Now Is the Best Time to Inspect Your RV's Safety Equipment

Updated on January 5, 2018
TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

I am an avid RV enthusiast who has traveled, lived, workcamped and volunteered nationwide for more than 50 years and am still going strong!

Recreational Vehicle owners often wonder when they are supposed to change out or repair some of the most basic devices and equipment items that they use regularly in their travel units.

Rather than trying to maintain a calendar for doing these things, the smart move is to inspect these things regularly, especially during the month prior to a vacation.

If people don't do this, products meant to protect us during travel can become dangerous.

These generally are the items that suffer the most from the rigors of road vibration and daily use.

People are so used to having them available that they sometimes ignore the fact that nothing lasts forever.

Therefore, all RV owners should make it a point to inspect them regularly to make sure they are functioning properly.

Your RV travel safety depends on keeping your equipment in good working condition.
Your RV travel safety depends on keeping your equipment in good working condition. | Source

Gas Detectors

By law, all recreational vehicles must have propane and carbon monoxide gas detectors installed before they can be sold to the public.

However, it is up to owners to make sure that they are the correct type to have and also work appropriately.

If you find you need to replace them, it is always a good idea to use the same brand and type that came with your unit and to make sure that the one you buy has a loud alarm system.

Those that are hardwired into some travel units are the best to own because they need less care, but battery operated gas detectors work just as well.

Depending on the type and brand you have, the average life span runs between five and ten years.

Checking, updating and replacing these units is very important to do because carbon monoxide and propane leaks can kill.

You generally can smell propane, but carbon monoxide is odorless. However, if the leak occurs when you're sleeping, it won't matter.

Keep track of installation and age with a log book and check it often to make sure you get rid of ineffective gas detectors before they get rid of you!

Smoke Detectors

Likewise, you should make sure that you have a few working smoke detectors in your coach and change their batteries regularly.

You use the same type in an RV that you do in a house, and they function in exactly the same way.

No need to buy these in an RV parts store because all are easily available locally or online.

As long as you keep the batteries updated, you should not have to buy new detectors.

You will know that it's time for a change when the detector starts beeping but there is no smoke.

Water Filters

Not all RVs have water filtration systems, but if yours does, it may be time to replace the filters.

This is especially true if you have the type that attaches to your recreational vehicle via an outside hose because these units filter all of the water you use when living or traveling in your coach.

The built in systems also need to have their filters replaced, but they last longer because they only filter the water you cook with and ingest.

You usually can tell when it’s time to buy new filters for either type of system because your water will begin to taste funny.

If you don’t use water filters, I suggest that you start doing so because having them is one of the best defenses travelers can have against water borne illnesses.

My husband and I have used both types and actually prefer those that you install, but both do a good job.

Since our current motor home did not come with a built-in system and since we don't travel as much as we have in the past, we chose to use the type of water filter that attaches to our water hose.

There are a few different brands that work as well, but we have learned from experience that Camco makes extremely durable and effective RV products. This is especially important when the product is one, such as a water filtering system, that protects your health.

Refrigerator Gaskets

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.

  1. In the first instance, you should have the gaskets removed and replaced because loose gaskets cause air to escape and don’t hold cold temperatures correctly.
  2. In the second situation, you can easily get rid of mildew or mold by washing down all of the gasket crevasses with bleach and water. Just make sure to rinse the gaskets thoroughly with fresh and dry thoroughly when you finish.

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

This has to be done correctly in order to maintain the proper temperature in your refrigerator, so if you're not sure, hire a pro.

Fire Extinguishers

Every RV owner should keep at least two fire extinguishers on board. However, if they are not kept up to date, they won’t work.

The manufacturer of any unit should include literature that tells you how long you can wait before replacing or recharging, and you should follow their guidelines. Usually, a good brand will work well for a few years, but always check to make sure about yours.

We keep two First Alertfire extinguishers on board at all times.

These units are compact, easy to use and are rechargeable. First Alert is a well known name in the fire retardant business, so we felt we could trust this product. Also, my former husband was a firefighter who swore by First Alert products.

The last thing we want to own is a fire extinguisher that won't work in an emergency situation, which is a problem one might have when using "off" brands.

When fires break out in RVs, the damage can be fast and deadly, so it’s important to be prepared. What You Need to Know About RV Fire Safety provides important information about this issue, so make sure to read it.

Keeping dependable fire extinguishers on board and reading this article could save your life.

Fogged Windows

If your coach has dual pane windows, it is likely that you have one or more windows that have a “foggy” appearance.

Other than cosmetics, these are not a problem unless the fogging is on your driver or passenger windows. Then it is a big problem because the fogging will only get worse with time and will retard your vision when driving.

When this happens, you’ve got a safety issue to deal with.

When you check pricing, you’ll see that some shops will want you to pay as much as $1200 to replace or repair such a window while others will charge less but will only remove and clean the windows and then replace them.

Suncoast Designers in Hudson, Florida is a company that does a great job and charges reasonable prices. They don’t just “clean and replace”, they put the gasses back between the panes and guarantee their work for ten years. What You Need to Know About RV Thermal Windows gives you more information about this issue.

Reading it could save you a ton of money if you live anywhere near Hudson, Florida.

There are one or two other places in the country that also do this type of work, but check prices and services carefully before you use them. Sometimes the cost of the trip to Hudson for repairs will be less than the price those places will charge.

Tires

Although the tires on your recreational vehicle may look good and seem to have a good deal of tread left on them, the truth is that any tire older than five years is not safe to use for travel.

The Best Ways to Buy, Maintain and Safely Use RV Tires explains, among other things, how to determine tire age and why five years is the safe limit for using them.

More accidents are caused by tire blowouts than for any other reason. Blow outs also often cause damage to coaches as well as fires.

For these reasons it’s important to check your tires regularly and replace them as needed.

Yes, it’s expensive to do, but safety should come first!

Brakes and Alignment

It is extremely important to have brakes on your RV that work well and to make sure your coach is properly aligned.

RVs of all types are heavy and take quite a beating during travel because they are heavy and roads can be quite rough.

If your coach seems to "pull" one way or the other when you are driving or if you have to push really hard on your brake pedal to stop your unit, you need to immediately take your coach into a shop to have these items checked and repaired.

This is not a job you can do yourself unless you have the training and equipment to do it, so don't hesitate to seek help.

Good brakes and correct alignment can go a long way towards preventing accidents.

It's important to check RV safety components and replace them as needed.
It's important to check RV safety components and replace them as needed. | Source

Safety Inspections Are Important

It is very easy to forget about the items I’ve mentioned in this article because your attention usually is on your vacation and not your RV.

However, it is extremely important to update and replace safety equipment before it stops performing properly or at all.

Doing this can be a life saver and can also make driving and traveling easier and more pleasant.

So, instead of wondering when you should be checking your equipment, understand that the best time to do it is right now. That way, you'll always be driving a coach you know is safe.

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© 2017 Sondra Rochelle

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