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Mark Polk: "When your RV sits in storage for a period of time, lots of unexpected stuff can happen to it. Batteries that were fully charged when you parked the RV are discharged. Tires that were properly inflated are under-inflated, and seams and sealants crack and separate.
There are other concerns too, like where the RV was stored and how it was prepared for storage. If the RV was stored outside, exposed to the elements, the exterior and the roof can suffer the brunt of Mother Nature's harsh winter conditions, and if you did not properly winterize the RV water system, there could be damage to the plumbing.
We can't undo how the RV was prepared for storage, but we can prepare the RV for another adventure-packed camping season.
Let's take a look at five important RV spring checks. Every spring when the threat of freezing temperatures dwindle, I head to the garage to perform some important RV spring checks. There are probably 50 or more checks we could make on our RV, but today I wanna discuss five RV spring checks I consider absolutely essential.
Check number one, RV battery.
The condition of your RV batteries depends on how well they were cared for when they were in storage. A battery in storage can lose up to 10% of its charge every month. If you checked and recharged the battery periodically during storage, the battery should be ready to go. If you did not check and recharge the battery, the first step is to fully charge the battery. After the battery is fully charged, check and add distilled water as required. If the battery was removed for storage, reinstall the battery and make sure it is connected properly.
The next check is the RV water system.
If the water system was winterized, it needs to be de-winterized. There are three important tasks we wanna accomplish when we de-winterize the RV water system. We want to remove the RV antifreeze from the plumbing system, check the water system for leaks, and sanitize the RV water system so it's safe and ready to use. If you used nontoxic RV antifreeze to protect the water system from freezing, you need to run fresh potable water through the entire plumbing system until all traces of the RV antifreeze are removed. To do this, connect the potable-water drinking hose to the city-water connector on the RV, and run freshwater through the entire plumbing system to include the sinks, shower, outside shower, toilet, and washing machine, if applicable.
After all traces of the RV antifreeze are removed, you can reinstall any water filter cartridges that were removed for winter storage.
The RV antifreeze that was in the plumbing system is now in the gray and black water holding tanks and can be emptied when you have access to a suitable waste disposal site. After the antifreeze is flushed from the water system, it's a good idea to sanitize the water system. Make sure all the drains are closed and any drain plugs are reinstalled.
Take a quarter cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your freshwater tank holds. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container and pour the solution into the freshwater holding tank. Fill the freshwater holding tank completely full of potable water.
Turn the water pump on and run water through all hot and cold faucets until you smell bleach at each tap. Close the faucets and let the solution sit in the freshwater holding tank and the water lines for at least 12 hours. Drain all the water and refill the fresh water tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on, and open all faucets, running the water until you no longer smell any bleach.
Check number three, RV tires.
Tires lose a percentage of air pressure, sitting in storage. Your RV tires can lose two to three psi a month. This means they could be dangerously low on air pressure. Check the tire pressure on all tires with a good tire inflation gauge and adjust the inflation pressure to the manufacturer's recommendation, based on the load. Don't forget your spare tire. Remember, failing to maintain correct tire pressure, based on the load, can result in fast tread wear, uneven wear, poor handling, and excessive heat buildup, which can lead to tire failure.
Tire manufacturers publish load and inflation tables that should be followed for proper inflation pressure.
Check number four, RV roof, seams, and sealants.
Caution: Whenever you work on the RV roof, be extremely careful. A fall can result in serious injury or death. Every seam on your RV, and anywhere the RV manufacturer cut a hole in your RV, has the potential to leak.
It's important to take your time and thoroughly inspect all of these seams and sealants on the RV. I recommend inspecting and resealing the seams and sealants on the RV at least twice a year and possibly more often, depending on storage conditions. During your inspection of the RV roof, seams, and sealants, look for signs of cracking or lifted sealants.
It's important you consult your RV owner's manual or your local RV dealer for sealants compatible with the different types of materials you are attempting to seal.
Check number 5, RV safety devices.
When your RV sits in storage, it's quite common for dry-cell batteries and safety devices to die. Replace the batteries in all safety devices, and test the operation of the carbon monoxide detector, the LP gas leak detector, and the smoke alarm. Lots of RV owners are not aware that safety devices in RVs have expiration dates. I recommend you write the expiration down on the front cover so you remember to replace it when it reaches the expiration date.
Inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure they are full charged. If you have a dry chemical fire extinguisher, turn it upside down and tap the bottom several times to release any powder that settled to the bottom. Review how to properly use a fire extinguisher in the event you need to use it.
Carbon monoxide gas is called "the silent killer" because you can't see it, taste it, or smell it. If you have an older RV that does not have a CO detector, you need to purchase and install one designed for use in RVs.
Test all the safety devices in your RV prior to each trip, and make sure everybody understands what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are and what to do if you're exposed to CO gas.
I mentioned earlier there are many more checks that can and should be made to your RV, but these are five spring checks I consider essential to prepare your RV for travel this camping season. Happy camping." Learn more about RV Education 101.
Mark J. Polk
RV Education 101
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