Autumn officially arrived on September 22. The scorching heat seems to be coming to an end in some areas, and the leaves are starting to change colors. The days are growing shorter and the nights longer, and winter will slowly creep in before we know it.
The best way to tackle winter weather is to prepare for it ahead of time — so why not start thinking about it now? Steve Froese walks you through how to prevent critters from turning your RV into their new hangout spot, and Bruce Smith has some winterizing tips that are worth checking out. We’ve found a couple of interesting products that could enhance your travels, and Keystone RV techs can help you navigate the basics of 120-volt electrical systems in your RV.
Safe and happy travels!
The FMCA Team
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By Steve Froese, F276276
While vehicle maintenance is an important part of keeping our RVs in good shape, we don’t always consider preventing insects, rodents, and other creatures from entering our vehicle as part of the upkeep.
Such things are an annoyance at best and can result in serious damage at worst. Therefore, keeping critters out of your RV should be on your agenda.
Rodents will try to enter your RV primarily for food and shelter. For those who keep their homes on wheels stocked, identify areas in the vehicle where mice can’t gain access and store food there. Possibilities include any cupboard or space that is completely sealed off, with no access holes and with a tightly closing door, especially cupboards above counter level. Keep linens and paper products out of reach of the vermin as well, as they like to use them for nesting materials.
Rodents gain entrance to your unit through the underbelly, floor, or basement by utilizing any hole or cutout larger than ¼ inch. Fill any gaps you find with spray foam, sealant, or steel wool. Many of these cutouts are access holes for electrical, plumbing, or propane lines.
In addition to keeping them out, it’s important to watch for signs of critter occupation within your RV. If they do get in, it’s imperative to catch them early, before they multiply or damage your unit by chewing on electrical wiring or other critical components.
The Basics of 120-Volt-AC RV Power
RV electricity can be a bit of a mystery, especially for new RV owners. Unlike sticks-and-bricks homes, RVs have two electrical systems: 12-volt direct current (DC) and 120-volt alternating current (AC). (Travel trailers actually have a third system ― exterior running lights, etc. powered via the towing
vehicle.) Some RVs have 30-amp electrical service, while others have 50-amp systems. Figuring out which 120-volt appliances you can run simultaneously in your RV without tripping a breaker can be a learning curve for RV owners just starting out. Keystone RV techs to the rescue! As part of a series of educational videos, Keystone’s techs explain the basics of the 120-volt system in this video.
Frozen water is a powerful enemy in an RV. It has split pipes, water fixtures, and even holding tanks under the right conditions. That’s why it’s common practice for RVers living in climates with freezing temperatures to winterize their travel trailers and motorhomes during the winter months. This is done by making sure water is drained from all lines, tanks, and water heaters. Many RV dealers do this for free for their customers.
But there’s another step you can take to make sure everything in the plumbing system survives the long deep freeze: Take care of the vulnerable areas inside your RV.
“One thing we do here at Bish’s RV that RVers may not do when they winterize is add RV/marine antifreeze to the P-traps and the toilet flapper,” said Ryan Perry, operations manager of the family-owned RV dealer on the northern outskirts of Boise, Idaho.
“Antifreeze keeps those vulnerable areas of an RV’s plumbing from freezing up, and adding a cup or two of antifreeze on top of the toilet bowl flap (not in the tank!) keeps that seal from drying out over the winter months,” Perry added.
Adding a splash of RV/marine antifreeze to the sinks, showers, and the toilets during your normal RV winterizing process will give peace of mind when those outdoor temps plunge below freezing.
Two methods of winterizing an RV exist. Some RVers flush antifreeze through the entire water system after draining it. Perry and other RV techs we talked to say that’s not needed if the water lines are properly blown out with compressed air. “If antifreeze is run through the entire system, it requires a lot of time to flush the lines to get rid of the antifreeze residue and taste,” Perry said.
It’s important that water is drained from all low points in the trailer or coach water system, and an air flush helps with that. Seasoned RV technicians caution do-it-yourselfers to regulate the pressure of a winterizing air flush to a maximum of 50 psi to prevent damaging flexible lines, gaskets, and seals. A good option for this is available through air compressor manufacturer Viair, the 90145 RV Winterization Kit.
A normal winterizing, with a splash of antifreeze in the vulnerable interior areas, along with an air flush, should keep your RV safe from water freezing where it shouldn’t.
Editor’s note: Especially in really cold climates, some RV technicians do favor the antifreeze winterizing method. And some RV owners use both methods of winterizing. They blow the air out of the lines and then fill them with RV/marine antifreeze to make sure all vulnerable areas have protection. The presence of antifreeze also can help to keep seals from drying out in the water pump, faucet assemblies, etc.
A discussion of new products on the market to enhance your RV lifestyle.
Track multiple sensors and parameters while adventuring with the ProSmart Sensor Monitor. You can monitor the water levels in your fresh-water or gray-water tanks, propane levels, tire pressure, fridge temperature, and even your 12-volt battery charge from its smartphone app. ProSmart includes a SmartLink node, which allows you to monitor wired and Bluetooth sensors without an internet connection. You can pair up to 40 SmartConnect Bluetooth devices, up to four water
tanks, one 12-volt battery, and a wired temperature sensor. Price is $325 for a package that includes one SmartLink, two TPMS, one temperature sensor, one propane level monitor, one wired temperature sensor, and one connecting cable.
www.teambmpro.com/products/prosmart/ ● (574) 322-4934
Drive Reach RV In-Vehicle Cell Signal Booster
Designed to boost 4G LTE and 5G cellphone signals from all U.S. carriers, weBoost’s Drive Reach RV connects your devices to the cell towers from longer distances. With its all-new omni-directional antenna, Drive Reach RV helps to avoid dropped calls while improving voice quality, data speeds, video streaming, and more whether at a campsite or on the road. As long as your RV has electrical power and the device is plugged into a 120-volt outlet, you can use it even with the
FMCA's picks for tips you need now.
Looking for some simple ways to add pizzazz to your home on wheels? This post from Outdoorsy.com, written by Janine Pettit of Girl Camper Magazine, shares six RV DIY projects you can knock out in a single day – from adding peel-and-stick wallpaper to re-covering dinette booth cushions.
When the Pros Clean Holding Tanks
Chad and Tara from Changing Lanes recently took advantage of the opportunity to have their RV holding tanks professionally cleaned during a rally. They were surprised by the results related to their gray-water tank. Learn more here. (Side note: Chad and Tara have indicated in social media comments that they plan to still use Happy Camper in their black-water tanks, as they have for five years. They just want folks to be sure to use it properly.)
Having a battery monitor is important, especially for RV owners who enjoy spending time off the grid. Perhaps your RV didn’t come with one, or you’re interested in an upgrade. Brian of RV with Tito outlines what to look for when shopping for an RV battery monitor. He lists recommended criteria for deciding which monitor will meet your needs and then provides information about his top picks.
Health Insurance Options For RVers
Navigating the options of affordable health care insurance may be stressful when it comes to RV travel. The good news is that FMCA has a partner who can help to smooth the waters. The experts at LIG Solutions can evaluate your individual needs and review options with you. Their licensed agents can provide a no-obligation quote or a side-by-side comparison of your current plan and other potential plans tailored to meet your requirements.
And now is the time to have such an evaluation done with open enrollment. Open enrollment for Medicare begins on October 15, 2022, and runs through December 7, 2022. Open enrollment for folks under 65 begins on November 1, 2022, and ends on January 15, 2023.
In early October, LIG Solutions will be hosting several webinars for FMCA members to go over all the health insurance topics. The schedule is as follows:
- 10/4 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern – Medicare
10/5 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern – Health Reimbursement Account (HRA)
- 10/6 – 2:00 p.m. Eastern – General
- 10/7 – 1:00 p.m. Eastern – Medicare
Join FMCA And Save Today!
As an RV owner, protecting your RV is just one of your many priorities. With our member-only discounts, you can save on insurance for your RV, home, or automobile, as well as pet insurance and international travel insurance. Click here to learn more about all the ways FMCA enhances the RV lifestyle.
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