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We are saddened to announce the passing of Gary Bunzer on April 17, 2020. We hope the RV Doctor website will continue to provide helpful information for you. Thank you for your interest and support for the RV Doctor - Debbie, Heather and Gretchen

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

RV Battery Overcharging

I tow a 22-foot travel trailer and we do most of our camping in provincial parks here in Ontario. Most of the time we are hooked up to electricity full time. Does it hurt the RV batteries if you are always hooked up to electricity and the batteries are always being charged? What about during those times we store the trailer? It almost seems after I have the batteries for about a year they don't last as long as when I first got them. Every once in a while we go to parks which don't have electrical hook-ups. I do carry two batteries.
Reinhardt, (Windsor, ONT)

Reinhardt, I’m not a fan of leaving the RV plugged in non-stop unless you are close by to monitor the batteries. Overcharging is a common malady caused primarily by mediocre charging converters. There are exceptions of course; those sophisticated chargers which employ a three or four-step charging process, for example. Boiled batteries are far too common when RVs are left plugged in during non-use, unless you take the time to check the electrolyte level quite often.

It’s actually better to fully charge and then remove the batteries from the RV during any long period of non-use, especially over a harsh winter where temperatures may dip below freezing. Constant overcharging causes batteries to sulfate at a quicker rate, thereby reducing effective performance. This sounds like what you are experiencing. Decent deep cycle batteries should certainly last longer than one year.

I recommend the Xantrex Truecharge line of RV battery chargers. Most battery makers heartily favor the application of a definitive, three-stage charging process to fully and quickly charge battery systems on modern RVs. Outfitted with a sophisticated microprocessor, the charging amperages and charge voltages produced by the Truecharge2 unit, for example, are accurately regulated to provide the correct charging cycle without the risk of overcharging. This means RVs can be stored over long periods while plugged into shore power without worry. Additionally, the Truecharge2 is applicable to wet cell, gel and AGM batteries.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Motorhome Hydraulic Levelers

I'm fairly new to RVing and I bought a 31-foot Class A motorhome that has the HWH hydraulic leveling system. My question is: I live in Upstate, NY and the winters are pretty fierce here. I store my motorhome in a 35-foot carport (RV port) and would like to know if when storing my rig in the winter, should I have the jacks down to take the weight off from the tires or is this not good for the leveling system? It’s just not possible to move the rig in the winter to change the tire position.
Michael, (Fulton, NY)

Michael, it is indeed permissible to extend the HWH hydraulic levelers during any period of non-use. Another reason why I’m a fan of HWH. Just be sure to wipe down each leveler before retraction in case moisture, dirt or debris has gathered during the time it was under the carport. It’s always commendable to remove the weight on the tires during a storage period if possible, just don’t extend the levelers enough to raise the tires completely off the ground. Just take a little weight off them and you’ll be fine. And be sure to check the level of the fluid in the reservoir too!


Monday, April 3, 2017

No Water Pressure in RV Fresh Plumbing System

The water pressure in our motorhome is getting lower and lower in the bathroom. Plus it makes a whistling sound when the hot water is running. The sound seems to be coming from or near water heater. I have replaced the connector and pressure valve where you hook it to city water. It still has low pressure in the bathroom; especially the hot water has very low pressure. Any help would be appreciated!
Billy, (Paris, TN)

Billy, here’s a couple things to check. Remove the faucet strainer at the outlet of that bathroom faucet set. It simply unscrews from the outlet. There may also be a flow restrictor component inside, depending on the brand of faucet used in your motorhome. A flow diverter may also be present; usually a white plastic piece with holes in it. It basically directs the output flow to a certain pattern. Be sure all the components in the tap outlet are clean and free from all obstructions. It’s common for mineral deposits to accumulate in this strainer assembly. It’s possible that significant flow restriction at the faucet would cause back pressure at the water heater. As an annual procedure, it’s also a good measure to perform this simple maintenance task at every faucet in the RV.

Additionally, some faucet assemblies have removable stems for both the hot and cold faucet valves. In some cases, these can be removed for cleaning. Again, it depends on which brand the manufacturer originally installed.

Your situation could also be caused by an issue originating at the rear of the water heater. Gain access to the rear of the heater from inside the RV. You’ll probably see a set of bypass valves used for winterizing. First check the valves themselves. You will either have a one, two or three valve set-up that allows you to bypass the water heater for winterizing purposes. Be sure the bypass valves are in the correct position and that the appropriate valves are either fully opened or fully closed.

There should also be a check valve at the cold water inlet to the water heater. The cold inlet is the bottommost fitting. The check valve is a one-way backflow preventer that allows cold water in and prevents the heated water from migrating out of the water heater back into the cold piping system. It’s possible the check valve is partially open; again mineral deposits can prevent the spring inside from closing off the valve completely. This is probably the source of the whistling noise you hear. You can obtain a new check valve at your local RV accessory store. It will attach with common pipe threads. Be sure to obtain the correct size. You will have to drain the water heater in order to remove the cold water line plumbed to that check valve fitting. Flush out the water heater as you drain it. There are aftermarket hose attachments available to aid in this process. This will help eliminate those pesky mineral deposits that can migrate to the faucets.

When installing the new check valve, apply a pipe thread sealant approved for fresh water systems to the male threads and carefully thread the new valve into the heater, taking care not to cross-thread it! Then simply re-attach the cold water inlet tubing to the new valve, apply water pressure to refill the heater and check for leaks. You’ll know the water heater is filled when you have free flowing water from each hot faucet in the motorhome. It may take a minute or so of running to rid the system of air, but this should eliminate any blockages and that whistling noise.

##RVT788; ##RVT883

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Lippert Slideout Adjustment

Can you explain the adjustment sequence on how far the slides go in and out with my Lippert slideout? The manual just says to adjust the jam nuts, but not which way. Paul. B. 

Paul, I checked with the Customer Service Manager at Lippert and evidently they’ve edited that user’s guide you sent me, to make it a little clearer about those adjusting nuts. As it states below, you move nuts C and B in relationship to the bracket in order to effectuate a good seal. 

 Adjusting room so it seals in the IN position
1. Locate cylinder coming through the frame.
2. Run room partially out.
3. Hold jam nut (Fig. 4A) in place with wrench.
4. Adjust Nylock nut (Fig. 4C) towards the bracket if the room does not seal. Adjust the Nylock nut (Fig. 4C) away from the bracket if the room is too tight and damages the fascia.

NOTE: Make small adjustments, running the room in after each adjustment until proper seal is achieved.

Adjusting room so it seals in the OUT position
1. Locate cylinder coming through the frame.
2. Extend room completely out.
3. Check the inside fascia and seal positioning.
4. Partially retract room.
5. Loosen and back off jam nut (Fig. 4A) from nut (Fig. 4B) to give nut (Fig. 4B) room for adjustment.
6. Adjust nut (Fig. 4B) away from the bracket if the room extends too far and damages the inside fascia. Adjust nut (Fig. 4B) towards the bracket if the room does not seal.

NOTE: Make small adjustments, running the room out after each adjustment until proper seal is achieved.

7. Tighten jam nut (Fig. 4A) to nut (Fig. 4B).

NOTE: 2" to 3" of free travel is normal.



Saturday, December 31, 2016

RV Anti-Freeze

We have a Fleetwood Regal Prowler. It is a seasonal unit, set up at a campground year around. We are hooked up to city water and so do not use the fresh water holding tank. Can I pour 12 or more gallons of RV antifreeze into the tank and use what I need to winterize the trailer each year from what I have stored in the fresh water tank? And an important question, does the stored antifreeze remain stable or does it deteriorate?
Richard, (Oshkosh, WI)

I see no reason not to attempt what you are suggesting Richard. As long as you never need on-board, self-contained fresh water, why not use the fresh water storage tank as an anti-freeze holding container? RV anti-freeze will have a shelf life, but I do not know how long it will actually stay viable, so check with the suppler to be sure of its life expectancy. I’m sure the producer of that brand will have what’s called an MSDS sheet that should help shed some light on its lifespan.

And I’m certain you would not require twelve gallons of it to properly protect your Prowler. I do recommend a water heater by-pass kit to keep the anti-freeze cost down though. I would venture you’d be able to safely use the same anti-freeze for a minimum of at least two years. You can always test its effectiveness after that by using a coolant hydrometer. I’d run a little through the water pump as well to keep the gaskets and seals moist in there since you never use the pump while on city water. But, shoot….I’d say go for it since you employ city water all the time. If need be, it can always be flushed out later.


Thursday, May 26, 2016

No DC in RV

I recently upgraded from our 1987 pop-up and purchased a 2003 Starcraft Travel Star. I used an adapter to power the camper at the house. When I first plugged it in, it appeared that everything was fine. After approximately 15 minutes, all of the lights went out.  I purchased the unit from my brother and I camped in this unit last fall so I know that there were no previous issues. A few details to mention. We had a storm a day or two before I picked it up and the wind blew the refrigerator vent cover off of the roof, so it is possible that water got down in behind the fridge. 

Further investigation revealed that there is power to all of the outlets, so the microwave also works, as well does the fan for the air conditioning unit. The refrigerator, radio and lights do not work. I checked all fuses and breakers and all are fine. The battery was disconnected at the time, I connected it and still didn't have power, however, I'm confident that the battery is no good and I don't believe that the battery should need to be connected for the lights to work anyway. The last detail that I will mention, is that when I pulled to check the 30 amp fuses, I did notice some "browning" on the circuit board on the panel. (A few pictures attached). Any ideas? Mark W. 

Mark, unfortunately your photos are way too small for me to discern anything conclusive from them, but keep in mind, all the lamps, radio, controls for the refrigerator, etc., are all powered by 12-volts DC. The receptacles, the converter, air conditioner, microwave, etc., are all 120-volt AC loads. Without a battery in the system, some converters do not operate. The battery acts as a sort of filter and must be connected into the system even when connected to shore power.

The discoloration you mention on the circuit board leads me to believe the converter has failed, either the board itself or the switching mechanism that is energized when shore power is available. It’s doubtful any rain water entering behind the refrigerator caused the damage. More likely a voltage surge or spike from the storm burned out components inside the converter. To be sure the 12-volt DC system is still operating, install the battery and see if everything works without the coach being plugged into shore power; just being powered by the battery. If all works off the battery, the problem is central to the converter (either the relay or the board). But before buying a new converter/charger, I’d have a certified technician perform some measurements and tests to declare the existing unit faulty.

Monday, February 29, 2016

RV Armor or Liquid Rubber?

I recently read an article about repairing and re-coating rubber RV roofs. In it was a product by RV Roof Armor and that they come and apply, but I imagine it's pretty pricey, right? At the bottom of the article I read there were three contributors to the article. Specifically I'm interested in Liquid Rubber manufactured by Pro Guard Coatings. Do you have any information about them or any comments about their product? Roger A.

Roger, in the past, I have used a Pro Guard product similar to the Liquid Rubber you mention and it was indeed, satisfactory. Though a great product, I believe spot sealants and coatings are not truly comparable with a roofing "system" such as the RV Armor roof. It's apples to oranges. The only RV roof I recommend is RV Armor. You can’t beat the lifetime warranty and the cost-savings over time. If you factor in the typical and annual maintenance costs, let alone the hassle of having to take the RV to a service facility, it’s an easy decision for committed RV owners to make.

I would suggest you give RV Armor a call and allow them to provide you with an estimate to, once and forever, relieve you of all concerns regarding your roof. As they state in their video, you’ll never have to get up on that roof again.

After seeing RV Armor in person, and getting to know the company and the product, I consider all other RV roof maintenance products just about unnecessary, and simply not worth the time and expense it takes each and every season.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Norcold Refrigerator Not Cooling Properly

I have a Norcold model 1211 refrigerator. The unit was shut down last spring and powered up again in early fall. Upon start up, the fridge took a long time to get cold and the ice maker water valve would not allow water to the ice maker. I replaced the water valve with a new one and it is now making ice but the refrigerator does not seem to be cooling. I am getting a lot of condensation on the inside of the refrigerator top and on the cooling fins. I believe that the minimum cooling that I am getting is coming from the freezer. Any help would be great as I am full-time user at this point. The unit has a Norcold designed high temperature shut off relay that is tripping and cutting power to the unit. I had this problem twice last year while traveling with my family. The relay was replaced by an RV service center at no cost to me either time, as the relay had failed. At that time I was told of a reset procedure for the relay using a magnet but I don't remember the procedure. Any idea? (no name provided) 

As for your Norcold unit not cooling properly, and that condensation is forming, I’d suggest looking at the integrity of the door seals. It's rather typical that the freezer section seems to cool first since that is the first evaporator the condensed contents flows into. But also, considering the issues with this model and the fact that moisture has apparently intruded into the controls somehow creates additional operational concerns. One of the easiest to understand websites I’ve researched, as well as the magnet procedure (and alternate methods) can be found here. This page addresses the recall situation also. Slide a few inches down the page and look for  "What to do first if Norcold recall or ARP Trips." I certainly hope this helps!


Monday, February 22, 2016

Using RV Antifreeze

I am winterizing my Hi-Lo and am wondering about putting RV antifreeze in the fresh water tank and pumping it through the system. That is what the book says to do. I don’t know if that is safe. Can I pull off the pump inlet hose, and put it directly into the jug of antifreeze and pump it through the lines? Dave A. 

Dave, you can absolutely pump the anti-freeze throughout the system as you suggested, but it might be easier by pumping it backwards through a faucet spout. In fact, a backflow kit, with a hand pump, is available for that very purpose. But it is totally acceptable to pour the anti-freeze directly into the fresh tank and use the RV’s water pump to pump it throughout the system as well. You can’t go wrong either way.


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Where's the VIN on my 5th Wheel?

I have been given a fifth-wheel that has no title. I am in the process of obtaining that, but need to know where I can find the VIN number. An internet search has proved fruitless and those responding often tell me to look on the tongue next to the bumper hitch. Obviously, they don't know what a fifth wheel trailer is. I'd truly appreciate your help. I do enjoy your information coming to my inbox every week- I'm learning loads! thank you in advance.  
Tina G.

Tina, for towable recreational vehicles, fifth-wheels and conventional travel trailers, the Federal certification label with the manufacturer’s VIN is typically found on the left, roadside front corner of the coach, near the bottom of the sidewall. In some cases, it may also be posted inside a cabinet door or even on the entry screen door. But the required spot is at that front left corner, down low on the sidewall. Here's an example provided by Keystone RV.



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