Get your RV ready for the road trip

A little preparation will make your first outing fun and hassle-free.

rphillips@idahostatesman.com, pzimowsky@idahostatesman.comMay 16, 2013 

It shaping up to be an early camping season, and if you're heading out in your RV for the first time this year, make sure it's ready to go after winter storage.

The key elements are the electrical, propane and water systems, but don't forget your tires, axles and bearings. Nothing can ruin a trip quicker than being stuck on the side of the road.

Here's a basic checklist for getting your RV on the road. For more serious repairs or a thorough check, see an RV service center.

• If it's been sitting all winter, open all the windows, vents and interior doors for a few hours on a sunny day and let it air out. You may want to spray a little air freshener after you close it up.

• If you took the battery out, reinstall it. Check the battery fluid level, reconnect it and charge it. If it's more than 3 years old, it may be time to replace it because it may not hold a charge as well.

• If you added RV antifreeze to your tank, drain it and flush it out completely.

• You can also sanitize your water system by adding about a quarter cup of household bleach for every 15 gallons of water. Drain it and flush it completely until you can't smell bleach anymore.

• While running your water system, check for any leaks.

• Fill and fire up your water heater and check for leaks or any problems with the heating unit.

• Check the valves and lines on your waste-water system. Flush the system and then add proper chemicals to your holding tank.

• Fill your propane tank and test your furnace, stove and refrigerator. If you smell propane, you might get the lines tested at an RV service center.

• Hopefully you left your refrigerator open slightly through the winter so there's no stale or rotten smell. Wipe out the fridge with disinfectant. Also check that the fridge is working in the electrical mode.

• Check around the camper or trailer to make sure your roof vents and window seals aren't cracked or leaking.

• If you have a tent trailer, check all seams and the fabric for wear or places that may leak.

• Check running lights and brake lights.

• Check trailer hitches and light connections.

• Have your bearings inspected, or add grease if you have the ability to do it yourself. If you spend a lot of time on dusty roads, have the bearings serviced.

• Check tires for cracking sidewalls, which may occur before your tread wears down. Check the air pressure and the spare on your trailer.

• Check the batteries in your smoke, propane and carbon monoxide detectors.

• Check all your interior lights and make sure fuses are working. Buy extras in assorted sizes.

• If you have a generator, fire it up and run it a while to make sure it still works. Check the oil level. You may also want to add fresh gas.

• Check all your towels and linens. You may have removed them for storage after last trip.

• Check all cupboards, drawers, closets, etc., for any signs of mice.

• Top off your propane tanks.

• Make a list. It's easy to forget what you needed to add or repair, so keep a notebook in your RV that will help remind you when you get home.

Roger Phillips: 377-6215, Twitter: @rogeroutdoors

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