How to Check Your Travel Trailer for Maintenance

Whether in the middle of a camping season or after a long winter, inspecting your travel trailer for any maintenance needs is a vital component of keeping your RV healthy. Here’s a helpful checklist of what to look for when you’re checking out your RV.

  1. The Roof. Look for any holes or cracks where water could possibly enter the RV, damaged sealant, soft spots, damage to any solar panels, or mold. Just like a house, a damaged roof can bring down the whole RV. 
  2. Walls. Check the interior and exterior of all walls for cleanliness, holes or cracks, warping, which indicates water damage, sealant leaks around the windows, and soft spots.
  3. Tires. The date the tire was made is stamped on the tire, so inspect that and the general condition of the tires, which can erode if left uncovered. Look for uneven wear patterns between the different tires, which could indicate a bent axle. While you’re at it, check your axles for holes and rust. And don’t forget to inspect your spare tire!

  1. Underneath the Travel Trailer. Often overlooked by those unwilling to crawl under the RV, the undercarriage’s condition is fundamental to holding the RV together. Excessive rust, holes where animals could enter, dangling or disconnected wires, accident damage or a bent frame, or any visible holding tank issues are a few important things to look for. 
  2. Outside Connections. Power, cable, water, and sewer connections should all be routinely inspected, because you don’t want to go without any of them! Check if the water leaks out of the connection point, or leaks during water tank dumping. 
  3. Driving Components. Lights, brakes, turn signals, and the emergency disconnect switch should all be checked on to avoid hazardous driving. 
  4. Propane Tanks. The tanks collar will state the year they were manufactured, and propane tanks must be recertified once they are over 12 years old, and every 5 years after that. Make sure you don’t smell propane when the valves open, which indicates a leak in the connecting hose. Replace your tanks if they’re rusty or turning a dark color. 

For more RV maintenance tips and tricks, follow our Pete’s RV Center Info Blog today!

How to do Laundry on a RV Road Trip

One of the big mysteries of full time RVing to those who don’t live on the road is how do full time RVers do laundry?

The easiest way is the laundry machines often placed in RV parks. One RV blogger said that “I can count on one hand the number of RV parks that didn’t have laundry machines.” Despite this frequency, not all RV parks have enough laundry machines for the number of RVers within the parks, and not all RVers stay in RV parks! Additionally, hunting down all the quarters required to use a park laundry machine can be a struggle in an increasingly cash-less world, especially with the sometimes high cost of laundry machines. 

Mountain View Campground in Morrisville, Vermont boasts many amenities along with laundry machines

Another solution is using a local laundromat, typically easy to find on Google, but not always found in remote areas. Most laundromats do have a machine for getting quarters though, making it easier to stock up for more washes down the road. Some even have laundry machines that can be activated with a credit card swipe. 

Not every roadtrip situation offers the flexibility to wait around on laundry machines, though. That’s why many RVers have gotten creative with portable laundry devices. 

This portable washer-dryer has two neighboring tubs, one for washing and the other for spin drying. It takes up to 10lbs washing capacity and has a drainage tube for emptying the dirty water, and runs off the 120v power similar to most RV refrigerators. Most reviewers do say that after the spin dry clothes are still damp though, so an additional investment of a drying rack is also recommended. Keep in mind that many RV parks do not allow outside clothes lines to dry your own clothes. 

A smaller personal laundry option without needing to use your RV’s precious electricity is the Scrubba, which is popular with backpackers. It works by filling the bag with laundry, water, and detergent, rolling the bag down and clipping it, twisting the valve to deflate, then rub the clothes on the Scrubba’s internal washboard for anywhere between 30 seconds and five minutes. You then unclip, pour out the water, and rinse clothes with fresh water in the Scrubba, and they are now clean and ready for the drying rack. 

Perhaps the most luxurious RV laundry option is having washer and dryer hookups within your RV, which is becoming increasingly popular in luxury fifth wheels. The laundry cycle can take a few hours this way, and you won’t be able to do this while boondocking, as it requires a lot of power and water, but is temptingly easy if your RV is plugged in one place. 

No matter how you keep your clothes clean on the road, Pete’s RV Center has all of your RV camping needs in mind. Follow our infoblog today for more RVing tips, tricks, and news!

Maximizing RV Gas Mileage

The roadtrip of your dreams in your own RV is an inexpensive way to see the world, without the pricey hotels and restaurants that can raise travel costs. But beware, the cost of gas can raise roadtrip rates significantly. Here’s some strategies for limiting your pain at the pump. 

Start Small

If you’re looking to purchase a RV, consider an upgrade–in the form of a downsize. Small RVs often pack in just as many features and amenities into a less gas-guzzling frame. There are more options than ever for smaller RVs, including micro travel trailers that are several thousand pounds lighter than most towable vehicles. 

Jayco Jay Feather Micro

If you’re shopping for a motorized vehicle, Class B RVs such as the Jayco Swift are exploding in popularity. The size of a standard van, they are by far the most fuel efficient–an easy to park–motorhome. 

Jayco Swift

Turn off the engine

Idling is the worst way to burn fuel, and very environmentally destructive. According to the jayco.com blog, “a test performed by the Edmunds.com automotive staff showed a fuel savings of up to 19 percent by shutting the engine down at each stop (10 stops) during a 10-mile test drive, rather than letting the engine idle during the two–minute stops over the same 10-mile, 10-stop test route.” 

Be smart about cruise control

Using cruise control on those long, mostly flat stretches of uninterrupted highway can save both your foot and gastank. However, keeping it on in mountain filled areas will force the vehicle to use extra gas to maintain the cruise speed, wasting lots of fuel as the engine speed rises to climb the mountains. 

Pack Efficiently

Fill that huge water tank at the campground. Buy groceries near the campsite. Leave behind everything you don’t really need, because camping is about keeping it light and having fun anyway. 

Tracking Your RV Maintenance

It’s relatively easy to know when your tires need changing and rusting needs a touch up, but how are you keeping track of all the routine maintenance that needs to be done on your RV? Not everyone can be an expert in keeping every little piece of your travel trailer or motorhome up to date, so there’s bound to be something you don’t know how to care for. As usual, there’s an app for that!

maintainmyrv.com is now a part of RV LIFE Pro Suite, which for $49.00 per year sets up a schedule customized for your RVs maintenance timeline based on schedules already recommended by RV manufacturers. You will get an email alert when it’s time to maintain a part or get service, and can track expenses, key dates and fuel consumption.

The best part? Tracking up to 3 vehicles means you can also keep up with the car or truck that’s towing your RV, ensuring smooth sailing on camping trips. Give it a try, they offer a 7-day free trial!

If you want to take care of your RV without outside help, there are a few common fixes you may want to get a jump on. Inspecting the unit’s roof and seams to look for any leaks or holes is important to reduce leaks, so don’t forget to check those skylights!

Checking your tire pressure should be done before every camping trip, just as you’ll need to check your car or truck’s pressure if you’re towing a travel trailer. It’s also a good idea to check on the battery life and waste systems before each trip, as either of those acting up could make camping very unpleasant.

Each spring, check on your RVs brakes and slide outs, pursuing professional service if necessary. This is also a good time for an oil change and possible air conditioner filter replacement. Putting each of these critical RV maintenance items into your calendar now will help you preserve your RV’s value and avoid a disaster situation at the campground or on the road.

For more RV maintenance tips and tricks, check out our Pete’s RV Center YouTube channel which includes a playlist of your most common camping questions.

The Importance of RV Slide Toppers

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel resident Randal Murray delivers a crucial RV question: “What is the importance of slide toppers (aka slideout awnings)?”. When it comes to protecting the vitality and value of your RV, slideout seals found around the slide are the lifeline to the health and well-being of your camper. As Randy explains, if you compromise or damage those seals then you risk water potentially penetrating into the camper provoking damage over time. Randy presents a prime example of just how well slide toppers can defend your camper after a weekend at the campground. Sprinkling a box full of debris on the slides to simulate a weekend of buildup, you can clearly see that everything rolls off as the slides are brought in.

A highly-affordable investment, slide toppers can save RV owners thousands of dollars in repairs! For just a few extra dollars a month, their installation can be built right into your new RV payment plan.

Video Transcript for “The Importance of RV Slide Toppers”

Randy: Hey, guys, Randy with Pete’s RV TV here again today, another quick tip segment for ya from Pete’s RV Center.  We’re in the shop today at Pete’s RV, the Vermont location. A little noisy place, very busy place this time of year, as it always is.  Today I’m gonna talk about the importance of slide toppers and how they can protect your coach, especially as you start to get some age on the coach.

     A slide topper covers a slide topper, it covers a slide box, which, it keeps all the elements off the top of your slide, rain, snow, whatever, if your slide’s open in poor weather.  It keeps the sun off the top of your slide, so it’s gonna lessen the maintenance that’s needed to be done on the slide roof itself.

     It could help with a potential leak on a slide box.  If you were to have a leak, when the water pouring right on this, obviously it’s gonna rear its head into the coach very quickly.  With a slide topper on here, we’re not going to have water puddling against our seals and things like that, so it’s gonna really help out with that effect as well.

    As you can see, the slide topper here is gonna attach to the body of the coach, comes in the, the roller tube is on the outside of the coach.  So as we roll this in, any debris that is on the top will also fall off, and I’ll show you that in just a minute. We can also see how it keeps the roof of the slide out of the elements, another important feature, as I just mentioned.

    So when we’re camping up here in the Northeast, especially state campgrounds, things like that, most campgrounds around the country, actually we’re gonna tend to be around some trees.  Pine trees are a particular favorite up here in the Northeast. So when we’re out there, we have our slides open, we’re staying for a week or so on our family vacation, sticks, pine needles, leaves and things like that are gonna come down and get on the top of the slide roof.

    And when we close our slide without a slide topper, all that debris stays up on the roof unless you get up there and clean it off.  When that happens we’ve actually compromised our seal with the slide closed, we bring the unit back home, sits next to the garage for a few weeks until we get to go back out on our outing, with a compromised seal, we’re gonna see some water on the floor.

    So let’s take a look up on the roof, and we’ll show you how this kinda works. Okay, so here we are up on the roof of the unit with the slide topper on it, and,  We re-situated Josh so you can see the top of the slide topper, and you can see that no real portion of the top of the slide’s exposed. The slide topper is covering everything, which is what we want.

    So right now what I’m gonna simulate what would happen if you’re camping up here in the Northeast, and I’m just gonna take some debris that I kinda picked up outside there a little while ago, and I’m gonna put this on top of the slideout. Now normally with a slide topper, this would all end up on the roof of your coach.

     As I mentioned a little earlier in the video, when you bring this back in, all that stuff is gonna stay up there and compromise our seal, and potentially damage the seal, and that’s not something that we want. Those seals are very important for protecting our coach when we’re not using it.

    So let’s go downstairs again and we’ll re-situate the camera, and we’ll show you what happens when we bring the slideout in, and why this works so well, and why it’s so important to have these on our units. Okay, so here we are down below, and as you can see, we’re using our new brand–new Outback Fifth Wheel as our test model, so kind of excited about that.

    Let’s go ahead and bring in the slide, and we’re gonna watch how this guy protects our coach. So as you remember in the video, I poured some stuff up there, and you can see with having the roller tube on the body of the slide, everything is just gonna run right off, so we’re gonna protect our slide seals. We’re not gonna leave any debris up there to compromise those and cause potential leak down the road.

    And there’s the slide closed. Everything on the ground, not on the roof, right where we want it. We’ve protected our slide.  Everybody’s happy. We can put this away knowing that we’re not gonna have any damage to our seals or any water inside the coach from the roof of that slide when we’re not using the coach.

    So there we go, folks. Another quick tip segment with Randy from Pete’s RV Center. Thanks again for watching our quick tip videos, and make sure to check us out on Facebook, and keep an eye out for those new videos. Thanks for thinking Pete’s RV, and happy camping.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

How To Winterize Your Camper

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel resident Randal Murray is here to provide expert instruction on how to winterize your RV water system for end-of-season storage. Demonstrating on a Keystone Bullet Premier 19FBPR travel trailer, Randy takes viewers through all of the critical steps for properly winterizing your camper including: Tank Draining, Bypassing the Water Heater, Introducing RV Anti-Freeze to Lines, and Pressurizing the Water System. Please remember that this is a basic RV winterization demonstration. All campers come equipped differently, so be sure to consult with your owner’s manual.

Video Transcript for “How To Winterize Your Camper”

Randy: Hey, folks. Randy with Pete’ RV TV here again today, your local internet dealer.  As you’ve probably noticed, the kids are back in school and the leaves are starting to change color, so it’s time for us to start thinking about winterizing our campers. So today’s segment, I’m going to take you through this brand new Bullet Premier and I’m going to have, teach you how to do a basic winterization. I’ll go through, the tools necessary and all the steps to, show you guys how to winterize your RV.

    All right. So, back in my days in the service department, these are the things that I would kind of take with me to go an do a winterization, so I was prepared to do any camper that was out there. So, as you can see, I’ve got my screw gun with a #2 screw tip in it to access the back of the hot water heater once we get to that stage. I’ve got a couple pair of channel locks here. And the out hood of the hot water heater has got a plastic plug. That’s how I would pull those out. Suburban hot water heaters have an anode rod in it, 1-1/6″ socket. Depending on which water pump we had, either a jet pump or a sure flow pump. Sure flow pump’s going to be a 1/2″ male pipe thread fitting. Jet pump’s going to be a quick connect fitting. So you’re going to want to check out what kind of pp and what kind of water heater you got to provide yourself with the proper tools, before you go ahead and winterize.  I’ve also got a roll of paper towels here to clean up my mess when I’m done. Couple gallons of antifreeze, and I’ve done thousands of these, so I can usually get by with two gallons. You may want to get yourself three or four if it’s your first time out there. Just make sure you’ve got enough. It’s not fun to run out in the middle of the job when you’re not quite done, so just make sure you’ve got enough product to do the job.

    Okay. So here we are, at our hot water heater. And the first thing you want to do when you winterize your camper after you know you’ve got all the proper tools is, we want to empty all the tanks. So we want to empty the fresh water tank, the black water tank, the galley and the gray tanks, and most importantly, our, our hot water heater tank. So, this guy here happens to be the Atwood with the plastic plugs, so we’re going to use our channel locks on this one. One very important thing before you empty your hot water tank is, if you’ve got an electric hot water heater element, we want to make sure that that device is shut off. Once we drain the water out of this tank, if this camper gets plugged in, that element will come on, and with no water in that tank, it will burn out the element, and it will need to be replaced. So before emptying this tank make sure, the electric elements are off, from the switch inside to the service switch on the water heater, or even the breaker inside your RV. That way we won’t run into troubles down the road.

    So anyway, back to our water heater. I’m going to drain this guy off right now. So we’ve got the plastic plug down here below, as I mentioned. So I’m just going to loosen this guy up. Now to relieve the pressure on the hot water heater so we don’t get a blast of water coming out here, I’m just going to crack this relief valve, which will also help it drain out a little better. It’ll let some air go into the top of the tank as we’re, emptying the tank out. There’s the plug. There’s our water coming out. Relief valve’s open, so a good flow of water. When you put this back in, you’re going to want to put some Teflon tape on, or some Rectorseal to seal that up, so you won’t have any leaks in the spring.

    So after we’ve dumped out, hot water heater from the outside of the unit, what we want to do is use that approximate location to find the back of the hot water heater inside the unit. This particular one here is located in this cabinet for us. So what, what the water heater bypasses and what you’re going to see on the back of the hot water heater when you access it is a series of valves or maybe one valve. What we, we don’t want to put six gallons of antifreeze in that hot water heater tank. So what we want to do is connect the hot and cold plumbing lines together so we can go ahead and winterization the hot and cold side of our camper without filling up that tank. So this guy here is the three valve system, which we’re going to see in older campers that are out there. What I’m going to do is just turn these valves in the opposite position as they are right now. Right now they’re in the use position, so we want to turn them into the winterization mode. So cold line off. Outgoing hot off. And our connector pipe between the two, we went to put that on so the antifreeze can travel into the hot side of our plumbing system.

    So what we’ve got here in this particular unit is, the single valve system, which we’re going to see in some of the newer product out there. And, they’re using, a check valve in the top of the tank, rather than the three valve system. So all we need to do, right now that valve’s horizontal, that’s the use position. But we need to go flip it to vertical. That way we’re allowing the antifreeze to flow up, the connecting pipe and into our hot water plumbing system.

    All right. So, I know where the particular water pump is in this unit. If you’re not sure where your water pump is in your unit, you can go ahead and, turn the water pump on and listen for it audibly. You will hear the pump run. It’s not going to hurt to run that pump dry for, a few minutes while you locate the pump. Once you’ve located the pump, then we need to go ahead and access it. I’ll just finish removing my screws here. And down below here I’ve got my, water pump. In this particular coach we’ve got the jet pump, so I’m going to be using, this fitting here that works in conjunction with the jet pump. Now, to, to figure out which side is the incoming end of the water pump where we want to hook our hose to to draw the antifreeze from, how I typically do it is, there’s going to be a flex line coming off that pump, going usually to the underbelly or to our water tank where our fresh water is held. On the other side of the pump you may see a T or some hard plumbing to it. So usually that single flex line is going to be your incoming side of the pump.

    So what I’m going to do right now is undo that. You might get a little water run out there from the head of the pump. That’s what the paper towels are going to be for, to clean up a little bit. Now I’m going to install my winterization hose, which I’ve done here. And again, if you’ve got a Sure flow pump, which is going to be a, a metal case with a, with a black head on it, we would use a 1/2″ male pipe thread, where the jet pump is a quick connect fitting.

    Here we are with our antifreeze. I’ve got my hose hooked up. This particular one, I think is going to work best for me to set this down here to draw from. I’m going to go ahead and insert my hose into the antifreeze jug. Then we’re going to go, turn the water pump on and start running our faucets. Now, before we turn the water pump on, we want to make sure all the faucets are closed. We’ve already also done our hot water heater bypass, so with all the faucets closed, we’ll turn the pump on and start winterizing.

    Here I am at the kitchen sink. I’ve turned my water pump on. We’re starting to draw out of that, antifreeze jug that we just hooked up. So what I’m going to do now is turn the cold water on, and I’m going to run it till I see pink. It’s pushing some air out of the system. And there’s a good pink flow. I’m going to do the same on the hot water side. Now sometimes, I’ve heard before that it’s best to run, you know, the farthest sink away first, and then work yourself towards the pump. I’ve done thousands of these, and I’ve never had an issue, and I don’t, there’s no real rhyme or reason. I just make sure that I get a good pink flow, on every faucet before I put it away. The pex plumbing will take freezing, even if there is a little water in it. It’s our fixtures and our, our connections, the plastic fittings, that do not take the freezing. They will crack. So, I usually just start with the closest faucet to me and run both until I see pink.

    Same with the bathroom sink. Nice pink flow there. And again on the hot water side, and we’ve got good pink there. So next I’m going to do the toilet, and this guy here is a foot flush. So I’m just going to, flush the foot flush till I see a good flow of pink to get it up in that valve there. Here we are in our shower, and I’ve, removed the, the shower head and brought it down here so I can, can kind of control the flow. Again, cold, hot. Now I’m going to run it up through the shower head. And I’ve got good pink everywhere there. So we’re good to go. Some people will actually undo the shower head, from the faucet to alleviate any water or antifreeze that may sit in there through the winter months.

    So a lot of coaches are coming equipped now days with some sort of outside shower or hot and cold running water outside, so we want to make sure that we get that. I can honestly say that I’ve forgotten it in the past. So, just make sure you put this on your list of things to do. So, again, turn the water on till you see pink. A good way to see it out here is run it against the body of a white coach, make sure that you’ve got the water out. And we’ve got good pink there. Before I came outside, I switched over my antifreeze jug, because I noticed it, I was running a little bit low. And you’ll have to do that throughout the process, depending on, how much you use, obviously. So. Anyway, the system is, winterized with the water pump. We’ve got one more step and we’ll be done.

    To complete our last step, and this is a very important thing to do, after we’ve done all the water receptacles, i.e., the sinks, the toilets, the outside showers, everything like that, really important, we need to come back in the coach and turn off our water pump. The water pump pressurizes the system at about 40 PSI. So we want to turn that pump off so we no longer need to pump antifreeze through the system. And the next thing I’m going to do is I’m going to come in and I’m going to open the cold water faucet. So I’m relieving any pressure on the system whatsoever, and we need to do this to winterize the city water fill. So, now you can see this has stopped running. I’ve alleviated all the pressure on the, on the water system. Now we can go outside and do the city water fill, and we’re going to be done.

    So after we’ve turned off the water pump inside, and, we’ve relieved the pressure on the system, we want to come outside to our city water fill. And this is where we’d hook our garden hose if we were at the campground. And this often gets overlooked, and I’ve seen a lot of them change because of it. So first thing we want to do is pop this screen out here. And there’s a check valve in here, so when we’re using our water pump, water doesn’t spray out the city water fill. Now, if I were to press this in while it was still under pressure, it would allow me to press it in, but it ruins an O ring in there. So that’s why it’s really important to alleviate that pressure on the system that the water pump has provided for us before we push this check valve in. So now with the water, off, pump off, system we left the pressure, I can go ahead and pump this in and you’ll see water run out. I’m just going to hold that in there, and now I’ve got antifreeze. Our system has been winterized.

    All right. So after we are done with our city water fill, what I like do is I take the paper towels that I mentioned earlier in the video. I like to tear off a couple of them and kind of leave some in the base of my sinks and my shower. That cleans up the little bit of antifreeze that, may have been left in the sink or the shower. I also, it’ll catch any residuals that will come out of here. If you have any antifreeze left in the jug, from your winterization process, you can go ahead and pour the extra down the trap. It’s a little bit extra line of defense there. Again, all these things can be purchased, at our Pete’s RV online store. That can be, accessed from PetesRV.com. There’s pump converters and things out there that might make your winterization process easier.

    The other thing with this video that we’ve just made is, I kept it very simple, down to basics on this. There is some devices out there that do need attention that I did not mention in this video, sewer flushes, washer and dryers, ice makers, things like that. That’s stuff you really want to bring to your local dealer and have done. That way you won’t have issue with it in the spring. But, this, this should, get you going on where you need to be, and maybe give you little pointers, and I hoped you learned something. So thanks again for watching Pete’s RV TV with, Randy here today. Again, you can come see us at Pete’s RV online, http://www.PetesRV.com. Visit our online store [petesrvparts.com], or our Facebook page [facebook.com/petesrv]. We’ve always got some great things going on there as well. So, thanks again for thinking Pete’s RV, and happy camping.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

How to Reseal Your RV

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel resident Randal Murray is here to give you all a quick tutorial on how to properly care for and maintain the seals around your RV that need to be caulked. Randy wants to show you how to help properly maintain your RV for years of enjoyment, and one fix that he sees a lot of people attempt, and not always do well, themselves is resealing seams on the RV with new caulking.

First off he goes over what you are going to need to do the job; proper caulking for the surface, a quality caulking gun with stopper, oder-less mineral spirits, clean rags and sometimes a razor blade to clean out dry, cracked caulking. To begin with Randy wets a rag with mineral spirits to clean and prep the surface he is going to be sealing making sure to get the entire area including behind the wiper seal. Once everything is cleaned and dry you can get your caulking ready to use and set up in the gun. Make sure not to cut too large of a hole in the caulking tube as too much can interfere with doing a proper job. Placing a thin bead of caulk along the seam, Randy works his way in a single, fluent motion. The key to doing this job is using the mineral spirits on your finger to help press and spread the caulking into the seam, giving it a professional look and tapering each side to help shed water. Make sure to not do too long of an area, start small and slow so you can work your way up. The same process is done for a vertical seam as well, but make sure that you start with a clean tip to ensure you get a seamless bead.

Video Transcript for “How to Reseal Your RV”

Randal Murray: Hey guys, Randy with Pete’s RV TV today. Another quick tip segment for you.Today we’re in the Burlington, Vermont location shop and I want to show you how the industry puts on these great looking caulking jobs to seal up our corner moldings and the base of our slides and other areas around the coach. I see a lot of units come in where customers have done their own caulking job and they just don’t look so good and they’re not sealing very well either. So let me show you some tricks that I use when I do it. It makes it look good and makes sure that we get a great seal.

So first of all, a few things that we need. We need some caulking, and if you go to your local RV dealer or come to us, we’ll show you the best stuff to use for the right surface and the right job, so we’ll instruct you on that, and any local RV dealers should be able to take care of that. I also like to use a quality caulking gun. Now, there’s one that you can buy that costs like $1.99 at the big box stores, the Home Depots, the Lowe’s and things like that. This one is actually a little bit more expensive, about 15 or 20 bucks, but it’s a lot more manageable and it makes the job a lot easier to do, so I do recommend if you do own an RV, invest in a good caulking gun and you can use it for other things around the house as well. This actually does have a stop on it so I can stop pushing. So the caulking is not coming out of the end of the tube and just very nice control on Very easy to use. So invest in good caulking gun.

One of the most important things that makes me look good too is odorless mineral spirits. Odorless mineral spirits is the active ingredient in a lot of the caulking out there. This is the one we use. I like the odorless ’cause it doesn’t stink quite as bad and it’s super easy. It’s just a light duty paint thinner, but it’s going to help us work the caulking and clean the surface as well, which is very important. So let’s get started. So we can get sealant gaps on our coaches from them just being used. Only roll a camper down the road, it’s like putting your house through a 3.4 earthquake on the Richter scale every time it moves. So lots of moving parts, lots of things that can open up for sealant gaps and we need to maintain these just like we maintain the seals on our roof. So first thing I do is I’m gonna clean the surface before I go ahead and apply. So I’m just going to take white rag here and I am going to put some mineral spirits on I go ahead here. And I fold it up just for ease of use. Now I don’t need to soak, soak the rag, but I do like to get it damp, kind of like that. I also always have another clean rag on me as well, so we want both of them. So let’s clean the area here at the base of this slide. And I’m just going to take the mineral spirits and just wipe the area that I am going to clean and that’s going to help get the dirt off the existing caulking, clean the surface, and allow us to get good contact and good adhesion when we apply the caulking. So I’ll get that wiped down pretty good. Get all the dirt and grime off, tuck back my wiper seal there in there. If the caulking is really old and dried and cracked, we probably will want to remove that with some sort of razor or some sort of scraping blade. This one’s not too bad, so I don’t need to get that tool out, but you may. We don’t want to go over bad caulking and we want a real flat surface to make sure that we get a good looking caulking, a joint, and a good seal. If it’s really bumpy, it’s going to be really hard to maintain that quality of the look and the seal and ensure we have no leaks. So get this cleaned up pretty good there.

Now, I’m going to take my caulking. We’ll set this here for a second. The other thing that I see a lot of people do is they put way too big a little hole on the end of the caulking tube. We do not need a whole lot of material and having too much material is going to actually make it not a good looking job and hinder, uh, our sealing process. So I’m going to take and just put a small, small hole in this. I’m going to put it at about a 22 degree angle too. That allows me just to work it a little bit. I like it to be nice and straight at my angle, that way I’m not pushing into the caulking when I’m doing it, so it looks pretty good. Put my knife back in my pocket here. And I’m going to fill the tube. I don’t know Karl, if you can see that white coming up through that clear plastic tube there. I’m going to get it to the end so we get all the air and everything out and I’m going to stop it by hitting my button on the back of that good caulking gun that I just referred to. So our area is clean. I’m going to take the dry rag and just wipe any excess off from a cleaning process, make sure we get all the dirt, all the mineral spirits and everything off, and then we’re going to go ahead and start to apply. Again, I’ve got my mineral spirit rag in my hand because I’m gonna use that here in a minute. It’s gonna become very important.

So now I’m gonna pump this thing up and I’m going to start to apply and I’m not going to put a huge bead. I don’t need huge bead. Kind of pushing it into the crack, into the transition, right straight across. We’ll stop right there. Don’t go too far because you want to be able to work the area that you’re doing and if you go too far, you may start getting a skim coat over the top of it. So now this is the trick that separates the men from the boys. After we get a small bead on there, I’m actually going to take that wet mineral spirits soaked rag, mineral spirits soaked rag, and I’m going to put a little on my finger and this is where we get a good looking job. So I’m actually going to take my finger and I’m going to go about four to six inches and then I’m going to clean my finger and I’m going to continue that process down my whole caulking joint. What that does is it pushes it into the crack, seals any cracks that are there. It also tapers, so we get a nice transition. We don’t have a place where water is going to sit or moisture is going to sit. We’ve pushed it into the crack and we’ve finished it off and I’m actually going to go back to the other way and just get any excess off. Well, Karl, if you want to take a look at that, that’s not a horrible looking caulking job. We’ve tapered both the edges. We’ve pushed the caulking into the crack. We don’t have a ton of material on there. We don’t need a ton of material on there. Any water that runs down the slide box will go right over that caulking joint right off the side of the slide box, just the way we want it. Now, that was easy. That was the horizontal one. Let’s do a quick vertical one here just so we can show you that as well, and it’s gonna be kinda the same way. Gonna take my mineral spirit damp rag here. I’m just going to clean the area. Get that dirt and debris off there. Make sure I got good adhesion. Clean the area up really good. I’m gonna take my dry rag and again, get any of the excess off, dry it out where I run my caulking. Back to the caulking gun. Again, notice it’s not continuing to push out because I have a good caulking gun and I can take the pressure off it very easily. I’m going to make sure I clean the end of my gun so I’m starting fresh. I’m just going to go up here and again, start that bead. Nice, easy, small bead. I’m pushing it into the crack as I go. I don’t need too much material. If you get an air bubble, you can back up a little bit. Not a big deal. We’re just going to go down, nice fluid motion. Make sure to only do what you can work as well, so if you can only do two or three feet until you get good at it, just do that. Back to the mineral spirit rag. I’m going to put it on my finger again and I’m just going to start drawing down, again cleaning my finger about every three or four inches. The mineral spirits is going to give us a little bit more working time as well, and I’m just doing a light touch here, giving it a nice taper. I’m just kind of feathering it in so you can’t see where I’ve started and stopped. I’m going to go down there and you can see how quick and easy this is. Karl, if you want to take a look at that job there, and that’s how the guys do it at the factory and it’s super simple to do. Nice and easy. It looks professionally done and we’ve got a great seal, a great taper, and we have penetrated both sides of the surface plus sealed our joint.

So if you do my couple little tricks here with you’re caulking gun, get a good caulking gun, use mineral spirits, make sure you dampen your finger. Don’t put too much product on, all that’s going to do is push out and get all over the place and get real ugly while you’re playing around with trying to clean that up, the other stuff’s going to skim over and make it really hard to work. So if we just do a little bit, taper it in, keep things clean, there’s no residue left on my finger when I’m done. Life is good. That’ll seal all your cracks. That’ll make a great taper and a great looking caulking job when you’re done and they’ll take a professional did it, not just you. So thanks again for watching Pete’s RV TV with Randy today. I look forward to seeing you on the road, and happy camping!

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

12-Volt Dual Battery Setup

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel Resident RV Expert Randy Murray displays how to properly connect two 12 volt batteries in parallel for added dry camping power. By connecting the campers positive wire to the positive terminal on one battery and connecting the campers ground wire to the negative terminal on the second battery, Randy illustrates the correct way to achieve equal battery drain and how to ensure top notch battery life.

Rather than a single battery connection where you will be required to replace it with a fresh battery, a dual connection alleviates this procedure and provide more even use of battery life. With the use of jumper wires (one for both positive and negative as Randy explains) that are equal or greater to the gauge of wire found on your camper, connect each line to the corresponding positive and negative battery to complete the connection and enjoy some extended dry camping.

Video Transcript for “12-Volt Dual Battery Setup”

Randy:  Hey guys. Randy from Pete’s RV here today, another quick tip segment for you. This segment is going to be for our dry campers out there or the people looking to get a little bit more longevity out of their battery. So hooking up a couple batteries on to your 12 volt supply camper.

    What we’re going to do here today is we’re going to hook up 2 batteries in parallel. So we’ll have 2 12 volt batteries to provide power to our camper so we can use it off the grid for a little while longer. First thing you want to do when you’re hooking something up in parallel is figure out which is positive and which is negative on your battery. This is very important for us. And the next thing you want to do is you want to make yourself some jumper wires or you could purchase these at an automotive store, or we can make them for you here at Pete’s RV as well.

    So when we’re hooking something up in parallel, we’re pretty much going positive to positive and negative to negative. Back to the jumper wires that I just talked about, is we want to make sure the jumper wires that we use are going to be equal or a greater gauge than the wires that are on the camper. If we use wires that are too small, now our wires become the fuse, rather than the fuse that we’ll have inside the camper to protect this coach. A smaller wire could actually heat up and melt, where a larger wire will not. So we want to make sure that those wires are the appropriate gauge.

    So we’re going to go ahead and put these batteries up here on the camper, show you how to hook them up in parallel, give you a little bit more longevity out of those batteries when you’re dry camping.

    All right, so here we are on the front of our Bullet Premier that we have here in the Burlington, Vermont location showroom. I’m doing this video today without battery boxes, which we would usually install on here to protect the batteries but a little bit easier to see it while shooting the video so we’re going to leave those out today.

    So what I’ve done is I’ve situated my batteries on the A-frame here. This, , unit is set up to take 2 batteries. And I’ve got my ground wire and my positive wire that normally feed the camper on a one battery set up. Now you can always tell your ground wire because it’s going to be hooked to the A-frame or to the chassis of the coach, and that’s how we achieve ground throughout the coach.

    So I know this wire’s my ground wire because it’s hooked right here to the A-frame. This black wire here is going to be my positive wire, because it goes to back to one of the resetting breakers on the front of this camper. So I’ve hooked my battery to the positive, and I’m going to take this ground wire and I’m actually going to hook it to the negative on the opposite battery. That way we’re pulling both of these batteries down together. If we hook them both to one, chances are the second battery is going to be pulled down at the same rate as the first battery.

    Another important thing when you’re doing a set up like this is to use batteries purchased at the same time. If you use one older battery and one newer battery, you’re only as good as your lower battery, and that’s going to shorten your battery life. So make sure the, batteries are equal and purchased at the same time and they start out fresh.

    So I’ve got the negative, the positive hooked to the positive over here on the battery, which is going to be kind of hard to see there, but I can see it here. I’ve got the negative hooked up here. So now what we, we’re going to want to do is hook up another positive wire from the positive of this battery to the positive of this battery. We’re going to go ahead and put our nuts on now. Lock that down there. I’ll put this guy on here. Good idea is snug these up pretty good, and make sure that the terminals are very clean and the battery connections are very clean on your wires as well. That way you’re going to get the best voltage you can have supplied to you.

    I’m going to set this one over here to the negative. Turn it around, a little bit easier to hook it up for us. Put that nut on there. Tighten that down. I’ll go back and snug things up later with one of my wrenches. I’m going to hook this negative here. So now we have just successfully hooked these 2 batteries up in parallel, so it’s going to give us 12 volt supply to the coach and going to give us a lot more longevity when we are using this camper in a dry camping situation. Now these batteries will be charged while we’re driving down the road. If you’ve got an appropriate charge line in the truck, that’s the best way to charge these batteries.

    But there’s a simple parallel hook up, positive to positive, negative to negative. Make sure you put your positive from the trailer on one battery, your negative from the trailer on the other battery. That way they will decell at the same time, and make sure your batteries are purchased at the same time. We’ve always got discounted pricing here on batteries at Pete’s RV Center so we can take care of you in that regard as well.

    So there it is in a nutshell. Parallel wiring two 12 volt batteries.  This’ll get you where you need to go on your dry camping. Thanks again for watching Pete’s RV with Randy today, and  come see us on our Facebook page. Check us out on YouTube as always. And once again, thanks for thinking of Pete’s RV and happy camping.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

How to Level Your Camper

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel Resident RV Expert Randy Murray provides step-by-step instruction for leveling a camper. For his demonstration, Randy uses a Keystone Cougar Xlite 28RBS travel trailer. Proper techniques include slideroom out first and then leveling left to right, using an arm’s length to gauge enough space for slideout to open, and putting down stabilizer jacks after the camper is successfully leveled.

Video Transcript for “How to Level Your Camper”

Randy: Hey, folks. Randy here with Pete’s RV TV today. We’re in the gravel pit, behind the Pete’s RV, the South Burlington Vermont dealership. And I’m gonna give you a couple tips on, the best way to put your new camper, on your campsite and get it leveled up so you guys can enjoy your, your camping weekend with your new RV.

    Today we’re here and we got a brand new, Cougar X-lite, 28RBS that we’re gonna be using for our test model. And so I’m just gonna give you a couple tips and, here we go.  All right so here we are, backing them to our campsite. So all you wanna do is just kinda line up and pick your spot that you want the camper to be on the campsite and then, go ahead and back ride up, onto the site.

    That looks pretty good right there. All right, so now that we’ve backed on, our desired spot on, our campsite at, at a local campground or wherever we might be camping this weekend. Good judges. I know we don’t have any trees right here in, in the gravel pit, but most campsites do have some trees. So how I judge the distance to my slide, for trees that may be in the area is I … I simply put my back against the camper and put my arm out.

    Now, the end of my fingers represents, a slide that’s fully out. So if there’s any trees close by, this is, a great way to kinda measure it with, all the stuff that you have available on you all times. So make sure there’s no trees in the way, end of the fingers is a good judge. Okay, here we are on our next step.  As you can see, I still have the trailer hooked to the truck and I’ve gone inside and I’ve actually run my slide out out.

    Now when we put a slide out out, that’s gonna shift the way on the trailer and actually make it lean to the slide outside a little bit. So we need to compensate for that when get to slide that out and we get on the slide to make this thing level. Now, on this camper here, I’ve installed a couple levels on the side that we can purchase, in the Pete’s RV Store, or Pete’s RV online. This just really helps level on the camper easy spots to see as we’re doing it on the driver’s side of the vehicle.

    So, I’m looking at my level here and it looks like we’re leaning a little bit to the slides, as I mentioned we may be. So what I’m going to do is, mark where my wheels are and I’m going to, pull the truck ahead a little bit and make some adjustments onto the wheels so we level this camper out. All right, so here we are in the back of our trailer. Now, I’ve marked my wheels and I’ve pulled the truck ahead just a hair because I’m gonna back up onto this block here to help level the camper out.

    Now a lot of people think that they can level a camper with a stabilization jacks. That’s not really the case. These guys are just more meant to stabilize the camper you know, give a stability once we are leveled. They’re not meant to lift the weight of the camper to compensate for the weight to slide the, transverses onto the side. So what a misconception there, but if you do it this way, you’re gonna be right and you’re not gonna hurt your jacks.

    So what I’m gonna do now is I’m gonna get back in the truck and I’m gonna back up onto this block here which will lift this side of the camper and hare, give us a nice level floor inside. All right, so as you can see, I backed the truck up now, with the trailer and we’ve backed it onto our tri-leveler and I’ve checked the levels in the front. So we’ve got our left to right level now. We’ve compensated for putting the slide out out.

    So what I wanna do at this point is go ahead and put my wheel chock in front of this wheel here so the trailer can’t low, roll forward once I unhook the chock. And once I unhook the chock, we can get our front to back level and then we’re gonna be camping. So as you can see here we’ve backed up on the tri-leveler and I have installed the wheel chock in front of the wheel. So when we unhook the trailer from the truck, we won’t roll forward.

    All right, so as you can see I’ve unhooked the truck from the camper and at this point, we’ve already got our left to right level as we saw a little bit earlier in the video. Now we wanna get our front to back level. So again the truck unhook from the camper. I’m gonna look at the level on the side right here and I’m seeing I’m sitting a little bit high in the front from unhooking from the truck. So I wanna go ahead and, use my tongue jack to lower the camper this works really easy than electric tongue jack as well. (Turns the tongue jack).

    So that looks pretty good right there. So now, we’ve got our left to right level, we’ve got our front to back level. We can go ahead and, put down the stabilization jacks. Okay, so here we are at the stabilization jacks if your camper has electric, stabilizes on it, you go ahead and run them down. This particular one here has the manual operation. I like to use, my screw gun with the appropriate size sucking on it. Run the jack to the ground and snag it up.

    So to finish up by running around to the other three jacks on the camper, I went ahead and put those down. So we’re a level after right, front to back, all the stabilizer down. We’re gonna be ready to start camping. Hope these tips helped you on getting a new unit onto your site and thanks for picking Pete’s RV and happy camping.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.

How to Clean Your RVs Holding Tank Sensors

Pete’s RV-TV YouTube Channel Resident RV Expert Randy Murray discusses a multitude of ways to clean your gray/black water holding tank sensors, clearing all inaccurate monitor panel readings from your camper. Sometimes you may get a full tank reading on the monitor panel inside your camper even after you’ve dumped your gray and black tanks.

Randy notes that this is generally caused by a build up of waste materials or anything that might have made its way down the toilet. These items can block the sensors preventing the correct read out.

Randy provides a few preemptive approaches to make sure you won’t have to deal with that faulty reading. The first is making sure before you flush that you add extra water so the toilet paper (making sure you use RV toilet paper) won’t clump up or dry out to the inside of the tank walls, the next is making sure the tanks are as full as possible (making sure not to overfill) before they are dumped.

Randy suggests the use of a tank flush chock to assist in filling your holding tank before it’s dumped. The good news is that there are other tools for when all else fails.

The first one Randy recommends is what’s called an RV swivel stick, which he explains attaches to a hose and sprays around water at a high velocity to break down any tank buildup. Depending on whether you own a travel trailer or fifth wheel, a longer flexible version is available for the harder to reach holding tanks.

Lastly, filling up a 5 gallon bucket with hot water and pouring it down the toilet should help alleviate the issue by steaming away the blockage from the sensors.

Video Transcript for “How to Clean Your RVs Holding Tank Sensors | Pete’s RV Service Tips”

Hey guys, Randy with Pete’s RV TV again with you today. Another quick tip segment for you. Have you ever gone out on a camping weekend, and you’ve dumped your tanks after the weekend, and you come back into your camper, and you get a false reading on your black or your gray tank kind of like that.

Looks full and you know it’s not. You just dumped it. Well, I’m going to take you into the bathroom here in just a few minutes, and I’m going to show you a couple of tricks to alleviate that problem for you. So let’s go take a look into a bathroom.

Alright, so here we are in a bathroom at one of the RVs we have here at the shop at Pete’s RV Center. Kind of an awkward place to have a conversation or shoot a video, but here we are anyway. Good information. So as I was mentioning earlier at the monitor panel, you know you’ve dumped the tank but it’s still reading full on you monitor panel.

How this happens is we have black ABS plastic tanks underneath our RV which are our holding tanks, our waste water holding tanks. And we actually spin weld metal sensors into the side of those tanks and hook wires to them that go back to that monitor panel. So we use continuity of what’s in the tank. We especially see this happen on the black tanks because some slime, and some sludge, and whatever else we throw down the toilet gets caught up on those sidewalls and will actually give us that false reading.

So a couple important things I want you to do while you’re camping that will help alleviate this, or make it easier for you to clean it if the problem does arise. when you have solids or paper present in the toilet bowl, I need you to fill up that toilet bowl before you dump.

Obviously if you’re dry camping, this is going to be a little harder for you to do because you want to get as much longevity out of that tank if possible. But if we’re at a campground where we can dump whenever we like, this is a great way to do it. So if there’s solids or toilet present in there, I want to see you fill that bowl up with water. I want to get as much water as I can in that bowl before I dump.

What that’s going to do, is it’s going to do things for us. It’s going to put more water into the tank, and it’s also going to help solidify anything that we put in the tank in conjunction with our toilet chemical. Make sure you’re using the appropriate RV toilet paper.

Any toilet paper that is built for a chemical toilet will work on this. It breaks down a lot quicker than some of the household toilet papers we use for septic systems, so important to do that. So we just fill that guy up and dump it, as much water as we can. Most of your today’s toilets out there will have a way where you can step on it halfway and get some water to it, and that way we’re going to get as much into that tank as possible. If you do that that will help out.

The next thing you need to do, if it does arise, especially when you’re at the campground where you can dump where you want, we’ve got these couple of little options here that work really good. And a lot of today’s new units are coming with sewer sprays on them or some kind of tank wash spray that is hooked up to the side of the unit that actually sprays inside that tank.

Here’s a couple of options that we sell in our store. We call them swizzle sticks in the shop. Heh. You hook the garden hose to this end. It’s got a little on and off valve, and it’s actually got a sprayer that spins around at a very high rate of speed down here and will actually wash the side wall of your tank.

Here’s one that’s a little bit longer. If you own a fifth wheel, this is going to be tough to do because usually the tanks are very far away from the toilet, which are not in a travel trailer situation. So fifth wheels are a little bit tougher to do. So you can use those methods.

Another method that I use when I’m at the campground is before I leave, if my tanks are getting full, I’m going to fill that tank up with water. Now, be careful when you’re doing this because you don’t want to overfill the tank and have a mess or have it come up the toilet, but I want to fill that tank up. A lot of people I see at the dump station here at the dealership, they’ll bring a garden hose in or dump it.

You can also purchase one of these guys here. This is what my prep techs use when they are prepping a camper out to make sure everything’s working properly. They’ll drop that right in and it will keep the water on while it’s filling that tank. Again, make sure you keep an eye on that tank, because if this comes up through the toilet it’s not going to be a fun thing to clean up.

Once you’ve got that tank filled, let it sit for an hour or so. Maybe do it in the morning on the last day there, while you guys are picking up. Then go ahead and pull that valve. Now that water that’s in that tank is probably going to clean those sensors off. Sometimes I’ll even put a little chemical in there. That should clean it off, get everything taken care of for you in conjunction with one of those swizzle sticks there, and the extra water we put in. That should keep those tanks reading clean.

Now, if you have one that’s not … again, typically it’s the black but sometimes I do see it on the gray. You can fill up the gray the same way. Even put a little toilet chemical down the gray and it will help out with odors. Gray odors are just as bad as black odors. I’ve had tanks apart and they really stink. So pour a little toilet chemical down in that gray water you’re using before you dump as well. It’s not going to hurt anything, plus it will keep the sensors clean.

On the really hard to clean sensors, or if you have one now that’s been dirty for a long time and are reading full for a long time and you want to get that one done, warm water. I’ll take and fill up a five gallon bucket, and I’ll dump it down the toilet of an empty tank with, of course, the valve closed on the outside. And the steam from that warm water will actually help loosen up any solids that we might have stuck to one of those sensors inside the tank. I’ve done that on numerous occasions and had very well, great, success with that as well.

There is also product that you can purchase at an RV store that you can put. It’s called a tank sensor cleaner. I put that down in there, or toilet chemical cleaner, or toilet chemical works pretty well as well. And if it, again, it’s one of those tough ones, let it sit in there for 24 hours before you dump. Even if you’ve got to take it home and bring it to the RV dealer a day or two later after letting it sit in there. What that liquid is going to do is, it’s clean liquid, it’s going to just soften up all the material on the side of the tanks that may be giving us that false reading.

Now, on the rare occasion that doesn’t clean it out, you may need to add a new well nut or something on there. We do do that occasionally at the dealership. But those tricks that I’ve just shared with you, that gets it about 95% of the time. Hopefully, if you’ve got one of your tanks and you try my tricks, it’ll help you get that reading at empty so you can have an accurate, you know, know what’s going on in your tanks and know how full they are before you dump them. Really important with the black tank.

Once again, let it fill up as much as you can while you’re using the RV before you dump. This is going to help us evacuate the tank properly and can keep those tank sensors reading clean. And it’s also going to give the chemical enough time to break down the solids and break down the paper.

So use a lot of water if you can, if you’re not in a dry camping situation. If that doesn’t work for you and you still get a false reading, fill the tank up with water, let it sit for as long as you can before you dump. That should clear out. If it’s a real toughy, get yourself five gallons of hot water and dump it down that toilet. Let that sit around for a little while, and that’ll actually steam the sensors. And then you can go ahead and flush the tank really well. And you can try the products that I showed you earlier, the swizzle sticks and things like that.

So hopefully this helps you clean those tank sensors. Thanks again for stopping in, checking out our quick tips with Randy. And always check us out on our Facebook page, and we’d love to see you on the YouTube channel as well. Thanks for thinking of Pete’s RV and happy camping.

Pete’s RV Center is an exceptional dealership group serving the United States and Canada since 1952. With multiple locations, Pete’s RV provides sales, service, parts, accessories, and education to our community of RVers all across North America.