As you prepare for your next winter RV outing, proper maintenance of your RV is crucial. Keep these tips in mind so that it runs smoothly in the harsh conditions ahead.
Inspect the Engine
The first step that you should take is to check that all your RV’s engine components are in working order. You don’t want to end up stuck in freezing temperatures with a dead vehicle. Perform all the necessary maintenance your engine may need, such as changing the oil, engine tune-up, tire pressure, and so on. Have a look at your battery, and clean the terminals to ensure a good charge. You could also consider a newer battery. They are less likely to have problems in the colder temperatures and won’t prevent you from starting your RV.
You should use an antifreeze solution that contains at least a 1:1 ratio of antifreeze to water for your coolant so the water alone does not freeze. Similarly, if your RV runs on diesel, add an anti-gel supplement to your fuel tank. Then, drive your RV for a bit so the anti-gel can pervade all the fuel lines. This will prevent the diesel from solidifying in colder temperatures and harming your engine.
Use a block heater in temperatures between 10- and 32-degrees Fahrenheit to prep your engine before you start it. Turn it on four to five hours before you want to start the engine and remember to shut it off before you run the engine.
Heat the RV Interior
Colder temperatures will also affect the performance of your house batteries. When temperatures are low, there’s an increase in interior heating and lighting usage. This places an additional strain on the batteries. As such, you should inspect and make sure the batteries have a full charge. Replace older ones with new ones as needed to ensure they’re reliable once you’re on the road.
Just like the engine, you should examine your RV furnace and carry out maintenance on it frequently. Check for dirty filters and keep the furnace free from blockage due to debris so air can move through it smoothly. You may even choose to have it checked by a professional. Its proper functioning will ensure that you do not waste propane and remain cozy warm while staying in your RV.
During your trip, avoid overworking the furnace by turning the temperature setting lower when possible. For example, do this when you go to sleep and can cover up with blankets to stay warm. This will reduce noise and save furnace fuel as well.
Don’t overlook having your LP tanks filled before starting, this way you can observe the usage and how long a tank might last, refilling as needed. Waking up to freezing inside temperatures is never a good way to start the day.
If your RV furnace is inadequate and can’t meet your needs in more extreme conditions, you should invest in a separate heater. Catalytic heaters are a good option because they do not require electricity and don’t produce carbon monoxide. Secondary or backup heat sources will provide additional heat when needed as well as a piece of mind. Please note, some manufacturers protect their holding tanks and drain lines using a small duct from the furnace. If your RV has this type of protection, using a secondary interior heat source can reduce the amount of time your furnace runs. However, it may increase the risk of your water system freezing from inadequate heat. For this reason, professionals highly recommend adding tank, elbow, and pipe heaters to your water system.
Protect Your Plumbing
Don’t neglect your RV’s plumbing when you plan to travel and stay in freezing climates. Nonfunctional holding tanks or supply and drain lines will halt water flow or render your utilities useless. This may even create an unsightly mess if they interfere with your septic systems. Segments may even burst due to water expansion, which can lead to costly repairs. Plus, your RV will likely have a long downtime, so you would need to find new lodging.
To combat this, install RV heat pads and/or pipe heaters. They attach to the susceptible areas where water is stationary or stored beneath the floor in the basement. As such, their contents won’t freeze solid. You might also want to enclose and insulate the holding tanks themselves after installing holding tank heaters. This is necessary for harsher climates because the tanks and pipelines receive direct exposure to the extreme elements. Tank heaters sense the fluid temperatures of their respective containers. They will alternately turn on and off to maintain a specific climate range above freezing. Cycling the tank heaters helps to conserve energy while the system is on. By enclosing these systems, it will better protect them from the cold. The RV heat pads become more efficient and will work less saving power consumption.