Cabin fever has set in and the dream of warmer weather, roaring campfires, and walks through the woods are on our minds. We can’t wait to hook up our RV and get away for a weekend, a couple of weeks, and even longer!

Our Airstream, “Ginger,” is waiting patiently for us to get her out of storage and ready for the 2018 RVing season. But before you can hitch up, there’s a critical process you should go through to make sure your RV survived the winter months and is ready for that first trip.

1. Exterior
Water leaks are the biggest problems that are found after months of winter storage. Check your roof and all the caulking around the windows, vents, air conditioners, and doors to make sure there are no cracks or missing caulk. Even the smallest cracks and holes can cause serious water damage to your RV.

2. Tires
Inspect your tires for sidewall cracks or cracks between the treads. Any cracks should be treated seriously and replaced. Also, don’t forget to check your tire pressure. To find the right tire pressure recommended for your tires, refer to your owners manual from your manufacturer and the inflation guidelines on the sides of your tires. There may also be a decal inside a cabinet that has the recommended pressure on it.

3. Clean appliances
Inspect all appliances, including the outside access covers for your water heater and refrigerator, for any foreign debris like spider webs, nests, dead insects, or small critters. Do a thorough cleaning with household cleaners to clean up all the dust and dirt from being in storage. You can use LIGHT air pressure from a compressor to clean out the burner area but DO NOT BLOW HIGH-PRESSURE UP THE REFRIGERATOR CHIMNEY!

4. Batteries
Keep your batteries in good working order by inspecting them before each season. Before checking and cleaning your batteries, make sure to wear safety glasses and latex or protective gloves. Disconnect shore power and make sure all items in your RV are off and the main power switch is off.

After you’ve prepared yourself and your RV, check and clean corroded terminals, connections, and battery trays. Hot water and baking soda work well to clean batteries. Make sure to check battery fluid levels if possible. If you remove the batteries for any reason, make sure to disconnect and reconnect them properly.

The beginning of the season is also a great time to have your batteries tested. Make sure to remove the batteries properly and take them into a professional to have the batteries tested. If you need to replace your batteries, make sure to replace multiple battery banks together. DO NOT add a new battery with a bank of old batteries (coach batteries and chassis batteries may be banked separately).

5. Liquid Propane (L.P.)
Follow the following steps before checking your L.P.
• Make sure all L.P. appliances and items are turned off
• There is no smoking, open flames or sparks close by
• The leak detector inside the RV is turned ON

First, open the valves on your propane tanks. Smell around the area for any leaks. Next, check the valves and regulators by using a soapy water mixture. If you detect a leak, have a professional inspect and repair it for you. Sometimes the seals dry out over the winter months causing new leaks that didn’t exist before storage.

6. Water
Now is the time to test your water pipes and lines. Before filling your RV with water, make sure the hot water heater bypass valve is in the “normal” position and all faucets are closed. It’s best to use your “city water” connections to fill your RV up for the first time. You can also use your fresh water tank and pump too.

Turn on a hot and a cold water faucet during the filling, allowing the air to escape until the water flows steadily. Inspect all faucets and pipes for leaks. Inspect the water heater overpressure safety valve and the water heater drain plug (outside of RV) for leaks. After the water runs steady, turn off faucets and disconnect from your “city water” connection.

Now, fill up fresh water in your onboard tanks. Reopen a hot and cold water faucet until water flow stops. Close the faucets. Switch the fresh water pump on. After the pump starts running, wait 20-30 minutes to hear if the pump cycles on again. If the pump cycles on, it indicates a pressure drop or leak. If the pump does not cycle on, the system should be ready to use. Make sure to run enough water through each faucet to be sure all RV antifreeze is removed.

You may also wish to sanitize your fresh water holding tank at this time. Here’s an easy tutorial on how to do that.

7. Test Appliances
After you have tested the L.P. and water systems, and everything is up and running, it is time to test your appliances. Make sure your L.P. gas leak detector is on. Start by lighting a stove top burner, filling the L.P. lines. Next, you can light another L.P. fired item, like your refrigerator. Before testing your water heater, make sure it is full of water before igniting it.

8. Dump Hoses
Sewer hoses have a limited lifespan. Inspect your sewer hose for any tears or holes before using it. This article talks about when it may be time to replace your sewer hose and why you should do that periodically.

9. Waste Tank Valves
Inspect the valve seal on your waste tank. Carefully work the handle in and out in short increments to make sure it is opening and closing properly. NOTE: Make sure your tank is empty before performing this inspection. You might want to take your RV to a dump station, hook it up and then inspect your waste tank valves. Valve seals can dry out causing them to stick, making them harder to operate. If your value seal is hard to open, you can purchase a valve lube in the parts department of your local RV supplier or online. We like Dupont Teflon Silicone Lubricant. You may also want to put some Tank Lubricant with Coco Oil into your holding tanks to keep them gate valves working.

10. Awnings
Roll out your awning(s) and inspect the fabric. Check for holes, tears, runs, or if anything has detached. If you’re having difficulties extending your awning(s), take it to a professional. The spring tension might need to be adjusted and they are tricky. DO NOT do this yourself.

Always remember, when in doubt, please call a professional RV service center. Most RV service departments have certified technicians who are ready to help. They can help get you ready for the upcoming camping season, especially if you have a problem with your RV or don’t feel comfortable tackling any of these preparations.

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