Get Your Travel Trailer or Fifth Wheel Ready for Spring
Everything You Need to Know on Prepping Your Rig for the Season
Spring is here and our summer adventures are right around the corner. If you are new to the world of travel trailers or fifth wheels, this is a logical time of year to be asking the following question: how do I get my travel trailer or fifth wheel ready for spring 2021?
Over time, all trailer and fifth-wheel owners come up with their own spring checklist for prepping their rig for summer. If this is your first spring getting your new rig ready for adventure, however, here’s a quick overview of all the things you should consider.
Start with an Exterior Walkaround
If you covered your travel trailer or fifth wheel for the winter months, start walking around your rig to check for any damage to the cover itself. If you find damage that’s going to require you to get a new cover, it’s better to know that now than to find out late in the fall.
Then, you can remove the cover and do another exterior walkaround to make sure everything looks like as it was when you stored it. Climb up onto the roof of your rig to inspect for damage or leaks as well. Also, open all of your underneath storage compartments and give them some time to air out.
If water entered your compartments during the winter at all, leave them open for an hour or so to completely dry out. Also, it’s best to perform a visual inspection of your compartments at this time to check for the presence of any unwanted critters that may have made a home in your rig during the winter.
Check Your Trailer Hitch’s Condition
Next, check the condition of your fifth-wheel hitch or trailer hitch. You are mainly looking for buildups of excessive corrosion that could compromise the security of your hitch’s connection. If you do see a lot of rust on the hitch ball, ball mount, or hitch receiver, use our tips for spring hitch maintenance to clean things up before towing your rig.
Now Do an Interior Check
Now you can perform a walkthrough of your trailer’s interior. Open all of your drawers and cabinets to check for the presence of water damage. If you see streaks of discoloration on the walls or inside your cabinets anywhere, this can be a sign of water leaking from above.
During this stage, you should also be looking for droppings or other signs of unwelcome animal inhabitants. If you do find signs of animal life, you will want to use personal protective equipment to remove them before moving on.
Flush and Refill Water System
If you winterized your travel trailer or fifth wheel properly, you will need to flush all of the antifreeze out of your water system before refilling it. To do this, connect your sewer hose to a drain outlet and open the valves for the greywater and blackwater tanks. Open up all of the faucets in your kitchen, bathroom, shower, and outdoor shower. Then connect a water hose to your rig’s city-water connection inlet and run fresh water through your entire system until you can no longer see any visible signs of antifreeze running out of your sewer hose.
Once you’ve performed this initial flush, move the water hose to fill your freshwater tank. Then, pop inside and turn on your water pump. Listen for it to cycle on and off properly (this is a test within a test) and continue to run water through your system until your freshwater tank is completely empty and flushed of antifreeze.
From there, you can shut down your water pump and refill your freshwater tank to its capacity. Before you complete this step, just make sure that you don’t have any more freezing nights coming up in the forecast!
Test DC Appliances
If you removed the batteries from your trailer before storing it for the winter, you will need to re-install and recharge them before you test your DC appliances. Once you are confident that your batteries are installed correctly and fully charged, go through your rig and test all of the lights and appliances that run on DC power.
Start Your Generator
After that, it’s time to check your generator and prime it for another season of use. Before you start your generator, head outside and check the oil level to make sure it is full. From there, start up your generator and allow it to run for about 30 minutes on 50 percent load.
Check AC Appliances
Once your generator has run for at least 30 minutes at half-load, it’s time to test all of your larger appliances. This includes your air conditioning unit (or units), fans, microwave, and any portable appliances that require AC power.
It is best to test these appliances one at a time so that you can effectively check for proper operation. That said, if your rig does have multiple air conditioning units and is rated to be able to run them simultaneously, you will also want to check their functionality at this step as well.
Note Propane Tank Fill Level
Now, you will want to check the level of fuel present in your rig’s onboard propane tank (or tanks). I recommend filling your tanks to at least one-quarter of their total capacity before checking your propane appliances, but if you have to make a special trip, you might as well top your tank off completely.
Test Propane Appliances
The next step in getting your fifth-wheel ready for spring is to make sure all of your propane appliances are working properly. First, turn on the switch for your rig’s water heater and allow that to run. While that’s working, you can test your range and oven.
Light each of your stovetop burners one-by-one to make sure gas flow is normal and check the function of your stovetop’s automatic ignition switch (if applicable). You should also test that your oven lights and warms up if your fifth wheel or travel trailer is equipped with one.
Once you’ve finished this test, you may have to wait a few more minutes for your hot water tank to fill completely. While you are waiting, pop outside and open the compartment that provides access to your propane tank. Use your nose to carefully sniff for the scent of leaking propane fuel.
If you do suspect a leak, spray soapy water on any connection points and look for bubbling that signals a leaky connection. If you do find one, immediately close the valve to your propane tank and contact a propane expert to fix the leak.
When you are content that your propane system is sealed, head back inside and open the hot water nozzle on all of your sinks and in the shower. Check that the temperature and pressure of hot water are normal to confirm that your water heater is functioning properly.
Other Quick Checks
Before you move on, here are a few other things to quickly check inside and outside your travel trailer or fifth wheel.
- Motorized operation of all slideouts
- Awning condition and operation (electric or human-powered)
- Hydraulic leveling jacks (if equipped)
- Central vacuum operation (if applicable)
- Drop-down bed operation (if applicable)
Of course, your fifth wheel or travel trailer may feature other accessories or amenities that I haven’t mentioned here. The point, however, is to give everything a quick check to make sure everything appears and functions like it did last fall.
Give It a Clean (Inside and Out!)
Finally, give your fifth wheel or travel trailer an exterior shower and dust, sweep, mop, and/or vacuum inside. Even if your rig was in storage all winter, it likely accumulated dust or other weather-related debris.
Start from the top and work your way down when it comes to both interior and exterior trailer cleaning. This will make sure your rig feels and smells clean and inviting when it’s time to pack it up and head out for your spring shakedown trip.
Now your travel trailer or fifth wheel is ready for spring. Hook it up and set out for a summer full of adventures. As we all continue to adapt to new lifestyles and travel restrictions, we would love to learn about your summer 2021 domestic travel plans.