It’s almost the end of November and I’ve been busy working on my Fall To-Do List. This to-do list is mostly annual maintenance items – maintenance on my house, vehicles, the RV, and maintenance for me. It’s the stuff that should get done each year to keep things (and me) in working order.
As opposed to doing these things throughout the year, I tend to plan all this work for the Fall when I’m not traveling. I pack it all into a 6 week window, so it all gets done right before I head to Florida in December.
I don’t usually write how-to type posts, but since I’m “knee-deep” into it, I thought I’d share the RV specific annual maintenance items that are on my Fall To-Do list. Many of these items are buried in the RV’s Operations Manual and are in addition to the monthly items (e.g., tire pressure, battery water levels, slide and step lube). Some are just common sense.
For a veteran RVer, these items are probably not new to you. But for someone new, they may be of interest. It’s not a big list, just eight things that I make sure get done each year.
1. Wash and Wax the RV
This is pretty straight forward. I usually wash the RV a few times throughout the year, but I give it one final wash in the Fall before I winterize it. After the Fall wash, I use a spray on wax (Turtle Wax Ice Spay Wax) on the entire body. The spray wax is easy to apply with a couple of micro fiber cloths. One bottle of the wax is enough for two waxings of my RV. I also wash the roof at this time. The roof on my RV is fiberglass and it tends to get some mildew spots over the course of the year. I use a soft brush with soap and warm water to clean the roof.
2. Sanitize the Water System
I sanitize my water system twice each year – once in the Fall and once again in the Spring before I start traveling. It’s easy to do. For my RV, I mix 1/4 cup of bleach into a gallon of water. I pour two of these gallon / bleach mixtures into my water tank. Then I fill the water tank and run the water through each faucet / fixture until I smell the bleach. My fresh water tank holds 31 gals and this mixture provides a bleach concentration of 50 ppm. I let the water sit for 4 hours, drain the whole system, and then refill with fresh water. That’s all it takes to sanitize the water system.
3. Flush the Hot Water Tank
While I have the hose out and refilling my fresh water tank, I take some extra time and flush out the hot water tank. My hot water tank doesn’t have an anode rod. So it’s easy just to release the pressure valve and then remove the tank drain plug and run fresh water through it. If you do this, make sure the water heater has been off and the water has cooled down.
4. Perform the Generator Maintenance
I use my generator frequently during the camping season and run it each month as recommended in the Operations Manual. I usually put about 30 hours on the generator each year. In the Fall, I change the oil, change the air filter, and clean out the spark arrestor. This keeps my genny starting and running smooth throughout the year. The key to keeping a generator running smooth is to run it often.
5. Test the Propane System for Leaks
Each year when we go to Florida, I schedule a service appointment with the RV dealer where I bought my RV (Lazydays in Tampa FL). One of the things I have them do, is test the propane system for leaks and clean / check each propane appliance (clean the burn chambers, adjust igniter). It’s a good thing to have done each year. One year, they found a stuck shut off valve and another year they found a leaking regulator.
6. Change the RV Oil and Filter
I put about 20,000 miles per year on my RV. The oil change interval on my 2014 Winnebago View is 15,000 but I do it every 10,000. Usually in early Summer and again in the Fall. I’m a shade tree mechanic and do the oil change myself. The Mercedes-Benz diesel engine in my RV takes 13 qts of oil and the oil has to meet a specific MB spec (229.51). There’s only two oils that meet this spec – Mobil 1 and Valvoline MST Syn Power. The filter requires a special tool to remove the filter cartridge. You can buy the tool on Amazon for around $30. Overall, it’s a pretty easy process.
7. Clean the Electrical Supply Plug
The plug on the end of the RV electric cord can get worn and should be inspected each year. A bad or worn electrical outlet can cause damage to the plug (overheating and charring). Each time I plug my RV into an electrical post, I check the plug to see if it’s getting warm. I carry a non contact laser thermal sensor to check the plug and breaker temperature. A worn outlet will heat up due to arcing caused by a poor connector. The heat may become severe and melt the plug and char the connectors. Each fall, I check the plug and clean the contacts with steel wool or emery cloth.
8. Remove All the Food Items
I live in a climate where I need to winterize my RV for a few weeks before I leave for Florida. As part of that process, I remove all food items so they won’t attract critters. I also think it’s a good idea to do this even if you don’t have to winterize. It’s good to get rid of those left over crackers that someone gave you at a happy hour a few years ago, toss the tuna cans that expired 2 years ago, and remove the peanut butter jar that’s been there since you bought the RV. All food (well maybe not Twinkies) has a shelf life. Each Fall, I remove everything, clean the draws and cabinets and restock with fresh stuff once I get to Florida.
That’s it. The eight things I do every year to keep my RV in good working order. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or would like to add items.
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