Maintain Your RV: What You Absolutely Need To Know To Avoid Disasters on the Road

The better you maintain your recreational vehicle the fewer problems you are likely to have which in turn means more money in your pocket

If you travel in a motorhome, get regular oil changes and tune-ups. If you have a trailer or fifth wheel, keep the hitch in good operating condition.

For all RVs, check the tires, the roof, the window seals, and the appliances on a regular basis or before you take any trip.

Monitor board for fresh water, grey and black water, and propane tanks © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV toilet paper 101

Keep your RV’s pipes clean.

Of all the toilet tissue varieties available, which type is best for use in RVs? Your safest bet is to forgo quilted, scented, double-ply or dyed versions in favor of white, unscented, single-ply toilet paper.

Monitor board for black water © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Single-ply paper disintegrates faster than two-ply, three-ply, or quilted tissue in your holding tank, thereby helping to avoid clogged dump valves and fouled sensors that produce faulty tank-level readings. As for dyed, bleached, or scented tissue, the chemicals used in these products can destroy the bacteria that break down solids in septic tanks.

Electric, water, sewer, and cable TV hookups © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You can purchase toilet paper that is labeled “green” or made specifically for RVs, though other readily available options are equally suitable.

To test your toilet paper for RV use, place a couple of sheets in a covered jar of water and shake. If the paper disintegrates quickly, it’s OK to use in your RV.

Water and sewer tanks and outlets © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Safety – Safely Plugging Your RV into Power

Voltage can be set into motion by pushing current through a path of least voltage “Pressure”. In some cases this can be your body. In short, if you touch something charged with 100 volts with one wet hand and then touch something else charged with zero volts with the other wet hand, then the 100 volts will be set into motion through the conduit—in this case, you.

Secure sewer connection © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So, not to get all scary here, there are some basic safety measures to take when plugging your RV into the campground pedestal. If the pedestal is operating correctly, then there should be no problem, but just in case, think about how you could avoid potential voltage pressure from being released.

Dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

First step is to make sure the circuit breaker on the pedestal is turned off. With only one hand, and standing on dry ground, flip the breaker off. Now, with one hand, and never standing or kneeling on wet surfaces, plug your power into the pedestal. (Example: you wouldn’t want to be plugging the power in with one hand and bracing your other hand on the pedestal. Remember, that could potentially complete a circuit if the pedestal was charged for some reason).

Once you plug power in then test a few items in your RV. If you find yourself getting shocked by touching things in the RV, then shut the power off and let the campground attendant know what is going on.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

RV Electrical Safety – Protecting Your RV Electrical System

Running power to a recreational vehicle without some kind of electrical management system is simply asking for trouble. If you do not have one of these devices in place then you are playing a risky game with your RV. We have too much invested in our RVs not to protect it from the perils that can come along with electricity.

Dump Station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There are numerous choices in the marketplace but we believe the Progressive Electric Management Systems are the best on the market. These units continuously monitor the power supply coming into your RV and if it detects a variance outside of the tolerances then it will shut the power down. Without the device, a power spike or even low voltage from old worn out park pedestals can do damage to your electrical system.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

All energy management systems and surge protectors manufactured by Progressive Industries are covered by a lifetime warranty.

When you plug your RV into power, the Progressive unit runs a series of tests on the pedestal power to ensure that it is safe. Once it finishes evaluating the power, then, and only then, will it release the power to the RV. If the Progressive unit detects a power problem, then it will display an error code explaining what the issue is.

Electric Management System © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Once power is released to the RV, then the unit continues to monitor the power for spikes or low voltage situations that could damage the sensitive components in your RV.

Worth Pondering…

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.

—Stephen Covey

Sewer Tank Woes

Avoid RV black water tank problems

With COVID-19 (Coronavirus) everyone’s lives—yours and ours—were thrown into a scrambled state of flux. Someday, we’ll all be ready to pack the RV again and head out on our next adventure. In the meantime, here’s some inspiration for the future.

Maintaining and emptying your septic system on a regular basis is an unglamorous—but necessary—part of any RV adventure. And without proper maintenance and care of this system, things can get pretty ugly.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

When the final epistle is written on the trials and tribulations of the RV Lifestyle—the Weekend Warriors, Snowbirds, and Full Timers—the subject of many conversations will focus on the woes of sewer tanks. Learning how to dump them is your first lesson and how to keep them from smelling is the second.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After graduating from your own personal version of RV Sewer Tanks 101, you may also require schooling in the finer details of how to unclog them, when you treat them badly.

It usually isn’t that big of a deal when you notice the sewer tanks filling up, especially when you personally don’t have to dump the tanks—its hubby’s job, yippee, you say! And it wouldn’t have been a big deal that day, since as usual we were camping in a park with full hook-ups, which mean an onsite sewer connection.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

So on a typical day, when the tanks fills up, I—as in hubby, that’s me—just goes outside and dump the tanks, first the gray water, then the black as in sewer. That worked well for over 20 years.

That day, of course, life wasn’t so simple. As the lights on the tank monitor turned from green to amber then quickly to red, I knew that there was a problem.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What’s the problem?

At that moment I wasn’t aware that I had inadvertently left the black water valve open less than 12 hours earlier.

On that occasion I had dumped the black tank, closed the valve, and drained the gray as usual. After closing the gray water tank I attached a water hose to the black tank flush, opened the black and turned on the water. Flush complete, water turned off, and hose stowed.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

I recall a conversation with an RVer who related a story about her husband who had a great idea. An idea so wonderful she said that he actually called it brilliant. An idea that he requested a pat on the back for. An idea he was sure you could only get from a real RVer, someone who knew what they were doing.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Never mind that this particular genius of an idea went against what all the manufacturers recommended and what all the experts advised. This had come from a fellow RVer, a man who lived in his camper. A man he met for literally two minutes while camping in some off-beat location in the mountains of east Kentucky.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

You guessed it folks—he left the tanks open. And, not just the grey tank but both of them! And now the black tank monitor indicated full while it was almost empty!

She could see from the expression on his face and the glazed look of his eyes, he was about to start tinkering and she knew right then, this would be her entertainment for the next hour or two.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

After jolting out the door, she could hear him fumbling around in the storage bins looking for tools and who knows what else. She heard the water turn on and what sounded like a tote being filled. He was filling two five-gallon water tanks at the spigot.

She knew this was probably a big deal, but couldn’t help but relish in the fact that she had been right and that this was totally his fault.

Caring for your sewer tank system © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Over the next hour, he ran in and out of the camper tugging the heavy water tanks back and forth from bathroom to spigot. He checked the tanks then continued with his plan. She could hear him fiddling with the valve outside, cursing up a storm, while trying not to attract attention from the neighbors.

Worth Pondering…

Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.

—Anon

Ready to Talk Like an RVer?

Are you ready for an RV lifestyle?

Learn all the terms used in the RV world and lifestyle. Here’s a few to get you started.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’ve been RVing for years, you’re bound to have questions. And we have answers at RVing with Rex.

Gray Water

Waste water from sinks and showers. Gray water is stored in a specific holding tank separate from fresh water and black water.

Gray and black water drain © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Black Water

Waste water from the toilet system. Black water stays in a holding tank until it is emptied at a dumping station.

Back-in sites © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Back-in Site

A camping space that requires backing in an RV as opposed to pulling through.

Pull-through site © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Pull-through Site

A camping space that allows an RV to enter from one side and leave from the other, eliminating the need to back the RV out of the site.

Full hookups © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Full Hookup

Campground utilities that include 30/50-amp electric service, city water, and sewer connection.

GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating)

The maximum operating weight allowed for an RV, including fuel and propane, holding tanks, gear, and passengers. For a towable RV this includes: the maximum allowable weight at the trailer axle(s), plus the hitch weight. For a motorized RV, this includes: the maximum allowable weight at all of the axles.

GCWR (Gross Combined Weight Rating)

The maximum operating weight of a motorized vehicle combined with the maximum allowable weight it can tow.

Gross Axle Weight Rating (GAWR)

The maximum permissible weight on one axle of the RV.

Cargo Carrying Capacity (CCC)

The permissible weight that an RV can carry.

Wheelbase

The distance between the center lines of a vehicle’s primary axles.

Motorhome interior with galley (left) and desk and pull-out table (right) © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Galley

Kitchen of an RV. Name is borrowed from the boating industry.

Basement bins for storage with access from either side of motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Basement

Storage compartments below the floor of an RV that can be accessed from outside.

LP Gas/Propane

Liquid Petroleum Gas is used to fuel appliances such as stoves, ovens, water heaters, refrigerators, and furnaces.

Dump station © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Dump Station

A safe location, often at a campsite, to empty black water and gray water holding tanks.

Self-Contained

An RV that includes the basic necessities needed for boondocking or dry camping without electrical, water, and sewer hookups. A self-contained RV usually includes a fresh water tank, dry-cell batteries, inverter, and generator or solar panels.

Reefer and microwave © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Reefer

Slang for an RV refrigerator.

Boondocking at Quartzsite © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Boondocking

Boondocking is camping without hookups. Power will come from your generator, deep-cell batteries, and solar power system. 

Deep-Cycle Batteries

Deep-cycle batteries are designed to discharge power at a slow rate for an extended period of time. In RV applications, deep-cycle batteries power the comforts of home like your cooking appliances and lights. Add distilled water when the electrolyte level falls below a half-inch above the plates. Do not overfill. keep the water level an eighth of an inch below the battery’s internal vent-wall.

Converter

Converts 120-volt Alternating Current (AC) power into 12-volt Direct Current (DC) power.

Dinghy/toad attached to motorhome © Rex Vogel, all rights reserve

Dinghy/Toad

A vehicle towed at the rear of a motorized RV.

Backup Monitor

A camera in the back of an RV that connects to a digital monitor in the dashboard to give the driver a better view of what’s behind them, when reversing or when towing on the road.

Worth Pondering…
May the joy of today, bring forth happiness for tomorrow.