In my last blog post, I told you how we prepare for our annual snowbird adventures down south. I thought I would go into a little more detail on prepping our rig for the upcoming extended journey.
While summering on Vancouver Island, BC we are for the most part stationary. So before we hit the road again, I like to go through the RV getting it ready. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Fixing problems on the road is never any fun, so I like to have things in tip top condition at departure.
The following is on my checklist of things to do:
Up on the Roof
First, inspect the roof access ladder looking for cracks rungs and hardware before climbing. Clean and condition entire roof and slide out tops. Check for worn rubber seals and sealant along all seams. Remove vent covers and inspect the sealant around all vents and skylights. Remove the Air Conditioner cover and clean out the inside of any dust and debris like leaves and twigs.
Test TV antenna mechanism and lubricate as needed. Check solar panels make sure the mounting hardware isn’t coming loose, inspect the wiring and clean the panel surfaces.
Note – Working on the roof can be dangerous. If at all in doubt hire someone to do it for you.
Wash the rig thoroughly and give it a fresh coat of quality wax. While polishing it up, I can at the same time inspect all seams and external hardware seals for deteriorating sealant and reseal as necessary.
Open up the awning. Wash and condition the awning, test operation, and lube hardware.
Have I stowed away all the things I’ll need for a fun snowbird season? Have a look at the lawn chairs, outside rug, lights, barbecue, tables, fire pits, etc. making sure they are still in good shape.
Clean the windows inside and out and check for any leaks. Inspect the rubber seals and window hardware. Make sure the window coverings like blinds, screens or shades are functioning well.
Tires, Brakes, and Undercarriage
Make sure the tires are properly inflated and visually inspect the tread and sidewalls for cracks and defects. If the tires are older than 5-7 years, it is likely the time to replace them even if the tread still looks fine. Check with your tire manufacturer. Many RV tire blowouts are caused by tires rotted out from the inside. (How to find out tire age)
Test the brakes and service if required. Take a look underneath the rig and visually inspect the suspension, frame, exhaust, etc. Look for any corroded, damaged or loose components. Look for possible fluid leaks. Have the wheel bearings inspected and repacked.
Power Slides-outs and Jacks
Clean and lubricate mechanisms as needed. Clean and condition the rubber slide-out seals. Run the slides in and out a few times to make sure they are operating smoothly. Test the power leveling jacks. Ensure that you have the manual override wrenches stored away just in case.
Open the external access panel. Visually inspect the wiring and connectors looking for anything old, corroded or overheated. Make sure there are no insect nests, leaves, cobwebs, etc. Open the drain and give the insides a good flushing to remove any scale or debris in the bottom of the tank. If you have a Suburban brand tank, it uses a special anode rod and may need to be replaced depending on its condition. Put in drain plug or anode rod, fill and test water heater operation. Make sure there aren’t any leaks and the water is heating properly.
You can use a commercial product, vinegar or my favorite good old household bleach. Add about a ½ cup or so of bleach to the fresh water tank then fill it right up. Then turn on the water pump and let it pump briefly through all the lines. Next, let it sit in there at least a day. Next, run the whole tank through all taps, toilet, and shower filling the waste tanks. Refill tank and run it through again. This will give your onboard water pump a good test and flush out the lines.
Check operation of all the RVs faucets and the toilet flush mechanism. Look underneath cabinets and behind access panels and make sure there are no leaks from the drains and piping. Add a little baking soda to each drain to freshen it up.
Black Tank Flush
Use built in black tank flush or flushing wand placed down the toilet to clean out the black tank well. Test out the waste tank waste valves and make sure the seals aren’t leaking. When sitting for so long and not getting the benefit of motion to help clean the RV waste tanks they can get pretty mucked up so before we depart I add some extra tank cleaner and give them several full flushes. This is also a good time to inspect the sewer hose and hardware for any cracks or potential problems.
Make sure batteries are in good condition physically and capable of holding the proper charge, using a tool such as a hydrometer. Check terminals and wire connections for corrosion and clean if required. If you are using a wet cell type battery, open the caps and check water levels, adding more distilled water if necessary. (Lead-acid battery maintenance tips)
AC Power System
Plug the RV in and check all power outlets and that the batteries are being charged. Check solar system and inverter making sure they are performing well.
Go through the rig’s interior and check that all the lighting is functioning, replace burnt out lamps as needed. Hookup tow vehicle and make sure the headlamps, all the marker lights, and signals are working. Check lighting in storage bays, water hookup area, and emergency flashlights, road hazard flashers, etc.
Test that rigs appliances are in good working order. Make sure that the fridge is cooling well in both LP gas and electric modes. Test the TV, Stereo, Furnace, Air Conditioner, Microwave, Gas Oven, Electric Fans, etc.
Truck Maintenance and Repair
The truck is my number one priority. If the truck doesn’t go, we and our trailer are dead in the water. A few weeks before departure the truck heads to the mechanic for an oil change and anything else maintenance wise that is due. I also pay for a full inspection just in case there is anything wrong that I have missed. I’d rather spend a little money for the piece of mind and not be stuck on the side of a highway.
Check torque on all large nuts and bolts on truck and trailer, especially the tire lug nuts, hitch, and pin box.
Wash floors, cabinets and walls. Clean fridge and freezer and rubber door seals. Give the rig a good vacuuming including inside the furnace floor vents. Wash and disinfect the sinks, toilet, and shower. Clean window coverings such as blinds or day/night shades. Also, make sure they are operating well with no broken strings.
Clean the oven and around stove elements. Open all cupboards, drawers, and cabinets and inspect for signs of rodent or insect activity.
Hinges, Locks, and Doors
Look at all the interior cupboard, drawers and cabinet doors and tighten any loose hinges, handles, etc. Apply fresh lubricant to all exterior storage bay and entrance door hinges and locks. Make sure they all work smoothly. Go around the RV and tighten any loose screws and small nuts and bolts.
Check smoke alarms, CO detector, propane leak detector and fire extinguishers. Replace batteries or entire units when needed. Have the RVs propane system inspected, lines, igniters, tanks, etc. Replace any worn hoses, hardware and out of date LP gas tanks. Open the external RV refrigerator panel and remove any loose debris that may be present such as bird nests, insect nests, leaves, etc. (RV Fire Safety Tips)
Purge the Weight
As you full time in your RV, you tend to collect things and slowly the RV gets more and more packed with stuff. This stuff bit by bit adds a surprising amount of weight to the RV. Usually, when passing through Oregon, I stop at one of many free roadside weigh stations and check our truck and trailer weight.
Each fall before departure we pull everything out of the storage bays and cupboards and made some serious decisions on what we really need. Anything that we haven’t used in the last year can go, short of safety equipment of course. Afterward, our rig weight is down, and things are nicely organized.
A few other quick things I do:
-Wax front fiberglass cap real well – really helps ease bug removal
-Steam clean the RV carpet and upholstery
-Lubricate the hitch
-Run the generators for an hour or so
-Clean the barbecue