Tips for preparing your RV after winter storage.
Have you been feeling imprisoned in your house this past winter? Are you screaming to get out of the house? Has your pet been looking out the window at your RV and waggling his tail wondering when he gets to travel again? Are the kids asking, “When are we going camping, Mommy?”
Unless you’re a full time RVer, many of you parked, winterized and stored your RV during the winter months. Spring is almost here and you’re excited to get back on the road. Getting ready for the first trip out is quick and easy and there’s not much to do; just load up some fresh supplies and off you go, right?
Whoa! Hold on there. It’s not that simple.
There are some very important things you need to do before your initial trip after winter storage. Below are some tips to help get ready for this highly anticipated camping trip come spring. And if you do it right to begin with, you’ll decrease the chances of something going wrong on your first trip as well as the rest of the season. Enjoy your travels this season and always make safety your chief priority on the road.
If you took the battery out, reinstall it. Check the battery fluid level, reconnect it and charge it.
If you added RV antifreeze to your tank, drain it and flush it out completely.
You can also sanitize your water system by adding about a quarter cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water. Drain it and flush it completely until you can’t smell bleach anymore.
While running your water system, check for any leaks.
Fill your propane tank(s) and test your furnace, stove and refrigerator. If you smell propane, you might get the lines tested at an RV service center.
Also check that the fridge is working in the electrical mode.
RV tires can be one of the most troublesome components on your RV. Unless you stored your RV indoors, most likely the tires have been exposed to the elements during the winter months and have not been driven on. This can cause premature cracks and a blowout while you’re traveling. Inspect your tires for damage and also inspect the sidewalls and the tread area for flaws. It’s a good idea to replace tires every five years, even if they still appear to have adequate tread, to avoid tire failure. Check for correct inflation pressure. Don’t forget to check the spare tire on your trailer too.
Check trailer hitch for cracks and damage.
Clean and lubricate.
Check electrical connections.
Check the axle air lift system on your tow vehicle if you have it.
Check safety chains and torque all bolts per specifications.
Check running lights and brake lights.
Check the batteries in your smoke, propane and carbon monoxide detectors.
Check all the interior lights and make sure fuses are working. Buy extras in different sizes.
Hopefully, you left your refrigerator open slightly through the winter so there’s no stale or rotting smell. Wipe out the fridge with disinfectant.
Check that the fridge is working in the electrical mode and that it cools to the temperature range of 34 to 40 degrees. Then turn it off and open the doors to allow it to warm up a few hours. Now check that the fridge is working in the propane mode and that it cools correctly.
Check around the camper or trailer to make sure your roof vents and window seals aren’t cracked or leaking.
Remove any moth balls or pest poisons you may have placed before storage.
Check for any damage that could have been made by some unwanted critters.
Open the RV windows for a day to air it out.
Check all cabinet and storage compartment doors and drawer latches.
Check your fire extinguishers and refill or replace if the indicator is in the red zone. Examine the nozzle for obstructions. Make sure that the tamper seal is intact. (Extinguishers should be checked monthly.)
How long has it been since you’ve had the brakes, wheel bearings and axles checked on your trailer?
How long has it been since you’ve checked and lubricated the pin box or trailer tongue components, hinges and slide-outs?
How long has it been since you’ve had the generator serviced? Will it start? Do you have generator fuel?
Run your slide-outs a couple of times to ensure they’re working well.
Run the air conditioner to ensure it’s cooling well.
Check your television antennae and satellite systems.
Check hydraulic systems and fluid levels.
Check the operation and lubricate the landing gear.
After you’ve completed most of the above tips, it’s a good idea to take your RV on a short trip of about 10 miles or so. Ensure you have some water in the fresh water tank as well as the gray and black tanks. Use this driving time to feel for and listen to anything unusual. Take a partner with you to help also. Check and adjust your braking system. Before returning home and dumping the tanks at a dump station there are a few things you should check again. Are there any fluid leaks under your RV? Run some fresh water through all the plumbing and check for leaks. Look for loose items that may have fallen out of position underneath, inside and outside your RV. Smell for propane leaks. When you return home, connect a fresh water hose to your RV and again check for leaks.
Pay Attention to Weight
Chances are you may have accumulated items in your RV over the years that could cause your rig to be overweight by industry safety standards. Before your first camping trip it is a good idea to take your RV to a weigh station. Even if you’re under your designated load rating, getting rid of extra weight can improve your fuel economy and you’ll have better handling. The best practice is to weigh all your individual wheel positions. If that’s not available near your location, you can have your rig weighed at a public weigh station for a minimal fee. Look in the Yellow Pages under "Scales, Public" to find the location of scales nearest you. Be sure to weigh your rig when it’s fully loaded. After the weigh-in you might be surprised at how quickly the combined weight of your passengers and all your "stuff" adds up and can be more than you expected. You can find more helpful weighing information and a weight safety report at FifthWheelSt.com.
Copyright © 2012, Dave Gray, Reprint by permission only.
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