Learn about the most common RV repairs that owners have to do regularly.

RV camping is one of the most liberating experiences that a person can enjoy, but mechanical problems can quickly put a damper on your travel plans.

Experienced RV owners know that mechanical issues are unavoidable in the long term. RVs can suffer all of the same problems that regular cars and trucks do, plus many unique ones on top of that. Learning how to perform preventative maintenance on your RV is a great way to acquaint yourself with its systems and extend their life cycle in the process.

Common RV Problems and How to Prevent Them

Most RV maintenance issues do not spring up overnight. It’s natural for mechanical systems to degrade with use over time. RV owners who spot minor issues early can prevent them from growing into serious, expensive problems.

RV Roof Leaks

  • Take a quick glance at any RV roof and compare it to your average sedan. One thing that should immediately be apparent is that the RV roof houses some equipment. Many RVs have roof-mounted air conditioners, cyclone sewer vents, and telecommunications equipment. All of these things are embedded in the RV roof frame and sealed against the elements.
  • However, no sealant is perfect. Even the most sophisticated sealants will harden and crack eventually. When rain reaches those cracks, water will drip through. Water damage can rust your RV’s metal components and short-circuit its delicate electrical equipment.
  • Storing your RV under a waterproof, UV-resistant cover is the best way to prevent roof leaks. Admittedly, this isn’t always possible, but there is a next-best option – buying a high-quality textile RV cover. This will keep damage to a minimum while your RV is in storage. 
  • Depending on your local conditions, applying a new coat of RV roof sealant to your vehicle once every year may also be a good way to prevent leaks. The expense of applying roof sealant is much lower than the cost of repairing water damage.
Minor Electrical Malfunctions
  • Many of your RV’s systems are relatively self-contained. The freshwater system does not interact with the motor. The propane system does not interact with the wastewater system. However, your RV’s electrical system interacts with everything. Minor electrical issues can easily become major inconveniences on a campsite.
  • For most RV owners, low battery life is the number-one electrical issue. But you don’t have to replace your battery between every trip just to be sure you won’t be left without juice in the middle of nowhere. Invest in a cheap multimeter and keep it in your RV. This simple device will help you identify electrical problems before, during, and after your trip.
  • If you’re not familiar with the basics of electrical wiring, then hiring a professional for any and all electrical issues is the safest thing you can do. But if you are comfortable performing electrical DIY maintenance, there are a few easy measures you can take to keep your RV running smoothly.
  • For example, checking, testing, and replacing fuses on your RV’s circuit board is neither dangerous nor complicated. Safely replacing malfunctioning outlets inside your RV using generic outlet boxes is a slightly more involved procedure but by no means a major electrical procedure. Anything more complex than that should be delegated to a professional.
RV Plumbing Problems
  • Most RV plumbing problems are simple enough to troubleshoot and resolve on your own. Overuse of toilet paper is by far the most common cause of RV toilet clogs. Making sure everyone knows the difference between RV toilets and household toilets is key to preventing these unwelcome episodes.
  • Another common mistake that RV owners make is leaving the black water drain pipe open while hooked up to a sewer connection. It makes sense intuitively, but it can result in liquid waste draining faster than solid waste. Over time, solid waste collects in your holding tank and remains there until you clean it out manually – a guaranteed vacation-ruining experience.
  • If you know how to snake a plumbing line, you can resolve most RV plumbing clogs relatively easily. Just be aware that most RVs are designed to receive the snake from the exterior drainage valve rather than through the toilet itself.
  • Depending on where you plan on traveling, winterizing your plumbing system may also be necessary. Most RV vendors sell specially made RV antifreeze that keeps plumbing systems running, even during cold weather. Don’t try using generic automotive antifreeze for this purpose – the chemical composition of RV antifreeze is different for good reason.

RV Heating and Cooling Issues
    • Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) issues can seriously impact the comfort and quality of a summer road trip. While many climate control issues require professional maintenance, there are a few things that RV owners can do on their own.
    • If your air conditioner is running but fails to consistently blow cool air, you might have dirty RV air vent filters. Solving this problem is easy – all you have to do is replace the filters. Doing this regularly ensures cool, clean air flows into the vehicle, even during the hottest summer days.
    • Thermostat malfunctions are another common issue. If your RV thermostat isn’t measuring the temperature correctly, you may not be able to get cool air flowing despite the fact that your AC system is functioning perfectly. Replacing a thermostat is a simple DIY procedure that anyone can learn to perform.
    • Heating issues are less common and are typically not directly related to the air conditioning system. Most RVs use propane to heat an internal furnace system. Beyond simple issues like replacing a thermocouple light the pilot, DIY repairs on RV propane systems are not recommended.

    Perform an Annual RV Checkup to Keep Your Equipment in Good Shape

    Whether you only go out on the road a few times a year or are a permanent lifestyle RVer, keeping your RV equipment working is an ongoing task. Components will suffer wear and tear over time even if the RV itself isn’t moving. Make an RV checkup part of your pre-travel preparations and gain peace of mind while on the road.

    If you liked this blog keep read more about: Grey water uses.

    By Jeyree Everly
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