Posted by: Mark Polk | 9:05 am

RV 101 – 5 Important RV Spring Checks

Testing RV Battery

Truth be known, there are probably 50 or more checks we could make on our RV prior to venturing out on the first camping trip of the season. If you don’t want to perform 50 checks on your RV here are 5 checks I consider absolutely essential. P.S. If you are not comfortable working on your RV make an appointment with your local RV dealer to get your RV ready for camping season.

RV Batteries 

I like to start with the RV batteries. The condition of your RV batteries depends on how well they were cared for when they were in storage. A battery in storage will lose up to 10% of its charge every month. If you checked and re-charged the battery periodically during storage the battery should be ready to go. If you didn’t check and re-charge the battery the first step is to fully charge the battery.

Note: Water should only be added to lead acid batteries after fully charging the battery, unless the water level is already below the plates. The plates need to be covered at all times.

After the battery is fully charged check and add distilled water as required. If the battery was removed for storage reinstall it making sure it is connected properly. If you are not comfortable working around batteries let a qualified service facility check it for you.

 RV Water System 

After sitting in storage for several months the RV water system needs to be de-winterized, checked for leaks and sanitized. If your unit was winterized using non-toxic RV antifreeze you need to run fresh water through the entire water system until all traces of the antifreeze are removed. Hopefully no antifreeze was added to the fresh water holding tank, but if it was the first step is to drain any remnants of antifreeze from the fresh water tank. Next add some potable water to the fresh water holding tank and turn the 12-volt water pump on. Open all of the water faucets and run the water until there are no traces of the pink antifreeze. Make sure you open both hot and cold faucets. Take the water heater out of the by-pass mode (if applicable). If the water heater wasn’t bypassed the antifreeze needs to be drained from the water heater tank. Now you can replace any water filter cartridges that were removed for storage.

When I take the RV out of storage I like to sanitize the RV water system. Make sure all of the drains are closed and all drain plugs are installed. Take a quarter-cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water your fresh water tank holds. Caution: If you have an on-demand water heater with a copper heat exchanger, the water heater must be by-passed. Do not run chlorinated water through the water heater. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container and pour the solution into to the fresh water tank fill. Fill the fresh water holding tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on and run water through all hot and cold faucets until you smell the bleach. Close the faucets and let this solution sit for twelve hours. Drain all of the water and re-fill the tank with potable water. Turn the water pump on and open all faucets running the water until you no longer smell any bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process to eliminate all signs of bleach.

 RV Appliances 

If the LP gas cylinders or LP tank has LP gas open the gas supply and check the operation of all LP gas fired appliances. Make sure the water heater tank is full of water before testing the water heater. If an LP gas appliance is not operating properly have it inspected by an authorized RV service facility. Insects are attracted to the odorant added to LP gas and they build nests that can affect the appliance from operating properly.

Note: The LP gas system should have a leak test and LP gas operating pressure test performed annually. These tests should be performed by an authorized RV repair facility.

If all the LP gas appliances work properly plug the unit in and test 120-volt appliances and accessories for proper operation. Make sure you have an adequate electrical source (30-50 amps) depending on your unit before testing items like the microwave and roof air conditioner. After checking the refrigerator in the LP gas mode turn it off and with the doors open allow sufficient time for it to return to room temperature before checking it in the electric mode.

RV Tires

Tires lose a percentage of air pressure sitting in storage. Your RV tires can lose 2-3 psi a month. This means they could be dangerously low on air pressure. Check the tire pressure in 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 the 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 build-up which can lead to tire failure. Tire manufacturers publish load and inflation tables that should be followed for proper inflation pressure.

RV Chassis & Generator 

This section pertains to both motorized RVs and tow vehicles. Start by checking all fluid levels. Check the transmission, power steering, engine coolant, engine oil, windshield washer and brake fluid. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual for proper fluid levels. If a fluid level is low try to determine why and correct the problem. Service the engine and engine fluid levels according to specified intervals found in the vehicle owner’s manual. Start the engine and check for proper readings on all gauges. Check the operation of all lights. Make sure the vehicle emissions / inspection sticker is up to date.

Check the oil level in the generator. Service the generator according to specified intervals found in the owner’s manual. Inspect the generator exhaust system for any damage prior to starting. Never run a generator with a damaged exhaust system. If you didn’t exercise the generator during storage start it and let it run for about two hours with at least a half-rated load. Check your generator owner’s manual for load ratings. If you didn’t use a fuel stabilizer and the generator won’t start or continues to surge after starting have it checked out and repaired by an authorized service facility.

Safety Stuff 

Okay I know I said 5 important checks, but I can’t leave out the safety stuff.  Re-install any dry-cell batteries or fuses that were removed for storage. If batteries were not removed from safety devices replace them with new batteries now. Test the operation of the carbon monoxide detector, LP gas leak detector and the smoke alarm. Inspect all fire extinguishers to make sure they are fully charged. If you have dry powder fire extinguishers shake and tap them on the bottom 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. Make sure everybody understands what the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are and what to do if you are exposed to CO gas.

I mentioned at the beginning of this post there are many more checks that can be made, but these are 5 checks I consider essential to prep your RV for spring travel. For a more in-depth look at getting your RV ready to roll check out our instant download e-book titled Checklists for RVers.

Have a great camping season,

Mark Polk

Follow us on FACEBOOK


%d bloggers like this: