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Everyone has their favorite tools they bring along on an RV trip depending on your level of mechanical and DIY abilities. There have been numerous articles about the basics such as screwdrivers and pliers. Over the past 40 years of RVing and a few more before that working and owning a service station, I have gathered a few more that are pretty unique.

Several years ago I was conducting seminars at the California RV Show and pulled out a couple of meters and gauges that I used in one of the handyman series for testing and after the seminar, a few of the Winnebago Itasca Travelers (WIT) Club members came up and said; “I bet you have developed quite a unique set of tools and gadgets over the years?” And they were right, so I developed one of my most popular seminars called “Cool RV Tools, Gadgets, and must-have Apps”. I will share a few of the more unique ones with you in this article.

Electrical Tools

GFCI Tester

Before plugging into a campground electrical source, it’s important to make sure it has proper voltage and is wired correctly. Whether you are plugging into 20 amp, 30 amp, or 50 amp service, it is important to verify the load wire/wires, neutral, and ground are all connected and not loose. Using a Surge Protector is a great option, however, I found this GFCI tester at Home Depot that not only tells me the wiring is good but also shows the voltage. You do not want to plug into anything that is below 106 volts or above 130 volts. Even if you use a multimeter or Surge Protector, this is a handy device to plug into an inside outlet for a quick reference of voltage and wiring.

Non-Contact Voltage Tester

This handy device will immediately tell you if there is power coming through an extension cord, appliance plug-in, or at an outlet without needing to dig deep into the outlet. If you get the type with a sensitivity dial, you can also test the outside of your rig for hot skin which is a voltage leak due to improper or loose wiring. These are available at home improvement and hardware stores.

Kill A Watt

Most people understand the basics of what they can run on 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp service such as only one roof air conditioner on 30 amps, either the air conditioner or the microwave but not both on 30 amps, and other common items found on your rig. But what power does a toaster draw? How about an air fryer, or hair dryer? It’s important to know what extra items you bring using power especially if you are using 20 or 30-amp power. The Kill A Watt is a handy device that plugs into an outlet and that you plug into an appliance such as an espresso machine, curling iron, or ceramic heater. It will tell you the Watts or Amp so you can better manage your energy usage.

Electrical Cord Holders

Several years ago I was following a friend that was an electrician and saw he had several extension cords and other items hanging on the cage in the back of his pickup. I caught up with him and found he had gotten an old tire inner tube from the local tire shop, cut a 2” band out of the middle, and wrapped it around the cords. He then put in hooks and had everything organized with a handy carrying loop.

I took this idea and have used it in RVs, for video production, and here is a photo of the electrical compartment we just organized for a friend with a Thor this summer. Everything is up off the floor and more room for “STUFF!”

Fresh Water Systems

Intellitec Digital Water Purity Tester

Campgrounds are required to have their water tested and certified once a year however, bacteria, arsenic, and other contaminants can be present between the tests. I found this device that can do a very quick test for impurities. It measures in parts per million (PPM) which means it does not identify what impurities rather there is something in the water that affects continuity between the probes and the higher the PPM, the more impurities. Today I can only find this on Amazon.

Filtermate Test Kit

Even if the water supply passes the average test, does not mean it is the best water source for your pets, children, or your rig’s water supply. Most campground water sources will be hard water which means there is calcium, lime, and rust that could clog up pipes, filters, and faucets. There are several test kits that will determine the hardness of the water, PH, and other chemicals that might be an issue at the campground. I find these mostly at home improvement stores. These kits can help determine if you need a water filter, and what kind.

Water Pressure Tester

Most campgrounds will have a well-type water system with a pump rather than a regulated municipal type. That means you could get low pressure or even worse, high pressure that your water lines and connections can not handle. Most RVs today have ½” plastic lines such as PEX with either a crimped-on ring at the connections or a compression-type fitting. Most can handle at least 40 psi or some up to 60 psi which is the water pressure coming into the rig. It’s important to test the water pressure before hooking up and to know what your rig can handle! My folks went to visit my brother and hooked up the city water hose to the outside faucet at his house and later that afternoon had a soaked floor. The connections could not handle the pressure and water just slowly seeped out.

Screw this onto the water supply at the campground or house to test the pressure. Or you can use the next tool!

Water Pressure Regulator/Filter

This is not actually a tool but rather an accessory but I include it as the type I like to use is not so common. Most RVers like to use an inline filter such as Camco or Shurflo which you sell all over the campground. I like to use a residential style on such as this Omni version that you often see under the sink in homes. This type of filter has a replaceable cartridge insert that can also be customized for the type of filtering you need. I can replace the cartridge for over half the cost of the all-in-one inline filter.

Notice the 40 psi reducer attached to the faucet as this old-style farm handle would give me 80 psi! Plus this is one of the few accordion-type hoses that is drinking water safe!

Winterizing Hose

I like to use compressed air to blow all the water out of the system rather than put in gallons and gallons of pink RV antifreeze. Usually, I do this by myself and there has not been a good method to connect the air hose of my compressor to the screw-in air valve to the city water fill. So I built my own using the male end of an old water hose that connects to the city water fill and added an air chuck with a worm clamp. This way I can connect this to the city water fill, turn the compressor down to 40 psi, connect the hose with the quick connect, and open all the faucets and other devices by myself.

Liquid Propane (LP)

LP Leak Detector

By RVIA code, all RVs come with an LP Leak Detector installed which has a sensor that will provide an audible beep if it detects LP in the air. This is usually located under a kitchen cabinet or other lower cabinet location as LP is heavier than air and will settle.

There are several areas that could have a slight LP leak that would not be detected by this unit such as at the DOT cylinders on trailers or ASME tank on a motorhome. All LP appliances have an LP hose and connection which could also leak and might not be detected by the device in locations like the back of the refrigerator, outside grill, outside kitchen, and the furnace. That is why I like to periodically check the connections with my own portable LP Leak Detector which I found on Amazon for $20.

This is a much more accurate and pinpoint device that allows you to test lines and connections that the floor-mounted device might not detect.

Gas Stop

Gas Stop is a device that will instantly and automatically shut off the LP delivery system in the event of a major leak such as a ruptured line or other failures. Even though all RV LP fuel supply containers have a spring-loaded excess flow valve, there is still a slight chance of malfunction of the valve and it can get stuck in bypass and appliances will not work. This device will also show you the level of LP in the container and can sense a very slight leak in the system.

Stay tuned, next month we will show a refrigerator vent blowout tool as well as a “comb” to straighten the evaporator coils. And then one of my favorites, the “Magnetizer”!

About the author: Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club

For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles authored an RV handbook reference guide, and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.

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