5 Essential RV Checks

Driving an RV is like driving a small house around the country—down highways, through back roads, and up and over mountain passes.

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

And as more people join the RV lifestyle, it becomes increasingly important that RVers have a basic understanding of common RV accidents and how best to avoid them.

Most of the common RV accidents can be avoided by preventative maintenance, proactive attentiveness, and not overlooking the obvious. The basics are essential, yet they are the checkpoints many RVers miss.

Whether you are a newcomer to the world of RVing or someone who has seen it all, there’s a lesson to be learned from the simple stuff.

1. Remember the Basics

RVing is so much more satisfying when you really get to know your rig. When you’re thoroughly familiar with your coach, it’s easier to notice when things aren’t quite right.

Your owner’s manual should be your starting point.

To ensure you’re covering the basics, include the following essential RV checks in your daily travel routine:

2. Know Your Height

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip.

In order to keep your RV in one piece and avoid getting hung up—literally— consider the following guidelines:

  • Pay close attention to posted clearance measurements
  • Know the height of your RV and place a sticky note on the dashboard with your exact height remembering to include the A/C

“We’ll probably fit” does not cut it—don’t take the risk

3. Conduct a Pre-Drive Safety Check

Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Know Your Height. Hitting bridges and overhangs or misjudging the amount of clearance beneath an overpass or inside a tunnel can put an immediate stopper on your road trip. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Many accidents are caused by simple forgetfulness: leaving doors unlatched, awnings up or steps extended. Use a step-by-step checklist and conduct a final walk-around visual inspection before driving away. A pre-departure checklist should include the following:

  • Check oil, transmission, and coolant levels
  • Check tire inflation pressure and adjust as required
  • Power cord, water and sewer hoses disconnected and stowed securely
  • Ensure all signal, four-way hazard, brake, running, and fog lights are operational
  • TV antenna, satellite dish, roof vents, jacks, steps, and awnings fully retracted
  • Turn propane off at the tank
  • Tow bar and safety cables in place
  • Check under the rig for signs of fluid leaks
  • Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground
  • Final 360-degree walk-around the RV before getting in the driver’s seat and leaving for your next destination

4. Connecting to City Water Hookups 

Be certain to ALWAYS use your water regulator when hooking up to city water. And make darn sure that the water regulator is on the end of the hose that hooks to city water. The regulator should be at the water-spigot end, not the RV end, between the city water faucet and your inlet connection.

Why? Pressure is regulated into your coach through the hose. An incorrect hookup won’t protect you from pressure spikes, especially when campground water pressure exceeds 100 psi. You do not want your water hose to burst.

If you’re staying at an RV park during extended periods of freezing temperatures, remember to wrap your water hose with insulation to protect against the elements.

Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Check your surroundings for hazards before departure, e.g. weather, low branches, and obstacles sticking out of the ground © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

5. Managing Waste Water Disposal 

Black tank management is part of the RV lifestyle. Some RVers think that by leaving the valves open, everything will run out and take care of itself. Not true! Liquid will run out of the black tank when you have the valves open, but solid waste often remains creating a most disagreeable situation. You need fluids to flush out the solids. It is important to keep the black tank valve closed until you are ready to dump. Dump the contents once the black tank is 3/4 full.

Worth Pondering…

Have you put…

Step up

Antenna down

Wife in?

—sign at a Dickson, Tennessee campground

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Cleaning Your RV Interior

Just like your home, your recreational vehicle requires a thorough cleaning on a regular basis.

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)
Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)

It’s a fact of life that nothing stays clean for long—and that includes your RV.

A newly mopped floor is just waiting for a spill. That’s especially true with a young family.

The need for cleaning never disappears. Fortunately, most cleaning isn’t difficult.

Occasionally, though, you run into something that refuses to come clean, or you are convinced that there must be a better way. That’s when it’s time to visit Camping World.

Prevention of dirt accumulation through the use of indoor and outdoor mats, removing shoes before entering, and practicing tidy habits will go a long way toward keeping your RV interior clean and your sanity intact.

When dirt and dust from the outdoors find their way inside your RV or spills need to be cleaned up, you want these chores to be quick, easy, and effective.

When cleaning an RV interior start from the top and work your way down. Begin a thorough cleaning by dusting the ceiling, wiping light fixtures, and cleaning ceiling vents.

When cleaning the RV bathroom, start from the top and work your way down. Organic matter may stick to walls and mirrors, and as you work your way down, it may fall to other surfaces or the ground. By starting tall, you avoid spreading the matter around.

NEVER use bleach or abrasive cleaners in the RV kitchen and bathroom sinks, shower-tub, or toilet. These products can damage the surfaces and holding tanks, and degrade the seals around your tanks—causing an unpleasant and messy problem.

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)
Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)

Use only mild soaps or products specifically made for RVs. Or, use a mixture of baking soda and white vinegar.

Clean the stove top after each use to remove spills and other food messes. Remove the grate at least monthly or as needed and wipe out any crumbs and spills with a damp, lightly soaped cloth. Rinse well.

Clean refrigerator spills as they happen. Remove drawers and clean under them. This is the location with the most potential for trouble as the stains are likely to stay.

Always store food in covered containers. Open containers easily spill or are pushed to the back and eventually tip over.

To keep odors under control, store an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator.

Use a damp cloth to wipe down the shelves, handles, and doors as needed.

Clean vinyl fabrics with a soft damp cloth and mild detergent only. Do not use solvents as they may damage the surface of the vinyl.

Clean interior windows and mirrors, vacuum carpets and rugs, and wash vinyl floors.

At the end of each trip invest a little time to perform routine cleaning: sweep, mop, or vacuum  the floors. Wipe down the tables and counter tops. Clean the sinks, shower-tub, and toilet. Clean the stove and ovens. Clean up an spilled foods in the cabinets. Remove the refrigerator contents and cleaned it remembering to leave the door open once you’ve turned the unit off.

This helps to prevent the development of mold and mildew.

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)
Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them. (Credit: just5moreminutes.com/)

Final Tips

Keeping your RV clean and neat inside will make it more enjoyable to use and will help retain resale value. As with many situations, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Clutter tends to beget clutter, so don’t let the first stray object get things started. Clutter detracts significantly from the pleasure and convenience of using your RV.

Put away items as soon as you’re done using them to create a tidy environment inside your RV.

Cleaning grime as soon as it appears is much easier than allowing it to set in longer.

Never use traditional toilet cleansers or bleach inside your RV toilet. Doing so may create toxic fumes when the cleansers mix with your holding tank chemicals inside the black water tank and degrade the tanks and seals.

Over time you will discover the best way to organize the things you use most so they’re always handy when you need them.

Worth Pondering…
Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing up is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.
—Phyllis Diller

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Thetford Introduces Residential-Sized RV Toilet

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thetford Corp. introduces the new Aqua-Magic Residence permanent RV toilet.

“We’re really excited to introduce Aqua-Magic Residence to the marketplace,” said Mike Mesharer, Thetford’s director of sales, in a news release.

“It’s a residential-sized RV toilet with contemporary style and homelike comfort, yet is still lightweight. Many RVers have requested these and the other features it provides—and Residence exceeds expectations.”

The high-profile Residence features a comfortable, ADA-compliant 18-inch seat height to make sitting down and standing up easier. The high-profile model weighs only 9.5 pounds, while the low-profile model weighs just 8.25 pounds.

Residence has a contemporary seat for optimal comfort.  Its cover is strong enough to sit on and has a convenient built-in lift slot.  Seat and cover can be easily removed for customizing.

Thetford Aqua-Magic Residence toilet

Delivering a powerful flush, Residence provides superior bowl coverage and its ball valve wipes clean with every flush. The mechanism maximizes flush performance and eliminates potential trap issues.

Residence also provides single-pedal convenience. Users press the pedal halfway down to add water and all the way down to flush.

Mounting and connections are engineered for accessibility and quick installation.  For added strength and durability while eliminating squeaks, the bowl and base are bonded together using polymer welding technology.

In addition to high and low profiles, Aqua-Magic Residence is available in white and bone colors.

Details

Thetford Corporation

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thetford is a supplier of sanitation and refrigeration products for the RV, marine, and heavy-duty truck industries.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile sanitation products for the RV, marine, camping, and truck markets, Thetford Corporation makes mobile living a more pleasant experience.

Thetford products include complete lineups of:

  • Lightweight, low-water-use toilets permanently mounted in RVs, boats, or trucks
  • Hand-carried, fresh-water-flush, self-contained portable toilets which have a multitude of uses
  • Specially-formulated waste holding tank deodorants and treatments used with these toilets
  • Innovative, multi-capacity tote tanks
  • Other products that make mobile living more convenient, quicker, cleaner, and easier

Thetford is a privately-held company with eight manufacturing facilities in four nations.

Thetford subsidiaries include:

  • Norcold, America’s leading manufacturer of gas-absorption refrigerators and freezers for the RV, marine and truck markets
  • Tecma, a producer of fine-china toilets and powerful waste-transfer systems based in Italy
  • Thetford UK, a unit in England that manufactures Spinflo brand high-quality cooking and heating appliances and accessories

Location: 7101 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1285, Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Phone: (734) 769-6000 or (800) 543-1219 (toll free)

Website: thetford.com

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…

An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

—G.K. Chesterton

Read More

Sani-Star Automated Dump Stations

RVers periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

Sani-Star dump station

But there’s a problem: in these tough economic times, many RV dumping facilities are closing. Other things are deemed more important to cash-starved government agencies that have traditionally operated dump stations as a public service. Businesses close their RV dumps rather than operate at a loss.

Enter Sani-Star and Eric Huffman of Sisters, Oregon, who saw an opportunity.

Sani-Star, founded in 2009, envisions fully automated, turnkey, RV dump fee collection systems throughout North America, where those who operate them can cover their expenses or make a profit, according to a news release.

So far more than 300 Sani-Star facilities are in use in the United States and Canada.

Operating a dump station is not cheap. Public sewer rates are rising every year and the cost to maintain private septic systems and pump holding tanks, common in remote campgrounds, are significant.

“A campground with a 4,000 gallon underground holding tank would cost more than $1,000 to pump,” said Huffman, Sani-Star’s director of sales and marketing.

“An average pumping fee is about 25 cents a gallon plus round trip mileage by the truck. If you figure the average RV releases about 25 gallons per dump, that’s only about 160 uses until a tank that size is filled.”

Huffman said his surveys show that only about a third of RVers pay at honor-box fee locations. “That’s not good for the bottom line,” he noted. A key and lock system, also a common fee collection method, is labor intensive, slow, and inconvenient for the RV dump consumer.

Sani-Star Automated RV Dump Station

The Sani-Star system uses a patent-pending locking sewer cap that opens after payment and re-locks after dumping, eliminating no-pay drive offs. Customers pay by cash, custom token, coin, or credit card at the dump station’s kiosk or, if a merchant chooses, inside its store. There is also a reprogrammable keypad payment option.

The system is currently in use at all Pilot-Flying J Travel Center RV dump stations across the USA, where spot surveys have shown higher fee compliance for Sani-Star sites compared to the traditional honor payment system.

Most locations charge between $5 and $10. A private RV campground and service center in Quartzsite, Arizona, charges $15.

“They can charge whatever they want,” explained Huffman.

“Most of our customers, especially government campgrounds, just want to offset or cover their costs. Others want to make a profit. Our system, very simply, is a much more effective mechanism for collecting a fee than anything else out there. British Columbia Provincial Parks has several Sani-Star installations. The parks tried to collect $5 for years using an honor box. They didn’t realize how poor their fee compliance was until they installed our system. Now fee compliance often doubles and even triples in some campgrounds, ultimately helping the parks run more efficiently. A similar result has occurred in many city, county and National Forest campgrounds across the USA.”

British Columbia Provincial Parks has several Sani-Star installations. The parks tried to collect $5 for years using an honor box, said Huffman.

Dump station operators pay Sani-Star a onetime fee to set up the system and then a monthly fee (revenue sharing is also available). The operator pays for installation of electricity to power the Sani-Star kiosk (a solar or battery-only option is available for remote locations).

Sani-Star also provides parts and 24-hour phone support for its system above ground including the kiosk, payment mechanism, and the locking sewer cap for the life of the service agreement. No attendant is required, which allows for efficient 24-hour operation.

Sani-Star Automated RV Dump Station

“The goal with our program is for the dump station, at the very least, to generate enough income to justify keeping it open,” said Huffman.

“If the goal is to make a profit, so much the better. So far, our customers are happy with the results.”

Details

Sani-Star Dump

Phone: (888) 611-9283 (toll free)

Website: sanistardump.com

Related Stories

Worth Pondering…
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

—G.K. Chesterton

Read More

Thetford Introduces Eco-Smart Free & Clear

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Thetford Corporation, a leader in sanitation chemistry, introduces Eco-Smart Free & Clear, a new holding tank deodorant.

The newest member of the Eco-Smart family was developed by Thetford’s chemistry staff for those sensitive to dye and perfumes. It’s named Free & Clear because it is free of fragrance and dye.

Eco-Smart holding tank additive products are Certified-Green and Environmentally Friendly.

Like the other two Eco-Smart formulations, Free & Clear provides excellent odor control and waste digestion, formaldehyde-free, is 100 percent biodegradable and non-toxic, and available in liquid or toss-ins.

It is offered in 36- and 64-ounce bottles with an easy-to-use, integrated dosage device.

Designed specifically for RV holding tanks, this strong formula ensures year-round odor control.

Available in a convenient, easy-to-use liquid, this product gives RV owners maximum performance with minimum effort, the company said in a news release.

Finding a Dump Station

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, spending the night at Wal-Mart or a truck stop or the weekend at a public recreation area without dumping facilities, or trying to get on the road quickly without taking the time to use the campground dump station.

The internet has been a great place to find listings of dump stations and there are several sites, but like much information on the net, many such lists become outdated, are incomplete, or lack relevant information.

If you need to locate a dump station while on the road, the following article may be of assistance: How to Locate a Dump Station?

Details

Thetford Corporation

Headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Thetford is a supplier of sanitation and refrigeration products for the RV, marine, and heavy-duty truck industries.

As the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile sanitation products for the RV, marine, camping, and truck markets, Thetford Corporation makes mobile living a more pleasant experience.

Thetford products include complete lineups of:

  • Lightweight, low-water-use toilets permanently mounted in RVs, boats, or trucks
  • Hand-carried, fresh-water-flush, self-contained portable toilets which have a multitude of uses
  • Specially-formulated waste holding tank deodorants and treatments used with these toilets
  • Innovative, multi-capacity tote tanks
  • Other products that make mobile living more convenient, quicker, cleaner, and easier

Thetford is a privately-held company with eight manufacturing facilities in four nations.

Thetford subsidiaries include:

  • Norcold, America’s leading manufacturer of gas-absorption refrigerators and freezers for the RV, marine and truck markets
  • Tecma, a producer of fine-china toilets and powerful waste-transfer systems based in Italy
  • Thetford UK, a unit in England that manufactures Spinflo brand high-quality cooking and heating appliances and accessories

Location: 7101 Jackson Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1285, Ann Arbor, MI 48106

Phone: (734) 769-6000 or (800) 543-1219 (toll free)

Website: thetford.com

Worth Pondering…

Thank God! there is always a Land of Beyond
For us who are true to the trail;
A vision to seek, a beckoning peak,
A farness that never will fail;
A pride in our soul that mocks at a goal,
A manhood that irks at a bond,
And try how we will, unattainable still,
Behold it, our Land of Beyond!
— Robert Service, The Land of Beyond (Last Verse)

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Most Distasteful RVing Task?

Unquestionably the most distasteful job in RVing is emptying the rig’s gray and black holding tanks. Not something with a lot of glory, but a necessary thing.

Sani-Con System holding tank emptying system with macerating pumps. (Credit: thetford.com)

Thetford Corporation has developed the Thetford’s Sani-Con System that they claim is “easier than pumping gas.” While this may be a slight exaggeration, Sani-Con could well be the cleanest, most sanitary and convenient way to empty your RV holding tank.

“Finally a way to empty your holding tanks that everyone in the family will find easy to use. It’s incredibly simple for any owner or family member to use.”

Rather than relying on gravity, Thetford’s Sani-Con System utilizing a heavy-duty transfer and macerating pump, the unit works much like a household garbage disposal. It grinds and liquefies black water waste, then pumps it through an extra heavy duty one-inch-diameter discharge hose.

The powerful macerating pump can pump waste up a hilly terrain or into an elevated sewer dump station. There’s no longer a need for a constant slope or cumbersome hose supports. That means less handling and an easier method to empty the tanks.

The one-inch-diameter discharge hose stretches up to 21 feet, than retracts more than 80 percent to a convenient seven feet for ease of storage.

At the end of the hose is an easy-to-use threaded nozzle that is designed to fit securely (lock) into a variety of dump station inlets, keeping you clean and ending the need for additional adaptors.

Sewer gloves? Really, how unsanitary can you be?!? Carry a box of disposable plastic gloves. It sure beats using your bare hands for this job! (Credit: thetford.com)

The nozzle has a screw on cap that really keeps the entire operation easy and clean. The cap prevents drips and spills during storage, making the unit more sanitary and less odorous than the old style three-inch-diameter sewer hoses.

Thetford’s Sani-Con System is available in both the “ready to dump when you are” permanently installed (hard wired to the coach) model and portable Twist-On and Tank Buddy model.

To use the system:

  • Connect the macerating pump (Twist-On and Tank Buddy only)
  • Extend and insert the nozzle into the dump station
  • Open the black water slide valve
  • Turn on the Sani-Con pump
  • When the black water tank is empty, turn off the pump, close the black water slide valve, open the grey water slide valve, and turn the pump back on
  • When the gray water tank is empty, turn off the pump, close the gray water slide valve, put the screw on cap onto the nozzle and return the nozzle and hose to storage

Before driving, add several gallons of water to the black tank. The sloshing action of driving to the next campground helps to clean the waste tanks.

For additional information, visit thetford.com.

Finding a Dump Station

RV owners periodically find themselves needing to locate an RV dump station.

This may be a result of dry camping with no sewer service or dump station available, spending the night at Wal-Mart or a truck stop or the weekend at a public recreation area without dumping facilities, or trying to get on the road quickly without taking the time to use the campground dump station.

The internet has been a great place to find listings of dump stations and there are several sites, but like much information on the net, many such lists become outdated, are incomplete, or lack relevant information.

If you need to locate a dump station while on the road, the following article may be of assistance:

How to Locate a Dump Station?

Worth Pondering…
An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.

—G.K. Chesterton

Read More