RV Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance

The RV air conditioner vents and filters inside your motorhome or camper trailer require monthly maintenance. This includes cleaning the ceiling vents and periodic AC filter replacements. By keeping your vents and filters clean and debris-free,  your RV’s air conditioner will operate more efficiently even on your hottest days; thus extending the life of the AC. But most of all, regular vent cleaning will aid in your family’s respiratory health.

Always On Liberty - RV Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance

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RV Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance

When should you clean your RV AC vents and filters?

First, before cleaning or removing any parts from your air conditioner components, we recommend you read your RV air conditioner manufacturer’s instructions.

After, you’ll want to pick a cooler day because you’ll need to shut it down during the duration of cleaning your RV air conditioner vents and filters. But even if that’s not plausible, this job will take less than thirty minutes. So, maybe do this early in the morning or evening when it’s not so hot outside.

How often should you clean your RV air conditioner vents and filters?

You should inspect and clean your RV air conditioner components at least once a year.

However, if you park your motorhome or camper in warmer climates for longer durations, you’ll want to complete this simple RV maintenance project more often to keep your air conditioner running efficiently. We highly recommend cleaning your air conditioner vents and filters at least monthly.

If you have pets, cook indoors or smoke, we highly recommend conducting air conditioner maintenance and cleaning more often. Also, if you  camp or park in regions of high pollen or high dust, you’ll want to do this particular maintenance project more often.

Your RV air conditioner will operate more efficiently and cleanly. Your health will thank you for it. As you can see by the photo in the beginning, that alone should be reason enough to keep after them.

Removing vent covers and filters

Removing your air conditioner vent covers and filters is simple. All you need to do is unscrew and remove the vent covers from the ceiling. Be very careful if using any tool to pry them loose as to not puncture your RV’s padded ceiling or cut into the ceiling board.

Once you’ve remove each vent cover, be careful not to disturb or shake the dust, fibers or hair that’s in the filter. We immediately take them outside away from open doors and windows. Be mindful of our neighbors open windows and doors as well. You may want to position yourself up-wind. And, keep them away from your face. There are allergens that you don’t want to breathe in or blow back into your own RV or your neighbors.

Then, carefully disassemble the air conditioner vent covers by removing the black circular foam filters. Shake each filter to get any loose dust and debris out.

How to clean your RV air conditioner vents and filters

I have a three-step filter cleaning process. I’ll set up two dish pans side by side; one with hot soapy water and the other with hot rinse water. I use regular Dawn dish soap (the original blue stuff) because it cuts any grease that may have adhered to the filters. Stay away from caustic cleaners as they can deteriorate the foam filters. I also set up a clean, dry blotting towel next to the rinse dishpan.

After removing the foam filters from the plastic vent covers, shake as much of the dust and debris out of them. Again, stand up-wind as to not have the dust and debris blow in your face or near those open doors and windows.

Then, toss them into a hot soapy water solution. I typically allow them to soak a few minutes so the detergent can permeate the filters to loosen the dirt and grime.

After the filters are finished soaking, squish them several times to get the soap worked into the cells of each filter. Be very careful not to rip or tear the vent filters.

RV AC Vent Filters Soaking Water

Once the filters are cleaned thoroughly, rinse each filter thoroughly with clean water. Then squeeze all excess water out of each filter.

Lastly, spread each of them on a drying mat and carefully blot dry with a clean, dry lint-free towel. Set aside to dry completely.

RV AC Vents Filters Dry

If it’s a bright sunny day and not windy, I may set them out on a clean towel on the picnic table so the sun can throw a few UV rays to kill any germs left behind on them.

While the foam filters are air-drying, toss the plastic vent covers in the same hot soapy water to allow them to soak for a few minutes. Using a small brush, clean every inch of the vents; between the louvers, front and back. I use an old toothbrush to get into the cracks, corners and crevices.

RV AC Vent Covers Soaking

After washing, I simply dunk them in my rinse pan and set them on my drying mat; allowing them to air dry. Like the filters, I may set them outside on a clean towel also. Of course, you can certainly do this RV maintenance project in your RV kitchen.

RV AC Vents Filters Drying

How to inspect and clean your RV’s air conditioning ceiling ventilation

While the RV’s air conditioner filters and vent covers are drying, we move onto inspecting the ventilation channels in the ceiling. Take a flashlight and look up inside each ventilation channel. You’ll want to get rid of any debris, cobwebs, insects or spiders. Also, thoroughly inspect to ensure there’s no rodent evidence (mouse turds, nesting material).

You can use a long hose vacuum cleaner to clean the ventilation out. However, it’s imperative that you not puncture the hose channels or anything up inside the ventilation system.

We’ve found by using a long-handled, soft duster wand works great carefully dusting out the vents. You’d be surprised at what you can collect up there. Shake your cleaning wand outside often between sweepings.

Hey, and since you’re already up on your ladder or step stool, it’s a good time to clean the ceiling fan.  Give each fan blade a good dusting by wiping it down with a clean, damp cloth. If you use your ceiling fan often, you may want to clean your ceiling fan weekly. Again, you’d be surprised what collect up there.

Always On Liberty Ceiling Fan

Getting back to your air conditioner filters, once all of your vent covers and filters are clean and dry, simply reinstall them all into your ceiling. Then you’re good to go to turn your RV’s air conditioner back on.

Ceiling Air Conditioning Component

Most RVs and campers have an overhead ceiling air conditioning component. You’ll want to also remove the cover and clean the filter as well. Again, inspect the electrical wires and look for anything that doesn’t look right.

You’ll also want to use the same cleaning technique I used for the above ceiling vent filters. 

Need replacement vent filters?

If you’ve ripped your RV air conditioner circular foam filters or you just want fresh new ones, you can easily replace them. Instead of ordering OEM filters that are pre-cut, I simply buy a foam filter sheet. I simply trace my old filters and cut them out individually.

If you have room in your RV’s storage compartments, it may be wise to keep an extra supply of filters just in case you may be boondocking and can’t afford using water to clean them.

Related RV Maintenance articles:

RV Roof Inspection and Maintenance

Keeping Your RV Air Conditioner Working Efficiently

RV Hot Water System Cleaning and Maintenance

Fantastic Fan Screen and Window Screens

Basic RV Tire Safety and Maintenance Tips

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21 Replies to “RV Air Conditioner Vents and Filters Maintenance”

    1. Thank you for reading our blog, Susan. Depending on location, you may have to clean your vents more often than others. I know we do. Travel safe out there!

  1. I have done this, and they do get dirty but some of The foam filters are missing on some of our vents, is this going to cause a problem?

    1. Karen, you should have filters as they keep your ventilation system clean. You can find sheets of the black sponge filters at Walmart or Lowes. You can cut them to your desired size. Once you get them replaced, we suggest scheduling a cleaning as part of your RV maintenance check once a month. HTH’s

    2. Worthy topic. Karen, be aware of which ducts are supply and which are returns. To my knowledge only return vents will have filters. One does not want to restrict the output of the system with filters.

  2. Are there any other filters with this type of ac unit? On the roof?
    Love the post, just finished doing ours.

  3. It’s good that you mentioned how you should get all of the dust out of your filters before soaking them in hot soapy water. I am trying to ventilate my RV, and I want to make sure that I have all of the parts necessary to get the job done properly. It might be a good idea for me to look for some spare parts in case of an emergency.

    1. Its important to take care of your RV components because if you don’t, they will fail or not be as efficient. Going that extra step in keeping them clean(er) has never steered us wrong. Thanks for your input. -Dan & Lisa

  4. The air-conditioner is working and we can feel the cool air but they will not open the vents throughout the fifth wheel what is causing the vents not open. Also we have no filters on any of the vents except on the air conditioning itself, should all the vents have filters ?

    1. Rosemary, thanks for taking the time to read. Filters should only be inserted on the AC intake vents. Hope that helps! Safe travels!

  5. The information is very useful. It helped me know how to clean Rv air conditioner properly. Thanks very much!

    1. Natalie, we’re glad our information was helpful. Just keep a good regular maintenance schedule and your components will last much longer. Safe travels!

  6. Great article! I’ve heard that mold can grow in the vents/ducts. How do you keep mold from growing in the vents when the camper is covered for the winter and its humid and cold in the camper?

  7. I cleaned my air conditioning ducks with a water hose that was new by pushing it from vent to vent. In the middle I tied a old bath towel sprayed disinfectant mole spray. I pulled from one end and my wife pulled from the other end it worked great.

    1. Thank you Andy for taking the time to read our article. While that may have worked for you, others may incur damage to their air conditioning ducts. Be very careful as you may experience the same in the future. Also, be very careful about putting any chemicals in your ductwork. The last thing we’d every want to hear is anyone getting sick, asphyxiated or ending up in the hospital for respiratory distress. Please be safe. We care.

    1. Beatrix, thank you for taking the time to read this article. The vent covers should come off easily with a simple twist counter clockwise.

  8. I have the same vents in my RV ceiling. How do you remove the covers to get to the filters? I have tried unscrewing them and I can’t get them to release. It looks like there is a small slot to insert a flathead screwdriver, but that worries me about puncturing ceiling. Please advise.

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