RV Refrigerator Vents – Replacing Your Side And Roof Vents

Without your RV refrigerator vents functioning, your refrigerator won’t do its job properly and will seriously compromise your travels. The heat from the fridge, and the sun’s UV rays, degrades plastic RV vents. Hail, rain, and overhead obstructions like branches and carport roofs, contribute to RV vent damage as well.

Unscrew and remove the old vents to replace your RV refrigerator side and roof vents. Scrape off old sealant from the vent flange areas and clean those areas using a solvent. Apply Butyl tape to the new vent flanges. Screw in new vents and waterproof the vent flanges and screws with sealant.

Replacing components on your RV may seem intimidating, and while some DIY RV repairs are difficult, replacing RV refrigerator vents is relatively easy. Considering how important your RV refrigerator vents are to the proper functioning of your refrigerator chimney, it’s wise to know what the vents are designed to achieve and how best to replace them. Let’s get to the WHY and HOW of RV refrigerator vent replacement!

Why Are RV Refrigerator Vents Important?

Most RVs leave the manufacturer equipped with a 2 way or 3 way absorption refrigerator that uses a boiler to create its cooling power. The heat generated by the refrigerator’s cooling unit resides in the chimney area of your RV. Here’s some more information on How a propane RV refrigerator works.

The refrigerator chimney has a side vent and a roof vent. Slide-out RVs have a lower side vent and an upper side vent servicing the refrigerator chimney. Your RV refrigerator needs air to constantly move over the cooling unit, entering at the lower side vent and exhausting through the roof or upper vent of the chimney.

If the vents are damaged, not only will they compromise airflow in the chimney, but they’ll also leak, allowing water to enter the chimney. Water will rot the wood inside the RV and possibly cause electrical problems. 

RV refrigerator side and roof vents are often replaced to accommodate cooling fans, which help move air more efficiently over the refrigerator cooling unit (entering the chimney from the lower side vent and moving up and out through the roof vent).

To get the most efficiency out of your unit check out my recent post on setting your RV refrigerator temperature

Preparing An RV Refrigerator Vent Replacement

Let’s assume you’ve purchased the correct replacement side and roof vents for your RV refrigerator chimney (either via Amazon.com or your RV dealer). Your RV side vent will probably be white when you take them out of the box. The first step is to wash it off to remove and grease an oil then use a can of spray paint to match it to the exterior of your RV or trailer.

I also installed an extra piece of flashing at the bottom of the access hatch to assist in directing any water out of the area and preventing it from causing water damage.

If you have a bigger project in mind, here’s the instructions for replacing your RV refrigerator

Replacing Your RV Refrigerator Side Vent

You’ll need disposable gloves, a flathead screwdriver, and a cordless electric drill/driver, a sharp, long picking tool, a putty knife, and a utility knife, an alcohol-based solvent, a cleaning rag, Butyl tape or caulking, a caulking gun, and a flexible RV sealant.

And now for the DIY steps:

  1. Using a flathead screwdriver, remove the old side vent cover by twisting loose the two plastic tabs holding the vent in place.  
  2. Remove any sealant from the vent flange screw holes using your long picking tool.
  3. Unscrew the side vent flange using your cordless drill and remove it from the RV wall.
  4. Scrape off the old sealant from the flange area using a putty knife.
  5. Clean the flange area using a solvent that won’t harm your RV’s paint.
  6. Test-fit your new side vent to ensure it’s a tight fit.
  7. Remove the new vent and apply Butyl tape to its flange area. 
  8. Insert the new vent flange into the RV wall, applying pressure to it to ensure good adhesion of the Butyl tape.
  9. Screw in the new flange screws.
  10. Trim off excess Butyl tape using your utility knife.
  11. Apply the flexible RV sealant around the outside edge of the vent flange.
  12. Attach the steel heat guards protecting the vent from the heat generated by the refrigerator boiler (if needed).
  13. Attach the new RV refrigerator side vent cover. 

Replacing Your RV Refrigerator Roof Vent

You’ll need disposable gloves, a cordless electric drill/driver, a putty knife, and a utility knife, an alcohol-based solvent, a cleaning rag, rubberized Butyl tape, a caulking gun, a flexible RV sealant, and a ladder.

Your roof vent DIY replacement steps:

  1. Using your ladder, get up on your RV roof.
  2. Remove sealant from the refrigerator roof vent using your putty knife.
  3. Unscrew the roof vent cover and remove it from its flange.
  4. Unscrew the roof vent flange and remove it from its seating in the roof.
  5. Scrape off all the old sealant using your putty knife.
  6. Clean the area with the alcohol-based solvent and a rag.
  7. Test-fit the new roof vent flange and remove it to prepare it for fitment. 
  8. Apply Butyl tape to the new roof vent flange.
  9. Insert the new roof vent flange and press down hard for maximum adhesion.
  10. Insert and drive in the new roof vent flange screws.
  11. Trim off excess Butyl tape with your utility knife.
  12. Apply a self-leveling LAP sealant to the periphery of the roof vent flange and its screw holes.
  13. Screw on the new roof vent cover and apply the sealant to the screw holes.

There you have it – 26 steps to a successful RV refrigerator vent replacement job. 

Here are the products we used in this project to seal around the vents and prevent water damage to the RV


Fitting new RV refrigerator vents will ensure your refrigerator chimney’s air inlet and exhaust ports are in top condition. Follow this 26-step guide, and you’ll have the replacement tasks completed in a couple of hours. 

With cool air constantly flowing over your refrigerator coils and fins, your food and drinks will be chilled to the correct temperatures in the fridge and freezer. A well-vented chimney makes for a healthy fridge and happy campers – you’ll eat well and sleep like a bear, knowing someone you trust replaced your RV refrigerator vents.


Beau is an electrical engineer with a knack for DIY repair and construction. When he's not tinkering with his projects he's on the road travelling and enjoying an exciting lifestyle with his young family.

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