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Monday, April 23, 2012

Need Some Deeper RV Study?

Hello Gary, thank you for your website, I enjoy the articles immensely. I was wondering if you could recommend a comprehensive technical publication for doing diagnostic work on RV refrigerators, hot water tanks and air-conditioning units? I realize there may be multiple publications involved and also may be specific to type but I am looking for somewhat more basic tech pubs, at least at first. 

I am fairly comfortable technically as I fix helicopters for a living, electrical -ac and dc, engines, general mechanical, hydraulics, pneumatics etc. However one thing I've learned after 35 years on helicopters-an expert in one field is usually an amateur in other fields. It will just make it easier for me to learn.  I do not have the basic working knowledge needed to foray into the inner workings of these appliances. Last summer our only a/c unit failed and I did find specific publications for it on line. After giving everything a good look I discovered -as is so often the case with machinery- an electrical connection to the compressor had cracked and finally broke off after creating enough resistance. A new connector and we were in business.

Anyway this taught me I needed more information about my coach systems "ready at hand" so I can be prepared for the next possible issue. Any advise would be welcomed. Mike V., (Parry Sound, ONT) 


The first thing I would recommend, Mike, is to contact each supplier manufacturer individually and obtain the owner’s manual or user’s guide for your particular model of refrigerator, water heater, furnace and air conditioner. If possible, also gather the repair manual or shop manual for each device. Of most importance is an accurate wiring diagram or schematic. Oftentimes, like you mentioned, some of these publications can be found online. But most product suppliers do not encourage RV owners to perform their own repairs. Preventive maintenance is another area and I highly encourage RVers to perform as many of the annual maintenance procedures as you can. But troubleshooting and repair is entirely a different animal. I’m sure you’ve found this out working on helicopters all those years.

In some cases, performing repairs requires specific diagnostic testers and equipment not normally found in the typical handyman’s tool kit. Also, specific training may also be required. As an example, reconditioning an absorption refrigerator cooling unit requires not only specific training, but also specialized equipment and hazardous materials training, etc. Same thing for evacuating and recharging a roof air conditioner. But many tasks are performed by RV owners, who, with proper guidance and preparation, can indeed perform their own troubleshooting and repair tactics successfully.

The individual textbooks we use to train professional RV service technicians are available directly from RVIA and can be purchased by anyone at their online store located here.

You can order the complete set, or just the books you want. They are updated periodically, by committee, to keep up with new information and practices. I’ve had the pleasure of serving on that committee for a few years now. The textbooks will certainly go deeper than any other type of book you will find. You may have to apply the info in the textbooks to your specific equipment, but all of the current practices are usually included in each textbook. 

You also might consider enrolling in some of their upcoming new programs. Anyone can enroll and learn about RV service training from some of the best experts in the country. As more information becomes available, I'll post it here on the RV Doctor Website.

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In all instances, every effort is made to ensure the correctness of all content on the RV Doctor Website. It is imperative that if you choose to follow any instructions or procedures outlined on any page of this website, you must first satisfy yourself thoroughly that neither personal nor product safety will be compromised or jeopardized.

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If you are in doubt or do not feel comfortable about a procedure, do not continue. Simply call your local RV service facility and make an appointment with them. The advice, recommendations and procedures offered by the RV Doctor are solely those of Gary. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions, procedures and recommendations of our sponsors or advertisers.