Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Routine Maintenance

One of our readers emailed and said that they looked for a list of routine maintenance items on our site for their Roadtrek and could not find anything. She was correct - I have never put them all in one place - though they are scattered throughout various articles on this site. I responded with a detailed list and I am going to share that here with all of you. I will note on each if it does not apply to all Roadtreks - and some of these apply to all RVs and travel trailers. There is no particular order to these maintenance items. So here they are -

Routine Maintenance

1. For those with a Onan generator -> Change the oil in the generator every 150 hours or at least once every year. It takes one quart of oil.  In 2012 Onan came out with a new model with a few changes that don't apply to Onan generators from 2011 and earlier, and Roadtrek used the new one in later models - so the manual on their website now is for the newer model. If you are looking for the Onan manual for the older model - Microlite 2800 KV do a search on Google and it is out there. The manual shows how to change the oil.  There is a maintenance schedule in there plus diagrams and how tos. The new and the old manual have the same maintenance schedule and the oil is changed exactly the same way. You can do this yourself or have an RV service center do it. It involves being upside down under the van and doing most of the job by feel. You will need some way to get the oil from the bottle to the dipstick hole. There is a pump that attaches to oil bottles sold in marine stores and Walmart's fishing/marine aisle also has this. Connect the pump to the oil bottle, put the tube into the dipstick hole - after draining all of the oil and closing the drain plug securely - and pump. For the KV - one quart of oil only. For the newer model - up to 20 ounces of oil. Type of oil varies by usage - see the manual.

2. Again for Onan owners - Run the generator for two hours under half load once every month. Half load is anything that uses 1400 or more watts. The A/C while cooling does this. The A/C/Heat Pump while heating does this. (For both I turn the thermostat up or down to keep the compressor running.) When it gets too cold for the heat pump - 40 dF outside or colder - I bring in a house ceramic electric heater and plug that in and run it. So that I don't forget, it is on my calendar on my phone and computer with a reminder alarm for the 15th of every month.

3. Charge the batteries by plugging into shore power at least once a month - and keep an eye on battery level in case it falls to two LEDs and if so plug in then. This past year I started going to a twice a month schedule because the batteries were not making it through the month. The cold weather will drain the batteries faster even without use. I had set the schedule on my calendar for the 28th of every month and now I have added the 13th of every month. Plug in to shore power to charge. (Of course, if we are traveling on any of these days I don't do this - it is getting charged by driving and being plugged in every night at the campground.)  If you don't have AGM coach batteries which are maintenance free - always check the fluid level of deep cycle wet cell RV batteries regularly to make sure charging has not boiled the fluid too low or away completely. Always keep an eye on the battery level and charge when needed. You never wan to allow the batteries to go below half charge. If they are getting low, charge them! It is easy - plug in, run the generator, or drive (drive with a Roadtrek after 2005).

4. If you have a crank up, directional roof television antenna - Lubricate the crank up antenna once each year. Here is an article on how to do that (hard part is getting up to the antenna (I don't like heights and I need a big ladder to reach - never get on the roof or put any weight on it that is not evenly distributed - best to not put any weight on the roof) -

5. Lubricate the black tank and grey tank seals by pouring a half cup of plain mineral oil (found in pharmacies) down the toilet and down the sink. With the sink, follow with some water to push it past the drain trap. The next time you dump the tanks you will be lubricating the macerator also (if you have one) with the oil that is coming through from the tanks. Do this about three times during a season. I do this before the first trip. Then during a mid-summer trip and then again during a Fall trip.

6. Change the van oil either per what the percentage is on the van info panel says on the dash or at least once a year. Also rotate the tires if you feel it is necessary. I have a mechanic that changes the van oil. His garage is not tall enough to put the van up on a lift so he does the oil change and the tire rotation outside with the van put up on floor jacks. He has been really nice about doing this for me and we always wait for a dry day. We do this as soon as we can after we dewinterize. He also does the New York State vehicle inspection at the same time.

7. Winterize in late October/early November or as soon as it seems that there will be nights at 28 dF or below and days no longer in the upper 40's, low 50's. See my various articles on how to do this. Flush the hot water tank with a flush wand after you drain it in this process and also check the condition of the anode rod. Change the rod if necessary. When it gets to the thickness of a pencil or thinner, change it!

8. Dewinterize as soon as you believe there will no longer be any freezing weather. Watch the temps closely. I was going to do this in March when we were getting some really warm days and Meryl said not to - and good thing as we had two snows and a few freezes after that. We did it in late April. See my articles about how to do this.  Sanitize the tanks per my instructions when you do this. Sanitize anytime when you feel the water in the tanks is "funky".

9. Before every trip check the air pressure in the tires. The rear of the 190 should always be 80 in both tires. The fronts can vary between 50 and 65. I was told by Roadtrek to change the front psi if I wanted to improve the ride. They said start at 50, drive and see how it feels on the road, then increase in steps of 5 psi and test drive. Stop when the ride feels the best. They said never go over 65 in the front as the ride starts to worsen after that.  I like the fronts at 60. Make sure you have a tire pressure gauge that goes above 80 psi - car ones don't. I use a gauge and then compare to the dash tire readings. And also if you want to carry a tire compressor get one that goes to 120 psi so that it will not work so hard to put air in the tires. If you get a 12 volt one, always plug into the accessories socket in the dash with the engine running. Your tire psi may be different. Check with Roadtrek for your year and model or go by the sticker on the door frame if there is one from Roadtrek. Don't forget to check the spare tire. I keep the spare at 80 psi - easier to take out air for mounting on front than putting in air to mount on a rear wheel.

10. If you are not driving the Roadtrek during the winter, start the engine at least once every two weeks and let it run for a half hour to an hour.

11. At the end of my last trip for the year, I put an ethanol treatment into the van gas tank. Not for the van but for the generator. This gas and treatment will be used by the generator for all of the exercises during the winter months and into the Spring, cleaning the generator of any deposits. I use something called Lucas Ethanol Treatment. Some use Seafoam and some use Stabil. I like the Lucas because one bottle lasts two years - only need half a bottle for the Chevy Express size gas tank. I buy it at Walmart - each of these is sold at Walmart or any auto chain store.

12. After every time I dump the tanks, I put one gallon of clean water into the black tank down the toilet and then add tank chemical. I use Camco TST concentrate that has a waste digester, a deodorizer and a lube. There are many different ones other there - use any of your choice. Water is the most important thing. Always use a lot of water for the black tank. Flush solids with a good flush of a lot of water. If you put a lot of water in the black tank you should never have a problem with the macerator or even with a gravity system. Also dump when the tank is at least 2/3 full. If you are not sure (my black tank monitor has never worked) pour water down the toilet until you see the water coming up in the toilet drain pipe when the flap is open. That means the black tank is FULL. Then dump. Dump black tank first and then grey tank (which cleans out the hose).

13. You have a fire extinguisher in your Roadtrek (or RV). There is a dial on that fire extinguisher. Make sure that the arrow is fully in the good range. You don't want to find out too late that it will not work. If it is in the red, you can get it recharged or replace it.

There is a Baker's dozen. If I think of more or realize that I have forgotten something that I do, I will add it to this list in an addendum.  Seems like there should be more - and I have not gone into things like cleaning, washing, tightening screws and nuts that come loose from the vibrations of driving (just keep an eye out for those), etc.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A New Step in Sanitizing the Hot Water Tank

This year when we sanitized the the fresh tanks with bleach and water after de-winterizing I started to think about the article that I had just written about how the hot water tank works. I realized that since water in the hot water tank gets replaced with fresh water when water comes out through a hot water faucet, the bleach and water mix would take six gallons of fresh water coming though that tank until all of the bleach was out - not including an additional flush. I started thinking about how to easily speed up this process.

The obvious was to pull the anode rod and let the water and bleach pour out of the drain hole, but this still would not easily flush the hot water tank more than once to really get any residue of bleach or odor out. I came up with this idea instead. I would exchange the water in the hot water tank several times with the water coming out of the tank outside - and not needlessly filling the grey tank in the process. Here is how that is done.

1) The hot water tank should NOT be in bypass while sanitizing and it should remain NOT bypassed for this process.

2) Water pump OFF.

3) Attach a fresh hose to the city water inlet and a spigot outside. Turn on the water.

4) Turn on the outside shower hot water handle and open fully - step back!  Only the hot water handle on the outside shower should be open. No other faucet or shower handle should be on.  As the water comes rushing out of the shower (hose optional) you should smell bleach in the water.

5) Allow to run for at least 15 minutes.

6) After a steady flow of water for 15 minutes you should no longer smell bleach in the water coming out. (To test, take a small paper cup and put it under the streaming water coming out. Step away from where the water has been flowing and smell the water in the paper cup. You should not smell bleach.)

7) If you still smell bleach allow the water to continue to flow longer until there is no longer any smell of bleach in the water. (Use a new paper cup if you test again.)

8. Shut off the hot water outside shower handle.

9. You have now exchanged all of the water inside the 6 gallon hot water tank several times with fresh water, flushing that tank as many times.

10. Done!

You will still have the rest of your plumbing, etc. to flush - and at this point it is a good idea to put the hot water tank into BYPASS - just so that you do not put any bleach from the fresh tanks or pipes back into it.

When you are all finished flushing the fresh water tanks and all of the plumbing with fresh water and have removed all of the bleach - no bleach smell - you should put the hot water tank into use by putting the ByPass valves into NOT BYPASS position. You are now good to go!

This article will be linked in our Step By Step De-Winterizing and Sanitizing the Tanks article so that anyone following that article will be taken to this one for this new and easier step regarding the hot water tank.