With spring upon us, many are itching to hit the road for adventure! Before you pack up, fire up the RV, and head out for some social distancing, you first must awaken your steed from its winter slumber. De-winterizing your RV is the perfect time to perform thorough inspections and maintenance, which hopefully will not only prevent trouble during your first trip of the season, but also will extend the life of your camp trailer.
We’ll touch on a number of maintenance items, including one that we think is especially crucial to your RV’s longevity: maintenance of its exterior. Believe it or not, this one is commonly overlooked.
Inspection and maintenance should be performed on the following.
- Tires- Tires will lose pressure while your RV is in storage for an extended period. Under-inflated tires can cause decreased fuel efficiency, poor handling and pose a significant safety hazard. Before hitting the road, properly inflate your tires to the manufacturer’s recommended pressure. This is also a great time to check your tires for rot. Replace any that exhibit signs of deterioration.
- Plumbing System- Flush all winterizing antifreeze from all potable water lines and the storage tank. To ensure your water supply is going to be safe, sanitize your potable water system to remove any mold or bacteria. Finally, replace your water filters.
- Batteries- Make sure your batteries are properly charged. They lose charge during prolonged storage. Bear in mind for future winterization that a trickle charger will help maintain charge and prolong the life of the batteries.
- Engine- Top up all fluids (transmission fluid, wiper fluid, oil, brake fluid, coolant) before setting out for the season. Perform a visual check for leaks in any of these systems, and remedy any issues prior to your first excursion.
- Electrical systems- Inspect all exterior and interior lights, headlights, turn signals, etc., to determine if they are in working order. Replace any defective lights at the beginning of the season and keep a few extra on hand to mitigate unexpected failures during your travels.
- Inspect for water leaks and damage – The internet is flush with information on de-winterizing an RV, but one oft-ignored topic is inspecting the vehicle’s exterior. Doing so will provide you the greatest return for time invested. Continue reading for additional details.
Inspecting your RV for water leaks and damage is vital.
While your RV sits in hibernation, it is at the mercy of the elements. Snow, rain, and fallen tree branches can cause damage that, if ignored, can result in costly repairs over time. Snow and water are very sneaky and will find their way into any area they can access.
Carefully inspect your roof, slide-outs and window seals for signs of water intrusion. Freeze and thaw cycles in the winter can cause water to expand and contract, creating entry points for water on the roof and walls of the RV. Points of entry are typically found around penetrations, seams, corners, windows and doors. Such water intrusion will be noticeable via discoloring on interior walls and the ceiling, and in extreme conditions, you might discover ponding on counters or windowsills.
Once water has found its entry point, it can cause bacteria growth and rot and even negatively impact the integrity of the RV’s wood frame. Bacteria and mold can be very costly to remediate and if bad enough can require replacing interior paneling and furniture. Damage to the wooden structure of the RV can render it dangerous to operate and lead to an expensive and labor-intensive repair.
If you notice potential areas of water intrusion, proper repair is critical. A multipurpose tape with an elastomeric polymer adhesive, such as Chase Corporation’s 4EvaSeal™, can block the water’s ingress. 4EvaSeal is UV resistant and adheres to TPO and PVC roofing systems as well as a number of other substrates. It provides excellent leak stoppage around slide-outs and penetrations, giving you peace of mind on all of your travels.
Follow these steps to repair your RV and halt further water intrusion:
- Thoroughly clean the area to be repaired with soap and water and allow it to dry completely.
- Remove grime and dirt with a mild solvent or abrasive pad.
- Make sure the repair area is 100% clean and free of any dirt, dust or debris.
- Follow the manufacturer's installation instructions. (See our blog, "'How to Install a Waterproofing Tape on an RV Skylight,” for detailed instructions on how to use 4EvaSeal tape products)
4EvaSeal Video - How to Install a Waterproofing Tape on a RV Skylight
Once you have made necessary repairs, keep a de-winterization list to document areas of potential concern, repairs performed, the products used and from where the products were purchased.
While excitement mounts at the beginning of the season, taking the time to thoroughly de-winterize your RV can prevent unforeseen headaches that detract from the joys of RVing, mitigate costly repairs down the road, and extend the life of your unit. When paired with accurate record-keeping, the de-winterization process will be a breeze, getting you more quickly on the road.