- Tue, May 1, 2007
Late Spring Greetings from scenic Nappanee….
Ahhh… Spring has finally sprung here in northern Indiana. We never thought it would get here. First we had one of the mildest Decembers and January's in our state's history. Then came the cold and snow… through February (we set a record for consecutive days in single digit temps), through March where it would go from 20 degrees on a Tuesday to 70 degrees on Thursday, then back to the 20's on Saturday; and of course, more snow would come with the temperature drops. April teased us with several days of 70 & 80 degree weather, followed again by… you guessed it… more snow.
We are all crossing our fingers for the rest of May….
We know the warm weather will eventually arrive, and as we prepare for another summer of camping fun it's as important that we prepare our units for warm weather use as it is when we winterize it for winter storage. How so, you say? Glad you asked….
First, the de-winterization process is critical to making sure we have functional, safe, intact plumbing. Draining the RV antifreeze out is just the beginning. It is important that you take the time to flush out all the lines, drains, and tanks. Don't forget the little areas, too, like any appliances you may have in your unit that use water (dishwasher, ice maker, water heater, clothes washer, etc.), as well as inside and outside showers. Be sure you use plenty of clear water to flush all the lines and drains. Once you are satisfied that all residual RV antifreeze is out of the system, re-install any water filtration devices, close the water heater bypass, and open the valve to the ice maker to allow water to flow to those appliances.
When you pressurize the system for the first time after de-winterization, take the time to look for leaks. RV antifreeze does an excellent job of protecting the plumbing in your unit from sub-freezing temperatures, but on occasion damage can still occur. A fitting can loosen, or an item may have been missed in the winterization process that may have held a small amount of water (like the water line to my toilet in my old Kountry Aire Class C! I poured water in the stool but forgot to flush it to fill the supply line! Ooops!). Regardless of the situation, it is important to make sure the plumbing is sealed tight with no leaks prior to heading out on that first road trip.
Spring is also a great time to sanitize the plumbing system in your unit. This simple procedure is similar to winterization, but you use a mild chlorine bleach and water solution (1 cup of chlorine bleach to 50 gallons of water) instead of potable RV antifreeze in the plumbing. The chlorine bleach solution does an excellent job of removing fungus or other undesirable elements and odors from your plumbing system. As with winterization, be sure to bypass the water heater and other appliances, as well as remove any water filters that may be in the system prior to performing the sanitizing process. Put the solution in the fresh, grey, and black water tanks, and take your unit for a drive to allow some agitation and sloshing in the tanks for a more thorough cleaning. As with the RV antifreeze, run the solution through all lines, faucets, and showers. Remember to flush the system thoroughly with lots of fresh, clean water after the sanitization process to get all the chlorine solution out. Note that it may take 3 or 4 thorough flushings to get all of the solution out. Keep flushing until all the chlorine smell is gone… then flush it one last time to be sure.
It is important that you also take the time to inspect your unit's seals for any gaps, voids, or cracks that may have developed while in storage. Water is the number one enemy of an RV, so it is imperative that it be kept sealed properly. Check all around the windows, doors, appliance vents and openings, as well as anywhere else the exterior skin has been pierced (awning brackets, exterior receptacles, tail lights, cap seams, etc.). The roof seals are also critical as water tends to pool or stand more there. Check the air conditioner seals, roof joint and edge seals, antennae seals, skylights, ladder, and any other areas that may need sealing. Get down on your hands and knees and crawl around up there, inspecting the existing sealant closely.
Once you are satisfied the roof and exterior are properly sealed, it's time to give them both a good, thorough cleaning. Start with the roof. A mild detergent and soft brush or broom is effective for cleaning the roof. Once you are satisfied it is clean, be sure to rinse it thoroughly to remove any sediment that may have accumulated. On the exterior sidewalls and caps, clean them as you would your car. Wash them gently in the shade using automotive cleaners and detergents and a soft cloth or wash mit. Dry them using a soft cloth or chamois to prevent spotting. If the water does not bead as you wash your unit, it is time for a wax job. Again, use the same procedure you would with your cars, and be sure to use waxes formulated for clear coated finishes to reduce the chances of scratching the paint job. Some "cleaners" or "polishes" use an abrasive to help remove oxidization; use extreme caution when choosing one insure you get what is right for your paint.
Unroll the awning, and check it's condition and operation. Make sure the brackets are secure and sealed. Lubricate exterior hinges and locks as necessary, and take a few minutes to treat the exterior rubber seals with some spray silicone to help them retain their softness, and to help make sure they don't stick to the surfaces they seal.
And that's just the OUTSIDE... don't forget all the INSIDE prep you will need for the camping season, too!
Getting your unit ready for another camping season can be a bit of a chore, but the good news is that all the effort you put in will pay off with less problems and headaches as the season progresses. As my father always said… "An ounce of prevention…" (Or something like that).
Thanks again for tuning in this month. We appreciate you taking the time to read these articles, and sincerely hope they are helpful. We will see you down the road!