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How To Index:

How to Hitch a Fifth Wheel RV Travel Trailer

Backing Your Motorhome, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel

How to use your Awning

RV Fresh Water System Winterizing

De-Winterizing Your RV

Get Your RV Ready For Spring

How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water System

Basics:

Is it Safe to Drive with My RV Refrigerator on Propane?

RV Electrical System Basics for Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailers

RV Gray Water & Black Water Holding Tank Basics

RV Water Heater Basics

Keeping Your RV Refrigerator Cool... the Basics for Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers

RV Stabilizing - Leveling Hints & Tips - Stabilizer Jacks & Leveling Jacks for Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailer RVs

Maintenance:

RV Black Streaks - How to Clean them from your Motorhome, Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer

Maintaining your RV Roof

RV Water Heater Care & Maintenance

My RV's Systems Monitor Panel is not reading properly

RV Tow Vehicle & Travel Trailer Preventive Maintenance Tips

RV Quick Tips - Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailers

Check Lists:

Camping Checklist

Arrival Checklist

Departure Checklist

Glossary of RV Terms

How to Hitch a Fifth Wheel RV Travel Trailer

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By Steven Fletcher

I've seen people try to drive away with their 5th wheel landing gear still down. And I know people who have dropped their 5th wheel on the pickup bed because they forgot to drop the landing gear. Or pull their fifth wheel off its leveling blocks because they didn't chock the wheels or release the king pin. It almost happened to me! Following a systematic procedure each time you hitch and unhitch will minimize the chance you will have similar problems.

Fifth Wheel Hitching

Raise or lower the 5th wheel trailer to set the 5th wheel kingpin to proper hitch height.

Drop truck tailgate ... if you don't have a special tailgate.*

Open locking bar on hitch.

Back under trailer until hitch engages the fifth wheel kingpin.

Secure hitch locking bar on the fifth wheel hitch.

Put truck in forward gear (don't give it any fuel/acceleration)

and 'bump' the hitch to make sure it is locked.

Connect umbilical cord and breakaway switch cable.

Check fifth wheel trailer lights and brakes.

Raise pickup truck tailgate. *

Raise 5th wheel trailer Landing gear.

Remove wheel chocks from trailer wheels.

Fifth Wheel Unhitching

Pull into the site/storage, and situate the trailer where you want it.

Chock the wheels tightly so the trailer will not move.

Drop the fifth wheel landing gear. (Important!) Do this first so you won't forget!

Disconnect the umbilical cord and breakaway switch cable.

Drop the truck tailgate... if you don't have a special tailgate. *

Gently put your truck into reverse... don't give it any fuel/acceleration. This effectively moves the 5th wheel kingpin off the locking bar which will allow you to easily disengage it.

Shift in to neutral, step on brake and apply parking brake.

Disengage the kingpin locking bar on fifth wheel hitch.

Slowly drive away. Making sure the kingpin is clear of anything in the truck bed and the umbilical cord and breakaway cable are not snagged.

Raise truck tailgate. *

Adjust 5th wheel height to proper front to back level.

*Disregard this step if you have a notched fifth wheel tailgate or you do not have a tailgate.

 

Backing Your Motorhome, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel ... Good Communication is the Key

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By Steven Fletcher

Nowadays Fran and I use our 2 way radios when we're backing the rig and I highly recommend them. Using the radios eliminates yelling and allows much more information to be exchanged between driver and spotter.

If you don't want to use radios then you and your spouse should have specific signals. To avoid confusion your signals should be distinct and deliberate. Use your whole arm instead of just waving your hand. The basic signals you will need are stop, left, right, straight back and distance.

You should agree what left, right and straight mean too. Does the direction refer to which way the RV needs to go or which way the steering wheel needs to turn.

Unless my dyslexia is working overtime I don't need directions as to which way to turn the steering wheel or which way the end of the trailer should go. That's usually obvious. What I need to know is how close I am to hitting something. I want Fran to say; 'you're okay on the left and have about a foot on the right.' 'You can come back another three feet.' That sort of stuff. Talk over with your spotter what kind of information you want and how you want it conveyed.

Both the RV driver and the spotter should walk the area before backing in. Discuss where you want the rig will be parked. And, unless you're an expert at backing, seeing the site from a different angle will help you visualize how your backing should proceed.

Some drivers, usually retired truckers, want the spotter up front where it's easier to communicate and see the directions. This can work well in many cases but truckers don't usually need to worry about low hanging branches, boulders and other obstructions that can be found in some campsites so having the spotter at the rear of the rig may be better in some cases.

Good communication assures you're playing the same 'game' but you still need some 'rules'.

Both of you have a responsibility to identify and watch for potential hazards in the rig's path. Look for overhead lines, tree limbs, ruts, large rocks, posts, etc. Two sets of eyes are better than one.

The spotter should be visible to the driver at all times and stay clear of the vehicle's path. Stop backing immediately if your spotter is not visible. This is a good idea even if you use radios.

The closer you are to disaster the more like your spotter is to forget your prearranged signals and begin waving frantically or speaking incoherently. If you do not understand a hand signal or what is said on your radio, STOP.

Take your time. Get out and look if you're not sure.

And, finally, if you don't think you can back into a site, don't. Asked for another site that's easier or even go on to another park. RVing is supposed to be a pleasant experience.

 

How To Use Your Awning.

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PDF STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS (CLICK HERE)

The instructions below are for an A&E 9000 series manually operated awning. Other brands may have somewhat different hardware but the procedures will be much the same.

RV Awning roll-out:

Loosen the rafter knobs on both awning support arms.

Release the travel locks on both awning arms.

Switch the ratchet lever on the roller tub to roll out position using the awning rod*.

Hook the pull strap with the awning rod and roll out the awning.

Slide the rafters up into position on the awning arms.

Tighten the rafter knobs on both rafters.

Raise the awning to the desired height using the handle on each support arm.

RV Awning Retraction:

Lower the support arms to the rest position.

Loosen the rafter knobs and release the rafter latches.

Slide the rafters down to the rest position.

Grasp the awning to prevent it from rolling up by itself.

Switch the ratchet mechanism to the roll-up position*.

Control the roll-up with the pull strap and awning rod.

Secure the travel locks and snug up the rafter knobs.

*A sticking awning ratchet lever is common with new awnings because everything is new and the springs that roll up the awning are especially stiff.

Try using your other hand to pull down... just a little... on the awning support arm while releasing the awning lever. This works best when the awning is out but you can also do it when the awning is rolled up.

Pulling down on the support arm helps release to ratchet attached to the other end of the lever. The ratchet is what locks the awning in or out and which way you pull the lever is what controls the ratchet direction.

 

RV Fresh Water System Winterizing

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RV components can be damaged from the effects of freezing. Protection of the RV plumbing system and related components is especially important.

A local RV dealer or service tech is best suited to answer any questions as well as providing specific information on winterization and storage your RV that may be particular to the climate in your area.

There are two generally accepted methods of winterizing an RV*s fresh water system.

Compressed Air (Dry) Method Uses compressed air to blow out any remaining water in the system after draining the system of all water. This method requires an air compressor and appropriate adapters.

RV Anti-Freeze (Wet) Method Uses RV approved, nontoxic, potable, anti-freeze in the system and does not require any special tools.

We'll cover the procedures for both methods in turn.

Many late-model RVs include a by-pass valve kit that allows the plumbing system to bypass the hot water heater, reducing the amount of anti-freeze that will be needed without a by-pass kit installed, an additional 6 * 10 gallons of anti-freeze will be required.

If your RV doesn’t*t have one we recommend you install one. The by-pass kits are available at most RV service centers for a reasonable price and can be installed easily before winterization.

RV Winterizing with Compressed Air (With By-Pass Kit Installed)

If using the compressed air method, a special adapter should be purchased to allow compressed air to be delivered through the city water fill. These adapters are available at most RV supply stores.

Purchase 2 gallons of RV non-toxic anti-freeze.

Drain the fresh water tank and empty the waste water holding tanks

Turn water heater by-pass valve to by-pass position. (The bypass valve is located near the water heater incoming lines * the rear of the water heater is usually accessible behind a cabinet door but you may have to remove an access panel depending upon the design of your RV.

Drain water heater

If installed, remove water filter from assembly and discard. Install diverter if included.

Open all faucets, including shower head sprayer, toilet flushing device and any other water lines that are closed.

Turn on the water pump for 30 seconds to clear out any water in the lines.

Connect an air hose with an adapter to the city water fill connection.

Set the pressure no greater than 30 pounds and blow out the water lines until no water can be seen coming out of the fixtures and lines.

Pour RV anti-freeze into drains, p-traps, toilet, and tanks.

Winterizing Your RV Plumbing System with RV Anti-Freeze (With By-Pass Kit Installed)

Purchase 2 -4 gallons of RV approved, non-toxic, anti-freeze.

Drain all tanks, fresh water and sewage tanks.

Open low point drains on the bottom of the trailer. There should be two lines with either caps or valves. On occasion the MFG. may have put the valves on the inside of the trailer as with Jayco. If you do not have low point drains you should follow the directions for compressed air winterizing.

Open all faucets including outside shower, inside shower and flush the toilet to remove water in the lines by gravity.

Drain water heater.

When all the low points have stopped draining recap or shut the valves.

Turn water heater by-pass valve to by-pass position. (The bypass valve is located near the water heater incoming lines * an access panel may have to be removed depending upon the model.)

If installed, remove water filter from assembly and discard. Replace the Container for anitifreeze flow.

Place bypass hose from water pump into a gallon of antifreeze. If you do not have the bypass hose one can be purchased from Alex RV.

Shut all the faucets and verify all drain hoses have been closed.

Turn on pump switch and open the cold water side of all faucet fixtures. Leave open until the anti-freeze comes out (generally, pink in color). Repeat for hot water side.

Flush toilet until anti-freeze begins to flow into the bowl.

Pour anti-freeze down each shower/tub, lavatory sink, and kitchen sink to fill p-traps.

Open all faucets and low point drains to allow antifreeze to drain out. * The purpose of the Antifreeze is to purge the water from the fresh water system. Leaving the Antifreeze in the lines can result in premature aging of the fresh water lines and failure in the winterizing process. Antifreeze will not freeze solid but it will slush and expand which can break seals and water lines.

De-Winterization / Removal of Anti-freeze

If purchasing a recreational vehicle which is winterized with RV anti-freeze, or you had your existing RV winterized before winter storage, the plumbing system must be flushed and sanitized prior to use. Do Not Attempt to turn on water heater if system is winterized.

Perform the following prior to attempting to operate the water heater or use the plumbing system.

Drain all holding tanks, fresh water and sewage*

Attach garden hose to fresh water fill and fill tank.

Turn on pump switch and open cold water side of all faucet/ shower fixtures. Leave open until water runs clear. Repeat for hot water side.

Flush toilet until clear water runs into bowl.

Dump tanks again.

Sanitize water system.

If a water filter is installed, drain lines, remove filter assembly, clean and reinstall with new filter.

When ready to use the water heater, turn by-pass valve to open position to allow water to enter and fill the hot water heater tank.

De-Winterizing Your RV

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By Guest Author: Ken Freund

It's been a long winter and the combined effects of the elements can take a toll on stored RVs. If your coach has been in storage, now's the time to prepare for those spring getaways. Taking a little time now will help ensure enjoyment all through the year.

Before hitting the road complete this RV spring-prep checklist: Begin with a thorough exterior inspection. Examine the outside, including the body and roof, for any cracks or separation and look inside for stains on the ceiling, sure signs of roof leaks. Look beneath the coach and/or or tow vehicle for signs of fuel or other fluid leaks.

Once you've determined there are no exterior leaks, wash the RV with a specially formulated soap designed for the exterior. Work in the shade, since washing a hot surface can result in hard-to-remove spots and streaks. Use specialized wheel cleaners to make tires and trim look new.  An RV that's been stored all winter needs to be aired out. Vacuum the carpet and clean the floors and other surfaces as needed. Spring prep should include a fluid and connections check. Look for insect and rodent nests and chewed wires and hoses. Check the amount of LP gas and test appliances for proper functioning.

Drain and flush the freshwater tank. Add 1/4 cup of household bleach for each 15 gallons of capacity. Then fill the tank almost to capacity, leaving room for sloshing. Drive or tow the coach to mix the bleach. Run the hot water to get the bleach through the water heater. Then drain the freshwater tank. Refill, along with 1/4 of baking soda per 15 gallons. Drive or tow to mix the water, run the hot water, then drain and refill with fresh water. Test the water pump and water system, including the water heater.

On motor homes, generators and tow vehicles, change the oil and filter and perform all recommended services according to the owner's and maintenance manuals.

Batteries should be check for electrolyte level and connections should be removed, cleaned and after re-assembly, treated with an anticorrosive product.

Make sure all of the lug nuts are secure, check tires for cracks and other damage and set inflation pressures. Trailers should have the wheel bearings repacked.

Replace batteries and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the gauges on fire extinguishers. Check and refill your first aid and emergency kits. An emergency kit should include: flares, a gas can, reflective triangles, duct tape, jumper cables, wheel chocks, flashlight and basic hand tools.

Stock up with necessities for cooking, cleaning and entertaining. Review kitchen equipment and the inventory of favorite games, books, cards, puzzles, CDs, DVDs or videos.

 

How to Sanitize Your RV Fresh Water System

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By Steven Fletcher:

Insuring clean, safe drinking water in your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer requires sanitizing your fresh water system. For a new or new-to-you RV you will want to sanitize before your first use of the system. You may also want to sanitize the system if your RV has not been used for some time, for example if it has been stored for the winter.

Generally Accepted Method to Sanitize Fresh Water

The generally accepted method of sanitizing your RV's fresh water system as outlined below involves filling the fresh water tank with a solution of household bleach and running the solution through each faucet. Then letting it stand for at least three hours. Finally, flush the system once or twice to remove the taste and smell.

This procedure is one you'll find in most any book about RVing it tried and true but be sure to read on to find out what I do.

Start with a nearly full fresh water tank.

Turn the water heater off and let the water cool.

Dilute 1/4 cup of household bleach for each 15 gallons of tank capacity in to a gallon of water.

Add the chlorine/water solution to the water tank. (Never pour straight bleach into the RV fresh water tank.)

One faucet at a time, let the chlorinated water run through them for one or two minutes. You should be able to smell the chlorine. (Make sure you are using the water pump and not an external water supply.)

Top off the RV fresh water tank and let stand for at least three hours over night is better.

Completely drain the system by flushing the faucets for several minutes each. Open the fresh water tank drain valve to speed up emptying the tank.  Open the hot water tank drain plug and drain until it is empty.

Close all valves and faucets and drain plugs.

Fill water tank with fresh water.

Flush each faucet for several minutes each repeating until the tank is again empty. (Make sure you are using the water pump and not an external water supply.)

Fill the tank again. The water should now be safe to drink but if the chlorine odor is too strong you can repeat the fresh water flush.

Your RV fresh water system should now be safe for use.

The way I Sanitize My RV's Fresh Water Tank.

A friend and fellow full time RVer, Bill Randolph told me how he uses something other than household bleach which works well for him and I also started using it. I think is worth passing on to you. Before he retired, Bill spent twenty years in the swimming pool business. He's an expert when it comes to sanitizing swimming pools and spas and says the same rules apply to RV fresh water systems.

Bill uses Chlorinating Concentrate (Sodium Dichloro-s-Triazinetricone or Sodium Dichlor for short). Sodium Dichlor contains 62% available chlorine. Compare that to household bleach which has something close to 3%. One pound of Sodium Dichlor is equal to 8 gallons of bleach! Also, household bleach contains other stuff, including a lot of salt, and that salt and other stuff is what causes the bad taste and why you have to flush the fresh water tank so well.

Bill says it takes only 1 teaspoon of the concentrate per 100 gallons of water to initially sanitize the system. Remember to run water through all the faucets. After that, just a half teaspoon per 100 gallons with each refill will keep the tank fresh.

Like most of us, Bill travels with a near empty tank to reduce weight so when he arrives at park where he plans to stay for a while he drops a half teaspoon of the concentrate into the fill tube and fills his water tank. This insures the system will always be sanitized.

This is not a case where more is better. This stuff is concentrated and it's best to use just what Bill recommends.

Because Chlorinating Concentrate is so highly concentrated you only need to carry a small container. And it is dry crystals so there is less chance of a spill. However, because it is so concentrated it is highly corrosive so you do have to be careful how you store it and use it. You should be able to find Chlorinating Concentrate at any pool supplies or spa store. Bill says there are several brands to choose from.

 

Get Your RV Ready for Spring

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Winter elements can take a toll on stored RVs. If your coach has been in storage, now is the time to start preparing for those spring getaways. Taking a little time now will help ensure enjoyment all through the year.

Before hitting the road complete this RV spring-prep checklist: Begin with a thorough exterior inspection. Examine the outside, including the body and roof, for any cracks or separation and look inside for stains on the ceiling, sure signs of roof leaks. Look beneath the coach and/or or tow vehicle for signs of fuel or other fluid leaks.

Once you've determined there are no exterior leaks, wash the RV with a specially formulated soap designed for the exterior. Work in the shade, since washing a hot surface can result in hard-to-remove spots and streaks. Use specialized wheel cleaners to make tires and trim look new.

An RV that's been stored all winter needs to be aired out. Vacuum the carpet and clean the floors and other surfaces as needed.

Spring prep should include a fluid and connections check. Look for insect and rodent nests and chewed wires and hoses. Check the amount of LP gas and test appliances for proper functioning.

Drain and flush the freshwater tank. Add 1/4 cup of household bleach for each 15 gallons of capacity. Then fill the tank almost to capacity, leaving room for sloshing. Drive or tow the coach to mix the bleach. Run the hot water to get the bleach through the water heater. Then drain the freshwater tank. Refill, along with 1/4 of baking soda per 15 gallons. Drive or tow to mix the water, run the hot water, then drain and refill with fresh water. Test the water pump and water system, including the water heater.

On motor homes, generators and tow vehicles, change the oil and filter and perform all recommended services according to the owner's and maintenance manuals.

Batteries should be check for electrolyte level and connections should be removed, cleaned and after re-assembly, treated with an anticorrosive product.

Make sure all of the lug nuts are secure, check tires for cracks and other damage and set inflation pressures. Trailers should have the wheel bearings repacked.

Replace batteries and test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the gauges on fire extinguishers. Check and refill your first aid and emergency kits. An emergency kit should include: flares, a gas can, reflective triangles, duct tape, jumper cables, wheel chocks, flashlight and basic hand tools.

Stock up with necessities for cooking, cleaning and entertaining. Review kitchen equipment and the inventory of favorite games, books, cards, puzzles, CDs, DVDs or videos.

 

Is it Safe to Drive with My RV Refrigerator on Propane?

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By Steven Fletcher

Driving your motorhome, fifth wheel or travel trailer with the RV refrigerator on while traveling is definitely okay as long as you operate on 120 volt AC or 12 volts DC assuming your unit has the capability to do so. To operate on 120 volts you will need a generator or inverter. RVers with motorhomes frequently run their generators so that they can use their RV's air conditioner, TVs, Microwaves etc. They can also operate the refrigerator.

To operate on 12 volts DC, check with your RV mechanic to make sure your alternator and batteries will handle the extra load.

Remember, when you park the rig for more than a few minutes the rig must be level or the refrigerator must be turned off to avoid damage to the refrigerator.

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not to travel with the refrigerator operating on propane.

After hearing both sides of the debate, I can tell you that there is no real consensus and both sides are adamant in their beliefs. As far as I can tell there is no right or wrong answer, it's up to you to decide. Here are the arguments

Many RVers can see no danger in running the refrigerator on propane while on the road. They say they have traveled for years with no problems whatsoever. They point to the safety of propane powered vehicles and argue that we travel with tanks full of gasoline which is much more dangerous. Generally it is legal to travel while using propane, but keep in mind that it is illegal to have any open flames while near a service station fuel pump. And some tunnels and bridges may have restrictions too.

Other RVer's, claim that traveling with the propane on is a disaster waiting to happen. They argue that in an accident a broken propane line could increase the possibility of fire, even an explosion. For them the only safe way to travel is with the propane tank valves closed!

You may not have to travel with your refrigerator on at all.

If you travel less than four to five hours a day you can turn your refrigerator off and it will still stay cold enough to keep your food fresh. You can even open the door to get lunch or a cold drink if you don't open it too many times.

If you decide to travel with the refrigerator off here are some tips for keeping things cold.

Start the refrigerator the day before you plan to travel.

Put cold soft drinks and beer etc. in the refrigerator the night before.

Pack the refrigerator full. Use the cold drinks to fill space.

Pack the freezer full.

Make sure everything is cold before you turn the refrigerator off.

Plan ahead... know what you want before you open the door and get everything you want at one time.

 

RV Electrical System Basics for Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailers

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The electrical system in motorhome, fifth wheel and travel trailer recreational vehicles is really two electrical systems: 120 volt alternating current and 12 volt direct current.

The 120 volt system is generally used to run the microwave oven, TV and RV air conditioner. Some lighting may also be 120 volts. To use the 120 volt appliances in your RV you'll need an external power source (campground or home outlet) a RV generator or inverter.

The power for the 12v system is supplied by an onboard RV battery or batteries. The RV's 12v system provides power for most of the lights, the water pump, furnace, radios, vent fans, power jacks and stabilizers, and sometimes the refrigerator. The 12v system is a big part of what makes your RV 'self-contained'.

Your RV will most likely have a combination converter/ battery charger.

When hooked-up to outside 120 volt power a converter changes or converts 120 volts AC to 12 volts DC to operate the 12 volt system. It also charges the 12v RV battery or batteries which operate the 12 volt system when not on external power.

Generally you should not operate the converter without batteries connected because the RV batteries act as a filter of sorts and provides a more stable voltage to the electronic circuits of modern RV appliances.

RV Gray Water & Black Water Holding Tank Basics

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By Steven L Fletcher

It used to be; back when campers camped in tents it was okay to dump gray water on the ground. When campers first moved to travel trailers is was still okay. Then campers wanted toilets in their RVs and holding tanks on travel trailers became necessary. For a while gray water could still be drained onto the ground only black water had to be disposed of at a dump station.

Of course that's no longer the case, mostly anyway, but it helps to explains why the sanitation system on most motor homes, travel trailers and fifth wheels consists of the toilet which drains into the RV's black water tank and the bath tub/shower, wash basin and kitchen sinks which drain into a separate gray water tank. Each tank has its own valve but they usually dump through the same sewer connection. There are exceptions to this... sometimes bath water will drain into the black water tank.

Nowadays it is generally not acceptable to dump gray water under any circumstances so a few RVs are being built with one combination gray/black tank. The advantage is mostly to the builder because there is less plumbing to do. But the combination tanks are necessarily larger and it is hard to find a place for them so most RVs still have two tanks.

RV Gray Water Tank

Since only sink and bath water collects in the RV gray water tank it needs less attention than the RV black water tank.

Most people use so much water whenever the RV is hooked up for a few days, they find it convenient to leave the gray water tank valve open.

If you use the RV for more than a week with the gray water valve open then it's a good idea to close the valve, add holding tank chemical and allow the tank to fill. This helps flush out any buildup of stuff from the kitchen sink and keeps the tank fresh. It is quite possible for a gray water tank to get very stinky unless it's flushed periodically.

RV Black Water Tank

The RV black water tank needs more attention primarily to control odor but also to keep solid waste and toilet paper from collecting and plugging the drain line and valve.

The black water drain valve should be left closed until the tank is 2/3rds or more full. This helps avoid the solids building up right under the toilet and assists flushing everything out. If the tank is not 2/3rds full when it is time to break camp, simply add water through toilet.

It's a good idea to close the gray water valve the night before breaking camp. Then when it's time to unhook, drain the black water tank first then the gray-water tank thus flushing the black-water completely through and 'rinsing' the sewer hose. The procedure works but I don't always remember to close the valve the night before.

I use a rinse wand which attaches to my utility hose and goes down through the toilet into the black water tank. It really works fast at flushing and rinsing the tank. With all the freshwater going into the tank eventually the sewer hose is flushed clean also.

I don't rinse the black water tank every time I dump but an occasional rinse does help control odor especially during the hot summer months.

Please don't take the time to flush your holding tanks when there are people behind you waiting for their turn at the dump station. Flush your tank when you are at a campsite with hookups or if you're sure no one will need the dump station.

After the black water tank is drained and flushed close the valve and add enough water to cover the bottom of the tank and then add the tank chemical.

It's my opinion that RV holding tanks are just that, holding tanks. They are not mini septic systems. I can't imagine any serious bacterial or enzyme action happening in the two to four days that most RVers 'hold' their black waste. If that were the case we wouldn't need 3" sewer hoses or macerator pumps.

Again, it's just my opinion, but the only reason for using chemicals in the black tank is for odor control. If you're using chemicals for any other reason you're just kidding yourself. I know it is a controversial stand but someone had to say the emperor has no cloths.

 

RV Water Heater Basics

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The Water Heater installed in your RV is primarily a propane gas appliance. The water heater installed in most RVs typically has a 6-gallon tank but larger RVs may have 10-gallon units.

Dependent upon the model installed, your RV water heater may operate only on gas or on gas and/or 120 Volt AC.

Your RV water heater may have a gas pilot light which will have to be lit each time you set up camp. Or it may have an automatic, direct spark ignition (DSI) system which allows the water heater to be operated by an electric switch inside the RV.

Your RV water may have a by-pass valve kit installed. The by-pass kit is a popular option that allows for easier drainage of the hot water heater tank and winterization of the unit saving time and reducing the amount of anti-freeze needed. The by-pass kit is installed near the cold water inlet of the water heater and allows for blockage of water flow into the water heater.

All water heaters in recreational vehicles are equipped with a pressure relief valve that is designed to open if the temperature of the water within reaches 210 degrees F or if excessive pressure builds up.

When the water supply pressure reaches 50 pounds per square inch (PSI), the relief valve will open and water will drip from the valve. The valve will close automatically once the pressure falls below 50 PSI. This dripping is normal and does not indicate a malfunctioning or defective valve.

Also, when water is heated it expands and pressure can become greater than 50 PSI within the closed water system of the recreational vehicle and this will also cause weeping at the pressure relief valve.

One way to minimize relief valve weeping is by maintaining an air pocket at the top of the water heater tank. The air pocket forms naturally by design but will reduce overtime through normal use. See RV Water Heater Care & Maintenance for instruction on how to restore the air pocket.

Prior to operating the RV water heater for the first time, be sure there is water in the heating tank. Do so by first checking to see that the water heater by-pass valve, if installed, is open to let water flow into the tank. Next, connect the RV to a water source or turn on the onboard water pump. Open a hot-water tap and wait till water is flowing with no air in the line. Once water is flowing from the tap the heating tank is full and it is safe to operate the water heater.

Keeping Your RV Refrigerator Cool... the Basics for Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers

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RV refrigerators don't work the same way your home unit does. Your RV unit uses heat to start a chemical reaction which, through evaporation and then condensation, cools the cold box. The primary heat source for RV refrigerators is a small propane burner. Many units include a 120 volt AC electric heating element for use when the RV is hooked up to curbside shore power. When you are not hooked up, obviously you will need to operate on propane. In camp, with shore power, it's a matter of choice as to which you use; propane or 120 volt. You may prefer electricity simply because it increases the time between propane fill-ups. But a refrigerator uses very little propane compared to a water heater or furnace.

Some refrigerators installed in motorhomes also have a 12 volt DC heating element. These are often referred to as three-way refrigerators... propane, 120 v AC and 12 v DC. The 12vDC heating element draws several amps and can discharge a battery in a short time. Therefore three-way refrigerators are usually found in motorhomes and are intended to allow the unit to be operated while traveling. Remember, when the engine is not running the battery is not being charged by the alternator. Also, make sure the alternator in your vehicle is large enough to power all the lights, charge the batteries and operate the refrigerator.

It is important to keep an RV refrigerator level during operation to avoid irreparable damage. This is especially important in older units... pre 1986 or so. For newer refrigerators its only necessary to keep it reasonably level... if your motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel is comfortable then the refrigerator is likely level enough. Before you use your refrigerator for the first time place a small bubble level on a refrigerator shelf. Adjust the level of your RV until the refrigerator is level. Then find a countertop or some other place on the RV that also reads level. This will be your reference from now on. If you keep the level in the refrigerator and you open the door several times to check for level the refrigerator can take an hour or more to recover.

Here are some tips for getting the most from your RV refrigerator.

Pre-cool the refrigerator for several hours before use.

Put only Food and seldom used liquids in the refrigerator... Put sodas and beer in a separate cooler this will keep the refrigerator closed and doing its job. Rule of thumb is every ten seconds your door is open it will take ½ hour to cool the refrigerator back to operating temp. 

Keep the refrigerator well stocked with items that hold the cold well.

Plan ahead. Know what you will need from the refrigerator before you open the door. Get everything at the same time and put it all back at the same time.

 

RV Stabilizing - Leveling Hints & Tips - Stabilizer Jacks & Leveling Jacks for Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailer RVs

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By: Steven Fletcher

Stabilizing your rig is not necessary but doing so may make your RV more pleasant to be in. The smaller the Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer the more it can benefit from stabilizing systems.

You might want to have a few six to eight inch long 2x6 blocks and some stabilizing jacks. How many of each will depend on the size of your RV and how stabile you want it to be. The blocks are placed under the jacks to give them more support if you are parked on soft ground or if the jacks are too short.

Plastic 'blocks' are also available and have some advantages over wood blocks. The biggest advantage is less weight to carry. They are also stackable and have a larger surface area.

Some travel trailers and fifth wheels have stabilizing jacks attached, usually toward the rear. If yours doesn't you should consider getting some. They just make stabilizing the rig easier. If you do add them be sure to note the lifting capacity. Generally the scissor type has the greatest capacity. If your jacks can lift your RV then they may be able to double as leveling jacks too. Make sure your RVs frame can handle the jacking without damage. Ask the manufacturer if you're not sure.

Our fifth wheel had the crank down type stabilizers already installed; otherwise I would have the scissors type because they will lift more weight. When leveling the trailer front to back I like to set the rear stabilizer jacks snug then lower the front landing gear raising the front of the trailer up to level. This lifts the trailer up slightly off the axles. I found by doing this I can get the trailer more stable without having to really crank hard on the stabilizer crank handle. Because my stabilizers can't bare much weight I have to be especially careful about how much I lower the front landing gear.

If we will be parked for more than a few days I also set a couple of the jack stands under the frame behind the back axle for more stability.

I also use and recommend a king pin stabilizer for fifth wheels RVs. It really does work.

RV Black Streaks - How to Clean them from your Motorhome, Fifth Wheel or Travel Trailer

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The roof of your motor home travel trailer or fifth wheel, by itself, doesn't cause the black streaks. It's the dirt, bird droppings, and other stuff that runs off the roof during light rains and heavy dew that causes the black streaks down the side of your RV.

Washing the RV roof just before the rainy season starts will go a long way toward eliminating the cause of black streaks.

RVs with rubber roofs may get white streaks caused by the natural oxidation of the rubber roofing material. You can minimize white streaks by washing the roof twice a year. Keep in mind when you are washing a rubber roof that the oxidation on the surface acts as a barrier to further oxidation of the rubber below so your goal is not to eliminate all the oxidized material but only to remove the chalk or powder buildup that will cause the white streaks during a rain storm. To maximize the life of your roof use a soft brush (the same one you use to wash the rest of the RV should do) and avoid excessive scrubbing.

Washing the sides of your RV with a good wash & wax product regularly will do a lot to keep black streak causing stuff from the roof building up on the sides of the rig.

If you already have a black streak problem here are a couple of products you can try on your RV.

If you have some, try WD-40 before you go out and buy something special. You'll have to wash with regular soap and water after using WD-40.

Beware of some black streak products.. They may permanently remove the gloss from fiberglass RVs. Always test a small, out-of-the-way place first. Gel Gloss will clean black streaks from most fiberglass.

Some people use common bug and tar remover. Turtle Wax makes one as do lots of other companies. Again try it on a small out-of-the-way place first.

WD-40 solvent also works well cleaning exterior and interior vinyl. Remember to wash with regular soap and water after using WD-40

 

Maintaining your RV Roof

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The roof on your recreational vehicle is just as important as a roof on any landlocked house. It protects you and your home from some of the destructive forces of nature, Part-timers, as well as fulltimers, need to plan regular maintenance for the tops of their RVs. Proper roof maintenance will keep your rig snug and dry. Two types of roofing materials are generally used on recreational vehicles: metal and rubber.

Metal RV Roofs:

Metal roofs, usually aluminum, are found on many older motorhomes, travel trailers and fifth wheels. Regular cleaning and inspection are all that is generally required. I use regular automotive wash and wax, and clean our roof one or two times a year... depending on trees we've parked under, how long we stayed under them and what they dropped, or dripped, onto our roof. The birds that live in those trees make a difference also.

Black streaks down the sides of your rig are caused by run-off from the dirt, bird droppings, fallen leaves and other stuff that decays and is washed off the roof of your RV during light rains and heavy dew. Regular cleaning of your roof, especially just before the rainy season starts, will go a long way toward eliminating the cause of black streaks.

You may want to clean your RV's roof more often than three or four times a year if you regularly park under sap dripping trees, fruit trees, trees that attract a large bird population or places where harsh environmental fall-out may settle on your roof. If allowed to stay on your rig for an extended period of time these conditions may result in unremoveable stains.

Rubber Roofs:

If your motor home, travel trailer or fifth wheel was made in the last few years, chances are it has a rubber roof. It's not the natural latex rubber we normally think of though. It's a material called Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) which is specially made for roofing. EPDM rubber roofing membrane is made to last 20 years or longer and usually has a 10 to 12 year guarantee, depending on the brand.

EPDM manufacturers advise that rubber roof membranes do not require the use of any protective roof treatment or roof protector product. The only maintenance recommended is cleaning the roof four times a year.

If you have owned a rig with an EPDM roof for a few years, you've no doubt noticed that the roof surface is chalky. Manufacturers say not to worry, this is a normal process of age and, and that even after 10 years, only 10 percent of the material is lost due to chalking. Plenty of roof is left.

Regular cleaning will reduce chalk buildup and minimize white streaks on the sides of your RV. The correct cleaning product is of great importance for your EPDM rubber roof. Never use cleaners or conditioners containing petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives or citric based cleaners on your EPDM roof. Using such solvents will cause irreparable damage and will most likely void your warranty. If you are uncertain about what is in the product, don't use it. Of course each EPDM manufacturer recommends using their own brand of cleaner, but all approve the use of mild laundry detergent.

While EPDM rubber roofing does not need to be protected from ultra violet rays (UV ) and ozone, the manufacturers do approve 303 Aerospace Protectant as a safe way to resist staining and make future cleaning easier.

To reduce the expense, you may want to treat the whole roof once a year and do only the part of the roof that can be seen from the ground the rest of the time.

After the roof is clean and before you climb down, be sure to inspect all the roof seams, around vents, etc., to make sure the caulking is still in good condition. While you1re up there you might as well check the condition of all vent covers, the air conditioner cover and the TV/satellite antenna, etc.

 

RV Water Heater Care & Maintenance

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Proper RV water heater maintenance relies on inspection & awareness.

Sacrificial Anode Rod

Most RV water heaters have a sacrificial anode rod within the tank increases the life of the tank and under normal use will deteriorate. The anode rod should be checked yearly or more frequently if water supplies contain high levels of iron or sulfate and replaced as necessary.

Exterior Door Screen

Another important maintenance procedure is periodically checking the water heater screen in the exterior door for any obstructions, such as animal /insect nests or debris. Proper ventilation is essential to the safe operation of the water heater.

Check for Soot

If soot is present anywhere, shut the unit down until it can be repaired. Soot is a sign of incomplete combustion and should be corrected before operating the water heater. A qualified technician should do any repairs that need to be performed.

RV Water Heater Pressure Relief Valve

Weeping or Dripping As in residential water heaters, the water heater equipped in recreational vehicles contain a pressure relief valve that is designed to open if the temperature of the water within reaches 2 0 degrees F or if excessive pressure is built up. When pressure reaches 50 pounds, the relief valve will open and water will drip from the valve. The valve will close automatically once the pressure falls below 50 pounds. This dripping is normal and does not indicate a malfunctioning or defective valve.

Also, as water is heated it expands and with the closed water system in a recreational vehicle, water expansion will cause weeping at the pressure relief valve. One way to minimize this weeping is by maintaining an air pocket at the top of the water heater tank. The air pocket forms naturally by design but will reduce overtime through normal use.

Replenishing the Air Pocket

Turn off water heater.

Turn off cold water supply.

Open a faucet in the RV to relive pressure.

Allow time for water to cool and Pull out handle of the Pressure Relief Valve and allow water to flow from the valve until it stops.

Release handle on valve... it should snap shut.

Close faucet and turn on cold water supply, as tank fills, the air pocket will be replenished.

Draining & Storage RV Water Heater

When not using RV water heater for long periods such as storing the RV during the winter months, the water heater should be drained to avoid damage from freezing during the winter and / or deterioration of tank life from mineral content in water supplies.

To Drain the Water Heater

1. Turn off power to the water heater at the switch or the main breaker.

Shut off the gas supply and the water pump.

Open all fixtures, both hot and cold throughout the unit.

Place the bypass valve (if equipped) in the *by-pass* position.

Remove/open the exterior access door to the water heater.

Remove the anode rod from the tank. Water will drain out tank.

RV Water Heater By-Pass Kit

The by-pass kit is a popular convenience feature that allows for easier drainage of the hot water heater tank and winterization of the unit. The by-pass kit is installed near the cold water inlet of the water heater and allows for blockage of water flow into the water heater, saving time and reducing the amount of anti-freeze needed during winterization.

Water Supply & Odor

Water supplies sometimes contain high levels of sulphur, which causes an unpleasant smell, similar to rotten eggs. While unpleasant, the water is not harmful. Sanitizing the water system, as described earlier and allowing the sanitizing solution to remain for a few days, should eliminate the odor. Remember to thoroughly flush the system after sanitization. Adding a filtration system will help reduce such occurrences.

My RV's Systems Monitor Panel is not reading properly

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By Steven Fletcher

From time to time the black water holding tank gauge lights on my RV monitor panel stop reading properly. When this happens it is almost always caused by contaminated contacts inside the tank.

Usually an extra good tank rinsing with the toilet wand is all that's needed. If that doesn't work I wash the tank by filling it with hot water and liquid laundry detergent and letting it stay for about and hour and then rinsing with the toilet want.

When traveling

After dumping and rinsing the tank I fill it 1/3 full and add laundry detergent. The agitation while driving usually does the job. About half the amount of liquid detergent called for in a normal washing machine load is enough.

If it is cold or at least cool outside, bag or two of cracked ice dumped in the tank through the toilet just before hitting the road will scour the inside of the tank while you drive. This doesn't work as well in the summer time since the ice melts too fast to have enough time to scower the tank.

When not traveling

Again, after dumping and rinsing the tank, I use a little more detergent and completely fill the tank using the toilet wand. Using the wand helps dilute the detergent and also creates some suds. Let the tank stand full and soak for at least an hour.

Then drain the tank and rinse with the wand. Let the tank stand empty for a while to allow the contacts to dry and then check the gauge. If the system monitor still doesn't read right it's probably time to call a service technician.

Except for using the wand and ice, you can use the same procedures to clean the gray water tank.

 

RV Tow Vehicle & Travel Trailer Preventive Maintenance Tips

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RV Tow vehicles often have special maintenance requirements, including more frequent changes of engine and transmission oils and filters, lubrication of components, and cooling system checks. Check your owner*s manual for information on scheduled maintenance of your tow vehicle

RV Travel trailers and fifth wheels also have special preventive maintenance needs.

Below are some maintenance suggestions for RV tow vehicles, travel trailers and fifth wheels.

RV Travel Trailer Tires

* Periodic inspection and maintenance of RV tow vehicle, travel trailer or fifth wheel tires and wheels are essential to towing safety, including spare tires. Proper tire pressure affects vehicle handling and the safety of your tires. You can find the correct tire pressure for your tow vehicle in the owner*s manual or on the tire information placard.

* Under inflation reduces the load-carrying capacity of your tow vehicle or trailer, may cause sway and control problems, and may result in overheating, causing blowouts or other tire failure.

* Over inflation causes premature tire wear and affects the handling characteristics of the tow vehicle or travel trailer of fifth wheel.

* Ozone UV rays and contaminates cause RV travel trailer and fifth wheel tires to deteriorate over time so for safety is recommended they be replaced every 3 to 5 years regardless of tread wear. Check your tire dealer or RV tire manufacture for specific recommendations.

RV Travel Trailer Brakes and Wheel Bearings

* On a regular basis, have the brakes on both the tow vehicle and travel trailer inspected. Be sure that necessary adjustments are made and any damaged or worn parts are replaced.

* It is recommended that newly installed manually adjust brakes be adjusted after the first 200 miles of operation when the brake shoes and drums have "seated”. There after they should be adjusted once a year or as use or performance requires.

* In addition to proper brake adjustment, proper wheel bearing lubrication is essential. Travel trailer and fifth wheel TV wheel bearings should be lubricated every 12 months or 12,000 miles.

RV Trailer Hitch

* Check the nuts, bolts, and other fasteners to ensure that the hitch remains secured to the tow vehicle and the coupler remains secured to the trailer. The connection point may require periodic lubrication to permit free movement of the coupler to the hitch ball. A light application of grease is also recommended on RV fifth wheel hitches

RV Travel Trailer Wiring

* Make sure the connector-plug prongs and receptacles, light bulb sockets, wire splices, and ground connections are clean and shielded from moisture.

Lightly coat all electrical terminal connections with nonconducting (dielectric), light waterproof grease. Clean the prongs with very fine sandpaper, being careful not to damage the contact area.

Clean the surface deposits in the connector holes. (Make sure the lights are off to prevent blowing a fuse.) Try to clean off only the deposits and lubricate lightly with dielectric, light waterproof grease.

 

RV Quick Tips - Motorhomes, Fifth Wheels & Travel Trailers

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Getting Down to the Nitty Gritty with Your Screwdriver

I am sure that nearly everyone who has used a screwdriver has, at one time or another, experienced the sinking feeling that occurs when the tool turns, but the screw in question does not. Phillips head screws seem to be the worst culprits.

One way to increase your odds of success (by as much as 30 percent) is to first dip the screwdriver tip in valve-grinding compound. The grit in the compound will help the screwdriver bite into the screw head, aiding immensely in the removal of a stubborn fastener.

Valve-grinding compound is readily available at most automotive-supply stores. A  11/2-ounce tube will likely cost you less than $1, and for this type of application, will probably last a lifetime.

-R. Blattenberger, Mount Holly, New Jersey

Get More Great RV Tech Tips from 10-Minute Tech, Volume 2 Over 600 Time and Money Saving Ideas from Fellow RVers.

What is a battery isolator and why do I need one?

A battery isolator is an electronic device that allows your motothome's alternator or converter to charge both the engine battery and the coach battery, but keeps the two systems separate or isolated so the coach batteries won't be drawn down while using the engine battery for starting the vehicle, and so that the engine battery won't be drawn down when using the coach's equipment (lights, ref, etc.).

Some motorhomes have a switch, usually a push button on the dash that will bypass the isolator, which allows the coach battery to temporarily be used to start the vehicle.

Crank-Out Window Won't Close

Q) We have a crank open type window that won’t close tight. It opens okay, but when it’s time to close, it stays open about an inch. There must be something broke somewhere, but looking at it, it appears ok?

We are DIYers so would appreciate any tips on what’s wrong or how to fix it.

A) It's most likely the gear in the regulator (crank thingy) is stripped. I had the same problem my jalousie window once. The gear mechanism is fairly easy to replace and you should be able to find a replacement at an RV parts store. There are different models so you may want to take the old one with you.

I had to drill out some rivets holding the mechanisms in but it was easier to secure the new one with small bolts and nuts,

Instead of nails or screws, try using sturdy industrial*strength hook*and*loop fasteners when hanging things on the wall.

After washing your RV and rinsing it off, use a leaf blower to help remove the water. It keeps the water spots to a minimum.

When strong winds hit, try anchoring your satellite dish tripod with a 10-pound mushroom boat anchor. It should hold up in winds as high as 45 miles per hour.

A Starting Point for Your Own Motorhome, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel.

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This RV checklist does not cover every conceivable item and it may list many things you personally would not want. It is meant to be a starting point for your own list.

Add or subtract items from this checklist to suit your own Motorhome, Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel.


Parking Trailer

__Check power on campground box

__Discuss with spotter where you want the rig and how you will get it there

__Turn on 2 way radios

__Check for same channel on radios

__Position rig for near level

__Park the trailer

__Turn off radios

__Chock trailer wheels

__Place blocks under landing gear

__Extend landing gear to proper hitch height

__Disconnect emergency break away cable

__Unplug umbilical from truck receptacle

__pull fifth wheel hitch lever

__Drive away from trailer

__Adjust front to back level of trailer

 

Setting Up

__Unlock trailer and extend steps

__Plug in electrical cord

__Hook up water hose and pressure regulator

__Hook up sewer hose

__Set up rear stabilizer jacks

__Set up kingpin stabilizer

__Lower awning

__Raise TV antenna

__Set out chairs, grill, etc.

RV Campground Departure Checklist

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Outside Tasks

__Check tire pressure of truck & trailer

__Check oil and fluid levels in truck

__Roll up awning

__Fold up & stow the patio rug

__Stow chairs, grill, etc.

__Dump black holding tank

__Rinse black holding tank (if necessary)

__Dump gray holding tank

__Disconnect, rinse & stow sewer hose & coupler

__Unplug trailer & stow power cord, adapters & surge protector

__Unplug telephone & stow cord

__Disconnect fresh water hose

__Fill fresh water tank (if necessary)

__Drain & stow fresh water hose

__Drain & stow water filters

__Disconnect, drain & stow utility water hose

__Turn off propane

__Stow kingpin stabilizer

__Stow leveling/stabilizing gear

__Remove & stow wheel chocks

__Adjust landing gear to proper hitching height

__Check if hitch receiver is open

__Drop tailgate

__Hitch up

__Check if hitch receiver is closed

__Pull truck slightly forward to check hitch

__Raise tailgate

__hook break-away switch cable

__Plug in umbilical cord

__Check trailer lights and brakes

__Raise landing gear

__Walk around site to check for forgotten items

__Pick up and stow the door mat

__Lock outside compartments

__Stow entry steps and lock trailer

__Walk around site one last time

Inside tasks

__Lower TV antenna

__Stow appliances

__Stow pictures and nick knacks

__Close roof vents

__Close all windows

__Secure cabinets, drawers, fridge

__Furnace turned off

__Water heater turned off

__Water pump turned off

Glossary of RV Terms

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A list of common RV terms and their definitions.

ANODE ROD

An anode rod, when used in a water heater, attracts corrosion causing products in the water. These products attack the anode rod instead of the metal tank itself. The anode rod should be inspected yearly and changed when it is reduced to about 1/4 of its original size. The rods are used in steel water heater tanks - an aluminum tank has an inner layer of anode metal to accomplish the same thing. Anode rods should not be installed in an aluminum tank!

AXLE RATIO

The ratio between the pinion and ring gears in the differential that multiply the torque provided by the engine. It is the number of drive line revolutions required to turn the axle one time. As an example, with a 4.10:1 axle the drive line turns 4.1 times for each full axle revolution. The higher the number, the more torque and thus more towing power. However, the higher the number also means less speed and fuel economy.

BLACK WATER

Waste water from toilet.

BAKE ACTUATOR

A device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle that controls the braking system of a trailer. The Brake Controller senses the amount of braking force of the tow vehicle and applied a proportional force to the trailer braking system.

BRAKE CONTROLLER

A device mounted under the dash of a towing vehicle to control the braking system of the trailer. The Brake Controller senses the amount of braking force of the tow vehicle and applied a proportional force to the trailer braking system.

BTU - British Thermal Unit

A measurement of heat that is the quantity required to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degree F. RV air-conditioners and furnaces are BTU-rated.

CAMBER - Wheel alignment

Camber is the number of degrees each wheel is off of vertical. Looking from the front, tops of wheels farther apart than bottoms means "positive camber". As the load pushes the front end down, or the springs get weak, camber would go from positive to none to negative (bottoms of wheels farther apart than tops).

CASTER - Wheel alignment

The steering wheels' desire to return to center after you turn a corner.

CONDENSATION

The result of warn moisture laden air contacting the cold window glass. Keeping a roof vent open helps to reduce the humidity levels. Using the roof vent fan when showering or the stove vent fan when cooking also helps prevent excess moisture buildup.

CONVERTER

A converter is device that converts 120 volt A/C (alternating current) to 12 volt DC (direct current). Also recharges the battery.

DINETTE

Booth-like dining area. Table usually drops to convert unit into a bed at night.

DSI IGNITION

Direct Spark Ignition - A method of igniting the main burner on a propane fired appliance. The burner is lit with an electric spark and the flame is monitored by an electronic circuit board. This ignition system is used in refrigerators, furnaces and water heaters and some Stove tops and ovens.

DUCTED AC

Air conditioning is supplied through a ducting system in the ceiling. This supplies cooling air at various vents located throughout the RV.

DUCTED HEAT

Warm air from the furnace is supplied to various locations in the RV through a ducting system located in the floor.

DUAL ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

RV equipped with lights, appliances which operate on 12-volt battery power when self-contained, and with a converter, on 110 AC current when in campgrounds or with an onboard generator.

DUALLY

A pickup truck, or light-duty tow vehicle, with four tires on one rear axle.

GENERATOR

An engine powered device fueled by gasoline or diesel fuel, and sometimes propane, for generating 120-volt AC power.

GREY WATER

Waste water from sinks a shower. In some units, this is held in a tank separate from black water; is also dumped in tanks at campgrounds.

GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING (GAWR)

The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, that can be placed on the axle. If an axle has a 3500-lb. GAWR and the RV has two axles (tandem axles), then the RV would have a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7000 lbs.

GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT RATING (GCWR)

The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the trailer and tow vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the trailer and tow vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING (GVWR)

The manufacturers maximum load weight, in pounds, allowed for the vehicle. This rating includes the weight of the vehicle plus fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers.

Gross Trailer Weight (GTW)

Gross trailer weight is the weight of the trailer fully loaded in its actual towing condition. GTW is measured by placing the fully loaded trailer on a vehicle scale. The entire weight of the trailer should be supported on the scale.

HEAT EXCHANGER

A device that transfers heat from one source to another. For example, there is a heat exchanger in your furnace - the propane flame and combustion products are contained inside the heat exchanger that is sealed from the inside area. Inside air is blown over the surface of the exchanger, where it is warmed and the blown through the ducting system for room heating. The combustion gases are vented to the outside air.

HEAT STRIP

An electric heating element located in some roof-top air conditions with the warm air distributed by the air conditioner fan and ducting system. They are typically 1500 watt elements (about the same wattage as an electric hair dryer) and have limited function. Basically they "take the chill off"

HITCH WEIGHT

The amount of a trailer's weight that rests on the tow vehicle's hitch. For travel trailers this weight should be 10% to 15% of the total weight of the trailer. For fifth wheels this weight should be 15% to 20% of the total weight of the trailer.

HOLDING TANKS

There are three different holding tanks on most RVs; fresh water tank, gray water tank and black water tank. The fresh water tank holds fresh water that can be stored for later use. The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.

HOOKUPS

The ability of connecting to a campground's facilities. The major types of hookups are electrical, water and sewer. If all three of these hookups are available, it is termed full hookup. Hookups may also include telephone and cable TV in some campgrounds.

INVERTER

An inverter is a device that changes 12 volt battery power to 120 volt AC power. It is used when "boondocking" (camping without hookups) to power certain 120 VAC only devices like a microwave oven. The amount of available power depends on the storage capacity of the batteries and the wattage rating of the inverter.

LAMINATE

A sandwich of structural frame members, wall paneling, insulation and exterior covering, adhesive-bonded under pressure and/or heat to form the RV's walls, floor and/or roof.

LP GAS

Liquefied Petroleum Gas. LP gas is used to fuel appliances in the RV, such as the stove, oven, water heater and refrigerator. Propane tanks are usually rated as pounds or gallons.

NET CARRYING CAPACITY (NCC)

The maximum weight of fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers that can be added to an RV without exceeding the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR).Sometimes called the payload capacity

PILOT

A pilot is a small standby flame that is used to light the main burner of a propane fired appliance when the thermostat calls for heat. Pilots can be used in furnaces, water heaters, refrigerators, ovens and stove tops.

PROPANE

LPG, or liquefied petroleum gas, used in RVs for heating, cooking and refrigeration. Also called bottle gas, for manner in which it is sold and stored.

RIG

What many RVers call their units. As in 'What kind of rig do you have?'

ROOF AIR CONDITIONING

Air conditioning unit mounted on roof of RV.

RV

Short for Recreation Vehicle, a generic term for all pleasure vehicles which contain living accommodations. Multiple units are RVs and persons using them are RVers.

SELF CONTAINED

An RV which needs no external electrical, drain or water hookup. Thus, it can park overnight anywhere. Of course, self-contained units can also hook up to facilities when at campgrounds.

THERMOCOUPLE

A device that monitors the pilot flame of a pilot model propane appliance. If the pilot flame is extinguished the thermocouple causes the gas valve to shut off the flow of gas to both the pilot flame and the main burner.

TONGUE WEIGHT

Tongue weight (TW) is the downward force exerted on the hitch ball by the trailer coupler. In most cases, it is about 10 to 15 percent of GTW.

TOW RATING

Maximum weight a vehicle can safely tow. These ratings are set by the manufacturer and should be obtained from the vehicle dealership or owner’s manual prior to selecting the RV that you are going to be towing.

UNDERBELLY

The RV's under floor surface, which is protected by a weatherproofed material.

UNLOADED VEHICLE WEIGHT (UVW)

The weight of the RV without adding fuel, water, propane, supplies and passengers. The manufacturers UVW will not include any dealer-installed options. Sometimes called the Dry Weight,

Waste Water Tanks

The gray water tank holds the waste water from the sinks and showers. The black water tank holds the waste from the toilet.

WET WEIGHT

The weight of the vehicle with the fuel, freshwater and propane tanks full.

WHEELBASE

Distance between center lines of the primary axles of a vehicle. If a motor home includes a tag axle, the distance is measured from the front axle to the center point between the drive and tag axles.

WEIGHT DISTRIBUTION HITCH

A weight distribution hitch consist of two parts. The first part being the receiver hitch that is mounted to the frame of the tow vehicle. The receiver hitch has two weight ratings, one is weight carrying and one is with weight distribution. Weight carrying is the weight that the hitch can safely tow with a standard ball mount and ball. The weight distribution rating is the weight that can be towed with the addition of a weight distribution package.

The weight distribution package pins in your receiver hitch and then two spring bars are attached to the camper and the receiver hitch. There are several manufacturers and methods used but all have the same simple principal. To distribute the weight evenly throughout the tow vehicle and the towed vehicle. Be sure to consult with and RV professional regarding the installation and operation of the proper weight distribution package as well as any other hitch accessory.

Works Cited

Steven Fletcher.  www.RVBasics.com Feb. 2010

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