Category Archives: Tips of the Day

Tips on what to check when buying a new or used RV.

Great Customer Service

Daisy and I would like to tell you about a great experience we had recently. A couple of years ago we purchased an 10×10 Ez Up for use while camping. Last week the rain gathered on the roof and bent the heck out of the frame. I emailed the company asking how much a replacement frame would cost as it was not listed on the website or in our documentation. Sydney contacted us and asked us to provide some pictures of the damage. After getting her some pictures, she told us that they would be sending us a new unit free of charge and overnight it via FedEx. It seems that the frame design has had issues and they would replace it as required. Great customer support. They could have very easily “sold” us a new frame or unit and we would have been ok with it knowing we were way out of warranty. If you need or want a 10×10 ezup I would recommend contacting them.
Sydney Anstine
Customer Service
Exxel Outdoors
800-325-4124

I’m an Author!

You may have received an email by now that I have been writing a series of books about Finding, Buying and Using the Perfect RV.  These books are now available on http://rv-inspection-service.com (another one of my websites).

In the first book, Finding the Perfect RV, I discuss how to find the perfect RV for you.  Whether you are a weekender, seasonal for full timer.  I tried to use my experience of the last 40 years to make sure it was relevant to all types of campers.

The second book, Buying the Perfect RV, I discuss the inspection of the RV before purchasing, the financing, insurance and other aspects of purchasing an RV.  The checklist alone in this one should make it worth while as well as save you from some costly mistakes.

The third book, Using Your Perfect RV, is mainly for those that are new to the recreational vehicle world.  Maybe you are moving up from tents to RV or just taking the plunge.  Here we discuss, safety, tires, packing, weight management, unpacking, setting up etc.

Each of these books has a set of checklist so you don’t miss anything while finding, buying and using the perfect RV.

You can read about the books at Using Your Perfect RV.

 

Videos… a couple steps closer

The video project took a couple steps closer this week.  I have been able to find the software I need to create and edit them and the software for the website to present and manage them.

I have been working on a couple of books as well.  Seems I am working harder now in early retirement than I was when I was working full time.  But thankfully everything is coming together that will make this the go to place for new recreational vehicle owners.

Speaking of the books, the first two should be ready to download from this site beginning the first week of May.  That is just a couple of weeks away.

I will be posting a free download code on the Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/RVInspectionService/), so if you are not a member, please sign up soon.  If you have friends that are looking for an RV, have them sign up as well.

Watch for another article that explains the book series.

Oh almost forgot, you will be getting a newsletter now as well.  All free of charge of course.  (Someday I will have to figure out how to make money with all of this).

Thanks everyone for all the great comments.  More to come.

Source: Tips of the Day

Water Heater Maintenance – Continued

There are some more tasks that need to be completed on an annual basis.  Most of them can be done when you pull the unit out of storage and before you start it for the season.  If you are full time then perform them when you do the cleaning of the storage tank for calcium.

BUGS, there are several kinds of bugs that love the smell of propane.  If your water heater does not have a bug protector on the exhaust, spend the money an put one on it.  They look like a heavy duty screen over the exhaust vent.  Each year you want to make sure this is secure and in good condition.

Electric Heating element check.  It is probably a good idea to check the condition of the electric heating element.  You probably cleaned the tank which should clean the element as well.  Over time these heating elements break down and require replacement.  The easiest way to check an element is with a VOM (Voltage Ohm Meter or Multi-meter).  With power removed from the water heater, measure the Ohms of the heating element.  It should be slightly more than 10 Ohms.  If it is less than 10 ohms, you will want to replace it.

Safety Valve Check.  On the outside of the water heater is a pressure and maybe temperature safety valve.  This is used to prevent the pressure in the water heater from exceeding 150 PSI.  When water heats it expand and can cause the tank to rupture.

Over time the valves will corrode or become clogged with deposits.  That annual cleaning I talked about should help prevent this, but just in case.  Each year you want to open this valve.

Note:
A. Be careful, the water inside the tank may be hot.
B. Only do this when you are going to drain the tank for cleaning or for storage.

To relieve the pressure in the tank before removing the plug or anode rod, operate the safety valve by lifting up on the little lever on the valve.  WARNING: the water may be hot and some of it will come out of the valve.  Wear appropriate protection.

Air in tank check.  Some of you may have heard about burbing the water tank.  This practice is not required and in some cases may damage the water heater.  When you fill the water heater for the first camping trip of the season.  First make sure that everything is back in it place.  The plug or anode rod are installed, the water is turned on and fills the tank.  Then go inside and make sure the by-pass has been closed so that water now flows through the water heater.  Open a hot water faucet furthest away from the heater and and let it run until the air is out of the system.  This will provide the proper amount of air in the water heater to allow for expansion of the water when it heats up.  You can perform the same steps at each faucet to get the air out of the lines.

Next article will be about the Aqua Hot and On Demand System Maintenance.

 

Source: Tips of the Day

Water Heater Maintenance

There are currently 4 different water heater types you might find in an RV.  The two most common are from Suburban and Atwood.  New to the RV world are the On Demand Water Heaters and in higher end motor homes you might find a system that provides both heat and hot water called Aqua Hot.

Maintenance on Atwood heaters is pretty simple.  About once a year usually when you winterize, you want to clean out the water heater holding tank really well.  The best way is to take out the drain plug.  Caution here:  Make sure the tank is cool and that the power and propane are off to the water heater.  You do not want the heater to begin trying to heat the water when the tank is empty.

Once you have removed the drain plug, flush the tank with plenty of water to remove the loose calcium.  Next you will need some white vinegar.  About a gallon for the 10 gallon water heater.  This is a good time to also clean the water holding tank on the RV.   Perform the same basic steps, drain the water in the holding tank, flush to remove the calcium and then using a ration of 1:10 (vinegar to water) fill the holding tank.  If you are doing the holding tank at the same time it will make it easier to do the how water system.  Fill the holding tank with vinegar and then pump it into the hot water tank (make sure you put the plug in the water heater before filling).

Once the vinegar and water are in the tank(s) let it sit for a couple of days.  The acid in the vinegar will loosen the calcium.

After a couple of days, drain and flush the system(s).  If you are working on a Suburban Hot Water system, now is a good time to replace the Anode Rod.

Then Anode rod is to protect the insides of the steel tanks used in Suburban water heaters from rusting due to chemical reactions in the water.  The Anode rod is made of a mixture of Zinc, Magnesium and Aluminum.  Which reacts quicker to the chemicals in water that can rust the steel tank.  Failure to replace the anode rod as needed results in the water tank rusting out and having to replace it sooner than needed otherwise.

That is it for the normal water heaters found in most RVs.  I am still researching the maintenance of on demand and Aqua Hot systems.  Those will be covered in the next article.

 

 

Source: Tips of the Day

Delamination – What is it?

If you read Facebook RV Groups at all or any RV Forums you will see many articles or questions about delamination.  Many of us know little about the issue but maybe would like to know more or you need to know how to fix it.

I recently chatted with Andrew Newton of Composet Products L.L.C.  Composet offers a product for fixing delamination.  I asked Andrew about delamination and what causes it.  Here are some of the questions and his responses.

What is delamination?

Many RV walls are a “composite”, meaning different materials are bonded together in layers. Typically, a thin fiberglass sheet forms the outer layer, followed by luan plywood*, Styrofoam, and an inside panel. Framing elements are also incorporated into the wall. The materials are glued together creating a composite structure. Delamination occurs when the bond between one or more layers fails. This happens in isolated segments, or throughout the entire panel.

Why does delamination occur?

In many cases a leak forms allowing water into the wall. Typically this happens at windows, vents, lights, roof lines, etc., where caulking is sometimes the only barrier to outside elements. Age, workmanship, vibration, maintenance, and environmental exposure are factors. In my opinion, most delamination occurs when the water breaks down the glue used in the manufacture of the luan plywood and results in the plies separating.

How can you spot delamination?

Look at the wall from an angle and check for bulges. Most sidewalls are not perfectly flat, so this can be tricky, however, the bulge will be worse when the wall is in direct sunlight due to the de-bonded materials expanding at different rates. Next, tap lightly on the wall with a plastic screwdriver handle, solid areas and delaminated areas sound different.

How is delamination fixed?

The most comprehensive way to fix delamination is by replacing the entire wall, requiring major reconstruction. Sometimes sections of walls are cut out, with a seam or joint created where the patch panel is installed. I have seen cases where the layers are re-bonded one at a time. Another process, developed by our company, Composet Products L.L.C., utilizes an injection process to saturate the affected area with a proprietary catalyzed composite bonding adhesive, followed by clamping. Every situation is different with your expectations and budget guiding the definition of a successful repair.

*Luan or Lauan plywood is made from the wood of the Lauan tree from the South Pacific Rim. Lauan wood is usually referred to a medium-grade Philippine mahogany. This produces a very lightweight wood that is softer than most softwood plywood. The surface finish of Luan plywood is very smooth, mostly without defects. The small defects that are found are filled and sanded smooth with the surface. However, because of these defects, Luan is generally only used for projects that will be painted.

Thickness

Luan is typically only manufactured in 1/4 inch thickness, although you can find it as thin as 1/8 inch at times.

Next week, I will go over the process of repairing delamination using the products that Andrew’s company offers.  It is an inexpensive kit that fixes a very expensive repair.

If you need more information or want to learn more about how to fix delamination, contact:

Composet Products L.L.C.
801-821-0964

http://www.delamrepair.com

 

Source: Tips of the Day

Just wanted to let you know about the Facebook Page

I also have a Facebook Page that is used to support this site.  You can access it at Facebook Page.

I am starting to work on the video series.  It will cover the complete inspection process from roof to frame and everything in between.  Not sure how long this is going to take, probably a few months at least.  Also haven’t figured out what or if I will be charging for this.  I do plan on having a manual that will go with the videos.

Please let me know if you have any ideas or special interests.

 

Source: Tips of the Day

Solar Cells and RVs

I did a little research into Solar Cells and RVing.  This is a non bias review of the issue.  I am not involved with sales, installation, boondocking, dry camping, Green Peace or any other environmental cause.  I am looking at it from a purely financial and beneficial stand point.

Let start with the size in amps that would be needed for an off the grid RV.  If you are frugal with your electric use, leaving the lights off, using propane for heating water and air, limiting your tv and computer time you can probably get by with about 20-30 AMP/H.  You have to remember that you have a lot of equipment in the RV that uses electricity even if you aren’t.  You smoke, CO2 and Propane detectors, the converter/inverter, the refrigerator (even on gas uses 12 VDC) and water heater all use DC all the time.  Then you have fans, lights, electronics that also use AC all of the time.  So just to keep the system running I figure you will need from 500 to 600 Watts. Then on top of that you have your entertainment and living wattage. So figure you will need from 800-1000 watts of consistent solar power to meet your needs as a minimum. Now solar panels are only about 6% effiecent.  That means that to create that kind of power you will need 15 sq yards of space on the roof or about 6-8 panels, depending on the part of the country and the weather.

Equipment needed is the next area.  You need the panels, charge controller, batteries, converter/inverter, monitoring unit, wiring, mounting hardware and the available weight on the RV.  So lets talk about weight first.  The solar panels are going to weight around 40-50 lbs each with hardware and wiring.  The batteries will weigh about 50 lbs each.  You will probably have 4-8 6 volt batteries.  The controler will weigh in at about 15 lbs. The monitor is 5 lbs. Total added weight to the RV for 8 panels would be about 900 lbs.

Cost for all of this is the real kicker.  There are all kinds of prices out there from 0 set up to 00 or more.  Basically you will get what you pay for.  A trickle charger setup will not work for boondocking. It is designed to kept the battery charged when not in use.  Basically the first panel will run from 0-00 plus installation. Each additional panel will be from 0-0.  So you can see that an 8 panel full time off the grid system will probably cost you from 00 to 50.

All of this assumes you are living in the desert with no bad weather, that you always have a clear shot of the southern sky and that the panels are mounted to be able to track the sun during most of the day. Which means you will also need a supplemental energy source as well, IE a generator.

I don’t know how long you plan on boondocking, but for the heck of it lets do some math.  First off the resale value of a used solar system is non-exsistent. So you won’t recover any of your investment that way.  The good news is it should last 20-25 years.  The added holes in your roof will probably mean more maintenance and sealant over the years and will affect the resale value of your rig.  So unless the buyer is also looking to boondock and wants to take the solar system as well, you will lose money on the RV when you trade it in.
Solar vs Generator?  There is no doubt that solar over the long haul will reduce your energy expenses, but by how much?  A generator run about a gallon of fuel an hour.  If you are using gas that means it cost about an hour to run and you will run it about 3-4 hours a day to keep the batteries charged, so a day.  So for the first 416 days or so of boondocking you it will be cheaper to use a generator than installing a 00 solar system in perfect sunlight.  Call it two years before you will see a benefit of using solar over generator as a full time boondocker.  If you hook up at a campground at all, then the time extends out even more.

Since we plan on only boondocking a week or so a year once we head West, it was pretty easy for me to see that this wasn’t worth it.  You need to decide if it is for you.

Source: Tips of the Day

Caulking

If you ever have owned a house, you know that every once in a while you need to caulk around the windows and doors, well the RV is even more important.  Imagine as your driving down the road the window and door frames rubbing and shaking as you hit the bumps and dips in the road.  Even while sitting still at the campground the stress that is put on them when leveling the rig.  This movement is normal, but over time it breaks the seal that was installed when the RV was build that prevents water leaking into the RV.  These water leaks may be very evident with wet wall or floors, but it may also be hidden behind the walls.

Caulking is a task that you want to schedule about every 4 years or so.  You will need a couple of days of clear, dry weather to allow the caulking to cure.  This is a simple process and will only take a few hours to do.  You will need a ladder, caulking and some clean rags.  Which caulk is the best?  I don’t know, but since it is exposed to the weather, I would get a good outdoor caulking.  I prefer one that dries clear.

Caulk around the whole frame of each window and door.  If you have a drivable RV you will not need to do the front window as they are sealed with a rubber grommet.  However, if you have an older rig that has some rust around the windows, it won’t hurt to seal that area as well.

I think caulking is an art.  The more you do the better your seals will look, so practice makes perfect.  Best of luck and hopefully we will met on the road.

Source: Tips of the Day

Videos coming… sooner or later :)

I am currently learning how to make videos for posting to YouTube and this website.  I am going to create a whole series of videos covering the same subjects that are posted on RV Inspection Service’s website (http://rv-inspection-service.com).  Most videos will be short subjects covering all aspects of inspection an RV prior to purchasing.  I hope to have the videos starting this Spring and finished this Summer.

To cover the added cost of producing and hosting the videos I will need to charge, sorry.  I am looking at what I hope is a very reasonable price of .50.  That is a flat one time fee.

I am also working on an RV Inspection Book that you can use to inspect the RV with before you purchase.  Hopefully it will be done this Summer.

 

Source: Tips of the Day