9 RV Maintenance Tips to Prepare for the Spring Camping Season
Every year as the ice begins to melt and the snow starts to fade away, millions of Recreational Vehicles or RVs come out of hibernation. They awake to the promise of new adventure, familiar destinations, and a season full of unforgettable moments.
You are ready for adventure, but is your RV up to the challenge? Before hitting the road, it's important to make sure your rig is ready for the season.
We compiled a list of maintenance checks that should be performed on your RV, to help ensure a safe, worry-free camping season ahead.
The interior of the RV is often the easiest to check.
Clean the Inside of the RV
Most RVs are stored in warehouses, barns, or other enclosed areas during the winter. Others are stored outdoors. This sometimes leads to cold critters seeking refuge in your nice warm RV. Some insects are attracted to the odors contained in LP gas. Look around dark corners and crevices for signs of chewed material or "droppings". This could be a sign that a mouse is living onboard. Check appliances for insects or insect nests.
Once the RV has been checked for rodents and other critters, it is time to clean the interior. The RV has been sealed tight for months. It needs to air out. Open the windows to air out your linens and soft surfaces.
For pieces of furniture that are portable, bring them outside for a bit. Things like cushions, dishes and items in storage can be placed outside as you are cleaning the rest of the RV.
Inspect and Clean the Appliances
Appliances should get a nice, deep clean one more time before the season starts. While cleaning appliances, look for defects that need to be repaired.
Around the fridge, look for water spots. For tubing, look to see if there are any discolorations or ammonia type smells. These could be signs that repairs need to be made.
Check Propane System
If your RV was stored with propane still in the cylinders, give them a check while inspecting appliances. Before opening the propane tank valves, make sure there are no open flames and that all appliances are off. Turn on your leak detector. Open the supply and check for any smells to identify any leaks.
If all is well, power up all propane powered devices to ensure they work properly.
The water heater may need to be drained if it was filled with RV antifreeze prior to winter storage. You’ll need to drain it and refill it with potable water. . If water filters are in place, replace those at this time.
Check Electrical and Batteries
Prior to testing electrical devices, inspect the condition of the batteries. Some RV owners store the batteries in the RV, others remove them. Either way is fine, but things like battery terminals and connections should be inspected. If there are signs of corrosion, take the battery to an authorized RV dealer.
Stored batteries lose their charge. In fact, they lose up to 10% per month of storage. They need to be recharged prior to testing devices and appliances. Reconnect batteries that power DC electronics. Connect any device that runs on electricity. For some RV's this includes things like the stove, microwave, and refrigerator. Check that each device is working properly with no electrical shorts.
Moving to the exterior of the RV, there are several items that need to be inspected, flushed, and made ready for the Spring and Summer seasons.
Clean and Sanitize Water System
The water system consists of water tanks, water pumps, pipes, and water lines. The water system has a lot of components so de-winterization might take a bit of time, but it is worth the effort.
The first step is to remove any type of antifreeze that was used in the winterization process. To do this, connect the drinking hose to the city water supply and the RV and run the water through the system. The goal is to flush out all anti-freeze.
Once the system is flushed, add potable water. Once water is added, turn on all faucets and let them run until the water runs clear. Once the water runs clear, replace water filters and cartridges.
Once the water pump is turned on and water tanks full, look around faucets and appliances to look for any leaks. Use a flashlight to look under sinks, around toilets and in cabinets where water lines run.
Water System Sanitization Process
Once the water system is operable, de-winterized and free of leaks, it's time to give the water system one final sanitization.
Step 1. Since your full water tanks were depleted by running the faucets in the previous step you can add bleach to your system for one final deep clean. A quarter cup of bleach per 15 gallons of water is recommended.
Step 2. You can add the quarter cup of bleach to a bucket or one gallon jug. Fill the rest of the container with water, then pour it into the tank.
Step 3. Fill the tank completely
Step 4. Make sure the water pump is turned on
Step 5. Run the bleach water mixture through the system by opening all faucets.
Step 6. After the water has run for a bit, turn the faucets off and let the bleach/water mixture remain in the system overnight (or for about 12 hours).
Step 7. The next day, drain the water from the water tank. Refill it and run the faucets until you no longer smell bleach.
Tires lose air pressure while in storage. You could see a loss of 2 psi per month of storage. If your RV was stored for four months, the tires could be underinflated by 8 psi or more. Using a tire gauge and air compressor, inflate the tires to the proper pressure based on load recommendation.
Inspect the RV Engine and Generator
If your RV has an engine and/or generator, it's important to make sure the engine is ready to tackle the trips in the upcoming season. Now is the time to start off on the right foot with a properly functioning engine, free from issues, to give you peace of mind before you hit the road.
Start the engine inspection by checking all fluid levels. This is an appropriate time to check fluid levels for everything under the hood.
Your RV owner's manual should indicate proper fluid levels. If not, look for information on the RV manufacturer's website. Most manufacturers have downloadable manuals for their vehicles.
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
- Brake Fluid
- Windshield Wiper Fluid
- Generator Oil
Inspect the generator exhaust to make sure things are a go. Check the oil to make sure the oil levels are correct. Start the generator and let it run for a couple of hours to make sure everything functions properly.
With fluid levels topped off and engine running, check gauges to make sure there are no warnings and readings are accurate.
Inspect Seals for Leaks
Look for any signs of distress in the sealant. Check the areas around the roofline and windows for leakage. Look around the air conditioner and vents. If the RV has a skylight, inspect the seal around the light to look for signs of leakage. If there is cracking in the sealant, repair with an RV compatible sealant.
Last but Not Least…Check Safety Equipment
Inspect the Smoke Alarm, Carbon Monoxide Detector and Propane Gas Leak Detector to make sure they are functional. Check the expiration date on the fire extinguisher to see if it needs replacing.
Properly de-winterizing your RV will ensure a safe, fun, and memorable camping season. It might take a little time, but the time spent performing maintenance before your maiden Spring voyage will prevent you from having to perform unintended maintenance or face breakdown during your camping trips.
At Imperial Supplies, we have the RV supplies you need and are here to help. Contact your Dedicated Account Advisor to help get your RV in tip-top shape for your next adventure.
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