For those of us that call the northern states home; the weather is warming, flowers are beginning to bloom and the croaks of frogs are heard nightly from ponds and bogs. That can only mean one thing, time to wake the RV from its winter hibernation in preparation of your first spring camping trip. However, before loading up your home on wheels and hitting the road there are a few things you should check to assure a safe and successful outing.
Check your tires for cracks in the sidewalls or cracks between the treads. Any cracks should be a sign of potential tire failure and warrant a trip to your local tire store. If no cracks are found, check your tire pressure as it has likely fallen a couple pounds over the winter. If they are low, inflate them to the recommended pressure.
Batteries should be cleaned, tested and charged at the beginning of each season. If you removed the battery(s) over the winter make sure the polarity is correct when hooking them back up. Typically, for the start battery on motorhomes, the red lead is positive and the black lead is negative. For the house battery, the black lead is positive and the white lead is negative.
Test your freshwater system to discover any problems that may have developed over the winter. Start by filling your freshwater tank. If you winterized your unit make sure the water heater bypass valve is returned to the “normal” position. Turn on your water pump and open a hot and a cold water faucet allowing air to escape until the water flow is steady. Inspect all faucets and pipes for leaks. Inspect the water heater pressure relief valve and drain plug (found on the outside of the RV) for leaks. If your RV was winterized using non-toxic antifreeze, be sure to run enough water through each faucet to be sure all antifreeze is removed.
Note: If you are concerned about bacteria having formed in your plumbing system over the winter you can sanitize the system using the method found here.
Turn on the propane tank and light a burner on your stove (it might take a while for the air in the line to be replaced with propane). Once you have a steady flame burning on the stove feel free to fire off the refrigerator, water heater and furnace. Note: Spring prep is a good time to have your LP system tested for leaks by your RV dealer or by using the method described here.
Waste Tank Valves:
Assuming you dumped and rinsed your holding tanks at the end of last season, the next step is to check the valve operation on your holding tanks. Carefully work the handle in and out to make sure it is opening and closing properly. If either value is hard to open, apply some silicone spray to the shaft then work the valve open and closed a few times allowing the lubricant to work.
Detectors: Check the batteries in your smoke, propane (if not tied into the RVs power system) and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are operating correctly. Spring is also a good time to change the batteries in these devices.
Now that you have your RV properly prepared, get out there and enjoy your first spring RV adventure!