Get Your RV Ready for Summer
Everything you need to do to make sure your rig is as ready for the season as you are!
This summer is promising to be another popular season for RV camping. If you haven’t already started doing so, it’s time to begin getting your RV ready for summer.
This goes beyond just cleaning and de-winterizing your rig. It should also include things like a full appliance inspection and preparing the inside of your RV for warmer weather.
This guide provides a concrete list of checks and tips to help you get your RV ready for summer!
It always makes sense to start with checking the condition of your RV’s roof to prepare for summer. Here are a few things to look for:
- Inspect seams along all four roof edges. Look for delamination, missing bolts/screws, or clear signs of water damage.
- Inspect seals around air conditioning units, roof vents, skylights, RV antenna, solar panels, and any other areas where a hole was once cut in the roof.
- Look for peeling paint or dents/holes from objects that may have fallen on your RV during the winter.
Make sure to address any irregularities should immediately because larger roof issues are some of the hardest (and most costly) RV issues if neglected.
Moving down the sides, front, and back of your RV, perform a quick visual inspection to make sure everything is in good working order. This includes:
- Check seams around all windows, doors, and storage compartments.
- Inspect awning arms and mounting points.
- Look for signs of decals that need replacing or paint that needs touching up.
- Check tire tread and outer wall condition.
- Look inside storage compartments for signs of water ingress or unwanted animal inhabitants.
- Inspect side view mirrors and backup camera for cracks or damage.
- Check license plates for up-to-date registration tags.
- Flush antifreeze from tanks and rinse with freshwater.
- Inspect condition of hoses for sewage and city water.
- Install battery (or batteries) if you removed them for winter storage.
- Check propane level (top off before inspecting interior propane appliances).
Once you are satisfied that nothing has been damaged or worn on your RV’s exterior, move inside to test and inspect all your interior systems. Here’s a basic checklist you can use:
- Open all drawers, closets, cabinets, and storage areas and check for water damage and signs of unwanted life.
- Check roof vent and fan operation.
- Flip on all lights and note any that need replacement bulbs.
- Check all DC appliances.
- Turn on the water heater.
- Turn on the generator run for 30 minutes at half load.
- After generator has run for 30 minutes, cycle on air conditioning units and test all settings.
- Check microwave operation.
- Inspect condition of oven and turn on to test safe operation.
- Test all burners on stovetop.
- Turn on refrigerator and inspect that it runs on all power sources (will depend on whether you have a two-way or three-way RV refrigerator).
- Turn on water pump and cycle fresh water through all sinks.
- Test all faucets and shower for hot water (~10-15 minutes after turning on water heater).
- Turn on central furnace and adjust temperature to test that it cycles on appropriately.
- Check all TVs, radio equipment, satellite antennas, and other AC appliances.
Depending on the exact RV model you have, you may have a few other appliances and accessories to check during this process.
Regular Engine and Chassis Maintenance
Getting your RV ready for summer means getting its engine ready. Because, if you want to get anywhere (other than the side of a highway), it’s crucial you maintain your RV’s engine, transmission, and chassis. For many RVers, these components are the easiest to neglect because they are out of sight (and, therefore, out of mind) while you are enjoying the other creature comforts of your RV.
My best suggestion for regular engine and chassis maintenance starts with finding a reputable RV mechanic in your area. If your RV is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, the dealership you bought it from should be able to provide a list of shops near you.
From there, schedule an appointment for a routine inspection every spring. You’ll get trained eyes on the condition of your RV’s critical mechanical components. You’ll also begin to establish a record of the maintenance that has been done on your RV over the years.
Most RV manufacturers also publish service tables for all of their RV models. These tables provide suggestions for different components to check, rotate, adjust, or replace when your engine reaches a certain mileage.
You can request that your mechanic look ahead to the next column of your service tables and tell you what kind of items you can expect to address in the coming months. This helps you plan ahead and budget for RV engine, transmission, chassis, and suspension maintenance.
Over time, you will know exactly what has been done and what is needed on your RV. This can help you avoid feeling taken advantage of by any RV mechanic you have to rely on if you break down on the road.
If you have a trailer hitch on the back of your RV, you will also want to inspect its condition and make sure it hasn’t accumulated an excessive amount of rust during the winter season. That can cause hitches to seize up in your RV’s hitch receiver. The best way to avoid this is to remove your hitch ball and store it in a dry, protected space throughout the winter months.
RV Exterior Cleaning Tips
Once again, it makes sense to start from the top and work your way down when you are cleaning your RV. Here are some other tips to make your RV cleaning efforts a little easier:
- Use a wash-and-wax combo to save time (you may need to use a more heavy-duty cleaner and traditional wax if it has been a while since you’ve thoroughly cleaned your RV).
- Work in sections to minimize water usage and prevent soap from drying on surface (a logical order would be roof, back wall, left or right wall, front, and then opposite wall).
- Work in a team of two if possible — one cleaning upper half of walls and the other cleaning the lower half.
- Clean RV exterior earlier in the day and, ideally, out of direct sunlight.
- Wipe walls dry with towel to prevent streaking.
Preparing for Hot Weather
RV living can be uncomfortable when temperatures start to hover in the upper-90s and 100s. So here are a few easy tips to help you keep your RV cool this summer:
- Add window shades to minimize direct sunlight into your RV.
- Seek out shaded campsites.
- Park so that the wall with your refrigerator faces away from direct sunlight for the majority of the day.
- Buy an extra portable battery-powered or rechargeable fan for air circulation.
- Open windows at night to capture cool air (if camping in destinations with cooler evening temperatures). Then shut windows and shades to keep cabin as cool as possible throughout the day.
- Dial in your outdoor kitchen setup so you can do the majority of your cooking outside.
RV Packing Tips
Of course, you can’t go anywhere for your summer adventures before your RV is loaded with all of your supplies. So here are a few tips to help you pack your RV quickly and efficiently:
- Organize items from least-used to most-used, packing the least-used items first and most-used items last.
- Use towels and other soft items to take up space in cabinets and prevent sensitive items from moving around.
- If you are a larger family, establish an indoor and outdoor crew to get packing done in half the time, assigning a few people who are focused entirely on packing indoor items while the others are getting all of your outdoor recreation items organized in the underneath compartments.
- Load perishable food last. There’s no need to be draining batteries or using propane to keep food cold while you are busy packing everything else.
Planning Your Summer Adventures In Advance
While it’s not specifically related to getting your RV ready for summer, you should also think about looking into reservations now before things are completely filled up. The last year has seen RV sales nationwide increase, so there is going to be high demand out there for the summer’s most desired campsites.
Here are a few tips for planning your summer RV trips:
- Have a backup RV park or campsite in mind in case your first choice is fully booked.
- Arrive as prepared with supplies as possible in case camp stores are closed or under stocked.
- Plan your drives around non-peak traffic times.
This list of checks and inspection items will go a long way towards helping you make sure your RV is ready for your summer adventures. Using it can give you a systematic approach to checking and inspecting the many systems that allow you to enjoy life on the road comforta