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Finally! Spring is here and it's time to go RVing again! Unfortunately, your RV has been "sleeping" all winter so you'll need to properly wake it up or else it'll be cranky. In that way it's no different from some people when they wake up. Assuming that your unit has been properly put to bed, then everything should be in good shape and it's just a matter of bringing the various systems back on line. Following are some tips to help you do that:

Engine and Chassis:

This is my first step. If the engine and chassis were properly serviced at the end of the last season, it should have fresh oil in it and all the chassis fittings should be freshly greased. Still, it's a good idea to check the engine oil, transmission, and coolant levels just to be sure. Now it's time to check out for anything that may have seized up over the winter months. Better get your WD40 can, oil can, and various spray greases handy because even though your RV was resting over winter, rust never sleeps. Lube all the various linkages, including engine access panel hinges and latches. If for some reason, you didn't change oil earlier, then now would be a good time to do that as well as lubricate all the grease fittings. Check the water level in the chassis batteries and also clean any dirty or loose connections on the battery cable.

Next, try the brakes, including the park brake. Make sure that nothing is sticking or hanging up. Top off the windshield washer fluid if needed and inspect the windshield wiper blades. Chances are they're pretty hard right about now and won't do a very good job of wiping the windshield. If they chatter and skip the first time it rains you'll hate yourself for not replacing them earlier. Check your tire pressures. Rubber does tend to weep air over time. After sitting all winter you may need to top them off. If you notice that one tire is significantly lower than the others you'd better check that tire to see where the leak is. You may have a bad valve stem or other tire defect. While you're at it look at the tires' date codes. RV tires wear out from age, not miles, so you don't want to run them any longer than 5-6 years or you'll risk blowouts due to sidewall failures.

Start the engine. Check the gauges to ensure that all of the readings are where they should be. Try all the dash accessories, including the air conditioning. Test all of the lights, including brake lights and turn signals to see if any bulbs need replacing.

Coach Exterior:

Now would be a good time to give it a bath. Once it's good and clean, inspect any sealing joints for loose caulking. Check carefully around any roof accessories, such as air conditioners, fans, vent pipes, etc. If any caulking is loose or missing it's time to clean the old stuff off and recaulk it. Also check the sidewalls, paying careful attention to caulking and sealants around windows, doors, and vents. Repair as needed. Open the main awning as well as any window or door awnings. Check for proper operation and inspect the fabric for any damage or rotting.

Operate the steps a few times and inspect and lubricate them. Check over the wiring and make sure there is no corrosion damage or loose connections. Lubricate the entrance door hinges and latches. Also lube the basement storage compartment hatch covers in the same manner. Spraying a little silicone on the RV's sliding windows will help them and keep any rubber parts from drying out. It's a good idea to also rub some silicone spray into the door weatherstripping at this time.


Replace all of the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detector. The LP gas leak detector generally runs on battery voltage but test all three of these systems to make sure they work.

Check the fire extinguisher. Dry chemical extinguishers are supposed to be serviced annually. If left alone the dry chemical can pack up inside and they won't work when you need them. Some folks like to remove them and give the bottom a whack with a rubber mallet to loosen things up.

Replace or clean any filters on the heating or air conditioning systems. If you placed static sheets in the coach to ward off rodents you may want to pick them all up now then thoroughly clean the interior of the coach and air it out. Keep an eye out for any signs of rodent damage.

Hydraulic Leveling Jacks:

Run the jacks up and down a few times and verify that they hold the coach up and fully retract when they should. Also check any hydraulic room slides to be sure they function. After the jacks are fully retracted and the slideouts are in, let the hydraulic fluid settle for a while, then check the oil level. Don't do this when the jacks are down or you'll overfill it.

Generator Set:

If you serviced your generator set prior to storage, all you should have to do is check the oil and coolant levels. If not, change the engine oil, oil filter, fuel filter, and air filter per your generator set's recommended service procedures. Run the generator at a minimum of 1/2 load for at least one hour and verify that it's putting out power and running properly. Inspect for any physical damage as well.

Electrical System:

Check the coach batteries. Clean and tighten any connections and check water levels. Charge them up good then test your batteries with a hydrometer or spectrometer. Check any interior 12 volt devices, such as fans and lights.

Plug into shore power and test the various AC systems. If your hot water heater tank is not filled with water, DO NOT test this item yet. Leave that circuit breaker in the OFF position until you fill the water heater. Run the refrigerator on AC power to verify that it's cooling properly. Test any GFCI outlets for proper operation.

Water System:

First you need to flush any RV antifreeze out of the system. We do this by filling the tank with fresh water and allowing the water pump to flush the system.

  1. Be sure fresh water tank and low point drain valves are closed, then fill the fresh water tank.
  2. Turn on the water pump.
  3. Open hot water heater diverter valve to flush a small bit of water out the heater’s drain plug.
  4. Close the diverter valve again.
  5. Replace the hot water heater drain plug and make sure the pop off valve is open. If your heater uses an anode rod, this is a good time to replace it.
  6. Open the diverter to fill the hot water heater tank.
  7. When water comes out the pop off valve close the pop off valve.
  8. Open the kitchen sink faucets until clean water comes out.
  9. Open the ice maker water shutoff petcock, if so equipped.
  10. Plug in the ice maker if it was unplugged over the winter.
  11. Open the shower faucets until clean water comes out.
  12. Open the bathroom sink faucets until clean water comes out.
  13. Flush the toilet a few times until clean water comes out.
  14. Open the outside wash station faucets until clean water comes out.
  15. Lower the bail lever on the ice maker to begin making ice cubes.
  16. Briefly open the low point drain to purge any antifreeze in the line.
  17. Check for any leaks.
  18. Turn off the water pump.

Now that we have the system pretty well flushed out it's time to sanitize the water tank. We'll do this by adding bleach to the water tank. Detailed instructions for this can be found on the Sanitizing Your Fresh Water System page.

  1. Drain the fresh water tank.
  2. Close the fresh water tank drain valve.
  3. Mix your bleach with the required amount of water and pour into the fresh water tank.
  4. Fill the fresh water tank with water.
  5. Run this solution through the various faucets to sanitize the water lines as well.
  6. Let the chlorine solution stand at least 4 hours then drain the tank.
  7. Replace the primary water filter.
  8. Refill the tank with fresh water.
  9. Turn on water pump.
  10. Flush out any chlorine smell via the kitchen sink faucets.

Now that we have the tank nice and clean and nothing is "living" in there we can finish the dewinterizing process. It will take a while to flush all the chlorine out so feel free to run the water liberally after it's refilled with fresh water.

  1. Turn on the circuit breaker for the hot water heater and start the heater.
  2. If the hot water smells bad, shut it off, drain it, and refill until it is good.
  3. If it foams alot, it's just the chlorine remnant that's in the tank and lines. Kep running hot water through it and it'll disipate eventuyally.
  4. By now you should be making ice cubes so clean the ice maker bin out.
  5. Reconnect power to washer-dryer and turn on the water supply valves.
  6. Run washer through any wash cycle with TBSP or powder detergent to clean out and antifreeze in the system.
  7. Dump the black water tank.
  8. Dump the gray water tank.
  9. Put the black sewer cap back on the dump valve.
  10. Put some water in the black water tank via the toilet and add chemicals.
  11. Replace the under-sink water filter element and turn off the bypass valve.

LP System:

Turn on the LP tank valve. You may want to have the system checked by a qualified service technician to ensure that there are no leaks and that the gas pressure is up to specs. Run the furnace(s) and test for operation. Also switch the refrigerator over to LP mode and verify that it can properly cool your unit.


Submitted by Mark Quasius - 3/24/06

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