Springtime Maintenance Before Travel Plans
If you have been storing your unit for the winter, and now with springtime fast approaching, what are considerations for you to ensure you have a trouble free RV season ahead?
We will go through a list in no particular order. One thing would be to reinstall batteries if they were removed, or check the electrolyte levels of the battery(ies). If the level is down then you need to top up with distilled water. Also check the state of charge with either a voltmeter or a hydrometer. If they need charging, then charge them up to full capacity.
Water damage is a major issue, you will need to inspect the inside for damage and the outside for potential leaks. On the inside take a very close look. You need to open up all cabinets and check all corners. Check below all windows, around all roof vents, and ceiling lights. Any discoloration would be an indication of possible leaks. Water damage will ruin an RV faster than you would believe.
When you do go to the outside, you will be looking for any possible cracks or openings in the caulking around all openings into the coach – side walls, roof, etc. Any such signs will need to be resealed immediately. Make sure you use a product that is approved for your unit and type of material.
NOTE- If your unit is under warranty; there are some manufacturers that require an inspection by the dealer to keep the warranty intact.
You need to verify operation of all AC and DC lights, equipment and appliances. Turn on all the interior 12volt DC (VDC) interior lights. Make sure you have tried all the 12 volt equipment. Before lighting the appliances see note on water system and propane below. You need to make sure that all exterior lights - compartments, docking, porch, etc. work.
Check to see if you have propane in the coach container. Verify when was the last time that your propane system was inspected and leak tested. This needs to be done by a RV technician at the minimum of every two years. If you do much travel on rougher roads, even some of the concrete highways in the US with the constant vibration of the concrete seams, it would be best to have it inspected yearly.
Turn the propane on and then light up all the appliances one at a time, and allow each appliance to go through its full cycle. Before you light the water heater or try it on 120VAC it must have water in it. Lighting it without water in it could cause the gas valve/thermostat to fail. While your appliances (furnace, oven and refrigerator) are cycling on propane you can start to check all the 120 volt alternating current (VAC) components. Most coaches need a minimum of 30 amps service. If you are planning on using a conventional house receptacle – 15-20 amps maximum, you will need to make sure you only use small loads at one time, and definitely don’t try to use an air conditioner.
If the unit was winterized you need to get it ready for use by de-winterizing it. With the bypass for the water heater still in the bypass mode, connect up a hose to your city water connection. Turn the water on and run the taps in the coach until you have no more coloring of the antifreeze. You need to run all the taps, both hot and cold, flush the toilet, and if you have an exterior shower, run water through both hot and cold. Once the water runs clear for all taps, and then you can turn the bypass into the normal mode. This will allow you to fill the hot water tank . In order for the hot water tank to fill right up you will need to open a hot water tap until all the air finishes coming out and you have a steady stream of water. Than fill the fresh water tank. As this is filling up, you can check inside cupboards, and exterior compartments where water lines run for any signs of leakage from the system. Now that the hot water tank is full of water, you can run it through the cycle on 120VAC and also with propane as a fuel.
If you have a towed vehicle, you need to hook it up and make sure that the hitch, etc. is all working properly. Once you are hooked up you can connect your trailer lights up and verify that all lights work.
On a motorized unit check all under hood fluid levels, before you start the engine. NOTE automatic transmission fluid level must be checked with the vehicle running and up to normal operating temperature. Also check the oil in the generator if the unit is equipped with one.
If the RV is equipped with slideout(s) make sure that they all open and close fully and are sealed in both the open and closed positions. Check the leveling sytem/jacks that they retract fully and move back to a support position. If the unit has hydraulic slideouts or leveling systems, you need to make sure that the hydraulic fluid level is topped up. This can only be checked with all jacks and slideouts retracted. If your unit is equipped with awnings, you want to make sure they all open and close and the condition of the fabric is good. This includes all window awnings, slideout toppers, etc.
If equipped with a generator then start it up and after it runs for a few minutes you can start turning on 120VAC equipment. You need to run it under at least a 50% load for 20 minutes or longer. Run the fridge on 120VAC and any other resistive (heater) type loads, as an air conditioner is not a good load for an air conditioner – once it comes up to speed its amperage requirement drops.
Check the air pressure in all tires. This needs to be checked when the tires are cold and the pressure should be as recommended by the coach manufacturer. Also check the tires for any tread deformities, uneven wear patterns, etc.
The best way for you to help make sure that you have a great RV season is to make sure you have tried all the systems. It is best to have a checklist that you can use for equipping the unit for your season of RVing. This will help to ensure you have everything that you require for your happy camping season.
Al Cohoe – Instructor RV Service Technician program Okanagan College
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