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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.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Fear of Freezing

I am freaking out! The temperature got down to 25 last night and we have water in our water heater and one gallon of water and a chemical in our black tank. We did blow out the water lines. Should I be concerned about the tank and water heater freezing last night? We were not expecting the temperature to drop so fast. We are camping and I am scared I am going to find a busted tank. Rhonda F.

Rhonda, I doubt any damage was done with one night below freezing, but if the temps are due to dip that low again, you’ll probably have to fully winterize the RV, including the water heater. If you have no water in the hot lines, the only way to blow out all the fresh plumbing lines with the water heater filled is to bypass it via the bypass valves. Perhaps you only need to drain the heater and all will be fine. You can easily drain the water heater by removing the plug and opening the P&T relief valve on the unit. But do verify all plumbing lines are clear of water; both hot and cold.

The holding tank is likely just fine also. Freeze damage occurs when lines freeze and expand the tubing. One gallon of water in a holding tank, even if it ices over, will not expand enough to cause any damage. It may cause the termination valves to stick a little, but nothing should be hurt. But it might be time to decide to move the RV or fully winterize it if the temperatures stay below-freezing for any length of time. No need to freak, however.

Monday, November 23, 2015

RV Water Heater Stripped Threads On Drain

I have a water heater on my RV that I had to use a impact wrench to undo the drain plug. I read in one of your articles a reference to a thread chaser or tap. Could you please let me know where I can buy this tool. I've checked plumbing outlets, machine shops and big box home stores. I have checked with a couple of local RV super stores with no luck. Your help would be appreciated! Sonny B.

Sonny, if the NPT size of the threads is 3/4-inch, you can use a standard, tapered pipe thread to clean out the female threads. Just don’t cut too deeply; only enough to restore the threads in the tank. The tank threads will be a whole lot softer, so go slow! Here’s a link to a pipe tap that should work, though I'm sure any brand will do the trick.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Cable-Operated RV Dump Valve Replacement

I continue to have problems with my cable-pull dump valves on my waste water tanks. I can't even close the black water valve now. I had to buy a temporary valve for the end of the run. My question; Can these be replaced with any other type of valve? Even if I had to drop the under belly and re-plumb to get to the side of the coach for all three valves? I  tried to find prints or drawings of how the waste plumbing is layed out, but of course that didn't happen. I would appreciate some feed back, thanks! Bob B.

Bob, it’s bad enough to have to deal with such archaic methods of waste management, but having problems with those cable-pulls are no fun at all. Since it’s likely a routing or corrosion issue with the cables (or perhaps cheap valves), I’d recommend eliminating them altogether. Drainmaster offers an electric gate valve that is operated by battery power. I’d replace all three valves and mount the switches in the wet bay or close to the termination outlets. By code it’s mandated that the sewer valves be positioned only so far from the tank outlet, so moving all three valves to the side of the coach may not be the best choice. Since you’ll have to drop the underbelly anyway, why not just do it once and for all? Check out the Drainmaster here. Give them a call to find the best method of getting these valves to you. But do away with those cable-acuated valves!


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