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Pre-Road Trip RV Maintenance Tips for Spring

By Mark Richardson

Sure, you’re ready for summer to arrive, but is your RV? Before you hit the road, make sure it’s properly prepped after a season in storage by following these RV maintenance tips for spring.

First, give it a good visual inspection. Look for the obvious: damage to the exterior or evidence of rodents on the inside. If the RV was parked outdoors, look for cracks to be sure the weight of snow build-up didn’t affect its structure. Check the condition of window caulking and rubber seals around your awning or slide-outs; clean off any mould. And check all propane lines for leaks by spraying soapy water on any connections. If bubbles arise, you have a leak that needs to be repaired.

Inside, open all the windows to air things out, remove protective covers from the vents, and look for any signs that mice have taken up residence. Flip over mattresses and seat covers, too, to be sure there were no unwanted winter visitors.

Be sure to check your RV’s mechanical parts before moving it. If it’s stored away from your home, this will be one of the first things to do. For trailers, examine the hitch and spray some penetrating fluid on the mechanism if it needs a little lubrication. If your RV is a self-powered vehicle, you’ll want to check engine fluid levels before driving away. It’s important to change the oil every season as well.

How to safely tow a trailer

Reinstall the battery (if necessary), making sure it’s fully charged, and take a walk around the vehicle to ensure all lights are operational. Examine the condition of tires and the tightness of wheel lug nuts. You could also do this as part of your first visual inspection.

Don’t plug in the RV to shore power yet! If the water heater is switched on and there’s no water in the system, you’ll damage the heater—or worse. If you emptied all the water before winter by blowing out pipes with low-pressure air, then simply close the drain petcock, fill it up and turn on the pump.

If you added RV antifreeze to the water, you’ll need to flush it out. Drain the tank; add a cup of bleach to a few litres of water and pour it into the water tank; then open all the faucets. Keep them open until you smell the bleach. Leave it for a while—ideally 24 hours. Drain the tank again and refill it with fresh water. You’ll likely need to do this a few times until the bleach smell is gone to verify the water is clean.

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With clean water now in the system, connect to power and switch on your water heater and refrigerator. Start up the furnace and any propane burners. Put new batteries in the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and make sure the fire extinguisher is still in good working condition.

While these checks may seem a bit tedious, you’ll appreciate them when you hit the open road for your first trip of 2019!

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