Learn How To Care For Your RV
Now that you’ve made the decision to purchase your RV, you’ll need some information on how to care for it so that you can enjoy it for years to come. Please see below for information on these areas of care and maintenance:
Cleaning Your RV
ALWAYS start from the top. The actual roof of an RV isn’t the culprit when it comes to black streaks; it’s the dirt, grime, and bird droppings that accumulate on the surface.
Keeping your unit washed & waxed will help extend the life of your RV.
Choosing a good quality cleaner and wax will made the job easier. Look for products that contain UV blockers. Proper maintenance of your RV doesn’t have to be a “never ending battle” with the right cleaner & wax. Talk to your RV dealer to see what is available. Do it right the “first time”!
Black streaks will almost always appear on the side it seems like every time it rains! Keeping the roof clean and keeping a good coat of wax on your RV will really help. There are many Black Streak Removers on the market. Follow the instructions and using caution around decals and graphics. Be sure to rinse the area(s) good after using the Black Streak Remover.
You have enjoyed a great camping season in your RV and now it’s time for winter storage. First and foremost, DO NOT USE ANY ANTIFREEZE THAT IS NOT LABELED NON-TOXIC AND SAFE FOR USE IN DRINKING WATER SYSTEMS IN YOUR RV. Read the label carefully before using in your RV freshwater system. We DO NOT recommend using antifreeze with alcohol that will leave a residual smell and taste.
Using RV Antifreeze is the surest method of winterizing to guarantee that your pipes will not freeze.
DO NOT rely solely on the Blow Out method.
Now that you have your RV winterized, getting the rest of the rig ready for storage is important. Here are some helpful hints:
- Empty out the fridge and clean to prevent mold/mildew. Prop open door(s) for air flow
- Remove any items that will freeze. Be sure to check all compartments.
- It’s helpful to close blinds/shades for windows to help keep interior fabrics from fading.
- Be sure the vent lids are closed. If you have covers over your roof vents you can leave one vent open a bit to allow air flow.
- It is best to remove your battery(s) during winter storage and store them in an area that will not freeze. Be sure to always check water levels in your battery(s).
- This is a great time to check the condition of your roof, seams and vent lids to prevent any water leaks during storage. If you are able to periodically check the inside of your RV during storage, you should do so.
- Mice can sometimes be a problem. Check the inside of your RV and around pipes and wheel wells to see if there are any areas that mice can get in. Fill those areas with foam. There are products available that will help to deter mice.
- Moisture can be a problem with RV’s that are closed up. Moisture crystals will help prevent moisture, or you can use a dehumidifier.
- Washing your RV and adding a good coat of wax will really help protect the exterior.
- Wash the awning with an “awning cleaner” and allow to dry completely before rolling it up.
- If you choose to cover your RV, do not use a tarp as it will allow moisture to build up. Purchase a cover that is designed to “breathe”.
- If you choose not to cover your RV, you should cover your AC. There are covers that you can purchase that are made to fit your brand and model. You can also cover your outside access vents (furnace, refrigerator, etc) to help with mice and snow.
- Covering your tires during storage will help with “weather cracking”. You can purchase covers that are designed for your tire size.
Good Times offers winterizing of your RV by appointment. We offer a free booklet on Winterizing your RV that is helpful if you want to do it yourself.
Taking care of your awning is very important. It should be cleaned at least a couple times during the year.
Using a quality Awning Cleaner will help with proper care. A good quality Mildew Cleaner Remover is very helpful for the really stubborn stains. Cleaning the awning in sections instead of doing it all at once will help. Don’t forget to do both sides of the awning.
Allow the awning to dry completely before rolling it up.
If you have slideouts on your RV it is strongly recommended that you install slide-out covers. Helps to protect the seals and keeps dirt, debris and water out. Also helps as a barrier from the sun, making you slideout room much cooler on the inside.
Rubber Roof Care
Normal maintenance is simple and should include regular cleaning (at least twice a year), frequent inspecting of the roof surface and sealants and repairing as needed.
Cleaning & Preventative Maintenance
- Check roof surface including seams and sealants around vents, tv antenna, skylights and air conditioner prior to cleaning especially after extended storage or non-use.
- Clean your roof several times annually.
- If you do not have a walk on roof you will want to set up a sturdy ladder and use a long handle wash brush from the side.
- Roofs can be slippery when wet so take caution. Make sure to look behind you so that you don’t trip over a vent cover or air conditioner.
- Use a Rubber Roof Cleaner to clean the complete roof. There are several brands to choose from. Also condition your roof. Do not use cleaners or conditioner containing petroleum solvents, petroleum distillates, harsh abrasives or citric-based cleaners.
- Use a soft to medium brush.
- Rinse the complete roof off with clean water to remove any loose dirt or debris before starting to clean or condition the roof.
- Be sure to rinse off the sides of the RV after cleaning & conditioning.
- Beware of areas where fruit, tree sap or harsh environmental fall-out may stay on the roof for an extended period of time. These conditions may result in irremovable stains. If you are in these conditions you may want to increase the frequency of your cleaning.
- There are no ingredients in EDPM rubber roofing that will promote the growth of mold and or mildew. Atmospheric dirt, shade, sun, humidity and moisture are some the contributing factors that form mold and or mildew. Regular cleaning of your roof will help prevent this. Mildew and mold on your rubber roof is simply a parasite that attaches itself to the roof and grows. It does not attack the membrane but is unsightly and if allowed to grow will discolor the roof completely and may become a stain that cannot be removed. Please note, the removal of mold/mildew is not a job to be rushed!
- Be sure to check your sealants around roof mounted accessories and railings. Use a cloth dampened with mineral spirits to wipe dirt build-up on the sealant. If after a period of time the lap sealants need a touch-up or replacement be sure to clean them before doing this. Contact your RV dealer if you have any questions.
Roof Repair & Replacement
- EPDM and Brite TEK roofing membrane is specially formulated for exsposure to the sun and natural elements. However, it can be cut or punctured by sharp objects. Use caution when placing any articles on, or walking on, the roof. If damage occurs, the membrane can easily repaired. Contact your RV dealer for help.
- Should you have damage to your rubber roof: Small repairs can be repaired with “do-it-yourself” type repair kits. Be careful to follow the instructions for a complete repair. Rubber roof repair tapes are available in a variety of widths from 2″ to 12″ some rolls as long as 50′ and are easy to use. Larger repairs sometimes require the experts at your RV dealership. They work with roofs everyday and can help your decide whether repair or replacement is the best solution to protect your investment.
- Dicor now offers a 2 part Rubber Roof Coating System for resurfacing EPDM roof surfaces that are thinning and showing age.
Fresh Water System
Filling the Fresh Water Tank
When filling the fresh water tank in your RV, be sure to use a drinking water hose. NEVER FILL YOUR TANK WITH A GARDEN WATER HOSE! It leaves a foul taste and smell to your water, and the plastic holding tank will also absorb the smell and taste. Be sure to use a different colored hose for draining your gray water system than the normal white color of the drinking water hose.
A pressure regulator for your city water will be the best insurance you purchase for your water system. It is a device that is preset to keep water coming into your RV at 40-45 psi. High water pressure can do a lot of damage to your system.
Cleaning the Fresh Water Tank
The fresh water tank should be as clean as the water going into it. Bacteria grows and multiplies wherever water sits, including the inside of the water storage tank hand hoses. Often, the first action to eliminate water problems is to add chlorine or bleach-based additives to the water itself, to control bacteria. Bleach is a corrosive, and it may damage seals. It leaves a lingering, unpleasant taste and smell. Fresh water sanitizer is free of bleach and chlorine, and leaves no smell or taste behind. It kills bacteria on surfaces to eliminate odors, and sanitizes your tank, lines, and hoses.
There are many water filter systems available, from under-the-counter models to those that attach to your drinking water hose on the outside of the RV. Check with your RV dealer to see what is available for your model. If you have an under-the-counter model, do not forget to replace it annually.
There are many other items available to help with your fresh water systems, including hose savers, wyes, water fills, and more. Contact our sales and service professionals if you have any questions on your fresh water system, or to purchase additional parts.
- Most importantly: your refrigerator must be as level as possible to operate properly. Use a level indicator IN the refrigerator – not on the floor.
- Be sure to use the mechanical locks for the doors. Use them always when travelling, otherwise your doors will fly open on bumpy roads and in hard turns.
- Store beverages in a cooler to save having to open the refrigerator door while travelling. Also, using a thermostat in the refrigerator helps to know what the temperature is on the inside.
- Be sure to clean out the refrigerator when putting the camper in storage.
- Use a device to hold the door open, which will prevent mildew and odors from developing while the refrigerator is not in use.
Gray Water Tanks
The gray water tank refers to the waste water from your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, and shower.
The gray water tank, like the black water tank, also needs chemicals. The build-up of soaps, detergents, etc. will start to give off an odor after a while. There are special chemicals designed for the gray water tank only; or you can use the black water tank chemicals.
If you are hooked up to a sewer on the campsite and have the valves open to have direct flow all the time, then you do not need to add chemicals. REMEMBER NOT TO LEAVE YOUR BLACK WATER TANK VALVE OPEN.
Only dump when the tank is at least 1/2 full, or when you are leaving the site.
Waste Holding Tanks
Though the pine smell smell is nice, this and other chemicals will deteriorate the seals and cause plumbing problems that may lead to costly repairs. NEVER mix chemicals. You will need to add chemicals each time you dump the tank. Along with the correct chemicals, the waste will be liquefied. DO NOT use household cleaning chemicals!!!
Use biodegradable toilet paper. DO NOT USE HOUSEHOLD TOILET PAPER.!! Minimize the amount of paper used. Don’t put materials down the stool. You may jam your dump valve in the open position. The proper toilet paper, along with the use of correct chemicals will be liquefied.
Dumping the Waste Water Tank
- Keep a pair of waterproof gloves handy to wear while dumping. Even though you seldom come in contact with waste water, the hose is often dirty and wet after dumping.
- If you dump the black water tank every night, you will waste a lot of chemicals and will generally get a weak flush of the tank. Try to allow your tank to fill at least 1/2 full before dumping, or before you leave the site. Don’t let waste dry up in your tank. Before storing your RV, dump the tank, then partially refill it with fresh water and one of the chemical products.
- Consider using clear adapter fittings when dumping to see when the waste tank is flushed out. Many RV’rs find tank wands and rinsers helpful in cleaning the sides of the tanks to avoid build-ups.
- If you are hooked up to the sewer on the camp site, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BLACK WATER TANK VALVE OPEN. Let the tank fill at least 1/2 full to allow the chemicals to do their job before dumping.
- When dumping, start with your black water tank first, and then your gray water tank. The soapy gray water helps to clean your waste hose by flushing residues from the drain hose.
Flushing the Waste Water Tank
If you decide to use one of the tank flushing products that hook up to a fresh water hose, always install an ANTI-SIPHON valve onto your fresh water faucet. This small investment will protect your fresh water supply from contamination. At most campgrounds in Maine this is mandatory.
Protect your drain hose by supporting it. Don’t drag it over rough surfaces. At the first sign of brittleness or pinholes, REPLACE IT! You don’t want to experience having a hose rupture while you are dumping a full black water holding tank.
Uses for Anode Rods
Self-sacrificing anode rods are placed inside water heater tanks to protect the tank from electrolysis, not to purify the water.
Types of Anode Rods
Suburban offers two types of anode rod material: magnesium (standard) and aluminum (optional). Anode rods should last at least a year. If the magnesium rod does not last a year, you should switch to the aluminum rod, which is harder and does not self-sacrifice as fast.
- Anode rod life is affected by the make-up of the water. Softer water, or water with lower resistance causes the anode rod to sacrifice faster.
- If there is a high amount of sulfur in the water, the hydrogen gas will mix with the sulfur to create hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell). You may want to use the aluminum rod to reduce the amount of hydrogen gas produced.
- The rotten egg smell can also be created by dead microorganisms in the water. Adding a small amount of chlorine to the fresh water system will kill these microorganisms.
- Anode rods effectiveness is not reduced by using teflon tape to seal the threads. You should always use a thread sealant approved for potable water.
Please note: Removing the anode rod to install an optional electric element voids the Suburban limited warranty.
Preparing For A Trip
BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR LIGHTS AND BRAKES before you start your trip each time. Making sure that you have proper hitch equipment is very important and you are hooked up correctly. Talking with a RV dealership will help up you in making sure that you have the proper equipment.
Leave Your Firewood At Home- Buy it where you burn it. Don’t give bugs a free ride! Hauling insect-infested firewood from home dramatically speeds up the spread of invasive insects that harm our forests. An invasive insect population might spread a few miles on its own in a single year. But moving infested wood can spread the same pest hundreds of miles in a single day. Pests can be in, on, or under the bark or in the wood. Help protect Maine’s forests-buy wood where you burn your content here. For more information, visit: www.maine.gov/firewood or send an e-mail to email@example.com
Be sure that your CARBON MONOXIDE AND SMOKE DETECTOR are in good working order and tested periodically.
Now is the time to get ready for end of the season maintenance duties that include water system winterization with a polypropolene glycol non-alcohol/non-toxic RV/Marine antifreeze, inspection of roof and exterior sealants and re-sealing the the proper sealant material. Rubber roofs require special EPDM sealant. We recommend using a Tripolymer sealant for exterior caulking about all access doors, windows, lights, corner moldings such as Proseal or Geocel.