By Chris Dougherty
Certified RV technician
Written in the month of September
Welcome to autumn! Well, not officially yet, but here at the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Show in Hershey, I am surprised at the amount of leaves on the ground. The nights have that fall crispness to them, and while I hear the distinctive crunch of leaves under the tires as vehicles pass my site at the Hershey Thousand Trails campground, and enjoy a cup of pumpkin coffee, it reminds me that we are soon to be needing the heat in our coaches, and starting to think about freeze protection.
It is always best to check out your RV furnace before you need it, to make sure nothing has nested in and around the furnace or its vents, including mice, wasps and mud daubers. Check around the cabinet inside the furnace to make sure nothing has mistakenly been stuffed around it like plastic shopping bags or other items. Really — it happens sometimes!
Make sure your propane is full before you go camping during heating season. LP furnaces eat quite a bit of fuel keeping the RV warm.
Test the unit before your trip to make sure it works well. If you have floor ducts, take a look inside them. If you see a lot of crud down there, take the registers off and vacuum the ducts out the best way you can. They do make generic tools for cleaning and vacuuming ducts, but they may be too small for the ducts in your coach. I have “MacGyvered” some tools over the years to assist with that chore, including “custom” shop vac hoses to suck out mouse nests, but I’m not sure they’re worth sharing.
If you get into the really cold camping, there are a bunch of things you can do to keep the water flowing and the coach comfortable, and we’ll be detailing those in the coming issues. For instance, heated RV water hoses will help prevent the fresh water hose from freezing. [Read Chris’ article “A rundown of heated hoses for RVs.”] Other items to think about are holding tank heaters, space heaters and window insulation kits if you don’t have Thermopane windows. More on those another time.