig.
… and where they shouldn’t!
But when there’s not a cloud in the sky and you see water dripping into your RV—look out. The chances are good it’s still the air conditioner producing condensation. Unfortunately, the condensation isn’t making its way harmlessly onto your roof. What’s likely is that dirt, leaves, or other junk has gotten into your A/C unit and blocked the drain holes in the bottom of the pan. A/C mounting bolts that need adjustment could contribute to this problem, but you’ll know that if the A/C unit drips when it’s raining. If the water level gets too deep, it runs up and over the lip of the pan and makes its way into your RV. Left unchecked, it can be worse than a nuisance—it can actually damage your rig.
And as to those four mounting bolts that “saddle” your A/C unit to the RV roof? If you get drips when it’s raining outside, that’s the first place to look. These bolts may need an adjustment, and in RARE circumstances, you might even need to replace the A/C-to-roof gasket. If you’re concerned that your bolts aren’t in adjustment, you’ll need to look for the specifications in your A/C manual. The A/C installation manual will spell out the proper specs. DON’T over-tighten those bolts, or you could run into more trouble!
An easy fix for water dripping into your RV
The fix is easy. Turn off the air conditioner unit. For safety’s sake, disconnect the power to the RV. Carefully access the roof and remove the shroud covering your A/C unit. Typically a few screws or nuts hold it in place. Carefully lift the shroud and set it aside.
Look closely at the pan at the bottom of the unit. Remove any debris that blocks the drain pan. With the holes uncovered, your inside “rain showers” should be a thing of the past. Pop the shroud back on and make sure all the mounting hardware gets back in place and you’re good to go—driplessly!
What’s the second-best thing you can do for your RV air conditioner?
We had a motor home that dripped water onto the corner of the bed. 3 trips to the local RV shop, $172+ service fees and new gasket it still leaked. Finally our son in law and I investigated a found a crack in the plastic condensate tray that allowed the drip. A trip to Walmart, a package of water proof epoxy, and the leak fixed. Moral of the story, make sure the RV tech is LISTENING to you explain the problem. Had the shop listened when I explained it does it on rain-free days, and only after it’s ran long enough for condensation to build up to the level of where the crack was they could’ve found it. The tray was not dirty and plugged with leaves, part of the condensation was draining as it should, the rest was coming inside. 2 years later it was still not leaking inside.
You don’t need to unplug from the post. Turn off the breaker to the AC unit.
Safety first, yes turning off the breaker will eliminate power to the rig, BUT it takes almost nothing to pull the plug as well and there is less likelihood of the breaker being turned on by a “helpful” passerby or a member of your crew who does not know what you are doing.
I’ll be adding “Check the A/C drip pan” to my annual “Check before first trip” checklist. Thanks.