Cleaning Your RV: The Exterior

Lerch RV, Pennsylvania's largest Sprinter RV DealerLast week I posted some tips on how to best clean the interior of your RV, now we’re here to give you some tips on the best way to clean and care for the exterior of your camper. Taking the time to clean the exterior of your RV on a regular basis will allow you to notice any potential issues, such as leaks or siding damage.  Use the time while making your unit shine to perform some preventative maintenance.  Which will allow you to extend the life of your camper, while possibly easing the burden on your family budget.  RV problems can be expensive to fix, if left go too long.

First, we recommend that you clean it often and thoroughly to keep it looking shiny and new.  The longer dirt and residue sits on the exterior of your RV, the more potential damage it can cause. Some elements that can be highly damaging to your RV’s exterior if not washed off are road salt, road tar, bugs, bird droppings, tree sap, acid rain and UV exposure. These can cause corrosion, staining and chemical spotting. Be sure to always wash your RV soon after it is exposed to any of these elements. An added bonus is if you regularly wax your RV which will help protect the exterior. We don’t recommend taking your RV through automatic car washes, doing it by hand, while time-consuming, is the best way to clean the exterior of your RV. Even if you allow your camper to be parked on a permanent site, regular cleaning will allow you to enjoy your RV for years to come.

To clean the exterior of your RV, we suggest parking it in a place not in direct sunlight. First, spray it with water to remove dust. Next, using an abundant amount of clean water and a car-washing mitt/sponge and an RV washing brush, wash your RV from top to bottom. You can also use a mild car-washing soap. Be sure to rinse thoroughly and wipe dry with a soft cloth. Using extremely hot water and pressure can cause damage to the RV. Be sure to use caution and keep a pressure sprayer nozzle about 16 inches or more away from the RV. Also, use caution if you use a pressure sprayer around all attachments of the RV (doors, windows, appliance vents, etc.) When washing around glass with a pressure sprayer, hold the nozzle at right angles to the glass surface.  A pressure sprayer used in properly can damage  your RV, as well as force water into places where water should not be.

We recommend that you wax your RV at the very least once a year, two times a year would be great. To wax, apply a small amount of wax to a soft cloth and rub gently onto the exterior of your RV. Do not wax your RV in direct sunlight and do it after surfaces have cooled. This will avoid the wax drying out quickly. Do not use waxes that contain high-abrasive compounds. These waxes will remove rust and stains but they are also harmful to the luster of the surface since they may scrape off the coating. Do not use gasoline or paint thinners to remove road tar or other contamination to the painted surface. Use only approved cleaners to remove stubborn stains or marks.

In order to make your job easier when it comes to cleaning your new RV, consider having an exterior protection package, such as the Trident Exterior Protection System, applied to your RV before it even leaves the dealership.  This will prolong the life of that ‘new’ look as well as protect your exterior from many of the items listed above. Best of all most applications, such as Trident, are warranted for several years.  So why not help yourself protect your investment.

There you have it, some tips on keeping the exterior of your RV nice and clean. If you have questions about cleaning the exterior of your RV, be sure to contact your local central Pennsylvania dealer or your manufacturer’s customer service department.

Arriving safely in the rain.

After the week we have had here in central Pennsylvania, I felt this would be a great blog posting. Eventually all of us will camp in the rain at some point of our RVing life. If you have to travel in the rain to reach your destination or on your way back home, here are some great tips to help you reach that destination safely.

The Spring and Summer seasons brings all kinds of new weather conditions, including the increased chance for rain. In order to remain safe while driving or towing your RV it is important to be aware of the necessary precautions that should be taken in the event you find yourself driving in severe weather – including rain storms.

The Weather Channel has provided drivers with the following tips to take into account when driving on wet roads and in rainy weather.

1. In order to avoid hydroplaning, you should always make sure your tires are inflated properly and that your tire tread is in good condition. Never put off replacing your tires when they need to be.

2. In order to prevent skidding on the wet pavement, you should always drive slow and carefully, especially on curves and turns. You should also steer and brake with a light touch, and be careful not to make any quick movements with your vehicle. Never slam on your brakes in rainy, slick conditions and risk locking the wheel and skidding.

3. If you do happen to begin hydroplaning, again maintain a light hand on the steering wheel and brakes and do not brake or turn suddenly. Instead ease up on the gas and slowly pump the brakes if you need to.

4. If you do happen to skid in your RV, ease off the gas, steer into the direction you want your vehicle to go, and remain calm. You should also anticipate having to turn the steering wheel over and over until the front of the vehicle is traveling in a straight line.

5. Always remember to anticipate rainy weather and hazardous driving conditions. Slow down on wet roads, avoid driving through puddles, follow the drive tracks in front of you left by another driver, and always pay attention to others around you. A defensive driver is the best type of driver.

Being prepared for driving and towing your RV safely in the rain is an important part of being an Lerch RV owner.

Cleaning your RV, the ‘inside’ scoop.

I have posted about keeping your RV clean before, but usually focus on the outside.  However if you are like me and like to keep a clean house inside, below are some tips for the interior of your travel trailer or fifth wheel.  Keeping your Recreational vehicle or camper clean will help extend the life of your unit, plus a regular cleaning will enable you to become familiar with areas of your RV, and acts a great preventative maintenance visual check. You could discover a small problem before it becomes a major one.

So here with some helpful hints on cleaning the inside of your RV. First, it’s important to use the proper cleaning supplies and techniques to avoid damages that may happen to the interior surfaces of your RV. It’s always important to check with your manufacturer’s information for the recommended cleaning agents.  Clean only as recommended. If you’re ever in doubt about a cleaning product and what it might do to your RV, be sure to first test a small area out of sight. And please, don’t ever use flammable liquids or sprays to clean your RV.

So, now that the basics are out-of-the-way, we’ll break it down into areas of your RV interior.

Furniture Upholstery: if your furniture is covered in fabric or suede and it becomes stained or dirty, it is recommended that the fabric be professionally cleaned. You can refer to the specific manufacturer’s instructions for more care options.  For all vinyl covered furniture, water based cleaners are recommended, but not solvents as they may have an adverse reaction. Blot up the spot rather than rubbing to avoid saturating the area.

Décor items: Occasionally use a vacuum with a soft brush attachment to dust things such as window treatments, curtains, blinds and shares. To help prevent mildew or mold on the shower curtain, clean it frequently. Décor glass can be cleaned with a glass cleaner to remove smudges. Be sure to take care around any etching that might exist on the glass.

Hardware & Sink or Shower Fixtures: Use a mild dish soap and water to clean these fixtures. Avoid harsh chemicals or sprays. For hard water spots, a mild solution of vinegar and water works well.

Paneling: Use a mild solution of soap and luke warm water with a soft sponge or cloth. Avoid abrasive cleaners as they could cause damage such as scratching or dullness. All-purpose spray cleaner works well for those stubborn dirt and grease spots. Harsh cleaners and organic solvents are not recommended because they can attack the vinyl.

Cabinetry & Tables: Simply dust with a soft cloth dampened with cleaning polish or mild detergent solution to keep hardwood doors, cabinet fronts and tables looking like new. Ammonia based products or silicone oils may cause damage if used over a long period of time so avoid using those types of products. Promptly wipe up spills to avoid potential problems.

Counter-tops: Avoid harsh chemicals such as drain cleaners, oven cleaners, etc. and do not let cleaners with bleach set on the top. Wipe those off immediately. For laminate counter-tops stubborn stains can be removed with a general-purpose spray cleaner. For solid surface counter tops soapy water, ammonia based cleaners or commercially available solid surface cleaners will remove most dirt and residue from all types of finishes. A damp cloth followed by a dry towel will remove watermarks.

Flooring: For carpet, be sure to vacuum regularly to avoid stains. If you have tough and deep stains, have them professionally steam cleaned. Spot removers can be used for minor spills. Always test the carpet for color fastness in an inconspicuous area before using any product. For vinyl flooring, it is good to periodically vacuum or sweep. Spills are easier to clean if wiped up before they set. Blotting with a paper towel should work. To clean more deeply, use a damp mop with water and a mild cleaner. Do not soak the flooring. Use care to avoid wetting the carpet edges. Also, don’t use cleaners that contain oil based solvents to avoid yellowing linoleum.

There you have it, some basic cleaning guidelines for the inside of your RV. As always, if you have questions, please contact your central Pennsylvania RV Dealer or your trailer’s manufacturer.

Who doesn’t like free stuff?

A lot of time and effort can go into planning an RV, camping trip or even a day trip in the car. You must decide where you want to go, what to do when you get there, what to eat, and how much it will cost.

Speaking of cost. Wouldn’t it be nice if it didn’t cost so much? After food, fuel, and gear, you can still expect extra fees when you reach your destination.

However, in the year of 2012, the National Park Service (NPS) is waiving entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees at over one hundred National Parks in an effort to boost tourism. You may still have to pay for reservations, camping, and use of concessions, but hey, if you’re interested in paying less for your family vacation, read on.

The program began in April with National Park Week, an entire week of free admission to National Parks across the country. But do not worry if you missed this great week of free admissions, mid summer offers Get Outdoors Day and in early September NPS grants free admission for National Public Lands Day. Finally, the NPS offers free dates for Veterans Day Weekend in November.

Mark your calendars for the following fee-free dates later this year:

  • June 9, 2012 – Get Outdoors Day
  • September 29, 2012 – National Public Lands Day
  • November 10-12, 2012 – Veterans Day Weekend

For more information, visit http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm

I would like to encourage you to take advantage of this offer as I have in the past.  It is a great way to see some beautiful areas of our great nation at a reduced cost.  Regardless if you are towing your RV or  just taking a day trip by car.  Gas up and go!

Safe Travels and Happy RVing!

Pennsylvania RVers, do not loose your cool!

Your refrigerator is your most important appliance when it comes to your RV. Some of the advantages to having a refrigerator is not having to haul coolers around. Which means no more refilling the ice, emptying out water from melted ice, and lugging it place to place. These are the advantages to remember when it comes to keeping  your fridge working and not loosing its cool.

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There can be several reasons that refrigerators will fail to work correctly. With these various reasons, it is in the best interest of RV owners to know when to repair vs. replace. Typically, there are two brands of refrigerators located inside of RVs, Norcold or Dometic. Those brands run with the same concept. They operate by heating a closed cooling element with a gas flame or electric heating element. The cooling consists of ammonia-based liquid that is contained within a series of tubes. When the heat is added, the ammonia-based liquid will circulate through the closed cooling unit by releasing the heat out of the refrigerator.

When the fridge stops cooling as well as it should this means that the circulation of fluid is not working properly. One advantage to RV refrigerators is that there are no moving parts other than the heating liquid, making it easier to find the problem. Some common troubleshooting refrigerator Q & As are contained within this video.

 

Frequently the problem with RV refrigerators is time combined with lack of use. As the units age, the liquid will create a sediment that will settle at the bottom of the cooling unit. As this sediment builds up, the ability for your fridge to be cooled properly will decrease because the circulation will be hindered. When comparing a fridge that is used once or twice a year in a time frame of 5+ years, and a fridge that is in continual use, the fridge in continual use will be less likely to plug up. Any sediment build up that could occur will be delayed with the more frequent fluid movement.

The tall-tale of removing your RV refrigerator and turning it upside down for a time period to have it work again is questionable. The theory behind this is only somewhat explainable. When sediment occurs, it is possible to dislodge it for some time, but when it sits back in place again the sediment will settle and plug up the tubes once more.

Rebuilt cooling units are available for purchase but they are expensive and when added with the labor costs, it can be a pricey project that could have easily been spent on a brand new refrigerator.

** This information came from “The Fun Times Guide” on their article called “RV Refrigerator Stop Working? Tips For Repairing vs Replacing It”.

Three Poisonous Plants To Avoid While Camping

People go camping for many reasons, but one of the main reasons is to enjoy the outdoors. Whether it’s hiking, strolling, fishing or swimming when we are camping we want to enjoy the great outdoors. There are several plants and animals that we need to watch out for and avoid when we are out in nature. Three of these plants include poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. With a bit of knowledge you can keep an eye out for these and you will know what to do if you happen to come in contact with them. The old adage of “leaves of three, let it be” could be used for poison ivy and oak, but not poison sumac.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy is found throughout much of North America, primarily to the east of the Rocky Mountains. It grows in wooded areas, predominantly around edge areas, on exposed rock, in open fields and as underbrush. The identifying characteristics of poison ivy include a cluster of three almond shape leaflets, reddish hairs on the vine and no thorns. If you do come into contact with poison ivy it will cause itching, red inflammation and possibly blistering. To treat exposure, over the counter medicines such as Calamine lotion and home remedies such as oatmeal baths and baking soda can help to relieve the irritation.

Poison Ivy

Poison Oak

Poison oak can be found from Virginia west to Texas and Oklahoma. It is an upright shrub with three leaflet clusters and grows in thickets, forests and dry, sandy fields. Exposure to poison oak causes similar symptoms to poison ivy; itching, red inflammation and blistering. Treatment is also similar to poison ivy, over the counter lotions, oatmeal baths and baking soda.

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Poison Sumac

Poison sumac is the most toxic of the three plants. Contact with poison sumac will cause more lengthy and painful skin eruptions and irritation. Poison sumac is found in wet areas, such as swaps, bogs and flooded areas in the eastern United States and Canada. Unlike poison ivy and oak, poison sumac is found in the form of a small tree or shrub. The plant contains greenish leafs that are oblong in shape with 7-13 leafs per stem. It also has grey fruit or berries.

Poison Sumac

For more information regarding these three plants visit http://www.wikipedia.com.

Pennsylvania does your RV stink?

Have you ever walked into a stale RV and wondered where the smell is coming from? Or are you trying to remove a smell in your RV after a long winter storage? The various smells and odors that form in RVs can be removed and taken care of. Here are 8 tips to removing bad odors from your RV.

1. Sewer Smell in the Bathroom
There are tons of chemicals that eliminate RV toilet odor on the market, each catering to the different ways your tank is dumped. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t help at all! Good ventilation for the black water tank is a must. The tank is vented out the roof of an RV. When traveling down the road, the wind can push wind down through that ventalation pipe, pushing the smell back into the RV instead of drawing out the odor. So…what do you do? You can install a special sewer vent that is designed to suck the odor out of the black tank with only a small breeze. See your local dealership to find out if they carry these special sewer vents.

2. Kitchen and Bathroom Drain Odors
When your trailer is not in use, water trapped in the P-traps under every sink and the shower can grow bacteria, spreading the smell throughout your RV. To keep the smell from forming, mix a cup of baking soda with a gallon of water. Pour the mixture down every drain and then dump what’s left into the kitchen sink so the mixture will go into the gray water tank too.

3. Rodent Odors in your RV
Dead rodents can be one of the worst smells in your RV. To remove the odor, find the dead rodent and remove it. Then scrub the area well, making sure to remove the odor and the bacteria/diseases that might have been left.

4. Bad Smelling Potable RV Water
When your water from your fresh water tank starts to smell or taste bad, it’s time to clean out the water system. The only way to get the fresh water tank system clean is to sanitize your RV water system with a diluted mixture of household bleach and water (make sure to rinse out the bleach mixture completely from your fresh water tank before use). If you keep having bad water issues in your fresh water tank system, consider installing a water filtration system.

5. Smelly RV Carpet and Pet Odors
The best way to remove smelly or pet stained carpets in your RV is to tear it out and replace it with laminate flooring. If you can’t afford to replace your carpet, another option is to get your carpet professionally cleaned. Invest in throw rugs to help keep your carpets clean and fresh as long as possible. You can also get your upholstery professionally cleaned, helping to eliminate any odors on your furniture too.

6. RV Refrigerator & Freezer Odors
To avoid a mildew or stale smell in your refrigerator and freezer, wipe down the inside with soap and water after every trip. Then leave the refrigerator and freezer doors left ajar to allow all moisture to evaporate. Leave either a shallow bowl or a box of baking soda in both the fridge and freezer will also help absorb any odors that may develop.

7. Stale RV Smells from Non-Use
If your RV has sat around for a while without regular use, a stale smell will start to appear. It’s usually smells, on top of smells, on top of smells! All in all…your RV needs to breath! Installing vent covers over the existing roof vents allows you to leave the roof vents open slightly, letting the hot stale air escape. Solar powered vents can also help you draw out the air more efficiently too. Removing the entire stale odor from your RV also involves doing steps 1 thru 6 and cleaning every surface in your RV. There are products on the market that claim they deodorized storage and mildew odors, but cleaning with regular household products work just as well.

8. Propane and Ammonia Odors
These two odors can mean big problems! If you start to smell a strong ammonia odor, the source will be the cooling unit of your refrigerator. The ammonia odor will be strong enough to bring tears to your eyes. There is really nothing you can do to fix it on your own. You’ll need to see the Service Department at your local Dealership, and be prepared for it to be expensive.

Propane odor can come from many areas and sources in and around your RV. Like the propane tanks, stove, oven, refrigerator, water heater, furnace, etc and the all lines that connect these appliances to the tanks as well. In order to detect a leak around the fittings, use a small brush and soapy water. Make sure to have adequate ventilation before you go looking for a propane problem. If you’re ever in doubt, call the Service Department at your local Central PA RV Dealership.

YOUTUBE VIDEO: Watch “How to Control Moisture and Musty Smells in an RV” from Gary Bunzer, the RV Doctor.

 

RV Odors: How to get rid of RV odors by the RV Doctor

**These tips for how to remove odors in your RV came from “RV Odor Problems: How to Remove 10 Different Odors from your RV” written by Curtis in the RV Section on the thefuntimesguide.com website.