7 Steps to Getting Your Camper or RV ready for the Camping Season
When we get a day or two of sunshine at this time of year I, like others who Camp/RV, start counting the days until our first trip. So, it’s time to plan the number of camping trips and prepare the trailer for the first outdoor adventure. We have a 24.5-foot Denali and here are the seven main steps I take to prepare.
1. Start Booking Your Camping Spots
It’s time to do the camping mambo, so to speak. We turn to our calendars, or in my case my cell phone’s digital one. I plan all my trips in that handy, trusty little box, that does such a good job that I have now enlisted it to telling me when to book. This year I want to camp in a BC Provincial Park and go online to BC Parks reservation system to make a booking. They have information on their site about how far in advance you can book and which sites require a reservation. I check with friends to see who will join in, and then enter my data and book it as soon as I can. If you prefer you can call the BC Parks call centre.
2. Air Out The Unit And Give It A Good Clean
So now I’ve booked my site, and it’s time to “wake up” my summer home. Laugh at my wording, but it has been a cold, rainy, snowy fall and winter so it’s time to think about the unveiling of the RV, Motorhome or even the tent. Who says you can’t bring out the tent and dust it off, set it up and make sure that all the zippers, pulls and guy wires are intact? Great time to give it a wash and really air it out. Tenters often don’t give a thought to their sleeping accommodation until packing the vehicle for the trip or worse, they arrive at the location and find that its missing pieces or it has “had” a winter stow-a-way. Let this year be different – a prepared year.
It really doesn’t matter what your mode of camping is, they all have similarities that need attending to. Chances are your RV or camper has been closed up, unattended for the last five months. First thing to do is take off the protective covering you used for storing. But before pulling it off, why not give it a really good shampoo and a hose down and let it dry, before packing it away for the next five plus months. You will feel better about storing the cover clean, so when it comes time to put the RV to sleep for next winter it’s one less thing to do.
3. Time For Maintenance on Your Tires
We have finished washing and drying the cover which is stored for the season -– what’s next? Tires. The vehicle has been leaning on them for the winter and might just be a little “tired”, so why not take the time now to rotate, clean and grease the bearings. Checking over every inch of the outside is the best place to start. Make sure there are no new problems that need attending to.
4. Water System On Board? Time For A Good Flushing
If you have a travel trailer, tent trailer, fifth wheel, motorhome or even a truck camper, chances are you have a water system attached that you winterized for the winter. You used a non-toxic antifreeze designed for RVs and will now need to flush the system out with fresh water until there is no more pink water flowing. Once this is done, some people like to add a ¼ cup of liquid bleach and run it through the tank and then flush it once again with fresh water. Once this is done, it is now time to turn the heater’s bypass valve into the operating (normal) position and check each and every tap and faucet for leaks. Better to find it now rather than on a camping trip.
5. Check Your Batteries
Always wear protective safety gear when checking batteries at any time. First, make sure you have disconnected the hook-up power (the 120V power cord) and then make sure that all power is in the OFF position. We trickle charge our trailer all winter to maintain charge to the battery – other friends remove their batteries in the fall and keep them stored with a trickle charge in their shed or garage. Check the battery connections to make sure that they are clean and that the terminals have not corroded over the fall and winter. Check all sides including the bottom of the battery for cracks, as this sometimes happens during a severe winter freeze. Replace all cracked batteries. Check the battery fluid levels and only use “distilled water”.
6. Inspect Propane Tanks
Propane tanks are the next item up for inspection. Make sure the tanks are in the off position. This is where you want to check hoses, regulators and valves for premature aging and/or drying out. If you notice any of the above, replace and then proceed to testing the refrigerator, stove and furnace.
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7. Clean the Inside
Final things to do, is give the whole inside a complete wash, vacuum and wipe out all cupboards and drawers. I always do a thorough clean before putting the RV to sleep for the winter but I also do a spring clean to freshen the trailer. It allows me to check for leaks, mold or if pests have entered. I then open windows to air out the rig to make sure I have clean air for the first trip. As well as inside, I clean out the passthroughs and repacking this allows me to confirm I have all items needed for the first camping trip and to purge unwanted items.
For more tips check out: RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape
To locate places to camp in BC go to the Camping Map.
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It’s always a great day to #CampinBC
RV Maintenance Tips for Keeping Your Exterior in Top Shape
Whether you’re new to the Trailer RV Lifestyle like me or a seasoned RVer, you’ll want to stay on top of maintenance so you can enjoy your Recreational Vehicle for many years to come. Exterior maintenance is a great place to start.
Go RVing Canada has created a handy checklist of maintenance tips to keep your RV exterior in top shape and I have added a few comments of mine gleaned from friends and a tiny bit of experience this year after I purchased my first trailer in July 2017. Previously, I owned a Get A Way camper van for 12 years so have some RV knowledge.
1. Wash your RV exterior after each trip
Hose off the loose dirt and grime, then a sponge wash with mild soap and water rinse does the trick. But make sure you wash your RV exterior regularly and ideally after you return from each trip. Be careful to prevent condensation and avoid spraying water directly into appliance vents. I use a spray soap jet on the hose and a car cleaning soft brush to go over my Denali Trailer. This includes the roof that I access with a nine foot ladder.
2. Wax or apply a protectant to your RV exterior
Wax on, wax off, channel your inner Karate Kid and apply a coat of good quality wax or protectant to your RV exterior. This can be a time-consuming task depending on the size of your RV but it is well worth the effort. Make sure the exterior is dry before you start waxing and spot-test on a small area of graphics before widespread application. Check to ensure that the wax is appropriate for use on the type of exterior on your RV. I did this shortly after purchasing my Trailer and it certainly helps to remove the bugs and bird poop after a camping trip, especially those pesky ones that splat on the front of the vehicle.
3. Clean your awning and keep it dry for storage
Before you roll up your RV awning for storage, clean it well with mild soap and water, and lubricate moving parts with silicon spray. When you roll it up, ensure that the awning is in the locked position. I cleaned my awning once and will do it again before I winterize the trailer in November.
4. Inspect any sealed areas thoroughly to prevent water damage
Your RV is out and about in the elements day-after-day on your adventures throughout the seasons. You’ll want to make sure that your RV exterior including the roof, sides, edges, windows, doors, vents, end caps, moldings, compartments and underside are sealed off and doing their job to protect the interior from potential water damage, mice or other rodents. Look for any gaps, openings or areas with aged sealant and re-caulk if necessary. Make sure to use the appropriate sealant and when in doubt, ask your RV dealer or manufacturer for advice.
Funny story on our third camping trip to Alouette in Golden Ears Provincial Park, we had a mouse in the trailer. I had to purchase some mousetraps but did not catch any so the mouse exited. On my return I purchased some foaming pest spray and went around all of the openings on the bottom of my trailer which included the water drains, stabilizers, and other pipes. I found a few holes the size of a dime that a mouse could squeeze through.
Another tip I picked up was placing scent-free dryer sheets in the RV to reduce bugs and keep spiders out.
5. Lubricate all hinges, locks and moving parts
No one likes creaky doors or windows or compartments for that matter. Lubricating hinges and moving parts with WD40 and all locks with a graphite spray lubricant is an easy maintenance step that takes only a couple of minutes. When I purchased the Denali it had been stored and not used for the current season so all of the hinges squeaked.
6. Cover outside vents to keep the critters (and condensation) away
Keep the insects out and prevent nesting by installing plastic bags or covers on outside vents (furnace, refrigerator, water heater) for long-term storage. Buy a proper A/C cover (versus using a plastic bag) and cover your air conditioning unit to avoid condensation during storage.
My vents have a Max Air flow cover on them and I have purchased a full breathable RV cover for the trailer and will use this during the winter as I have to store my Denali outside.
7. Open your vents
When your RV is not being used during the summer months, the inside living area can get up to 130F degrees depending on your location. That type of intense heat will cause even the toughest materials to break down and fail over time. Open your vents to let the air in. (But remember to keep the outside vents closed to keep the rain out!) I can keep my vents open as most have a Max Air cover but one that is not covered is rain sensitive and will automatically close when it rains.
8. Lubricate your slide-out rails
Lubricate your slide-out rails a couple of times a year to stop rust and corrosion. You can find a can of lubricant spray specifically designed for this project for under $20. This is a much cheaper solution than replacing your slide-outs down the road. I will be doing this before I put the trailer to bed in the winter as well as coating the rubber slide-out seals with a seal product to protect the rubber.
As I use my trailer more I am sure I will come across the need to obtain other advice or maintenance tips, so I will publish a blog next year to update you on my experiences. In the meantime for more RV maintenance tips, check out the Go RVing Canada YouTube videos on GoRVing.ca.
Published: September 29th, 2017
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