Let’s Go Camping! But Wait, Is My RV Ready?

Okay, most of us probably aren’t ready to load up the trailer with our paddle boards, bikes and fishing gear and head to our favorite lake side camping spot, or gas up the side by side to spend the weekend jumping dunes just yet. There’s snow in the hills and it’s just plain cold out right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s too early to start thinking about getting our gear ready for summer.

     We’ve all felt the stress of that sinking realization 2 days before the first trip of the summer, or even better, an impromptu trip, that we still need to get the bikes tuned up and the flat tires fixed because Johnny can’t stay out of the puncture weeds, replace the life jacket Suzy left hanging on a tree branch, get the oil changed on the side by side and find all the stuff that didn’t get put away where it belongs after the last trip of the summer last year.  The last thing we want to worry about at the last minute is getting the trailer ready in that same time frame.  Nobody wants to burn two vacation days before the vacation even starts so let’s talk about what we can (and should) start working on soon to get our trailer or motorhome ready for that highly anticipated first trip.

  1. De-winterize.

To de-winterize refers to getting your water system ready for water.  If it has been properly winterized it should have RV antifreeze in the pipes that needs to be flushed out, and the process to do that is generally pretty simple.

  • Close all your fresh water valves. Usually this will include two low point drains and the fresh water tank, although some trailers have more. You may have two fresh water tanks with separate valves and multiple low point valve.

  • Set your water pump to pull water from the fresh water tank. Some trailers have valves on the water pump that allow you to choose between your fresh water tank and a syphon hose used for winterization. These valves can be right by the pump or they can be in a separate compartment. Often this is located on the exterior of the trailer in a compartment that houses valves and/or connections to perform various water related tasks.

  • Fill your fresh water tank. Unless specifically stated in the instructions from the manufacturer of your trailer, you should always de-winterize from your fresh water tank. If done from the city water connection you will still have RV antifreeze in the pump and related pipes.

  • Turn the water pump on and run each faucet individually until the pink and the bubbles are gone.

  • Take your water heater out of bypass. Wait to do this until your faucets are all running clear water so you don’t get antifreeze in the water heater, because it’s a pain to flush out. The water heater may have valves on the back of the water heater or it may have a valve in a remote location similar to your pump valve.  After your water heater has been taken out of bypass it will start to fill. Open a hot water faucet to allow the air to vent out and you will know it is full when water comes out of the faucet.

Water heater valve

    Water pump valve

  1. Sanitize your water system.

This step is often overlooked but is an important step in maintaining the condition and safety of your fresh water system.

  • Determine how big your fresh water tank is. This process will require ¼ cup bleach for every 10 gallons of water that your tank holds.

  • Mix the bleach with water in a 5 gallon bucket then dump it into your fresh water tank.

  • Fill the rest of the tank with fresh water.

  • Run each faucet individually for a couple minutes to make sure the bleach mixture gets into all the pipes and fixtures.

  • Top off the fresh water tank.

  • Allow the trailer to sit with the bleach mixture in the pipes for a minimum of 2 hours, preferably overnight.

  • Drain the tank and refill with clean water.

  • Run each faucet to rinse with clean water.

  • Repeat the previous two steps at least two more times.

  1. Wash your RV.

Use a mild car wash soap to keep your RV nice and clean. RV’s last longer when they are clean and it will be easier to inspect in the next few steps.

  1. Make sure it is safe.

It is necessary to inspect any safety related items before using the trailer. Some of this may be beyond the technical skill of many RVers and the details are a little beyond the scope of this article, but it is something we would be glad to help you with. This includes:

  • Test all marker lights, tail lights, turn signals and brake lights.

  • Test the function of your brakes

  • Check for propane leaks

  • Check for proper electrical function including battery condition

  • Check the condition of tires, suspension, bearings, lug torque.

  • Check for any damage or deterioration of anything that may make the unit unsafe to tow.

  1.  Inspect your roof.

This is a simple matter of climbing on the roof and looking for any damage to the rubber membrane or deterioration of the rubber or the lap sealant used around all of the fixtures on the roof. Always use an RV lap sealant to seal any suspected areas.Worn roof sealant

Cracked roof seals

Broken roof vent

  1. Inspect your seals.

In addition to checking the seals on the roof, it is necessary to inspect all the seals around the trailer. Check around all the fixtures, windows, doors and joints on the exterior of the trailer to make sure the sealants are intact.

Cracked exterior sealant

  1. Run all of your appliances and systems.

Now is a great time to make sure everything works before you get out camping.

  1. Exercise your generator.

If you have a generator, regardless of the type, it’s a good idea to exercise the generator at least once a month while the trailer is in storage. Another thing I would recommend is to always store the generator with a fuel stabilizer in it. Gasoline will varnish over time and can ruin a carburetor in a matter of months, so consequently replacing carburetors is one of the most common repairs we do to generators.

  1. Clean your air conditioner.

Air conditioners have a return air screen in the ceiling plenum that should be kept clean, and you can also keep your AC running a little more efficiently by pulling the shroud off the roof and cleaning out the condenser coils once a year.

If we take good care of our trailers we can make them last a long time bring them along for many great adventures.

Have fun out there and let us know if we can help get your trailer ready for another fun filled summer!

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