RV Roof Care & Maintenance

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One of the most neglected areas on your RV is the roof, out of site out of mind. The problem is if you don’t keep the roof clean and inspect the roof seams on a regular basis you could end up with, expensive to repair, water damage. Most RVs built today use a rubber roofing material. If you want to get a long life out of your RV roof here are some things you can do.

Safety first! Be extremely careful whenever you are working on your RV roof. You can be seriously injured from a fall. You have to get on the roof of your RV to properly clean and inspect it for any damage or potential water leaks. The first step is the ladder you use to get up on the roof. If your RV does not have a ladder on the back to access the roof it is probably not designed to be walked on. In this situation, it may be necessary to use a couple pieces of plywood or particleboard to help distribute your weight. Many RV manufacturers have an option called roof rack and ladder ready. If the RV dealer orders this option the roof is built with a heavier roof decking. Even so, you need to walk lightly when you’re on the roof and be careful.

Rubber roofing on an RV is a great product, but like everything else without routine preventive maintenance it will not last as long as it could. First of all there are different types of rubber roofs. Different manufacturers provide different instructions with their product. What we want to concentrate on today is what applies to all rubber roofs used on RVs.

Caution: There are other types of RV roofing material used like fiberglass, aluminum and vinyl. READ your roof manufacturers instructions for proper cleaning and sealing techniques to prevent damage to your roof and possibly void your warranty.

Rubber roofs should be cleaned three to four times a year and depending on where you park or store your RV it may need to be cleaned more often. Regardless of the type of rubber roof you have, NEVER use any cleaners or conditioners that contain petroleum solvents, harsh abrasives, or citrus ingredients. These types of cleaners can cause permanent damage to any rubber or vinyl surface. Most manufacturers of rubber roofs recommend you use a medium bristle brush and a non-abrasive cleaner. For light cleaning you can use warm water and a mild detergent like Dawn dish washing liquid. To clean, condition and protect the roof I use B.E.S.T Rubber Roof cleaner and protectant. Hard to clean areas like stubborn stains caused by leaves, sap, mold or mildew may require a second treatment. Use caution to prevent the cleaners from getting on the sides of the RV. ALWAYS rinse the sides, front and back of your RV before rinsing the roof to prevent streaking or damage to the finish on your RV.

Cleaning the roof is only part of maintaining it. Every time you clean the roof you need to inspect the sealants around all of the openings and the seams on the roof. Water will take the path of least resistance and if there is the smallest opening it will find it. You need to thoroughly inspect the roof sealants for potential leaks and reseal any areas of the roof seams and around openings where you suspect a leak. Caution: Check with your RV dealer for sealants that are compatible with your roofing material.

Cleaning, inspecting and sealing your RV roof can add years to the life of the roof and help prevent costly repairs caused by water damage.

Happy Camping!

Make Your Water Taste Like… Water

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Take care of your RV water system and in return, it will provide you with years of dependable service.

The potable water system in your house is pretty much maintenance free. The potable water system in your RV, on the other hand, requires some maintenance to keep it trouble free. Something I’ve run into quite often is the complaint that there is a stale odor coming from the RV water system.

When you return from a trip and you’re not going to use the RV for a while, you need to drain the entire water system to prevent it from getting stale and musty. You can start by draining the water heater.

Go to the outside compartment where the water heater is located. The drain plug, or petcock, is located in the bottom left hand corner. Remove the plug and open the pressure relief valve on top of the water heater to assist in draining. NEVER drain the water heater when it’s hot or under pressure. Next you need to locate the low point water line drains. It may take a while to find them, but I assure you they are there. There will be one for the hot and one for the cold water lines. This is the lowest point in the water system. Open these and let the water drain out. There’s one more thing left to do, find the drain for the fresh water holding tank and drain all of the water from it. At this point you can turn the water pump on for a moment to force any remaining water out. Do not let the pump continue to run once the water stops draining. Close all the drains. Now, do not make the mistake that this is how you winterize the RV water system. If you do, it can be a very costly mistake next spring. All we have accomplished so far was to evacuate the majority of water from the system.

If by accident you forget to drain the water system and you get that notorious stale odor all is not lost. You just need to sanitize the water system. Start by draining all of the old water out, and then close all of the drains. Take a quarter cup of house hold bleach for every fifteen gallons of water that your fresh water tank holds. Mix the bleach into a one-gallon container and pour it into the fresh water holding tank. Fill the fresh water tank completely full of water. Turn the water pump on, open all hot and cold faucets and run the water until you smell the bleach at each faucet. Close the faucets and let it sit for three to four hours. Drain the entire system and re-fill the fresh water tank with water. Open all of the faucets and run the water until you no longer smell any bleach. It may be necessary to repeat this process again to eliminate all signs of bleach from the water system. Once this is done it is safe to use your water system. It’s also a good idea to use a water filter at campgrounds and to keep bottled water on hand for drinking.

Happy Camping!

Get the Most From Your Camp Stove

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Do you love home cooked meals, hot and fresh, prepared with care. It gives you more energy and keeps me healthy. The same is true when you’re camping.  You should cook culinary delights on a well-maintained camp stove. Here’s how to make sure you can.

Don’t wait until you’re on the trail.

Test my stove before the camping trip. I make sure it works at home where you only a phone call away from the store or manufacturer.

If it’s a new camp stove,  boil water with it. This way you get used to its functions and find out what its quirks are.

  • Is it difficult to prime?
  • Is it stable?
  • Does it need a windscreen?

This will give you an idea of what to expect when I’m camping. It also burns off the protective oils and coatings.

If it’s an old camp stove, You’ll know if it needs repair. There is nothing worse than getting to the campsite and having to come back because your stove is broken.

Use the ideal fuel.

If your camp stove uses multiple fuels, and the manufacturer recommends one type over another, you always use the preferred fuel. Using alternative fuels can clog the burner or shorten the life of the camp stove. Only use alternative fuels if the recommended fuel isn’t available.

The wrong fuel can ruin your stove. If fuel has a funny odor, debris, or sludge at the bottom of it,  assume it has been contaminated, dispose of it properly, and get fresh fuel.

Water and debris can clog a fuel line. Use a fuel funnel outfitted with a small screen to pre-filter fuel, and check inside for water and debris before filling my fuel containers.

If you use disposable fuel canisters please try to recycle them, if not, dispose of them per the instructions on the can. Remember: Leave No Trace! Pack it in. Pack it out.

Tip: recheck your fuel containers before you leave. Murphy’s Law dictates that full fuel containers become mysteriously empty when you’re ready to use them.

Get spare parts and a maintenance kit. Learn to use them.

Again, home is the best place to try things out. Practice using the repair kit in this controlled environment. Get used to changing those tiny o-rings in proper lighting, not when you are shivering and hungry in the wilderness.

NEVER OPERATE A BROKEN STOVE. IT COULD CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY.

Clean your stove after each camping trip. A properly cared for stove can literally give decades of service.

Tip: Read the directions that come with your stove and maintenance kit. They have a lot more details about your particular stove than I can cover here.

Store your camp stove properly.

While camping, store my camp stove and fuel away from food (in a side pocket of my pack). Many camp stoves come with padded sacks or special stove cases for this purpose.

After camping, store my camp stove separately from the fuel, especially liquid fuels. When you’re done with my trip I remove all the fuel canisters from my gear. Leaking fuel canisters can ruin a pack or other nylon materials.

Having a camp stove is vital to your culinary camping enjoyment. Keep your stove working and keep yourself in good health. You’ll be glad you did.