With the mercury finally beginning to rise, it is time to start planning those spring vacations; that means getting the RV out and prepping it for the open road.
We have created this guide to provide an easy reference to ensure that your RV is in tip-top shape and ready for all of the adventures that await you and your family on your next RV vacation.
The first step in preparing your RV for spring is to take a walk around the RV's exterior to inspect the surface for any apparent signs of damage that may have occurred during the months when the RV was not in regular use.
Start by carefully inspecting the RV roof for any damage caused by accumulated debris, exposure to the elements, or falling tree branches. This is an excellent time to check the RV seams for any signs of leaking. Remember to check all seams where the RV roof panels attach and to the RV walls and any areas where vents, pipes, antenna, and other RV accessories attach to the RV roof. Take this opportunity to apply, or reapply an RV roof sealant to help add an extra layer of waterproofing and protection from the sun's UV rays.
For simplified RV roof maintenance, check out the latest lineup of travel trailers and fifth-wheel trailers by Cherokee RV, Forest River RV, or Rockwood RV, which can be purchased with a seamless roofing membrane to reduce the number of seams where water may be able to enter the RV.
The latest Puma XLE travel trailers and toy haulers by Palomino RV even come equipped with rain gutters with oversized downspouts to make it even easier to keep up with your RV roof maintenance.
RV Access Doors & Vents
Open and inspect all exterior access doors to outside storage and equipment compartments. Check to make sure that all door latches and locks are operating correctly, and review any weather seals for damage caused by exposure to the elements.
Carefully inspect all exterior vents to ensure clean and free of accumulated debris. In addition, inspect vent covers, vents, and any other entry points into the RV for any signs that rodents or other unwanted pests may have taken up residence in the RV during the cold winter months.
RV Exterior Lights
Check the physical condition of all RV exterior lights, including direction indicators, headlights, running lights, porch lights, and security lights. Look for any cracked or missing light covers or burnt-out light bulbs, and replace if necessary. Make sure that you turn each lighting system on and off and observe the functioning of each morning before completing your inspection.
Pay extra attention to the condition of the tires on your RV. The tires' rubber is particularly susceptible to damage from exposure to the elements, and damaged tires can lead to an unexpected flat tire or a tire blowout that can easily sideline your family vacation for hours or days.
Take the time to inspect each tire, including the spare, for wear, tread separation, or dry, cracked rubber. It is always better to err on the side of safety when it comes to tire condition, so do not hesitate to replace any tires that appear worn or cracked.
Finish up your tire inspection by checking the air pressure of each tire and adding air as needed to inflate all tires to the recommended pressure. Conduct this inspection several days before embarking on your first RV trip of the season, and make sure to do a quick follow-up check of the tire pressure to ensure that all tires are holding air as they should. If you need air again, then y, youeed to inspect your tires for possible leaks before setting out.
RV Propane Tanks
Do a quick visual inspection of the RV propane tanks to ensure that all connections are in good condition and the tanks have not become worn or cracked during the winter. Then, check the propane levels and replace them with fresh tanks or take the existing propane tanks to be filled if needed. If your state requires that propane tanks be certified, or recertified after a set period, be sure that you know the next recertification date for your tanks.
Once you are satisfied with the overall condition of the RV exterior, it is time to move on to the interior of the RV.
RV Windows & Doors
Start by opening all RV windows and doors to air out the RV. As you are opening each window, take the time to inspect the glass for any damage, and ensure that the window slides smoothly in its track (if applicable) and latches securely when closed.
Carefully inspect the weather sealing around all windows and exterior doors as this area is prone to leaking as the seals break down. Next, visibly inspect the interior walls immediately surrounding the windows and doors to look for water damage like bubbling or lifting wall coverings, warped wood, or water staining. The earlier you can spot water damage, the easier (and cheaper) it will be to repair.
Be sure to inspect interior doors and cabinet doors to ensure that they are latching correctly. This is important as a faulty latch on a cabinet door can leave you with a mess to clean up should it come free, allowing the cabinet's contents to spill out during travel.
While you are inspecting the RV cabinet doors, take a good look inside each of the RV interior cabinets to make sure that no spiders or other creepy crawlies have been set up in the dark corners of your storage spaces. Because RV cabinets are often mounted along RV roof and wall seams, you will want to check the interior of the cabinets for any signs of water damage caused by leaking seams. As we mentioned when discussing informing windows, the earlier you can spot and remedy water damage in an RV, the better the outcome for you and your pocketbook.
While we are talking about water damage, it is good to give your RV ceiling a well-visible inspection as you walk through the RV interior. Again, you are looking for signs that water has found a way into your RV. Keep an eye out for water staining, sagging ceiling panels, warped surfaces, or rippled surface coverings.
RV Soft Surfaces
After completing your walkthrough of the RV interior, take the time to give the interior a thorough vacuuming and dusting. No matter how well-sealed the RV is, the dust has a way of finding an entry point into your RV. Depending on the climate you live, you may want to strip down the bed linens and curtains for laundering to get rid of any allergy-causing pollen, dust, or mildew accumulated in your RV during storage.
RV Outlets, Accessories, Lights, & Appliances
Next, you will want to do an internal systems check to ensure all electrical outlets, accessories, indicators and various appliances are functioning as they should. Start at the front of the RV and work your way through the entire interior, checking that all interior lights, gauges, indicator panels, and accessories are powering on and working correctly.
Be sure to test each of the power outlets as well. You can do this with an inexpensive outlet power tester or simply plugging a small appliance like a personal fan or lamp into each outlet and ensuring that it powers on.
You will want to check all of the RV appliances while your RV is powered on. Ensure that the refrigerator and freezer are cooling correctly and the stove and microwave are fully functioning before heading out on the road, where repairs and replacements may be more challenging.
RV Freshwater & Plumbing System
The following important area of the RV is the freshwater and plumbing system. Careful inspection and preparation of the RV water supply and waste disposal systems is crucial to ensuring that your RV is ready for the rigors of springtime RV travel.
RV Plumbing Connections & Valves
Start with a careful visual inspection of all plumbing connections and valves. Look for any worn, cracked, or missing seals that may need replacing. Next, ensure that all connections are secure and fully functional valves. Finally, check all of the interior water faucets, showerheads, drains, toilets, and any outdoor showers or spigots.
RV Freshwater, Gray Water, & Black Water Tanks
Once you are satisfied with the overall condition of the plumbing connections, valves, and equipment, it is time to flush out, sanitize, and fill the fresh water tanks. By flushing and sanitizing the freshwater tanks after storage, you can help ensure the water your family uses. At the same time, traveling is free from any bacteria or mold residue that may have accumulated in the tanks while the RV was not being used. Therefore, fill all of the RV freshwater supply tanks before traveling, and allow time to check for any possible leaks in the holding tanks or filler valves.
Your RV waste tanks should have been wholly emptied before your RV was stored for the winter. However, you may want to give your gray water and black water tanks another sanitizing and flushing before heading out for a fresh start to your springtime RV travel.
RV Hot Water Heater
Perform an inspection of the RV water heater to ensure that all connections are secure. If your RV is equipped with a gas-powered water heater, you will need to carefully inspect the gas burner tube to ensure that the line has not become clogged with debris or the nest of a small critter during the winter months. If your unit is equipped with bypass valves, ensure that they have been moved into the "summer" position for proper function. Ensure that the water heater tank is filled before testing if your RV is equipped with an electric-powered water heater.
Finish off your inspection by ensuring that the water heater storage area is tidy and free from debris to provide safe, trouble-free operation.
RV Engine & Mechanical Systems
Regardless of whether you have a powered RV or a towable travel trailer, or a fifth-wheel RV trailer, you will need to perform a systems check to ensure that all mechanical systems are functioning correctly.
RV Engine & Drivetrain
For a powered RV, this may mean enlisting the help of a mechanic or RV repair shop to ensure that the engine and drivetrain are in good working order if you are not comfortable checking under the hood yourself.
Assuming that your RV was running correctly when parked for the winter, you should need a basic visual inspection to ensure all seals and connections are in good condition and a fluids check to ensure that oil, transmission fluid, and coolant levels are maintained are topped off.
RV Generator & Batteries
For both powered and towable RVs, you will need to check the power generator and batteries to ensure that you will have all of the power you need for your next RV vacation.
Do a quick test run of your RV generator to ensure it is functioning correctly, and make sure that you have topped off the gasoline to power your gas-powered generator if needed.
Check all RV batteries to ensure that terminal connections are secure and battery fluid levels are at appropriate levels to ensure proper battery function. Take this opportunity to check that all batteries are fully charged, and battery-powered equipment is functioning as well.
RV Slide-Outs & Awnings
Complete your RV mechanical systems inspection by ensuring that all awnings and slide-outs can extend and retract as intended fully. Take the time to inspect the seals around the slide-outs for any sign of wear or cracking and replace them as needed. Also, examine the awnings while fully extended to check for any worn areas, snags, or tears that may need to be patched or replaced.
The idea is to spot any damage that may have gone unnoticed after your last vacation and repair any issues before heading out on the road where replacement parts and repair shops may be more challenging to locate.
RV HVAC System
Last but certainly not least, make sure that you check your RV heating and cooling systems to ensure they are fully functional. Take the time to clean and replace air conditioning filters, and inspect vents and ducts (if applicable) for any debris or critters that may have decided to move inside during the winter months. Check thermostats and control panels to ensure that all units are reporting accurate temperatures and operating correctly.
Stock Up On RV Essentials
Once you have thoroughly inspected, tested, cleaned, and prepped your RV, you will need to pull out your checklist and make sure you have stocked up on all of the RV travel essentials. This means checking to ensure you have stocked the linen cabinets with plenty of blankets, pillows, towels, and washcloths. Next, make a trip to the local grocery store or warehouse club to stock your pantry with staples and snacks. Finally, stock the bathroom cabinets with toilet paper, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene items, and a fully equipped first aid kit for emergencies.
Make Sure Your Paperwork Is In Order
All right, you are satisfied that your RV is in excellent working order, and you have checked off all of the items on your shopping list to make sure your RV is stocked with everything you need on your next RV vacation. However, there is one last step before you head out. Take a few moments to locate and review all of your essential documents to ensure that you have everything you need before you leave home.
Start by checking your RV registration to make sure your tags are current. If they are likely to expire while you are traveling, you may want to go ahead and take care of the renewal process while you are still in a familiar area.
This is also an excellent time to check the status of your RV extended warranty coverage to be sure that you are covered for any unexpected repairs or replacement costs before you hit the open road. If your RV manufacturer's warranty coverage has expired, you can purchase RV extended warranty coverage through your RV dealership or a third-party RV warranty provider like RVingSolutions.
That is it! You are now ready to hit the open road and enjoy your springtime RV adventure.
Visit Ohio RV Nation Today!
Remember, if you are starting on your RV adventure and have yet to purchase your RV, be sure to visit Ohio RV Nation. Our friendly and experienced staff of RV professionals is ready to help you find the perfect RV for your family so you can enjoy everything that the RV lifestyle has to offer.