It’s official! Cabin Fever is settling in and dreaming of warmer weather is constantly on our minds. We can’t wait to hook up the RV and get away for the weekend. But before we can hitch up, there is a critical process you should do to make sure your RV survived the winter months and is ready for that first trip.
Here are 11 Steps to getting your RV Ready:
1. Exterior: Water leaks are the biggest problems that are found after the winter months. Check your roof and all the caulking around the windows, vents, air conditioners, and doors to make sure there are no cracks or missing caulk. Even the smallest cracks and holes can cause serious water damage to your RV.
2. Tires: Inspect your tires for sidewall cracks or cracks between the treads. Any cracks should be treated seriously and replaced. Also, don’t forget to check your tire pressure. To find the right tire pressure recommended for your tires, refer to your owners manual from your manufacturer. There should also be a decal inside a cabinet that has the recommended pressure on it.
3. Clean Appliances: Inspect all appliances, including the outside access covers for your water heater and refrigerator, for any foreign debris like spider webs, nests, dead insects or small critters. Do a thorough cleaning with household cleaners to clean up all the dust and dirt from being in storage. You can use LIGHT air pressure from a compressor to clean out the burner area but DO NOT BLOW HIGH PRESSURE UP THE REFRIGERATOR CHIMNEY! Always consult your nearest Bish’s RV Service Department when in doubt, or for directions on how to properly clean your appliances.
4. Batteries: Keep your batteries in good working order by inspecting them before each season. Before checking and cleaning your batteries, make sure to wear safety glasses and latex or protective gloves. Disconnect shore power and make sure all items in your RV are off and the main power switch is off.
After you’ve prepared yourself and your RV, check and clean corroded terminals, connections, and battery trays. Hot water and baking soda work well to clean batteries. Make sure to check battery fluid levels if possible. If you remove the battery for any reason, make sure to disconnect and reconnect it properly. The first of the season is also a great time to have your battery tested. Make sure to remove the battery properly and take it into a professional, like your local Bish’s RV, to have the battery tested. If you need to replace your battery, make sure to replace multiple battery banks together. DO NOT add a new battery with a bank of old batteries (coach batteries and chassis batteries are banked separately).
5. Liquid Propane (L.P.): Follow the following steps before checking your L.P.:
1. Make sure all L.P. appliances and items are turned off.
2. There is no smoking, open flames or sparks close by.
3. The leak detector inside the RV is turned ON.
First, open the valves on your propane tanks. Smell around the area for any leaks. Next, check the valves and regulators by using a soapy water mixture. If you detect a leak, have a professional inspect and repair it for you. Sometimes the seals dry out over the winter months causing new leaks that didn’t exist before storage.
6. Water: Now it’s time to test your water pipes and lines. Before filling your RV with water, make sure the hot water heater bypass valve is in the “normal” position and all faucets are closed. It’s best to use your “City Water” connections to fill your RV up for the first time. You can also use your fresh water tank and pump too.
Turn on a hot and a cold water faucet during the filling, allowing the air to escape until the water flows steady. Inspect all faucets and pipes for leaks. Inspect the water heater over pressure safety valve and the water heater drain plug (outside of RV) for leaks. After the water runs steady, turn off faucets and disconnect from your “City Water” connection. Now, fill up fresh water in your onboard tanks. Reopen a hot and cold water faucet until water flow stops. Close the faucets. Switch the fresh water pump on. After the pump starts running, wait 20-30 minutes to hear if the pump cycles on again. If the pump cycles on, it indicates a pressure drop or leak. If the pump does not cycle on, the system should be ready to use. Make sure to run enough water through each faucet to be sure all RV antifreeze is removed. This process can be difficult. If you’re not sure what to do, make sure to bring your RV into your closest Bish’s RV Super Center.
7. Test Appliances: After you have tested the L.P. and Water systems, and everything is up and running, it is time to test your appliances. Make sure your L.P. gas leak detector is on. Start by lighting a stove top burner, filling the L.P. lines. Next, you can light another L.P. fired item, like your refrigerator. Before testing your water heater, make sure it is full with water before igniting it.
8. Generator: To get your generator ready, you will need to start it and also check certain functions on it. Getting your generator started can be tricky. Especially if your generator has sat for an extended period of time. The lack of fuel in the lines is usually the reason why your generator won’t start. If you have a prime feature, prime your generator until your indicator light turns on for the fuel pump. Run the pump for about 20 seconds to deliver fuel to the carburetor – the generator should start much quicker. If you do not have a prime feature on your generator, you will have to crank it until it starts. Let the starter rest to cool after about 15 seconds of cranking. Cycle the starter until it runs.
Once you have your generator started and it’s been running a while, check the oil level. Also, check the air filter for nests and to make sure it doesn’t need to be replaced.
9. Dump Hoses: Sewer hoses have a limited lifespan. Inspect your sewer hose for any tears or holes before using it.
10. Waste Tank Valves: Inspect the valve seal on your waste tank. Carefully work the handle in and out in short increments to make sure it is opening and closing properly. NOTE: Make sure your tank is empty before performing this inspection. You might want to take your RV to a dump station, hook it up and then inspect your waste tank valves. Valve seals can dry out causing them to stick, making them harder to operate. If your value seal is hard to open, you can purchase a valve lube in the parts department.
11. Awnings: Roll out your awning(s) and inspect the fabric. Check for holes, tears, runs, or if anything has detached. If you’re having difficulties extending your awning(s), take it to a professional! The spring tension might need adjusted and they are tricky. DO NOT do this yourself.
Always remember, when in doubt, please call a professional! The Service Departments at Bish’s RV Super Center have certified technicians who are ready to help. We can get you ready for the upcoming camping season! Visit our website, www.bishs.com, to find a Bish’s RV close to you.