By Mark Polk
Your RV has been sitting idle over the winter. Now the early signs of spring are here and it's time to take it out of storage and prepare the coach and chassis for this years camping season. If you're like me, you want to have some type of logical sequence to follow rather then haphazardly checking the unit out. I made a simple checklist to use so that nothing is overlooked. I prefer to do the majority of spring preparation myself. If you're more comfortable having someone else do it you can schedule an appointment with a reputable RV service center to have it done.
* Depending on how your unit was winterized it will need to be de-winterized. If you used non-toxic RV antifreeze you need to run fresh water through the entire system until all traces of antifreeze are gone. To remove it from the 12-volt water pump add water to the fresh water-holding tank, turn the pump on and open all water faucets. When the antifreeze is out of the system turn the pump off and take the water heater out of the by-pass mode (if applicable). Re-install any water filter cartridges you removed for storage.
* At this point I like to sanitize the water system. Make sure all of the drains are closed and drain plugs are installed. Take a quarter cup of household bleach for every fifteen gallons of water your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach with water into a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water holding tank completely full of water. Turn the water pump on and open all faucets, run water until you smell the bleach. Close the faucets and let it sit for at least twelve hours. Drain all of the water and re-fill the tank with fresh water. Turn the pump on and open all faucets until you no longer smell bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process to eliminate all signs of the bleach.
* With the water system under pressure inspect for water leaks. Check the operation of the toilet.
* Wash the unit thoroughly. This is a good time to inspect the roof and body seams, and window sealants for cracking that would allow water to get in. Consult a dealer for sealants compatible with these materials.
* Inspect the operation of the awning and clean the awning fabric as required.
* Inspect the tires for signs of dry rot. Inflate all tires to the recommended COLD tire pressure.
* Lubricate all hinges and locks with spray lubricant.
* Remove any tape or protective covering you may have put over LP gas vents to keep insects and rodents out. Check any mousetraps you may have put out. Open all doors and compartments and check for rodent intrusion and water damage.
* Inspect and clean the interior.
* Plug in any appliances that you unplugged for storage and replace any dry cell batteries you may have removed. This is a good time to put new batteries in items like smoke alarms.
* Test the operation of the carbon monoxide alarm, LP gas leak detector and smoke alarm.
* Check the fire extinguisher. Be sure it is fully charged.
* Reset any breakers you may have turned off. If you removed any fuses for storage re-install them.
* Clean or replace air conditioner filters if it wasn't done prior to storage and remove any covers that were put over air conditioners.
* Open vents and windows and air the unit out.
* If you removed the coach and chassis batteries for storage install them. Whether they were removed or not check the electrolyte levels, clean the terminals and clamps, and check the charge level in all batteries. Recharge batteries as necessary.
* Check the operation of the electric steps if applicable. Lubricate step mechanism.
* Test the operation of the hydraulic jacks if applicable. Check hydraulic fluid level.
* Test the operation of the back up camera and monitor if applicable.
* If you didn't change the oil and filters in the generator prior to storage this is a good time to do it. Inspect the generator exhaust system for damage prior to starting. Start and run the generator for two hours with at least a half rated load on it. Consult the generators owner manual for load ratings.
* Turn the generator off and plug the unit into shore power. Turn the refrigerator on in the electric mode. Allow sufficient time to cool and check for proper operation.
* Check all 12-volt interior lights and accessories.
* Test the monitor panel for proper operation.
* Check the operation of slide outs if applicable.
* Check the remaining 120-volt appliances for proper operation.
* Test the Ground Fault Interrupter (GFI) for proper operation.
* Turn the refrigerator off, leave the doors open and allow sufficient time for it to get to room temperature so it can be checked in the gas mode.
* Before I use the LP gas system I have a leak test and gas operating pressure test preformed. A qualified technician with the proper equipment should do these tests.
* After this is accomplished turn the LP gas valve on and check the operation of all LP gas appliances. Be sure the water heater is full of water before testing the water heater. If a gas appliance is not operating properly have it inspected by a qualified technician. Insects are attracted to the odorant added to LP gas and build nests that can affect the appliance from operating properly.
* If your unit was in long-term storage and you didn't change the engine oil and filter prior to storage this would be a good time to do it.
* Check all fluid levels in transmission, power steering, engine coolant, engine oil, windshield washer and brakes. Consult vehicle owners manual.
* Start the engine and check for proper readings on all gauges. Check for proper operation of dash air conditioner.
* Perform a complete chassis lubrication if it wasn't done prior to storage.
* Check the condition of windshield wiper blades and replace them if necessary.
* Check the operation of all chassis lights.
* Make sure the vehicle emissions/inspection sticker is up to date.
* In addition to this if you have a pop-up or travel trailer the wheel bearings and brakes (if equipped) should be inspected at least once annually. Inspect any canvas for dry rot and tears; inspect all hitch work and the coupler for damage. Inspect the breakaway switch and pigtail for proper operation.
Happy Camping ,
Copyright 2006 by Mark J. Polk owner of RV Education 101
RV Expert Mark Polk, seen on TV, is the producer & host of America's most highly regarded series of DVD's, videos, books, and e-books. http://www.rveducation101.com/
Mark Polk is a retired U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Three, specializing in wheeled and track vehicle fleet maintenance operations. In addition to owning and operating RV Education 101, (based in North Carolina) since 1999, Polk also has a very extensive RV background working in RV service, sales and management. Polk has a degree in Industrial Management Technology and his 30 plus years of experience in maintenance includes working as an RV technician, a wheeled vehicle and power generation mechanic, an automotive maintenance technician, Battalion and Brigade level Maintenance Officer, an RV sales manager and also in the RV financing department as the Finance & Insurance manager. http://www.rveducation101.com/