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Good Maintenance Is the Key to Protecting Your RV

Updated on November 21, 2017
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I have traveled extensively throughout the US for many years and enjoy helping people to enjoy their own vacations.

The secret of keeping your RV in top condition is to keep an eye out for problems and then fix them as soon as possible.

Those who don't do this soon find that they create issues that are expensive, can be dangerous and will undermine their overall travel enjoyment.

It may be bothersome to take care of these tasks, but f you make doing them a habit you'll find that the benefits are well worth your efforts.

There are many things you need to do to keep your recreational vehicle in good condition.
There are many things you need to do to keep your recreational vehicle in good condition. | Source

Inspect Regularly

It's extremely important to inspect your travel unit regularly whether it’s in storage or is being used for travel.

Taking walks through and around a coach, climbing up on the roof and checking the underbelly on a regular basis is the best way to find problems that need attention.

The Best Way to Avoid Buying a Defective RV shows you how to do a proper inspection.

Use the information you find there to discover issues so that you can deal with them promptly.

Caulk Generously

Making it a point to use caulk on any area of your RV where water may possibly enter is one of the best ways to protect it.

It only takes a few minutes to load up a caulk gun and spread the material around areas where sinks and tubs connect to the areas around them.

You should also spread caulk around exterior lights, windows and any areas where items such as awnings attach to your coach. This includes rooftop items such as air conditioning units and vents.

Water has a way of seeking out the smallest crack, seeping through it and creating major problems such as black mold, so caulking is your best defense against it.

When you do this job, be sure to use Geocel Pro Flex Sealant which is made especially for use on recreational vehicles. This is the product my husband and I always use because it is goes on smoothly and looks great. You can trust it to last quite a while once you finish using it.

Maintain and Update Batteries

Your RV uses batteries to run many pieces of equipment. Therefore it’s important to maintain and replace them as needed.

To do this you need to keep note of the dates when they were installed, and pay attention to how well they are functioning. You also need to pay attention to how well they are working.

When lights start to dim or have problems, it's time to check your water levels. If they are OK, it's time to buy new batteries!

In the case of coach batteries, adding water may be all you need to do, but not all batteries need water, so make sure you know which type you own!

Those that don't need to have water added are called closed batteries. They are more expensive to buy than standard batteries, but they last quite a long time and require little upkeep.

Inspect and Update Smoke and Gas Detectors

Far too many people ignore smoke and gas detector maintenance, but these are two of the most important items they need to check regularly.

Smoke detectors will start beeping loudly if their batteries are failing, and you should replace them quickly because doing so could save your life. They are your first line of defense if a fire breaks out.

What You Need to Know About RV Fire Safety provides information that lets you know just how important it is to keep smoke detectors updated. After reading it, I doubt you'll avoid this task in the future!

Likewise, replacing LP and Carbon Monoxide gas detector batteries when necessary is very important.

You need to check them often to make sure they are working unless they are the type that is hardwired into your coach.

Personally, we feel safer using the hardwired type because we've heard too many stories about people dying due to Carbon Monoxide poisoning or LP gas leaks.

If you decide to use this type make sure to have a pro install and test it for you.

Additionally, you should make it a point to check propane lines regularly by spreading soapy water on them.

If you see bubbles, immediately turn off the tanks and keep them off until you can get the leaks repaired.

Clean or Replace Filters

It’s important to change and clean the filters in, engines, generators and air conditioners regularly.

If you don’t, they will clog and can cause problems.

Usually engine and generator filters get changed during normal professional maintenance.

AC filters rarely need to be replaced, but they need to be cleaned often. This is an easy job that you can do yourself.

After you turn off your AC unit, you simply remove the grate that covers them, take them out, wash and dry them and return them to their regular position.

When you are using your AC units often, you should check them at least once each week, and you should always clean them prior to taking trips.

Check Fluids

When the fluid levels in RVs are too low, or when they become contaminated, your coach will not function properly.

For this reason, it's important to check all fluids regularly.

The video gives you a brief tutorial on how to do this yourself, but if you are not comfortable doing so, just take your coach into a repair shop and have them do it.

This may cost a few dollars, but it is vital to the health of your coach and can help you avoid major mechanical problems.

Service and Run Generators and Engines

You should run your RV’s generator and engine at least once each month to make sure they stay lubricated, especially if you own a diesel coach.

If you don’t do this, their internal parts will dry up, and they’ll stop functioning.

This does not mean that you have to literally drive the coach. Just turn on the engine and generator and let them run for at least a half hour.

You should also service these two items regularly. This means changing the oil, and filters, checking and changing other fluids as necessary and doing anything else that will keep them running well.

Most people have this job done professionally, and you may want to do the same.

Clean and Maintain Holding Tanks

Black, Gray and Fresh Water tanks are the heart of any RV.

No matter how well maintained the rest of your travel unit, if you don't properly care for these tanks, your coach will smell so bad that you won't want to travel or live in it.

In some cases, you won't even be able to use it without spending a good deal of money for repairs due to breakage and clogging.

How to Dump, Clean and Protect Your RV's Black Water Tank and How to Care for Your RV's Fresh Water Tanks provide specific directions that will help you with these issues.

Learning how to maintain your RV tanks is important.
Learning how to maintain your RV tanks is important. | Source

Clean and Sanitizel Drains, Faucets and Shower Heads

Shower and sink drains become clogged with debris over time.

For this reason, you should take the time to clean drains regularly and do the same for shower heads and faucets.

This will keep the water flowing properly and will help to avoid flooding.

Just make sure that you don't use any caustic materials or sharp tools when doing this job so that you don't damage your drains or surrounding materials.

Never use products such as Drano or CLR when doing this job. Instead use Baking Soda and clean drains out by hand.

Give Tires Good Care

Taking good care of your RV’s tires is extremely important.

The Best Ways to Buy, Maintain and Safely Use RV Tires explains how to do this.

At the very least, you should

  • check tires regularly for damage,
  • make sure their air pressure is adequate and equal,
  • use the same size and brand and
  • use a gauge to make sure that each tire has the proper amount of air pressure.

If you don't have a tire gauge, there are several types on the market that will do the job. However, the best and most reliable is the one we use that is manufactured by Webetop.

If you look at the attached video, you'll see why paying a bit more to have a gauge like this is a smart move. If your gauge isn't accurate, it's worthless!

We've tried the less expensive gauges but were never sure they were giving true readings. With this one, which is accurate, backlit and easy to use, there is no question.

When traveling, you should always use a good quality gauge like this one several times each day in order to avoid blowouts.

Of course, RV tires should always be of good quality and properly rated to carry the weight of your coach.

Make Sure Appliances Work

It’s important to check appliances to make sure they are working, especially when you are getting ready to leave for a vacation.

In many cases, this is a simple matter of turning them on, washing filters to rid them of dirt and dust or using an air compressor to clean out clogged pipes.

  • If you smell an ammonia like odor in the refrigerator, you will either need to repair or replace it.
  • If you smell mildew odors when you turn on the AC, you need to clean the filters and vents and then spray with Lysol daily until the odor disappears.
  • If you smell gas, turn off your stove,open the windows and leave the RV until you can get someone to check your propane tanks for leaks.

Turn on your furnace, check your thermostats, run your washing machine if you have one.

Refrigerators that have been stored for awhile may not work because their vents have become clogged with leaves, dead bugs or dirt, so using an air compressor to simply blow out the vent that is located behind the outside door of the refrigerator is usually enough to get a unit working again.

Detail Often

Dirt and road grime not only make your coach look bad, they are hard on your paint job, tires and undercarriage.

Dust gets into your coach and settles on upholstery, carpets and all areas of the interior of your travel unit. Over time it causes fabrics to deteriorate.

For these reasons it's a smart move to have your unit detailed professionally once or twice each year, and to thoroughly clean the interior every few days when you are on the road.

How to Clean and Sanitize the Interior of Your RV shows you how to do this.

If you have fabric upholstery that gets dirty or you get water marks on draperies, you can spray them with Woolite Oxy Deep Stain Remover. This is the best product I have found for doing these jobs, and I've tried several of them.

The best way to use it is to spray the area, let the cleaner rest for a few minutes, dab off the excess with a clean cloth and then vacuum off the rest the next day.

If your undercarriage rusts heavily, a pro can clean off most of the rust and then spray it with a protective material to keep it from deteriorating.

Lubricate Slide Room Seals

RV repairmen have consistently told me that they make the majority of their income from doing slide room repairs.

The easiest way to avoid having this problem is to keep slide seals lubricated. This is because when they dry out (and they will!), they start to stick, and this will lead to all sorts of problem.

The best way to deal with this issue is to follow the advice in the attached video, which is to use baby powder on a sock to coat the inside gaskets when the slide is closed and the outside seals when the slide is open.

Anybody can do this job, and it only takes a few minutes. It's easy, fast and costs almost nothing to do, but can save you a small fortune in repairs!

It Pays to Give Your RV Good Care

Good and consistent maintenance is the key to owning a coach that runs well, is safe to drive and holds its value.

The items mentioned above will help you to avoid many problems, so don't put off doing those jobs that are necessary to keeping your travel unit well maintained.

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© 2016 Sondra Rochelle

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