How to Make Minor RV Repairs Yourself

Updated on August 11, 2018
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

My 50 years of RV ownership have taught me that there are many maintenance jobs I can do myself to save money

There are a number of problems that any RV owner who wants to save a few dollars can easily take care of himself.

These don't require a lot of "know how" or tools, but certainly are worth the minimal amount of time and effort of any RVer might spend doing them.

Below are some of them.

There are many small repairs RV owners can take care of themselves that are easy to do and cost practically nothing.
There are many small repairs RV owners can take care of themselves that are easy to do and cost practically nothing. | Source

Caulking

Water is the worst enemy any recreational vehicle can have because left to move around on its own devices it can eventually destroy a travel unit.

Water often enters coach through an external attachment or crack, so checking a coach for openings and then sealing them with a silicone caulk is the best way to prevent it from creating problems within a travel unit.

It only takes a few minutes to load up a caulk gun and spread the material around exterior lights, windows and any areas where items such as awnings attach to a coach.

Geocel Pro Flex Sealant is a product that made especially for caulking recreational vehicles in order to stop water from infiltrating them.

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.

Taking the time to inspect your vehicle regularly and carefully will help you to catch leaks from external sources quickly and stop them in their tracks.

It is also good to use around sinks, faucets and the bottom areas around commodes where internal leaks can often occur.

This type of caulking is easy to do, and costs very little .

However, it can save you a fortune in terms of having to repair damage from water infiltration.

How to Protect Your RV from Water Damage and Flooding provides more information that will help you to protect your coach from water infiltration problems.

AC Repair or Assist

Another problem that often occurs is when an AC unit stops blowing cold air.

In this situation, many people assume that they will be facing repair or replacement costs, but before panicking travelers should check a few things:

Have the filters become clogged with dust, dirt and debris? If so, it’s very easy to remove, wash, dry and replace them.

If the unit is working but is not producing enough cold air, it may be that it is unable to handle the load it has been given. In this case, they should follow the directions noted above.

Also, if the coach is parked they should lower the awnings to deflect the sun’s heat.

On very hot days, it is best to travel in the early morning, late afternoon or evening in order to keep an RV comfortable.

When possible, drive from east to west in the morning and from west to east in the afternoon. When not driving into the sun, a coach remains much cooler.

Stuck Door Repair

Unless your RV’s door has become warped due to age or misuse, the problem here most likely is that your unit is not level.

You should always make sure to park as level as possible so that you can enter and leave your coach easily and so that closet and refrigerator doors will do the same.

The attached videos show you how to level both a camper and a motor home. Take the time to watch them as they will help you immensely in avoiding this type of problem.

It is much easier to do this if you choose a campsite that is flat. In fact, one that is configured this way may help you to avoid having to do any leveling at all.

However, you'll still need to stabilize the coach with your manual or hydraulic jacks and then use wheel chocks to keep it from rolling. There are a number of types and brands, but the ones I show here are very easy to use and store because they are light weight and stack easily.

Water Filter Replacement

Not all RVs have water filtration systems, but if yours does and your water starts getting a bad taste to it, it is time to replace the filters.

You will need to do this whether your coach uses built-in or add on filtering systems.

Replacement is easy to do if you keep a few extras on board. If not, you’ll have to get to an RV parts store and buy some.

The video shows how to replace a built in water filter, but you can also use a disposable that attaches to your water hose. To replace this one, simply discard and screw a new one into it's place.

We use the disposable RV Water Filter made by Camco because it's extremely easy to install and does a great job for us. Since we only travel a few months out of each year, this filter only has to be replaced about once yearly. Also, we have found Camco products to be extremely durable and dependable.

If you don’t use water filters, I suggest that you start doing so because having them protects your health and makes your drinking water taste better.

How to Protect and Purify Your RV's Drinking Water Supply provides detailed information about this issue that is important for all RV owners to read and understand.

Smoke Detector Repair

If your smoke detectors start sounding off loudly, it’s time to replace the batteries. This is easy to do, but should be done immediately as installing new batteries can be a life saver.

You can also test them randomly to see if they're working by creating a "smoke" situation with a product called CRC Smoke Simulator . My husband and I have tried other brands of smoke simulators, but this one seems to us to work the best for our needs.

To use it you simply open the container, stand near the detector with your arm up, and press the on button of the product. It will shoot out something that is a smoke emulator. If the alarm goes off, your detector is working.

My husband and I use this product before every vacation to make sure our smoke detectors are working. It's a small price to pay to have advance warning of any fires that may occur in our travel unit.

Fridge Repair or Assist

An RV refrigerator won’t work if the unit is not level, but that is only one issue.

If the vent is clogged with debris and dead bugs, you’ll have the same problem.

The fix for a non-working refrigerator is either to park it correctly or use an air compressor to blow the trash out of the refrigerator vent which is located directly behind the refrigerator and can be reached through the protective outside door.

If these fixes don't work, and especially if you smell ammonia in the area of your refrigerator, you most likely will have to replace it.

This is expensive to do, but you'll have no choice since you need to be able to protect your food supply when you're on the road.

Battery Fix

If you have the type of batteries that require water to function, you need to check them regularly.

When you see lights starting to dim or battery accessories working too slowly, it's a sure sign that you've got a problem.

Without an adequate water supply, these types of batteries won’t work correctly and may stop working completely. For this reason it's important to check them regularly and fill them only with distilled water.

Another thing to remember is that the older batteries get, the more poorly they function. So in addition to checking for water loss, be sure to check age as well.

You can avoid problems by replacing the ones you have with sealed batteries because they work well, do not need water added and can stand up to the rigors of road travel.

However, they are more costly to own.

I have attached a video that shows you how to maintain standard batteries. Lots of good info here for you, so take the time to watch!

Fridge Gasket Mold Removal

Over time the door gaskets in RV refrigerators become loose or fill with mildew or mold. This can affect food safety, which in turn, can negatively affect your health.

If they are loose, you will need to replace them because loose gaskets cause air to escape and don’t hold cold temperatures correctly.

If you are handy, you can buy gaskets from an RV parts store and install them yourself. Otherwise, you'll have to hire a repairman to do the job for you.

To remove mildew or mold wash gaskets thoroughly with a mixture of bleach and water. Be sure to rinse well to eliminate any remaining bleach so that it does not cause any damage.

After doing this thoroughly clean and sanitize the interior of your refrigerator to make sure that there is no hidden mold or mildew

Repair for Non Lighting Stove Top Burners

If the burners on your stove top won’t light,

  1. your pilot light may be out,
  2. your propane tanks may be closed,
  3. you may be out of propane or
  4. there may be a propane leak.

You can fix the first problem simply by lifting up the stove top and lighting the pilot light.

The second issue is also an easy fix; just turn on your propane tanks.

For the third problem, look at the gauge on your propane tank to see if it is low or empty. If so, get the tanks filled at a local truck stop or other facility that sells propane.

In the last situation, turn off your propane tanks, open all RV windows, get out of the coach and let it air out. Then call a repairman to find and fix the leak!

Make Minor RV Repairs Yourself

There is no reason for RV owners to pay money to take care of common and simple problems they can repair themselves.

The items mentioned here are things anybody can do to give themselves more control and fewer worries, especially when they are on the road.

Keep your RV in good shape by taking care of small repair jobs yourself.
Keep your RV in good shape by taking care of small repair jobs yourself. | Source

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    © 2016 Sondra Rochelle

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