As full-time RVers, my husband and I are not new to the world of RV repair. I’m an RVTAA Registered RV Technician and NRVIA Certified RV Inspector. My husband is an RVTAA Certified RV Technician. Through our work on our first rig, a used 2018 Jayco Northpoint 5th wheel, our new 2023 Heartland North Trail travel trailer, and countless customer RVs, we’ve come across a lot problems that owners could easily avoid with routine maintenance.
Why does routine maintenance matter? First, it will save you money. Spending a small amount early on to prevent problems before they occur will help you avoid much larger costs down the road. Second, proper maintenance of your rig will allow it to run more efficiently, reducing wear and tear on the parts and appliances. Third, it can provide peace of mind, like knowing your camper is sealed during a rain storm.
Here are 5 Things You Should Maintain Annually on Your RV:
1 – Seams/Joints
One of the greatest problems you can experience with your RV is finding water where it shouldn't be. Moisture build-up can cause mold, delamination, and rotting inside your rig. But there are some steps you can take to prevent this. Sealant on an RV is not a “one and done” process. It should be checked annually for signs of cracking, bubbling, pin holes, and overall coverage.
2 – Service and Clean Air Conditioners
Just like in a sticks-and-bricks home, air conditioning units need annual cleaning and diagnostic check-ups. Particles such as leaves, sand, build-up, and other debris can affect your air conditioner’s operation. As do bent condenser coils.
Additionally, there are several components to an air conditioning that can break down over time that are much more easily fixed (and cheaper) than replacing the entire unit. For that reason, it’s important to check the capacitors and power to the units after they’re cleaned.
3 – Lubricate Slide Seals
Sounds fun, right? Who doesn’t want to spend an hour or two wiping down their seals? Just like sealant, your rubber seals can become dried out over time. Lubricating these seals on an annual basis (or more frequently, depending on the environment you’re in) will go a long way in extending the life of these important pieces, while also helping to protect against water intrusion.
When choosing a product to lubricate your seals, you want to use a silicone-based dry lubricant. These use ether to propel the product from its canister. The ether will dissolve ensuring that dirt and other particles do not stick to your seals.
4 - Lead-Acid Batteries (if applicable)
Lead-acid batteries utilize an electrolyte mix composed of sulfuric acid and water in order to work. Over time, the water in these batteries evaporates. This causes the battery to lose some of its function and eventually, break down altogether. For this reason, it’s important to check the water levels in your lead-acid batteries approximately every year.
Tap water and spring water contain microbes and other particulates that can hurt your batteries. When filling these to their appropriate level, use distilled water only, as it does not contain these harmful particles.
5 - Change Anode Rod in Water Heater (if applicable)
I will start this section by saying – not every water heater needs an anode rod. Read on to find out if yours does.
You may be happy to know that your RV comes with several cheaper parts that exist solely to sacrifice themselves in order to prolong the life of more expensive equipment. One of these sacrificial parts is an anode rod.
The anode rod is a stick of aluminum or magnesium that is placed inside a steel drum water heater in order to collect iron and other minerals from the water. This protects the steel drum from breaking down and extends the life of your water heater.
The most common manufacturer of steel water heaters is Suburban. If you have a Dometic/Atwood or on-demand Truma water heater, you do not have an anode rod to replace. Keep in mind that you’ll want to clean out your water heater annually, regardless of the brand/type.
DIY or Call a Tech?
Some people are confident handling maintenance of their RV themselves. If you do not feel comfortable performing these tasks, or simply don’t have the time, we recommend finding a qualified technician. To find a technician, go to: rvtaa.org/locate to find a qualified technician in your area.
This list of 5 Things You Need to Maintain Annually on Your RV provides a brief overview of some maintenance requirements for RVs, but it is not exhaustive. If you have questions regarding maintenance for your RV, make an appointment with your local dealer or a qualified mobile RV technician.
Do you conduct regular maintenance on your RV? Hire someone to do it? Or is there an item on your maintenance checklist you'll never forget due to a previous mishap? Drop a comment below and let us know!