By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV Technician
Being a “tech guy” in RV land can be both a punishment and a reward. People always have questions (which I welcome, by the way) about their RVs, and they range from the newest technologies to all kinds of how-to questions. Most of the time I can give a helpful answer, which is rewarding. Sometimes, however, I get the completely frustrated RV disaster comment or question for which there is no easy answer (e.g., my roof fell in).
Granted, sometimes the problems that arise with our RVs are unavoidable, but many of them are avoidable. As RVers we have chosen to have an active rather than passive role in our recreation. The same goes for boaters, vacation homeowners or car collectors. There is a certain amount of work involved with a reward at the end in the form of the knowledge that you’ve done the job well and that your investment is better off because of it.
On the flip side, passive vacationers book a cruise or a resort vacation, which is fine for those who like them but they are missing much of the return to our roots — experiences that make RVing so enjoyable, in my humble opinion.
So, part of being an active RVer is maintaining your equipment, and many problems RVers face on a trip could have been avoided if: (1) they had checked over the unit prior to their trip, and (2) proper maintenance had been completed. I guess I’m kind of the hindsight guy in that I’ve seen a lot of this stuff and I can tell you about it ahead of time.
When you’re on your trip, spending your precious time and money, is not the best time to find out that you can’t light the water heater or the slide won’t work. The same goes if you put your foot through the floor and realize that the roof has been leaking and the roof, wall and floor are completely rotted out. Oops … a vacation not to remember.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time maintaining your RV. In fact, there are plenty of RV service providers out there who will do all your regular maintenance for you. But if you can do it, taking on some of these duties will save you some money, teach you about the craft you have bought and, as Spock says, help you become one with your RV!
So plan a day at the beginning of the season to get your RV ready for use. Clean the entire unit and do all the maintenance, starting with the roof and working your way down. Do your own PDI (pre-delivery inspection), if you will. Test all the systems, lights, plumbing, etc. Make sure everything is in tip-top shape, like your commanding officer was coming to do an inspection. Fix whatever needs fixing. From paint to light bulbs, this is the time to get ‘er done. In most cases, you can do it all in a day or less. Then, when it’s time to hit the road, you already know everything should be working and, just as importantly, you remember how everything works!
Sounds like a good time for a campfire, BBQ and a beverage to me!