Now that it’s officially spring, I’m restless to dust out the cobwebs and pack the family up for a weekend excursion. And, I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. So this year I wrote down a game plan for getting my Big Country opened up for spring, and thought I would share the process with my readers. I figure a checklist will work as a good pre-emptive strike, rather than discovering a major issue in July when I want nothing else but to be on vacation.
So here it is. My RV’s spring maintenance checklist:
1. Clean the exterior and inspect for damage
Remove any coverings on your windows or wheels and give your rig a good wash. Put some elbow grease into the process, too, making sure to use proper brushes and cleaning agents for the type of exterior materials on your RV. Avoid using a pressure washer as it can actually cause damage to your finish. Once your RV is thoroughly scrubbed clean, open up all the windows and vents to let it air out. You might even need to add a few air fresheners or some Damp Rid to help get rid of any musty odors.
2. Inspect the roof and awnings
Give your roof a good visual inspection for damage from the elements. Check the seams, vents and roof edges very carefully. I’ll cover roof repair in an upcoming blog. Once you know your roof is in good order, extend your awnings and look for any pinholes that may have developed while in storage. It’s a good idea to repair any damage you find now before you head out later in the season. (I also recommend checking out Lakeshore RV for the best deal on awning repair kits.) Just be sure to know what material your awning is made from. You will also want to give your awning a thorough scrub. If you notice any black mildew from storage, scrub the awning with bleach water to remove the mildew spots.
3. Check your 12-Volt DC System
Reinstall your batteries if you pulled them for the winter. Make sure your terminals are clean, dry, and tight. Also, be sure to check the fluid level, and add water if needed. Then charge the batteries fully. Finally, go through your RV and turn on your various 12-volt components to ensure the battery is functioning properly.
4. Check your 120-Volt AC System
Check your shoreline cord’s prongs for any oxidation that may have occurred since its last use. Use a fine sandpaper or steel wool to brighten up the prongs. Before you plug in, check the polarity of the outlet you’re plugging into. IMPORTANT: Plug the shoreline cord into the correct receptacle only if the voltage and polarity check correctly, and be sure to do this every time you set up at a new campground! Always verify the campground voltage and polarity at all sites before plugging in. Trust me!
Next, go through your RV and plug in all your components and turn on the circuit breakers. If you have a charging converter, measure the DC voltage at the battery bank to verify the voltage increases when the converter is powered up.
Also, be sure to test your GFCI located near your bathroom sink or panelboard distribution box to ensure it trips and fully resets. Even if it clicks or snaps, plug the polarity tester into the both the bathroom and exterior receptacles while performing the GFCI tests. These two outlets must be protected by the GFCI. If the circuit is not broken when the test button is pressed, there is no GFCI protection and a replacement or repair is necessary.
5. Clean out your fresh water system
Add a few gallons of fresh water to your water tank if you used the dry method of winterizing. Otherwise, start by draining the antifreeze in the tank and throughout the system. (RV antifreeze can be reused, so you could collect it at the tank drain or at the hot and cold low points if you want.) Next, add fresh water to the tank then drain and refill until all the antifreeze is gone. Continue to fill and flush with fresh water until you are happy with the taste and smell.
Take a look at the filter or strainer in your fresh water system, and clean or replace if necessary. It may be also be connected to the water pump or installed anywhere inline between the tank and the pump.
Once you have filled your waste tank, remove the water heater from the bypass so that fresh water can be pumped through the faucets. Then, turn on the faucets and begin pumping water throughout the system.
At your water heater, open your P&T relief valve to aid in filling. When water begins gushing through the relief valve, close the lever. When water starts flushing through your faucets, close them all. It may take a short time to get rid of the antifreeze and fill your water heater. Also, flush your toilet a few times and run fresh water through any outdoor showers or faucets. In fact, every component that uses fresh water should be checked and flushed.
Now, connect the fresh water hose to the city water connection and turn off the water pump. Inspect all your pipes for leaks now that you’ve got city pressure hooked up. If you do not find a leak, disconnect the city water pressure. Finally, open the P&T relief valve once more until it stops dripping. You may also want to chlorinate the system if you find foul or stale smelling or tasting water. Most city water has enough chlorine however.
Click here to read more detailed directions and photos for cleaning your RV’s water lines.
Stay tuned next week for part II of my spring cleaning checklist…