Wednesday, November 26, 2014

To Cover Or Not To Cover - That Is The Question

My RV Covered
    I have an RV cover. It is, or rather was, a nice one. After many years with the original owner in the hot California sun and 3 years in the snow and sleet of the Northeast, the material has gone brittle. If you pull on it too hard it rips. A lot. I now have a cover that works great up to the windshield and then has an 8 foot gash all the way across. Last year, when it wasn't so bad, I used the windshield wipes to hole the top and bottom pieces together...well...sort of. Some folks say I shouldn't cover it. I'm not so sure.

I've found varying schools of though when it comes to covering your RV. Some say it's essential... others...not so much. Let's take a look at why.

  • Keeps the bulk of the weather off the surface of your RV.
  • Keeps birds from "depositing" on your RV roof and sides.
  • Keeps Branches, leaves, etc. from accumulating on the RV.
  • Keeps the Sun's harmful UV rays from fading your surfaces.
  • Hides the RV from prying eyes.
  • Constant rubbing of cover against the surface of the RV dulls finish.
  • Could scratch or mar the glass.
  • Retains moisture underneath the cover.
  • A P.I.T.A. to put it on and take it off.
  • You have to store it someplace.
  • They can be costly to buy.
No Cover? Well, Except For The Snow!
On the pro side it appears to have real value. Maintaining your RV in good condition keeps it value up and since less maintenance is required you can rest easier thus maintaining your own sanity. On the con side, there is a real danger of some kind of damage to your finish and/or scratches on your glass. You can mitigate this by choosing the right material for your cover and local environment. I have tried both covered and uncovered. It seems like covering it in bad weather works well. I had a lot more cleaning to do in spring when I left it uncovered over the winter months. I did find that making sure the top isn't too loose and flopped around in the wind was essential to keeping the finish unblemished.

I'm absolutely sure I have missed a bunch of pros and cons. This year I believe I will be using my old cover. I took some photos of it before...and I'll take some after. Let's get to the bottom of this, scientifically. Either way, take care of your RV and it will always be ready to whisk you off to destinations both known and unknown.'s time for a large Thanksgiving day meal!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Finding Pesky RV Tank & Drain Leaks

    The other day I came out to find a small water puddle underneath the back of my RV. Well, to be honest, it wasn'.t really a puddle more like damp pavement. I figured it was from the fresh water overflow hose when I last filled my tank. No worries, I'd keep an eye on it. Several days go by and it remains damp each day. The damp area doesn't seem to change in size, so it must be a steady drip. Looking underneath the RV showed NO water leaking at all from any of the likely drain pipes nor water fittings that I could see.  Hmmmm. I had a mystery on my hands that would have to be sorted out before it became worse.

Upon closer inspection(and in multiple awkward positions)  I discovered the leak. (Really more of a "seep")  For some reason the designers of my RV decided it would be a good idea to have the fresh water drain come out ON TOP OF my grey water tank! Huh? There is a small tube that comes from the water system directly on top of the grey water tank. While it does keep the top of the tank quite clean it's a bit silly. I've been thinking of running a rubber hose from the outlet to someplace better. Well... THAT WASN'T the problem! The leak was something else since the fresh water system is completely drained and "blown out" for the winter.

On my RV the sink drains all feed a common inlet to the grey water tank.  There is a very short vertical PVC pipe that goes from the intersection through the flooring and sub-flooring, down to the grey water tank. It's almost impossible to see. I had to resort to using a camera with a flash to get a clear view. Anyway, when water is draining from the sinks the joints on this pipe seep a little water, very slowly. I can see someone tried to put several beads of silicone sealant around the pipe to stop the flow. This MAY have been working for a long time, but really isn't a proper repair.

To do this right, I will have to remove the retaining straps on the tank somehow and disconnect the pipe that's leaking. Problem is, I cannot see how it's threaded or attached. It may very well be PVC glued that case a hacksaw and some fresh pipe is in order. I am trying to figure out how to get it all back in place. I do not believe I can get to the pipe joint while the tank is in place. This whole shebang may have to wait until the weather warms up. I am hoping I can access the leaky section without a complete disassembly of the tank and structure around it. Who knows, I may get lucky for a change! Not likely, but one can hope, right?

Next season (or right now, if you are blessed with warm weather!) you should go out and look at the TOPS of your tanks. It just might explain that mysterious slow leak that has plagued you for a long while. I was surprised.....never knew that there were fittings there.

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winterizing Tip - Don't Forget Your Traps!!

    If you, like me, have a Winter Season you know all about winterizing your RV so bad things don't happen when it gets below freezing. Especially to your fresh water system. There are two schools of thought on winterizing. Some folks prefer to pump their whole system full of the "pink stuff" or, more properly, RV WaterLine Antifreeze. This is a non-toxic, supposedly tasteless liquid that won't freeze at typical winter temperatures. The other method is to blow out your water system with compressed air. (Not too much pressure! About 40PSI or so is plenty.) I use the latter. So far, over several years I've had no problems at all. Well, that's not entirely true. I did have a cracked PVC pipe.

Typical RV Sink Drain
You see, blowing out the water lines takes care of both your cold and hot water pipes but does NOTHING to remove the water from your DRAINS! Each drain in your RV has an "S" or more properly a "U" shaped bend that keeps odors from flowing back up into your living space. Invented by, no kidding, Thomas Crapper in 1880. A small amount of water remains in the elbow to block vapors from coming back out. Ingenious, really. The only problem with this? When the temperature gets below freezing the water freezes, cracking the elbow. Come summer, your drain has a big crack in it and water flows out into whatever is beneath. Kitchen cabinets, your floor.... Well, you get the idea! Bad Mojo!

You Can Buy ANY Brand!
Simply pouring in about a quart (to be safe!) of the pink antifreeze will ensure all the water is displaced and what remains won't freeze and crack your pipes. Make sure you do EVERY drain, even the separate sinks of a double sink. Some of them have TWO drains!  Usually, I buy a brand name waterline antifreeze for a little bit more money, but it's still only about five dollars a gallon. Enough (for me) to do four drains. I also add some to the toilet and let it sit to keep the seals moist. Couldn't hurt, but may help in the spring. Sometimes the simplest preventive medicine can save you from a world of pain and expense further down the road. I know.

I had a crack in my shower drain 4 years ago from, what else, a frozen drain elbow. It was VERY difficult to get to and ended up taking hours to fix. Not fun being under the RV while dirt, grime and water pour on your head. Yay! Don't repeat my mistake. I know I won't do it again!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Never Underestimate The Power Of Simple Soapy Water!

    I hate Cleaning. I have said it before and I will likely say it again...and again. If I can figure out any methods of making cleaning less tiresome, I will always be happier. Dishes are a special torture for me. I looked into portable dishwashers for the RV. All of them were too big to store (for me) and used too much water and power. Now what?


The simple spray bottle.

The Spray Bottle
Spray bottles. We use them all the time. Almost every cleaning product comes in a spray version. Some even have spray and stream selections on the nozzle. After my semi annual cleaning of the RV (this one was pre-storage, a very sad day indeed!) I realized that I could use a spray bottle to clean lots of things with simple soap and water.

The next time I was in a liquidation store, I found a quart spray bottle for 50 cents. I thought, why not! For the price, even if it worked for one or two jobs it would be a win. Again, if it's going to speed up or make my cleaning tasks easier I am all for it!

Check Your Tire Valves For Leaks!
Plain old soap and water is a miraculous thing. The real trick is figuring out just how much soap to put in the water. I use a regular dish soap (Dawn) and use about one teaspoon per quart of water. Just shake the spray bottle to make some bubbles. Of course, you can clean all sorts of things gently, but you can also use the bubbles to find leaks in just about any pressurized system. (Well except Water!) Simply flip over and pump out a stream of them. (Remember, you have to flip it back over once the pump lever doesn't pump!) I've used it to troubleshoot my propane system, my suspension airbag lines, valves and gauges, and of course tires and tire valves.

As a tool, this is fantastic, but what's that got to do with washing dishes? Ahhh...that's the next trick. If you have the spray bottle and soap mixture by your kitchen/galley sink, you can use it to spray down your (pre-scraped) dishes with soapy water. Scrub lightly to remove any food residue then rinse with pressurized water from your faucet. It sure beats filling up the sink with soapy water! Obviously you can conserve water this way AND get your dishes clean. Sounds a bit crazy, but it works. Sort of like me!

Be Seeing You...Down The Road,

Rich "The Wanderman"