De-Winterizing our RV
Well, fellow RV’rs, we are approaching the end of March again and our thoughts are turning towards the question of how to prepare for your next camping season adventure and making new memories along the way. We are planning trips with the family, attending special events or touring some of the places we’ve always wanted to see. Or, maybe we’re just planning to return to our favorite get-away spot.
But, for those of us that live North of the equator in the cooler climates, the RV has been hibernating over the late Fall and Winter and it’s going to need some TLC before that first trip of the season. Whether it’s the trip planned for the end of June, Spring break or the long weekend in May, no one wants to be surprised by problems that should have been looked after before hand.
Some of these things can be looked after personally, and other things are best left to someone who knows what they are doing: the tech at your local RV dealership.
Whatever your situation, here are some things to consider when getting your RV out of storage mode. So let’s get down to it, shall we?
Checking the Roof
First, we will start with the exterior of the RV/Trailer and the first place we want to inspect is the ROOF:
- Some units don’t come with a ladder, (like mine. I was so disappointed. I suppose I could have had one installed but at the time it was another expense), so find a ladder that’s safe and the right height, 6′ is a good height but 8′ would be even better. The right height is important because you don’t want to struggle and risk falling. This could ruin a very promising summer.
- Without actually climbing on the roof make a visual inspection of the roof vents, air conditioning cover, antenna, Sewer caps, and Skylights if you have them and the overall roof condition. Pay particular attention for cracks or lifting of the sealants that are around the different items on the roof and along the front, back and both side edges where the roof meets the rest of the trailer.
- If any of the sealant material needs to be replaced, do so. Check with your local RV dealership/service center for the proper sealant that should be used. Also, make sure that you have a couple of pieces of plywood that can be placed on the roof and moved easily for weight distribution and protection. I recommend at least 1/2″ thick, (3/4″ would be better), 12-15″ wide and about 48″ long. Two pieces will allow you to move one while standing on the other. And make sure that the edges are free of chips that stick out, they will easily put a hole in the rubber roof.
NOTE: When choosing a sealant for the roof of your RV make sure it is the correct one. There are many different products out there so if you are unsure about which one to use ask your RV dealer. The will recommend the correct sealant. One other thing to consider when redoing the roof sealant is DON’T skimp on the amount you put down. Look at what is already there and use this as an example.
The Rest of the Exterior
- the moldings and sealant around the side panels, the caulking around the windows, the storage door trim, the water connections, entrance doors, outdoor access panel to the water heater and outdoor shower, range hood vent etc. This is something you might want to do a few time throughout the season just to make sure that everything is tight and there are no gaps or cracks where side walls and moldings come together that could let in water.
NOTE: To avoid getting sealant on the window trim, exterior panels, and other areas where there is molding, mask off the area in question. When you remove the tape the mess goes with it and you have a nice clean line. You can also smooth it out with a wet finger and lightly pass over the area where you have replaced the sealant.
- Lubricate the hinges on the storage and entrance doors and locks and make sure to put some on the slide-out/fold down steps as well. A little silicone spray, or “3 in 1” will do the trick here. And a little in the locks of all the compartments and the entrance doors are also a good idea.
- Make sure you check all the running lights and replace any that are not working. You don’t want to get rear ended by someone because your brake lights weren’t working. Not only would you be mostly, or totally responsible for your own damage but you would also be responsible for any repairs to the other vehicle and no one wants that when they’re on a vacation.
- Most RV tires have a life span of 3-5 years depending on use so check your tire pressures to make sure they are all pressurized properly. Also, check for wear and tear like cracks in the sidewalls and thickness of the tread. The last thing we want to end up with is a flat tire but if it happens and you have duel axels on your RV/trailer then one of these will make the job easier.
NOTE: Here is a picture of what your tires should and shouldn’t look like when they are inflated.
- Check the wheel bearings and the bushings on the suspension. Some bushings are just plastic and wear out quickly. This can happen in only a few thousand miles and can be upgraded using a Heavy Duty Suspension replacement kit, (I’ll be writing about this in a future blog), which has brass bushings, heavy duty plates and zerk fittings for easy lubrication. Unless you are good at this sort of thing and have the right equipment, this should be done by a professional. If you have had your trailer/RV for a while this may be a good time to have this work done.
- Check your battery fluid levels, the charge, and voltage level before you hook it up. It is recommended that you do a load check as well. It is also recommended that you wear eye protection and proper clothing. However, if you don’t feel safe doing this yourself, have your dealership/service dept. take care of this. It’s better to be safe and spend a few dollars rather than risk injury. When you connect the battery use a little dielectric grease or something recommended by your dealer. This will help prevent corrosion. Hook up the wires properly, doing the ground wire connection last.
- Make sure you check all the equipment used to connect the trailer/fifth wheel, to the tow vehicle for wear and tear and replace if necessary. If your not sure of what to look for, have your service technician do a check.
Checking Out the Interior
- Check the cupboard doors and drawers, open them, check inside with a flashlight to see if there is anything in there that shouldn’t be, like mice or their droppings or, worse yet, water damage. If you have no way to hook you trailer up to power, buy two or three dehumidifiers for your unit. The cost is minimal and will save you unneeded repairs in the future. I have three in my 28 ft. trailer and they are working well.
- Check the ceiling and wall panels for any moisture damage as well. Look for brown discoloration or bubbling/swelling in the surface.
- If you are able to plug into city power, check your appliances, wall plugs, GFI plugs, monitor panel and interior lights. Check the bathroom fan.
- If you have room, or when you do, pop the slider'(s) and the awning out and in to make sure they are working properly, lubricate moving parts and check the seals around the sliders, (a silicone lubricant will help protect the seals from cracking and also from the sun’s UV rays.
- Test and make sure your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working. Make sure the fire extinguisher is fully charged as well. Replace any batteries or components that don’t work and if you don’t have any of these items purchase them right away and install them. They will save your lives.
- Don’t forget to check the PROPANE system. Check all connections on the tanks, (are the date stamps within the current ten year period? I’ve been stung a couple of times when I thought everything was good to go.), and you may want to have a pressure test done for your own safety. When this is done, open the valves on the tanks and turn on the stove to make sure it is working properly.
- If or when you have a water source available, flush water through your plumbing system, opening up the cold water taps and then the hot water taps and the shower taps and flush thoroughly. do this for the outdoor shower as well. If there is an odor of foul taste when running the water there are products available to clean and deodorize the system. These are available at your local dealer.
- And finally, one last thing. Check all the drains and make sure the tank valves are working smoothly and don’t leak when you close them up.
If this seems like a lot, or you don’t have the time, this can all be done at your local service center and they will do a good job and perhaps catch a thing or two you may have missed. Take this list with you and, hey, if I missed something, by all means, LET ME KNOW. I’ll be happy to update my blog.
If you own a Motor Home make sure you check all the motor fluid levels: engine oil, brake fluid, power steering, transmission fluid level, windshield wiper fluid and yes, even the battery fluid levels. Check your exhaust pipes as well and your portable generator if you have one.
As always, if you have a question or comment, tip or trick I would be happy to receive them. I will answer all question and comments ASAP.