Springtime is the time of year many Northwest RVers pull their RV out of storage, de-winterize it and give it a good cleaning inside and out in preparation for the arrival of the camping season. Most of what needs to be done to prepare the unit is common sense stuff that we can see with our eyes, but there are other items that may need attention that we can’t see and rarely think of until a problem arises.

Following is a list of those items you should check before your first trip of the season:

- Make sure your propane system hasn’t developed any leaks over the winter. Many will spray their RVs propane fittings with a soapy solution looking for bubbles to form indicating a leak. This can be time consuming and will likely miss finding leaks occurring through the electromagnetic valves in your appliances that aren’t fully closing. The best way to assure your RVs propane system is closed (i.e. not letting any gas escape from the system) is to perform a timed pressure drop test using a manometer, which is best done by a certified RV mechanic. Click here to see how the test works.

- Check, better yet replace, the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Since you haven’t been in your RV for several months you are unlikely to have heard them dying a slow death as the low battery warning chirped away for weeks on end telling you to replace them.


Replace Batteries in Detectors

- Those of you with travel trailers and fifth wheels should check the operation of the breakaway switch designed to stop the RV if it ever becomes detached from the tow vehicle. To test it, pull the pin attached to the breakaway cable out of the switch housing and try to pull forward. The brakes on the RV will engage if it is working correctly.


Breakaway Switch

- Check the operation of the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets in your RV. Plug in and turn on a lamp or small appliance, then push the test button on the outlet. If it is working correctly, electricity will quit flowing to the item you have plugged into the outlet.

- Check your fire extinguisher to verify it is still pressurized, free of physical damage, corrosion or leakage and ready for use in an emergency.


Make Sure Your Fire Extinguisher is Charged

- Spring is a good time to fill and flush the freshwater tank. Be extra thorough and fill it completely full until water comes out the fill spout and then let it sit for a few hours. Then check for leaks in the upper portion of the tank, fill hose and vent tube.

- If your water heater is equipped with a scrap anode, spring is a good time to check its condition while you are flushing the freshwater system.


Water Heater Anode

- Check the house batteries in the RV to make sure the water is at the proper levels and that the connections are tight and free of corrosion. Also make sure they will still hold a charge after sitting in the cold all winter before heading out on your first trip.

- Another thing that is easy to overlook until it is too late is to make sure your charge line from the vehicle alternator to your house batteries is functioning. Many times a fuse or circuit breaker can pop / fail on the charge line and you are unlikely to know it until your house batteries run low. An easy way to check that your charge line is working is (with the RV disconnected from shore power) to have someone depress the battery indicator on the RV monitor panel while someone else starts the vehicle. If the charge line is working, the battery monitor should begin reading “Charging” or “Full”.

- Tires may look full, but don’t let that fool you. You should always check your tire pressure before any trip in your RV, but it is especially important after your RV has sat all winter. This is also a good time to check for cracks or separation on your tires. Don’t forget the spare!


Check Tire Pressure

- While checking the tire pressure, be sure to check that the wheel lug nuts / bolts are tightened to manufacturer’s specifications.

- Fill your propane tank(s) and if you live in a state that requires recertification on a regular basis, ask the filling attendant when the next recertification is due. Being away from home on an extended RV vacation only to discover your propane bottles can’t be refilled can take the joy out of the trip real quick.

- Start your refrigerator on gas to verify it is properly cooling before switching it to electric. Loading your refrigerator full of groceries at home when your RV is plugged into shore power and then driving miles away to dry camp in a scenic location only to painfully discover your refrigerator is thawing out is not a great start to your first spring camping trip.

- Finally, make sure your license plate tabs are current along with any land access passes like state or national parks.

Following the above steps will help assure your first trip of the year is a success. For additional tips, take a look at a previous article, "Get Your RV Ready for Spring".

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave Helgeson
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.

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