This is my second article on full-time RV living. In this article I am going to cover those chores that we tend to do once every 6 months or so. Some of these are seasonal items.
Most of these seasonal or semi-annual tasks deal with the fact that your RV is considered a vehicle. As such there are maintenance and inspection items that need to be taken care of.
First is the semi-annual washing and waxing of the RV. For this I recommend that you go out and purchase a cheap high pressure washer. I got a Black & Decker model from our local Wally World (Wal-Mart) for like $60 a few summers ago and we are still using it. Remember we are full-timers and do not have a lot of space to store items. So one of those big powerful wheeled jobs is not a good idea. This is also one task that you can easily find someone else to do.
This year we actually had a local company come in and wash our rig. It cost us $60 and saved us 6 hours of time. They did not do as good of a job as we do, but then again he didn't spend 6 hours washing and waxing the rig either. I think he was done in an hour. I am pretty sure come spring time, he will be getting another call to clean our RV. Seems to me that I have better things to do than spend a good part of the day for my wife and I washing and waxing the trailer.
If you are going to do this yourself, start on the roof! You will be so surprised at how much dirt and crud comes off the roof. IF you wash the sides first, you will only end up rewashing them later. If your power washer has the ability to use a soap solution, you can also use it to apply a spray on wax. This makes the job very easy and quick to.
Depending out how long you are going to be in one place, you may forget that your rig sits on tires. These need to be maintained. That means checking the tire pressure periodically. Did you know that a tire will lose about one pound of pressure per month! Sitting still over a year tire pressure can drop from 60 pounds to 48 pounds of pressure. That is not good for the tire. Also RV tires are not built to the same requirements that a car or light truck tire are. They degrade with exposure to sunlight. Even though the tire may have a lot of tread left on it, you may need to replace the tires before getting on the road again if you sit in one place for too long. This is why you see so many RV with tire covers over the wheels. It helps to protect them from the sunlight.
Your rig also may need periodic lube of the axles and wheel hubs. You can do this yourself with a grease gun. But I would recommend that you just have the local RV repair shop handle this. In some states you will need to have the RV inspected every year. This is a good time to have the shop lube the wheels as well.
If you are new to RVing you will have to learn how to level the RV whenever you set up. In addition, if you stay at a site for a long time, the RV will begin to settle over time. This will require you to level the RV periodically. With kids it is easy to learn when this is required; their toys begin to roll to one side of the RV or another. Depending on the type of RV you have this may require that you hook up the tow vehicle to perform this task. We have fifth wheel and I can easily tell when it is time by looking at the pads under the lifting jacks. If they are pressed into the ground I know it is time to level the trailer again.
As with a house or an apartment, lights burn out and have to be replaced. RVs are no different. One option you have that homes and apartments don’t is that you have 12 V lamps that can be replaced with the new LED lamps. These use a lot less electric which if you are full-timing you may be required to pay for. Replacing the 12 volt lamps will save you a lot of money in the long run. Kind of like using the compact fluorescent bulb in the house.
One last major set of tasks that needs to be done at least annually is the cleaning of the water heater, furnace and refrigerator. Each of these units is exposed to the outside of the RV. They have little drop down doors with vent on them to help exchange the warm air and to allow access to the unit.
At least once a year you want to get into these areas and clean out the bugs, spider webs etc. Also you may want to put some mouse bait in these areas as they seem to love all the electronics and the warmth in the fall.
The water heater needs special attention. Two tasks need to be performed. First is that the water heater should be drained and flushed at least once a year to clean out any deposits. You owner’s manual will help with this. Make sure you turn off the unit before servicing. Also some units have a rod that needs to be replaced. This rod actually dissolves over time to help reduce the effects of water on the tank and electronic elements inside. Usually at the bottom of the unit you will find what looks like a plug. Often this is also how you drain the unit if you are going to winterize the hot water heater.
There you have it, the lifestyle of the rich and famous, oops sorry, the full time RVer. I can find not better lifestyle. Having lived all over the world, in tents, houses, apartments, barracks, pop-ups, travel trailers and even the back of trucks, full time RV living is definitely the most enjoyable and cost effective.
I hope you have enjoyed these articles. I look forward to writing more as time goes by. Starting in 2014 we will begin our travels around this great country visiting areas that have been on our bucket list for many years. Be sure to watch for new articles about our adventures.
Ray and his wife Daisy live full time in a fifth wheel recreational vehicle. Ray is the General Manager for Camping Embroidery and Daisy is a legal secretary. They have four children and 13 grandchildren. Camping is still a big part of their lives and they do so in a popup whenever they can.
Camping Embroidery (www.campingembroidery.com) offers custom embroidery and printed apparel, promotional products and printed forms to the camping community with special emblems and designs all related to the various camping activities. Ray posts most of his articles on his website at www.campingembroidery.com, please sign up for his newsletter and receive new articles as they are posted.