There are other concerns too, that can come from where the RV was stored, and how it was prepared for storage. If the RV was stored outside, exposed to the elements, the exterior and roof can suffer the brunt of Mother Nature’s harsh winter conditions. And, if you did not properly winterize the RV water system, there could be damage to the plumbing.
RV Spring Checks You Don’t Want To Forget
We can’t undo how the RV was prepared for storage, but we can prepare the RV for another adventure packed camping season. Every spring, when the threat of freezing temperatures dwindles, I head to the garage to perform my RV spring checks ritual. I could write an entire book on preparing an RV for camping season, but that is not feasible here, so I want to discuss the RV spring checks I consider essential. Some of these checks involve undoing what we did to prepare the RV for cold weather storage, and other checks involve repairing things on the RV that were directly affected by cold weather storage.
A good place to start is my De-Winterizing your RV post. As part of the de-winterizing process I highlighted several RV spring checks I consider essential. These checks included: RV batteries, sanitizing the water system, RV appliances, RV tires and RV safety items.
Now we can expand our RV spring checks to other important areas of the RV.
Check for Plumbing Leaks: In cold temperatures there is always a threat of freezing that could break the plumbing lines and fittings on your RV. This can even happen to an RV that was winterized if a step in the process was forgotten or overlooked. The result is a water leak when things thaw out the following spring.
After the water system is de-winterized I check the plumbing system for leaks. I leave the water heater in the bypass mode to perform this check. Add a few gallons of potable water to the fresh water holding tank and turn the 12-volt water pump on to pressurize the water system. The water pump should shut off after it pressurizes the system and reaches the factory pre-set pressure. If the pump does not shut off or if it cycles back on, even for a short period of time, there could be a water leak in the plumbing system. Try to access and inspect the plumbing lines and fittings. If there is a big leak it should be easy to locate. For smaller leaks I use a dry paper towel. Run the dry towel over the plumbing lines and fittings. If there is a leak the towel will quickly absorb the water indicating the area where the leak is located. If you cannot access the plumbing or locate and repair the leak take the RV to an RV service facility to have it checked out and repaired.
RV Roof, Seams & Sealants: Every seam on your RV and anywhere the manufacturer cut a hole in your RV has the potential to leak. It’s important to take your time and really inspect all of these seams and sealants. Here are a few tips on how to inspect the RV for water damage:
Caution: Be extremely careful working on the RV roof. If you do not feel comfortable working on the roof or repairing seams and sealants, have the maintenance performed by an authorized RV service facility.
- Look for any discoloration and feel for soft spots on the ceiling around roof vents, air conditioners, TV antenna, plumbing vents, and any other openings that were cut in the roof.
- Look for any discoloration or wrinkles in the wallpaper, and feel for any soft spots on the walls around all windows, doors, vents, slide-outs, or any other openings that were cut in the RV sidewalls.
- Identify the location of appliances like the water heater, furnace, outside shower, potable water fill and city water inlet on the outside of the RV, then access those same areas from the inside of the RV. Look closely for any indications of water damage around these openings.
- Open all overhead cabinets and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for any discoloration and feel for any soft spots. This would indicate a leak at the seam where the sidewall and the roof attach.
- Check for any soft spots on the roof itself especially around the roof seams at the front and rear of the RV.
Soft spots and discoloration indicate there is water damage that requires immediate attention. These types of repairs are best left to professionals.
I recommend inspecting and resealing the seams and sealants on the RV at least twice a year and possibly more, depending on conditions. Inspecting the seams and sealants as part of your spring checks will identify any damage that occurred during storage, and help prepare the RV for this year’s camping season. During your inspection of the RV roof, seams and sealants look for signs of cracking or lifted sealants. It’s important you consult your RV owner’s manual, or your local RV dealer for sealants compatible with the different types of materials you are attempting to seal.
If the sealants show signs of cracking, but are not lifting or separating from the surface, it is not necessary to remove the old sealant. Clean the area you plan to seal with an appropriate cleaner and reseal the area where the sealant is cracking. If the sealants are lifted or separated from the surface carefully remove the old sealant, clean the area and reseal using the correct sealant for the job.
Remember to check out my De-Winterizing post for more essential spring checks on batteries, appliances, tires and safety items. In addition to these RV essential spring checks I review my RV insurance policy, state emissions and license plate sticker, roadside assistance plan and other RV documents to ensure they are current. I mentioned earlier there are more spring checks you can make on your RV, but with the essentials out of the way you are on your way to another exciting year of RV camping.
Mark J. Polk
RV Education 101