How to Avoid RV Catastrophes (Hint: it starts with maintenance!)

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RV CatastrophesSticks-and-bricks homes can absorb some neglect over the years, but not RVs. Whether you own a motorhome or towable like I do, ignoring strange sounds, odd smells and unusual moisture can be dangerous or even deadly. Your goal as a proud RV owner is to solve minor problems before they become major RV catastrophes. Pay close attention to these lessons my spouse and I learned and you’ll keep your RV – and your life – out of harm’s way.

RV Catastrophe Lesson #1:

Act Now to Avoid Tragedy

Switch burnLast month when the weather became warm enough for us to run our RV air conditioner, I noticed an unusual electrical smell. Exhausted from running errands, we simply said “Well that’s weird.” Then we turned off the air conditioner, opened the windows and forgot about it. Little did we know the danger lurking inside our home.

The smell returned a few weeks later, only this time it was accompanied by a thick haze rising up to the ceiling. Panicked and curious, we shut off all appliances and found one important clue. The RV couldn’t connect to shore power, but our solar power system was working. It was late at night, so the next day my husband did a more thorough electrical investigation and pinpointed the problem. The wires inside our electrical transfer switch box came apart. While the switch slowly melted over time, our air conditioner’s intake vent was pulling the smoke up.

We averted a devastating RV catastrophe but more importantly received a critical lesson about rapidly investigating all odd occurrences inside the RV. We’ve had other reminders over the years but the severity of this one promises to make this lesson stick. Some RV catastrophes leading up to it included other doozies:

RV Catastrophe Lesson #2:

Dampness in Unusual Places is Not Normal

basement plumbingOne hot, sunny July afternoon as the Arizona sun baked my brain, I forgot to tell my handy husband about moisture in our RV basement. The next day, a neighbor knocked on our door and said “Hey there’s water coming out of your basement!” Jim dug around and noticed that a plumbing connector had loosened in transit. Eventually, the compartment dried out but sadly, my failure to point out the problem resulted in permanently damaged fiberglass siding.

RV Catastrophe Lesson #3:

Mother Nature is Unpredictable

A few years later we almost destroyed our RV plumbing. After moving into our Colorado summer cabin one spring, we neglected to drain the RV water lines. One week later a spring snowstorm hit and turned our water lines into popsicles. The lines thawed, but we didn’t discover the bigger problem until we moved back into the RV in October: the shut-off valve inside our toilet had cracked. The first time we used the RV again and connected to city water, a swimming pool formed inside our rig while we were away. We should have drained the RV when we moved out in spring, then thoroughly inspected every inch of plumbing after the big freeze.

Thankfully I am married to the Bob Villa of RVing so our RVs survived these incidents without too much harm. After ten years of full-time RVing, now we are finally more diligent about RV maintenance. Take it from two people who learned things the hard way: regular RV maintenance and problem solving gives you far more peace of mind when your wheels start turning. It might even save your life.

About the Author:

Rene Agredano, a Coach-Net member since 2015, is a self-employed full-time RVer who enjoys writing, jewelry design and animal advocacy. Her adventures with a three-legged dog and husband Jim are chronicled at LiveWorkDream.com

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