RV Care

Purchasing a pre-owned RV?

If you are looking to purchase a pre-owned recreation vehicle, then you need to be sure of what you are buying. The Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada (RVDA) has developed the Pre-owned Certified Inspection Program to give you peace of mind when you purchase a pre-owned recreation vehicle. The program offers a complete multi-point inspection for any pre-owned RV. Certified technicians will use a standards-approved checklist of inspection requirements to ensure the pre-owned RV is road-ready, reliable, and safe.

The RVDA Certification Seal is based on a pass/fail rating system that determines which pre-owned RVs meet the professional safety guidelines in Canada. Have your vehicle’s major components inspected and know that your pre-owned RV is reliable.

RVDA dealer members have strict operating guidelines and adhere to the RVDA code of ethics, and only a vehicle inspected by an RVDA dealer member can receive an RVDA seal and certification. This seal is prominently displayed on the vehicle to let others know that it has met all inspection standards and is ready for use.

Protect your investment and look for the Pre-Owned RVDA Certification Seal. It’s the best way to be sure of what you are buying.

Carbon Monoxide

Each year the media brings to our attention RVers who tried to heat their units using either the burners, stove or oven. This practice has lead, on more than one occasion, to fatal consequences with all parties in the RV succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning. As carbon monoxide is a silent killer which you can’t taste, smell or see, you should take every precaution necessary to insure that you and your family don’t become a statistic.

1. Take the time to have your furnace checked and serviced.

2. Don’t ever use the burners or the oven to provide heat.

3. Always sleep with a window or roof vent open. Heat exchanger’s in recreation vehicle furnaces can develop cracks allowing carbon monoxide to enter an RV.

4. If you ever suffer from flu like symptoms such as: headache, dizzy or light-headedness, nausea, confusion or fatigue quickly get everybody out of the unit. Shut off the propane, ventilate the RV and get medical help as soon as possible.

5. Last but not least, make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your unit. This could be your best defense against carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember to check its operation periodically and if required re-place the battery or sensor.

Foul Odor in Refrigerator

Question:

Our refrigerator has a foul odor. I have tried washing it out with vinegar and water, baking soda and leaving coffee grounds and toothpaste in it but to no avail. Would there be a commercial cleaner that would get rid of the problem? The freezer is fine.

Although you mentioned the freezer is working OK, if the odor is like a bleach smell it could mean there is a pinhole leak in the cooling system. The tell-tale visible signs of this are a yellow discolouration of the plastic in the fridge area and excessive corrosion on the metal racks. If either of these conditions are present, have the refrigerator checked out by a qualified RV technician.

In most cases, refrigerator odors can be attributed to mold, mildew or spoiled food. To prevent this from occurring in the future, make sure that you thoroughly clean the inside of the refrigerator after every use and always leave the refrigerator doors open when not in use. When cleaning the inside of the refrigerator always use a mild detergent—never abrasive or strong chemicals—and always remove the shelves to ensure that every area is cleaned—don’t forget to clean the door seals.

In extreme cases odors can permeate the plastic and/or foam components of the refrigerator compartment making it difficult or even impossible to remove. There is one last thing you could try before replacing the refrigerator. Make up a very mild solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle. Spray all the interior surfaces with this solution and let stand for approximately 30 minutes, then scrub everything thoroughly. Let dry and repeat the process a couple of times. (Make sure the area is well ventilated and avoid breathing in the fumes.) If this doesn’t do the trick and having tried all the common remedies, then you may be left with no other option than to replace the refrigerator.

Covering RV with Tarp

Some individuals choose to cover their travel trailer with a tarp during the winter, not fully understanding that they can actually make the situation worse. In most cases, plastic tarps—which can’t breath—were used rather than canvas tarps which, although they can breath, still aren’t recommended.

In most climates, due to snowfall and freeze/thaw cycles, tarps will allow condensation to form between the tarp and the roof and possibly within the interior roof. This contributes to major roof repairs down the road. In addition, winds will cause the tarp to move and, regardless of how well it is tied down, cause damage to exterior components and finishes.

The best way to store an RV is under a roof or in a garage, but if this isn’t feasible then the only alternative is to purchase a cover designed for your RV. These covers are manufactured from a material that is waterproof but also breathable, letting moisture escape away from the RV surfaces. If you don’t want to invest in a proper RV cover, then the next best thing is nothing.

Regardless of whether you cover your RV or not, keep a roof vent cracked open to allow air movement in your unit during storage; to facilitate this and reduce the possibility of snow or rain getting in through the open roof vent you could have a Maxi-Air installed. An added insurance would be to place a desiccant inside your unit to absorb moisture. Both the Maxi-Air and desiccant are available at most RV parts suppliers.

Roof Leaks

Depending on how long your roof has leaked, it might already be too late to do anything other than replace it, especially if your roof has any split seams, sags or pockets that can trap water. These are good indications the interior structure is rotting away. There are a couple of things you can do however.

First, the least expensive is to reseal all roof seams including all roof vents, antennas and cable accesses. Prior to installing the new sealer, all the old roof sealant will have to removed and the surfaces properly prepared. Once this has been done you can start to reseal the roof. A trick to resealing a roof is to put the first coat of sealant on thinly, followed by another application in 24 hours. Check with your local RV repair shop for recommendations on which roof sealant to use as well as information on replacing your roof.

Another method you might want to look at is installing a liquid roof membrane, such as System 2000 Plus Roofing, which involves completely cleaning your existing roof as well as the removal of all existing old roof sealant. This is followed by the application of two coats of an acrylic solution which will create a continuous waterproof membrane over your RV’s roof. It comes with a 10-year warranty.

Winterizing

Awning

Wind gusts over 20 miles per hour and/or heavy rain can cause extensive damage to an RV awning. Never leave the awning out unattended. If everyone is leaving the campsite, store the awning in the travel position. When you go to bed, store the awning. Even when you are at the campsite, you should use awning tie downs to prevent any sudden damage caused by high wind gusts or a sudden storm. You have the option to position the awning arms straight down and stake them to the ground, but you will get better support if they’re attached to the bottom awning brackets on the side of the RV. Remember, it is much easier to prevent damage to your awning than it is to repair it.

Care for your RV awning:

  • Always keep it stowed in windy/heavy rain conditions or when you are not there.
  • Have the awning tilted a little to avoid water pooling from rain or air conditioning condensation.
  • Keep it clean and free of bugs, twigs and leaves.
  • Maintain the arms with a special anti-rust lubricant like WD-40 so that they won’t jam or deteriorate.
  • Whether it’s being used or not during a year, give it a quick spring clean to check for signs of wear and to ensure adjustment knobs, springs and hinges haven’t seized up.

What Can We Do To Stop The Linoleum Floor In Our RV From Cracking?

First let me assure you that you are not alone in the problem you are having with the flooring in your RV. A lot of RVers are having the same problem that you are. In extreme temperature changes Vinyl and to some degree Linoleum flooring will contract and expand. Your cracking floor problem is probably temperature related. If you live in an area that has very cold winters then your floor cracked due to the cold.

The first thing you need to determine is if your flooring is true Linoleum. Your flooring may indeed be Vinyl flooring. Some people believe that Linoleum and Vinyl flooring are the same. They are not; Vinyl flooring is more susceptible to temperature extremes and has a tendency to get brittle and crack when exposed to extreme cold temperatures. True Linoleum does not expand and contract as much as Vinyl flooring and does not become as brittle when exposed to extreme cold.

How the vinyl or Linoleum flooring is installed in a trailer or motor-home also makes a difference. Some RV manufacturers just glued the edges of the flooring and allowed the middle of the floor to float on the floor of the RV. This practice is believed by some to cause the cracking problem with the floor. The RV’s that had their Linoleum or Vinyl floors glued down completely did not experience as many of the cracking problems.

Another problem is that the Linoleum and Vinyl flooring in most RVs is not specifically designed for RV use. This flooring is designed for home use. The temperature in most homes stays somewhere between 65 and 75 degrees on average. There are also different qualities of Linoleum and Vinyl flooring. The term “you get what you pay for” holds true when it comes to the quality of the flooring. Even when you buy a new motor-home or travel trailer, you may have the option to pay extra for a better quality flooring product.

Now to your second question as to what kind of flooring you can install in an RV. The simple answer would be any kind of flooring you can install in a home can be theoretically installed in an RV if you disregard weight and wear issues. My best answer is if you do not want carpet, Linoleum or Vinyl Flooring then laminate flooring is your best bet.

Laminate flooring is durable, lightweight, wears well and is successfully used in a lot of motor-homes and trailers. Another great advantage of laminate flooring is the patterns that are available. It can really enhance the interior of your RV.

If you are a good do-it-yourselfer you can install the laminate flooring in your RV. ModMyRV.com has a great tutorial on How to install a laminate floor in your RV.