Chapter 99: FAQs and tidbits of information
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FAQ: Air Conditioner: Q: Why is my air conditioning unit dripping water INSIDE my RV? A: It is due to the drain holes on the unit on the roof are plugged up. Turn off the unit, climb up there (assuming you are ok to do that, if not, get a RV tech to do it), remove the AC unit shroud and look at the holes near the end where it meets the roof on the bottom section to see if they are plugged up.
FAQ: Appliances: Q: Does my refrigerator need to be level to work correctly? A: Most RV absorption type refrigerators allow a certain number of degrees off level and still be ok. Take for example mine in the manual says it can be at most 3 degrees off level side-to-side and 6 degrees off level front to back. So how do you see that? I have an electronic level I put in the freezer to see how far off I am. I just use less than 3 degrees both directions and call it good. If you operate the fridge in a too far off level condition, it can be permanently damaged.
FAQ: Appliances: Q: So, my RV has a residential refrigerator instead of an absorption one is that ok? A: Yes and no, here is my take on it. If you are going to buy an RV and put it stationary somewhere then sure. Residential refrigerators are not really made to take the bouncing and vibrations of driving down the road, they are residential, they sit in a kitchen and moved rarely clean behind them. Your RV being driven is a rolling earthquake, bouncing around all over the place. You also need to keep in mind the power requirements, they usually require 120V AC, so you need to be either running a generator or an inverter to keep it powered. There are also 12V powered refrigerators now that will run off battery power.
FAQ: Appliances: Q: Just bought a motorhome. Suggestions for videos or info regarding what to turn off when driving vs. what to turn on when camping at a park. A: I have a class C and here is what we do, (now people will get into a holy war about propane items on while driving).
- Refrigerator On electric (if we are running generator, if not running generator, then on propane).
- Water pump (if you are transporting water in the freshwater tank), it is off unless needing to run water for some reason, like stopping for lunch at rest stop and going to bathroom.
- Water heater off while traveling.
- Furnace off unless people hanging out in the back of the RV, and it is cold.
- Air Conditioner off unless needed to keep people in the back (or animals) cool.
- Generator off unless needed for air conditioner or in our case, if I am in the back working and need electric for phone/laptop, then it is on.
FAQ: Awnings: Q: Are wind and rain issues for awnings? A: Absolutely, wind can rip an awning right off your RV, so if you are leaving your RV, roll your awning in. Now let’s talk about rain, most awnings (maybe all) nowadays have a way to tilt them so rain will run off one side or the other, so after rolling your awning out, make sure to tilt it.
FAQ: Awnings: Q: I do not have an awning on my RV should I get one installed? A: Are you planning on spending a lot of time in the open sun, hot places or where or rainy? If so, then it is probably a good idea to get one installed.
FAQ: Awnings: Q: Is it easy enough to roll out and in awnings? A: Yes, most nowadays are automatic/electric, just push a button. If you happen to have a manual one, it is as simple as flipping the locking switch to unlocked and pulling the awning cord to pull it out. Putting away, same thing but in reverse.
FAQ: Awnings: Q: Is it ok to leave my awning out during a storm? A: Nope not at all, even if it is tilted enough to let the rain runoff, a heavy wind could come along and rip the thing right off the side of the RV.
FAQ: Batteries: Q: I hear all about lithium batteries, they seem so expensive, are they worth it? A: It entirely depends on if you spend most of your time camping away from electric. Over the long run the technology of lithium can be cost effective due to number of cycles it can be charged and discharged. Not an easy answer here, it is one of those “it depends” kind of answers.
FAQ: Batteries: Q: I want to replace my house batteries, what are my options? A: See Chapter 9 – Section 4 on types of batteries.
FAQ: Batteries: Q: My battery will not take a charge while hooked up to shore power, what could be happening? A: This means it could be a few things you will want to check. First, get out your voltmeter (you do have one, right? if not look in Chapter 1, Bare Necessities for ones I recommend), measure the voltage on the battery. What are you seeing? There is a voltage chart in Chapter 4 at end of that chapter. If you are in yellow or red, then it could be the following problems: Loose wire to battery, battery terminals corroded, battery bad and won’t take a charge and finally there are two reverse-polarity fuses that could have blown, usually 40 Amp but I’ve seen 30 Amp ones also.
FAQ: Beds: Q: Can I buy regular sheets to find my RV bed? A: Well, things in RVs like beds can come in weird off-sizes, like short queen, so queen sheets from the store are larger than the mattress, which when talking about a top sheet, who cares since someone is usually hogging the covers and extra is better. Where it becomes a problem is the fitted sheet, now there are straps to help keep it in place. We loved the look of sheets with campers on them, queen size but we make them work.
FAQ: Beds: Q: My bed is so uncomfortable, are there any options? A: Entertain the concept of getting a mattress topper, we added a 4 inch one to our uncomfortable queen, made it easy and comfortable to sleep on.
FAQ: Boondocking: Q: How long will my essential things last when I boondock, batteries, water, etc.? A: This is one of those “it depends” kind of answers. So, when you have no hookups, you must consider water usage, propane usage, electric (do you have a generator or solar panels to keep batteries charged?). How will you get rid of waste in the gray and black tanks when you fill them up?
FAQ: Business: Q: I work for a company (ok really myself) and would like to hit the road and work from my RV, is that even feasible? A: Absolutely, some of the things you need to think about are: What can I use as my workspace? How do I get online? Campground Wi-Fi, cell phone hotspot. Do I need a laptop? There are quite a few questions you need to answer but totally doable.
FAQ: Buying: Q: I’ve heard RV dealerships talk about a PDI, what is that? A: PDI stands for Pre-Delivery Inspection. It is something that dealerships normally do when they receive a new RV from the manufacturer to make sure that everything works and looks good to be sold. What is done in a PDI is left up to the dealer how much or little they do.
FAQ: Buying: Q: What are some good things I should look at when buying a RV? A: Where will you sit and watch the various TVs, is it comfortable? When all your slides are in, can you get to anything? Pretend you need to go and use the toilet, is it comfortable, is it too high or low?
FAQ: Buying: Q: What are some things I should be looking for when buying a motorhome? A: The 1st edition of this book was published in late 2021 and things are crazy. First off whether buying new or used, go to NRVIA.org and see if you can find a certified RV Inspector to inspect the RV you are thinking about buying. Yes, I said new ones also, due to supply chain issues, COVID shutting down manufacturing plants and plants that make parts and appliances, things are nuts. Second take it out for a test drive just like you would a car. Know the floor plan you want by searching online before EVER going to a dealership. Water is the worst thing for an RV, hence the inspector concept, see if you can get water intrusion/thermography analysis done on the RV. Lastly do you like the layout, the color of the carpet, door cabinets.
FAQ: CPAP: Q: I have a motorhome that has two house batteries totally isolated from the chassis electrical system. I’m contemplating installing an inverter for the sole purpose of running a cpap overnight when I can’t use the generator or have no shore power. Any opinions on if that would be a good idea or should I just invest in a dedicated battery pack for the cpap? Thanks for any input. A: Either will work, the heaviest duty of a cpap machine is the humidifier, if you can skip using that, then get the DC cord for your cpap machine and skip the inverter, if you require it like I do, then you will want the inverter just make sure it is a pure sine wave one, (more expensive but plays with electronics way better), and test drive the batteries to see how long they will last, if you have the opportunity.
FAQ: Camping: Q: Do you see those rest areas on the highway, but it says, “No Overnight Camping”, does that pertain to me in my RV? A: Yes and No, what this means is just like at a Cracker Barrel or Walmart (if you can even stay overnight at a Walmart anymore), you can climb into the back of your RV, like a motorhome and take a nap for sure. You cannot setup a portable fire ring, a tent, put out a slide, build a campfire or things of that sorts. Peek here: https://www.boondockersbible.com/knowledgebase/which-states-allow-overnight-parking-in-rest-areas
FAQ: Cleaning: Q: What does everyone use to clean their shower and toilet. I’ve heard not to use harsh chemicals in your RV. A: I squeegee the shower and wearing a pair of rubber gloves, use a Clorox wipe to wipe down the toilet parts, throw it away and then rinse the toilet
FAQ: Comfort: Q: Is it feasible to use an electric blanket on my bed in the RV? A: Assuming you are talking about a 120V electric blanket, you will need to be hooked up to shore power. Now there are also 12V DC electric blankets also. You could also use an inverter to run a 120V AC blanket but make sure it is a pure sinewave one, as a modified sinewave one will potentially ruin the blanket, not sure of the difference? It is explained in Chapter 9. If it is pure sinewave, it will tell you on it and it is more expensive.
FAQ: Critters: Q: How do you keep critters out of the camper? A: Expanding foam in holes you find, sprinkle with cayenne pepper powder before it dries, peppermint oil spray around anything that touches the ground, fresh cab inside and in compartments.
FAQ: Detectors: Q: How long before I must replace propane or carbon monoxide detectors? A: Anywhere from 3-7 years, most will beep when they are at end of life. Keep in mind they can beep due to low battery voltage also.
FAQ: Discounts: Q: Do discounts exist at RV parks? A: It is entirely dependent on the campground/RV park, some will offer a free day if you stay a week, there are also clubs you can join like Passport America, Good Sam, etc. Check with the campground.
FAQ: Dumping: Q: I’ve heard that having to dump tank is gross, is it really that bad? A: Truthfully, it is not that bad. Assuming everything is hooked up correctly, you pull a lever, it flows down the sewer hose, aka stinky slinky, into the hole in the group that the end of the sewer hose is connected to.
FAQ: Dumping: Q: Can I dump my black tank into my septic system at home? A: Yes you can as the two items from your house go into septic system but keep in mind, if you overload the septic system, you may need to get it pumped out more often.
FAQ: Electricity: I can store my RV at home but want to plug it in. Is there a calculator I can use to determine the size of the wire in the extension cord I will need to have? A: Keep in mind the number of amps you will want to pull, take for example: I have a 30-amp RV and I put a 20ft run from my circuit breaker box in my garage to a receptacle right inside the garage door and then plug in from there to the cord that runs to the RV. Here is calculator I used to determine the wire size (gauge) I needed to run: http://wiresizecalculator.net. See Chapter 9 – Advanced Electricity – Section 7 for detailed explanation.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: Can I trip a breaker or blow a fuse in my RV like in my house? A: Most RVs have a converter box which houses both the circuit breakers and fuses. Circuit breakers are like in a house, they are for your 120-volt AC system, you try to pull too many amps and they will trip, turn off the device that caused it to trip and then reset the breaker. Now for fuses, they are for your 12-volt DC system, they are one use and if “tripped” they are then dead, meaning they will have to be replaced, so be sure to keep some spares on hand in your RV.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: Converter/Inverter, what is the difference? A: Chapter 9, Section 6 & 10.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: I have a 50-amp RV, can I safely plug into 30-amp receptacle? A: Sure, you can BUT keep in mind you cannot run everything like if you were plugged into a 50-amp receptacle. See Chapter 9, Section 1 – Watts (Power)/Amps (Current)/Volts (Voltage) on the explanation of 12000 Watts versus 3600 watts.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: I hear about this thing called a dog bone adapter; I think it must do something with electricity but am not sure. A: If you are familiar with a dog bone, it is an electrical adapter that are made in various versions, 50 amp to 30-amp, 30 amp to 15 amp. Examples of them can be found in Chapter 3.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: If I am boondocking or don’t have access to plug my RV into commercial power, what are my options? A: Well, most of your things in the RV will run on 12V DC, aka battery power, take for example: water pump, lights. Unless you go down the road of a solar setup with battery banks, you will be out of luck for running your air conditioner and microwave. Now some TVs operate from battery power, but others require 120V AC power to work. One other option you could consider is to run an inverter, which is talked about in Chapter 9 – Section 10, in there is description of pure-sine wave vs modified sinewave
FAQ: Electricity: Q: People talk about surge protector, electrical management systems (EMS), it is really that important to have one? A: Yes, it is that important for a couple of reasons, both surges (high voltage) and low voltages happen at campgrounds. Yes, they seem expensive but the bill to get things replaced and fixed when a surge or low voltage happens can be very costly. Low voltage can cause motors to burn up, like the one on your air conditioner. So do your research and buy one, and hook it up every time, they make them as external as well as internal for your RV.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: What are the safe steps to plugging my RV into the campground power pedestal? A: See chapter 3, it is covered in-depth including testing the electrical box for safety before touching it.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: What is shore power? A: It is when you plug into commercial power at a campground, your house, etc. The term originated from the boating world, where you could plug your boat into commercial power at the dock.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: What is the difference between a fuse and a breaker? A: Fuses are to protect the 12-volt DC devices, those that operate on battery, water pump, lights, slide motors. Breakers, commonly known as circuit breakers, protect 120-volt AC devices, air conditioner, microwave, outlets. Fuses when blown must be replaced, breakers when tripped can just be reset. Make sure you have extra fuses in your RV.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: What is this hot-skin condition I hear about? A: See Chapter 15 Section 1 for explanation and how to check for it.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: When hooked up to shore power, how much electricity can I use? A: It depends as to what power is offered to us, 15,20,30,50-amp service. Some of the places only offer 15 amps which is usually fine for a popup type trailer but not enough for a Class C or especially a 50 Amp Class A.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: Why are my electrical plugs not working in my RV? A: Are you plugged into shore power or have a generator running? You need some type of power to get them to work. Now before anyone who is reading this goes crazy, yes, an inverter can produce 120V power from battery power (12V DC) but most receptacles in the RV are not wired to an inverter.
FAQ: Electricity: Q: Why does only a few of my 120-volt AC electrical outlets not work? A: A couple of things to check, make sure the breaker in your converter box is not tripped, next check the GFCI receptacle (in your bathroom) does have its light on which means it is tripped. Do you have an inverter, is its breaker tripped?
FAQ: Expenses: Q: Money is tight for me, does that mean RVing is outside of what I can afford? A: Maybe or not, it depends on your definition of “tight” and how you plan on RVing. Will you be able to afford RV Resort stay at $100/night, which is a decision you must make. There are less expensive options, like public lands (BLM) or less expensive campgrounds, some even offer lower monthly/seasonal prices. There is also what is known as boondocking which is FREE.
FAQ: Firearm: Q: I want to bring my firearm with me while traveling, is that ok? A: There are RVers who do that, keep in mind the laws of each of the states are potentially different and you don’t want to get caught and be in a state where it is prohibited, it could land you in jail. No need to discuss second amendment carry, etc. Make sure what you are doing is permitted.
FAQ: Fishing: Q: I love to fish and as I travel in my RV would like to fish at each place we stay, is there a countrywide fishing license that I can buy? A: Not currently but there are other options. Some states have a free fishing day once a year. Depending on the campground some have private lakes that do NOT require a state fishing license.
FAQ: Furnace: Q: How does my furnace/heater work? A: Assuming you have a propane furnace, you will have at least one thermostat that controls the temp in your RV, sometimes they are digital and sometimes they are not. Also, there may be a switch to change from Air Conditioning to Heat. If so, switch to heat, move the device so it point to a temp higher than that is your RV right now. The fan on the furnace will kick on and after a brief time, the propane will flow and be ignited, and heat is on its way.
FAQ: Furnace: Q: Why does my furnace not turn on? A: Make sure you have propane in your tank. Is your battery fully charged? Have you changed your propane tank recently and purged the air out of the lines (do that by lighting stove top successfully). Does it click then attempting to light the furnace? There could be multiple reasons why it won’t light from as simple as out of propane to control board going bad to wasp nests in the burn chamber inside the furnace. If you can’t figure it out as one of those things above, might be time to call a professional in.
FAQ: Generator: Q: Do I really need a generator? A: If you want to boondock then probably, it is required, nope. Some people opt-out for a generator when buying an RV and then later change their mind. If that, is you, you can always buy a portable one put out by Yamaha or Honda (my favorite).
FAQ: Generator: Q: How often should I run my generator? A: Check your owner’s manual but a good rule of thumb is this: Run it once a month for 1 hour at 50% load. It means if you have a generator that will output 4000 watts, then run it for 60 mins at 2000 watts. I run my generator with a space heater than takes 15 amps which is about 1800 watts, close enough for a 4000-watt generator. Running it for short times or not having a load on it will shorten its lifetime.
FAQ: Home: Q: We have decided we want to go full-time but we’re concerned with all the stuff we have in our sticks and bricks home. What do we do with it all? A: You have multiple options: 1. You can keep your sticks and bricks home and leaving everything there, 2. Rent a storage unit, move it all to there and sell your house, 3. Pay someone to be a house sitter and other ways. There is not one right way, do what you are comfortable doing.
FAQ: Laundry: Q: I don’t have a washer/dryer in my RV, what are my options to do laundry? A: See if the campground has washer/dryers, failing that, find a commercial laundromat.
FAQ: Leveling: Q: Do I really need to level my RV? A: Yes, the most important reason is for the refrigerator, look at Chapter 15 Section 14 on how I do it.
FAQ: Mail: Q: How do we get mail while traveling? A: There are mail forwarding services available, some free and some for a fee. You can also look at doing through the postal service, a general delivery service but be sure to check the post office you want your mail forwarded to so you can see how it works there.
FAQ: Maintenance: Q: Do you have a slow running faucet? A: Remove the screen on it and see if needs cleaned.
FAQ: People: Q: I am younger (late 30s) and am beginning to do the RV thing, will I find only “old” people at the campgrounds? A: Not anymore, you might have been able to say that few years ago but now there are all ages of people who have gotten into RVing. Don’t discount the “old” people, they have quite a bit of knowledge and are usually more than willing to share what they know, consider them a wealth of useful knowledge.
FAQ: Pets: Q: We are new RV owners and want to travel with our pets, is that even feasible? A: Yep, make sure they are up to date with their shots and carry a record of them. Some campgrounds limit the number of pets and sometimes the breeds of dogs. Always keep your dog on a leash and pick up after them when they poop.
FAQ: Propane: Q: Does your RV have multiple propane tanks? Does your regulator let you switch between them (manually) and might even let you sit it in the middle, so it draws off both tanks at the same time? A: Drawing off them at the same time is a bad idea, why? If you are drawing off both, when they run out, you now are OUT OF PROPANE, there is NONE LEFT. Make the conscious choice to use one at a time, so you know when it is time to fill when one gets empty versus now you are completely out of propane.
FAQ: Propane: Q: Can we travel with the propane on? A: There are two schools of thought on this: Those who say NO, too dangerous, risky, etc. AND those who say YES. I fall into this realm; we travel with it on to run the fridge assuming we don’t need the generator on. Here is when we turn it off: When traveling through tunnels (assuming we are even allowed to transport propane through the tunnel). Filling up at gas stations. Filling up propane tank. When not using propane, we leave the tank turned off.
FAQ: Propane: Q: How long will a tank of propane last? The standard answer is “It Depends”. How much propane devices are you going to use? Furnaces will use up propane quickly, water heaters will also be depending on the length of the shower you take, refrigerators not as much but if it hot, will use more than if it is coolish outside. Motorhomes usually have a tank level device near the tank to tell you much is left, like a gas gauge on a car. Those with portable tanks usually just have a device that shows green, meaning you have some left or red meaning it is empty or near to it.
FAQ: Propane: Q: Looking at purchasing an RV but I don’t understand where propane tanks are, is it different based on RV type? A: Yes, motorhomes (Class A/B/C) usually have permanently mounted RV tanks accessed in a compartment, whereas Fifth Wheels and Travel Trailers usually have portable tanks either on the tongue on the front or front compartments.
FAQ: Refrigerator: Q: Does my RV refrigerator need 120V, shore power, to work correctly? A: It depends on the refrigerator type you have in your RV, first look at the owner’s manual and/or the inside of the refrigerator for electrical requirements. There are multiple sources needed for some, take for example a RV absorption type, it needs usually 120V AC or propane to work but it also requires 12V DC for the control board and to be able to light the propane if on that mode. Now a residential one will usually require 120V AC for sure. As of late there are new 12v DC only ones, which operate off battery power only, but it requires a lot of battery power.
FAQ: Refrigerator: Q: We are done camping for a couple of weeks (or the season), do I need to do anything special with my refrigerator? A: Remove all food from freezer and refrigerator compartments, turn it off, clean the shelves, door and finally, prop the doors open when not using it, check out Chapter 15 – Section 14 for refrigerator preventive maintenance for more tips and info.
FAQ: Sewer: Q: I am at a FHU site, so I have sewer hookup, should I leave the gray and black tank valves open while camping? A: Not on the black one for sure, you want water in it for the #2 and toilet paper in the tank to help wash it out when it is time to dump. Now for the gray tank if you have a dishwasher and/or a washing machine, you can leave it open when using either of those things, so you don’t overflow your RV if that tank gets full. Soon as you are done then close it so there is water in the gray tank to help wash out the stuff after dumping the black tank.
FAQ: Sewer: Q: What is the best way to store the stinky slinky, aka sewer hose? A: Depending on the type of RV you have, some of them will fit in the rear bumper, other people store them in a PVC pipe attached to the RV.
FAQ: Stabilizers: Q: Should I use stabilizers under my slides when they are extended? A: No, never, if the weight of the RV should shift, the weight of your RV will now be on the slide stabilizers and could cause thousands of dollars in damage. Slides are meant to be self-supporting.
FAQ: Steps: Q: While driving my steps activate, open and close, this is not normal right? A: Not it shouldn’t happen, depending on the step manufacturer, some are wired in the ignition to never go out when the ignition is on and to close when ignition is on. Others are wired to be a priority and go out when the screen door opens (or the sensor for it thinks the door is open or opening and make the stairs go out and some others have a switch to override when the stairs go out. The most common culprit is the sensor, check to make sure there is not a gap it the screen door shifts.
FAQ: Stink: Q: Why am I smelling bad air in the RV? A: Getting bad smells in the RV usually means the vent for the tank on the roof is potentially plugged up. There is a vent cap up there and bugs have been known to make nests in there and instead of the smell escaping there, it ends up in the RV, check that first.
FAQ: Store/Winterize: Q: What are the things I need to do to store/winterize my RV? A: For those of you in cold climates, be sure to read Chapter 15 PM, section on winterization. As for storage, use some type of dehumidifier, whether it runs on electricity or chemical type. Be sure to remove anything that rodents or other creatures would want to snack on, do not leave food in your RV.
FAQ: Stove: Q: I want to use the stove in my RV are there any best practices for using it since it uses propane? A: Yes indeed, you want to open a window, door, vent, or something since when burning propane, it needs to mix with air to burn correctly, plus you want to pull out any carbon monoxide while using stove/oven.
FAQ: Stove: Q: Is it easy to light my stove burners? A: Most of the recent stovetops you just turn on the propane number for the burner on the front and some will auto-light, others have a knob on the far left or right, you turn it, and it will generate the spark to light the propane, sometimes you must turn it a few times before it lights. You can also use a butane lighter to light it also.
FAQ: Stove: Q: My propane stovetop is showing weird colors of flame, what might cause that? A: This can happen for a few varied reasons from beginning to run out of propane to the propane regulator going bad. Does it happen on all burners, are your other propane appliances acting up also? Check your propane tank levels and have a RV technician come to your RV and take a look.
FAQ: Tanks: Gray/Black Tank Gauges, I hear so many people talk about how they are useless? A: For most people that is a fair statement, things will get clogged up and interfere with the sensors. You can try some of the “blaster” type devices and chemicals but sometimes they just won’t get clean, and you will want to look at replacing them with external sensors.
FAQ: Tanks: Q: Can I just dump my tanks wherever I want? A: Absolutely not, the stuff in black tank can get you a serious fine besides who want to pollute the environment and no on the gray tank also.
FAQ: Tanks: Q: Let’s talk black/gray tanks, is it required to have chemicals in them? A: Required nope, recommended absolutely. There are a handful of different types out there, arguments ensue as to which is better on a regular basis. Whichever one you choose to make sure it does NOT have formaldehyde in it, which I am not sure there are any anymore but just be sure. I personally use Fresh Cab.
FAQ: Tanks: Q: So, I am hearing/reading about having to dump “the tanks”. It seems like a serious chore that no one wants to do, is it really that bad, please explain the steps involved. A: So, as I’ve stated in the book elsewhere, always “Safety First”. Put on a pair of disposable gloves, hook up your sewer hose, to both the RV and the sewer dump opening, figure out which one is the gray tank valve (sometimes if they have plastic handles, they are black and gray but not always), pull the handle of the gray valve, dump a few seconds of the gray tank to get the sewer hose wet (this is to help keep the solids, aka poop, from sticking to sewer hose walls, close the gray valve, open the black tank valve and let the contents drain, close the black valve, now empty the gray tank, pull its valve and let it empty. The order of which to drain is important, you want to have the gray tank contents drain and wash away the contents of the black tank from the sewer hose, hence the reason for draining black tank first. Rinse out the sewer hose and put everything away.
FAQ: Toilet: Q: MY RV toilet seems different than my one at home, there is not a lot of water sitting in the bottom of the bowl and there is no holding tank in the back, how exactly does this thing work? A: Yes you are correct they work slightly differently, first off when you get ready to use it press the (most of them have one) the foot pedal to part way down to add water to the bowl, this way when you do #2 (and some people refuse to do #2 in their RV but that is a battle that will not be discussed here) the water in the bowl helps keeps smells down. When you are done doing your business, press the pedal for a little while longer to fill the bowl up with some more water, careful you don’t overflow it and then press the pedal all the way down, everything SHOULD go down into the black tank. Be sure to read Chapter 15 about why NOT to leave the black tank valves open all the time.
FAQ: Towing: Q: I want to tow a vehicle behind my motorhome, what things do I need to know? A: First off, realize you’ve just added extra length behind you, length of vehicle AND length of the tow bar equipment, so that means you need more distance to make turns, ESPECIALLY those single lane right hand turns. You must NEVER, EVER backup your motorhome with the TOAD attached, you must detach it first, move it out of the way. One more thing is you are heavier with the added weight and your stopping distance will increase.
FAQ: Usage: Q: How do I handle when things need fixed in my RV? A: One of the best things you can do is to take this course https://rvtechcourse.com/ it will give you the beginnings of being able to fix most things on your own. It is a home study course that is delivered on USB drive, so you can learn at your leisure. I took this course a few years ago and it will expand your RV knowledge immensely.
FAQ: Usage: Q: I hear this term call toad? A: It mean a vehicle that is “towed” behind a motorhome. For example, I tow my Jeep Wrangler behind my Class C motorhome, the Jeep is the Toad.
FAQ: Usage: Q: I heard in some states anyone behind the front driver and passenger seat in a motorhome can roam around freely and do not have to have a seatbelt on. A: This is partly true, look at this website to get the exact answer based on state: https://camperguide.org/rv-seat-belt-laws-by-state/
FAQ: Usage: Q: I want to live in my RV full-time is that ok? A: The RV Industry Association which sets standards for RVs, say that RVs are manufactured to live in part-time or temporarily not full-time. Do people do it, absolutely and for sure. Keep in mind when talking about insurance for your RV, let your insurer know you are planning on living in it full-time as most the of them the insurance quote you get is for 155 or less days per year, which works out to about 52 weekends, so you want to make sure you are covered.
FAQ: Usage: Q: Is a special license required to drive a motorhome? A: Probably not but check with your state’s DMV/BMV to find out for sure.
FAQ: Usage: Q: Is it feasible to use my RV in the winter? A: This is one of those it depends on kind of things. I say that due to where do you want to camp, northern states in the US in January, a definite down south in AZ, absolutely. This is a two-part answer: In southern states probably ok. Do you want to use it in cold climates, part of it depends on whether your RV was built to withstand cold temps, not all of them are. The most important part here is to ensure you protect your water system so that no water that might be in it freezes and ruins water lines, your freshwater tank, water pump, etc.
FAQ: Usage: Q: My spouse and I have been thinking about RVing full time, seems most RVs are tight on space, will we drive each other crazy in close quarters? A: Before running out and buying one, consider renting an RV for a week of the type you are thinking about and see how it works out.
FAQ: Usage: Q: We are looking at RVs, are there “standard” kitchen appliances I can expect to be in most RVs? A: You can expect most of them to have a stove, sometimes an oven, a microwave (that might be a convection oven also), kitchen sink and a refrigerator.
FAQ: Usage: Q: What does FHU mean? A: It means Full Hook Up, which means, Water, Sewer, Electric and depending on the campground could include Wi-Fi (for internet) and cable TV.
FAQ: Usage: What are some things that are good to always have in my RV? A: I keep a life straw, some freeze dried food, flashlight, first-aid kit, some road flares (LED preferably), a way to charge your cell phone.
FAQ: Water Heater: Q: How do can I tell if my water heater is working on propane? A: With the latest type of tank water heater, you turn on the switch and it will attempt to light (this is for the ones WITHOUT pilot lights), if it correctly lights the light on the switch will go out. If it stays on, then it failed to light correctly, make sure you have propane, the valve on the propane taken is opened and try it again.
FAQ: Water Pump: Q: I am running on freshwater tank using my water pump and it stops and starts quite often when no one is using water, is that normal? A: No, it could be for a few reasons, most commonly the water pressure is dropping somewhere, could be a leak somewhere, pump could be going bad. Do you see any water anywhere inside or outside?
FAQ: Water: Q: I have my freshwater tank filled and want to use the water, how does that work? A: Somewhere in your RV is your control panel, used for checking levels in tanks, etc. Somewhere on there is usually a place to turn on water pump, flip that on, you should hear the pump humming, open a faucet until no more air comes out. Now if you do not find the switch, it has been known to be in the bathroom also and some have a switch outside in one of the compartments to turn it on also.
FAQ: Water: Q: Do I need a water pressure regulator? A: Yes, use one always, campgrounds, at home, moochdocking, you never know the water pressure when hooking up to city water, so it is a safe thing to do. Now you could always just fill your freshwater tank and using your own board water pump instead of hooking up to city water instead.
FAQ: Water: Q: Do I really need a food grade hose to fill my freshwater tank or connect to city water connection? A: is it is necessary, nope, it is a good and safe idea, absolutely. Sure, most of us survived drinking from a garden hose as kids but do you still want to drink from the garden hose, probably not. So, spend the extra money and get a hose that is safe to drink from, you can find them anywhere, Walmart, Amazon, RV Stores.
FAQ: Water: Q: Does my RV have hot and cold water? A: If you have a freshwater tank or a city water connection, then for sure you have cold water. As for hot water, most have a hot water tank or a tankless water heater, if your RV does not have one of those, then no, you do not have hot water as part of your RV. There are other options like portable outdoor shower using the sun to heat the water and others.
FAQ: Water: Q: How do I get water in my RV? A: There are two standard ways: Fill freshwater tank or city water hookup. See Chapter 19 for detailed instructions.
FAQ: Water: Q: I like to boondock but am having a tough time finding where I can fill up my freshwater tank, any suggestions? A: There are assorted options but be sure to ask for permission first if possible. Keep in mind to NOT use the faucet at the dump station unless it is marked as potable water. How about at the gas station when filling up, some schools, stores, parks, churches, picnic places.
FAQ: Water: Q: Should I leave the water pump on when not connected to city water? A: If your hot water heater is on, then yes. If you are leaving the RV for a while, I will turn off the water heater, the water pump, if on city water will turn off water at faucet.
FAQ: Water: Q: Should I turn off my water while hooked up at city water connection? A: Yes, absolutely, and here is why, in the event a leak starts somewhere, and you are not there, the damage could be enough to total your RV. Here is what I do, when I leave the RV, water pump is turned off, hose at city water connection is turned off, water heater is turned off.
FAQ: Water: Q: What is the best way to save water when taking a shower in my RV? A: Take what some people call a “Navy” shower, turn on water, wet your entire body, turn off water, soap up yourself, turn on water, rinse, turn off water you are done, dry off.
FAQ: Wi-Fi: Q: Is campground Wi-Fi decent? A: A definite maybe, some of good Wi-Fi, others not so much. Don’t be dependent on the campground Wi-Fi, make sure you have a plan to get online without it.
Tidbit: Arriving: Before backing into your camping site, take a picture with your phone so you can prove what it looks like as you arrived. That way if there is any question that you hit something, you can show what it looked like before you pulled/backed into the site.
Tidbit: Awnings: When you are not going to be at the RV, roll the awning in.
Tidbit: Batteries: If you have flooded lead acid batteries, be sure to check the liquid level quite often in hot weather, not sure what I am talking about, see Chapter 15 Preventive Maintenance – Section 2.
Tidbit: Batteries: Keep your battery terminals clean. Check them once a month to see what the look like, corroded, and gross. Remove the negative wire first, put it where it cannot touch the battery pole while working on cleaning up the battery. Remove positive side and then clean the poles using a wire brush and spray with some battery terminal spray that can be bought at your local auto parts store. Put the positive back on first, tighten it down and then the negative side. It might spark when you put the negative back on depending if there is something turned on when hooking the battery wires back up.
Tidbit: Black Tank: After dumping, leave black valve open and get a 2.5-5-gallon bucket, fill it up from the shower and with toilet valve open, dump that water from the bucket down the toilet, the large rush of water will help move some of that sediment from bottom of black tank and flush it out.
Tidbit: Bugs: Purchase one of those electric bug zappers that look like a tennis racquet. Now when done zapping them outside as you get ready to retire for the evening, go inside, turn off all lights but one. Hold the racquet zapper near the light, the bugs will fly right to it and “bbbbbzzzzzzzzz”, bug all gone.
Tidbit: Cabinets: I bought the child proof latches for my cabinets, no more opening while driving down the road in the rolling earthquake.
Tidbit: Campgrounds: Make sure you know the length of your RV and when making a reservation be sure to ask them if your RV can be accommodated at their campground. Not all camp hosts/owners know they should ask that question.
Tidbit: Driving: Don’t drive when fatigued, what I have found is at max every 4 hours, stop, get out walk around and switch drivers if possible. While out walking around use that infrared thermometer and check tire temperatures, etc.
Tidbit: Driving: Going up a hill, stay in the right lane, do as what good truck drivers do.
Tidbit: Driving: Turning, make sure you adjust based on the length of you RV, the turning space you will need especially when make right hand turns, keeping in mind you will need to swing out farther to not hit the curb.
Tidbit: Driving: When going downhill, braking should be done by stepping on brake pedal enough to slow you down to a comfortable speed and then release to let the brakes cool off. Don’t ride the brake pedal, they could overheat and fail.
Tidbit: Dumping: When getting ready to dump or hooking up the sewer hose, make sure the valves are all closed. I use a 2.5-gallon bucket underneath before I take the cap off the sewer connection.
Tidbit: Fire: When hooked up to city water at campground, think about using a splitter at the faucet. Why? In the event your neighbor’s RV should catch on fire, you might be able to help them put it out, worst case you can hopefully protect your own as some spaces are AWFULLY close to each other at some campgrounds.
Tidbit: Health: Keep knee pads in the RV for when you must be climbing around on the ground, you can also use carpet remnants.
Tidbit: Heating/Cooling: Those vents in the ceiling of you RV, they can let too much cool or warm air escape even when closes. Think about buying those vent insulators, which fit right in that 14×14 inch square where the crank handle is, they help seal those vents up nicely.
Tidbit: Jacks: There are two types: leveling and stabilizing. Don’t confuse the two, stabilizing jacks are just that, used to help limit rocking in the RV, they are NOT to help level the RV, they will not support that kind of weight. If you do not have leveling jacks, purchase those plastic blocks, or use wood to get the RV level and then you can lower the stabilizing jacks.
Tidbit: Kitchen: Always use a strainer in the sink, don’t let food particles go into the gray tank and mess up the sensors.
Tidbit: Leveling: Have dual tires on your RV, make sure to put leveling block under both tires.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Checking for water leaks: Put water in your freshwater tank, turn on the water pump, run all faucets until all air is out and only water runs out, including the outside shower if you have run and have filled your water heater. Turn off everything except the pump and wait for it to stop pumping. Now wait for a bit, it should not run again until you call for water from a faucet then it should run, if it runs when not calling for water, you might have a leak.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Cleaning your showerhead, using white vinegar, fill up a plastic storage bag and place the showerhead in it, seal it off with a rubber band, usually overnight will take care of it.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Detectors, carbon monoxide, smoke, propane, have you ever looked at the “born on date” for those devices? They have a shelf life of when they should be replaced.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Easiest way to perform maintenance on flooded lead acid batteries, see link for video in Chapter 15 Section 2.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Roof, check it on a regular basis, I do mine monthly, check Chapter 15 Section 4 on roof preventive maintenance.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Some places in your RV you just cannot get a good look at something, think about buying one of those endoscopes. I use one for doing RV inspections.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Still feeling cold in your motorhome, it could be the vents on the dashboard are open, see what the setting is and if necessary, start the engine and turn the vent off, see if that helps.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Suddenly you got stink in the RV, it could be the vents on the roof have gotten clogged up with mud daubers or some other insects, check them out.
Tidbit: Maintenance: There is a drip tube behind most refrigerators (usually behind the outdoor access panel), it either goes into a small container or hangs out the vent and drips outside, either way look at it and remove the end to make sure there is nothing clogging it up and causing a backup into the fridge.
Tidbit: Maintenance: Tires, check your tire pressure at least once a week or get one of those Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).
Tidbit: Maintenance: Wheel Bearings, do you know the temp? Good thing to check, buy an infrared thermometer and use that to check outside of hub and check tires while you are at it, if you don’t have a TPMS that can tell you tire temps.
Tidbit: Microwave: Remove the glass turn table and the part it sits on and place in a cabinet, nothing worse than things rattling like crazy when driving down the road.
Tidbit: Mirrors: Make sure to adjust your mirrors to help avoid having blind spots.
Tidbit: Outside: Bring a fan to “push” bugs away when outside the RV.
Tidbit: Oven: If you are using a propane oven and not used to it, consider purchasing a pizza stone, season it if you plan to use it to cook on, otherwise just place it in the oven to help distribute the heat and not burn the bottoms of everything.
Tidbit: Purchase: Consider hiring a certified RV inspector before you sign on the dotted line to buy that RV, you can find one at nrvia.org
Tidbit: Purchase: When purchasing a RV and the previous owner(used) or dealership(new) asks if you would like a walkthrough, take advantage of it, film it with your phone or a camera of some sorts, ask lots of questions and take notes.
Tidbit: RV Pigtail: Whether you have a 4/5/6 or 7 pin connector, be sure to protect it from bugs, road grime, etc. They make plug covers for each kind.
Tidbit: Refrigerator: Fridge not cooling as much as usual, open the door, are fins all coated with ice, time to defrost it. Turn it off, place food with ice in a cooler, leave door open and let it defrost.
Tidbit: Refrigerator: Prechill everything, if you can, prior to putting in the refrigerator.
Tidbit: Refrigerator: Using those non-skid pads in your cabinets is a great idea to keep things in place, but their place is not in the refrigerator as they will cause air to not circulate well which wreaks havoc with cooling.
Tidbit: Safety: Check your fire extinguisher by doing two things. First check the dial to check its pressure and second, remove it from its holder and hold it upside down to loosen up the chemicals in it by tapping on the bottom.
Tidbit: Safety: What is your RV height, write it down and put on a sticky near the driver’s seat.
Tidbit: Sewer: Purchase a short stinky slinky for when dumping at a dump station.
Tidbit: Shower: After taking a shower, use of those squeegee things on the walls and shower floor to get as much of the water down into the drain, helps keep mold/mildew under control.
Tidbit: Storage: If you bring oil, vinegar, or any liquid store them separately in a plastic container so if any of them leak, it is contained.
Tidbit: Storage: Using those hanging shoe type containers, you can put all kinds of things in those holders.
Tidbit: Tanks: Does your RV have a black tank flush, or do you use an attachment to the dump area to flush your black tank? Purchase a black hose that is used JUST for doing the black tank flush thing and nothing else, also make sure it has some capability to not allow black tank water back into the hose, usually a black flow device attached to end of hose works great and store it with other tank dumping stuff.
Tidbit: Tires: Do you know the DOT code of each tire? See Chapter 15 Section 5.
Tidbit: Tires: Your tires can lose up to PSI just sitting around EVERY MONTH. If you do not have a TPMS, consider getting one or check those tires using a pressure gauge on a regular basis.
Tidbit: Toilet: Except when utilizing it, keep the lid closed so nothing accidentally falls into the black tank.
Tidbit: Toilet: Using more water is always better than less when flushing.
Tidbit: Tools: Buy yourself some basic tools, see Chapter 1 in Bare Necessities section.
Tidbit: Trailer Tongue: One of the most important parts of your RV (assuming you have this type) is the tongue. There are certain maintenance aspects that should be done. Be sure to oil the tongue jack, jack foot. Grease the tow ball.
Tidbit: Usage: Camping in the cold or chilly weather, get yourself one of those 12V DC blankets or an inverter (pure sine wave one and a 120V AC blanket) to warm up your bed before getting into it.
Tidbit: Usage: Do you need just a small amount of extra space? Get an old camera tripod and if you have a compartment door that opens downward, set tripod underneath of it to make it level and instant small table.
Tidbit: Usage: Last thing you should do, and I do it EVERYTIME, walk around the RV before driving off, make sure EVERYTHING is disconnected, water, electric, sewer, all slides are all the way in, look up and down each wall and at each tire. Finally make sure every outside compartment is locked, yes you can’t lock the propane one on a motorhome.
Tidbit: Usage: Purchase one of those infrared trigger thermometers, you can use to test freezer, refrigerator temps as well as the oven to see if the dial on the oven is correct or not.
Tidbit: Usage: Read your RV manuals, did not get any, go to the manufacturer website and see if you can find them and download. I keep versions of them in the cloud and on my various computers including my laptop that ALWAYS goes with me.
Tidbit: Usage: When camping in colder climates, condensation can be a nightmare from your propane furnace, as well as breathing, showers, cooking just dumps moisture into the air. Think about using electric space heaters instead, keep in mind they pull some serious amps so do not be tripping breakers.
Tidbit: Valve handles: Most RVs come with plastic handles on the dump valve tanks. Carry a couple metal ones as those plastic ones will break.
Tidbit: Vents: Do not point your AC/Heater output vents at your thermostat, it will confuse it and you will not get the temperature for which you are hoping.
Tidbit: Water Hose: You pull into the campground, one of the things you should do BEFORE hooking up your water filter, water pressure regulator and hose is to run some water from the faucet before hooking it all up, the other thing to do is to spray some bleach water on all the connections before hooking them up together.
Tidbit: Wi-Fi: Campground Wi-Fi usually has a bit to be desired, especially on a rainy day, EVERYONE is using it, have a backup plan like being able to use your phone as a hotspot.