Why Are Winter Leaks The Worst?

trailer-snowWintertime in Michigan, or anywhere the snow flies for that matter, is one of the worst conditions for your trailer to sit in.  The combination of heat and cold, plus the snow and ice can create a perfect condition for a long-term leak that can cost you big.

Things contract in the cold, and with last winter setting all sorts of temperature records, they contracted even more. Between the warmer temps in the day, and the colder temps at night, the caulking on your trailer can be stretched past what it can handle.  Especially if the caulking is old, or hardened, and doesn’t have a lot of give left to begin with.  So before winter hits, make sure you check all of your seals, and don’t put off fixing it until the spring, that might be too late.  Newer caulk has more elasticity, and has a better chance to not break loose.

Now, the other thing to consider is snow.  Lots and lots of snow.

In the summertime, rain can pound your trailer’s roof for days, but mostly it runs off.  Granted, it can leak, but for the most part the water isn’t on the roof long enough to cause lasting damage unless there is a hole or other place for easy entry.  Snow, on the other hand, can sit on a roof for days, weeks, even months at a time.  And you may not notice it, but the Sun is shining, and the bottom layers of that snow is almost always melting off during the day.  This means that every seal on your trailer’s roof can be subject to a slow, constant, and potentially devastating water leak over the course of months before you notice.

Combine bad caulk breaking loose, and snow providing a steady stream of water, Winter is a scary time.

The best two strategies to avoid this problem are to…CHECK YOUR CAULK, and invest in a camper cover.  If you do these two things, you have a great chance of avoiding major leaks, and repair bills.  remember, insurance companies don’t cover repairs due to leaks from caulking.

Should I check My Trailer During the Winter?

roof leakIn the camping off season it is easy to forget your about your trailer.  With the holidays, winter break from schools and everything else that seems to crash at the end of the year, your trailer sits silently under the snow and ice, waiting for the chance to get out camping the next season.

You should probably make some time, however.  Here in Michigan this last two weeks, we have seen major snow falls, super-cold temperatures (thank you Polar Vortex), major thawing, and even rain.  These conditions can add up to major issues in your trailer, and checking the trailer out now, can help avoid major repair bills three months from now.

The super-cold temperatures followed by the thaw and rain can wreak havoc on your trailer’s caulking and seals around windows, doors and storage compartments.  With expansion and severe contraction happening, caulking can break loose, and invite water in to visit.  Never good.

Checking for the first sign of any water intrusion will ensure that by the time camping season rolls around, you will be able to use it when you want to, and not have your RV sitting in the service department.  When the weather breaks near the spring, RV dealer service departments get very busy, and repair times can last weeks before being repaired or even looked at extensively.  The off-season is the time to handle a lot of the service issues, considering you aren’t actually using it right now.

For more information about checking your trailer for water damage, watch this video.  Another thing you can do to help protect yourself from the elements between checks, is to cover it.  For more information on my personal opinion on covers, read this article on the subject.

Remember, this time of year can breed problems for months, and a little time now can save you a lot of time, money and aggravation later on.

Simple Service Tips For Your RV

cracked tires

cracked tires

Refrigerator Guidelines

1. Plug in and pre-cool your refrigerator for at least 24 hours for a travel trailer and 12 hours for a pop-up.

2. Pre-chill everything you put in it.

3. If using the refrigerator on propane, light the stove first; if there’s air in the line, the stove will purge it out. When you see a flame, everything else should light just fine.

4. If you are using the refrigerator on electric, and it’s not working, check the ground fault outlets.

Trailer Tires

INFLATION: You should maintain maximum air pressure even if you are towing below the load range of the tires. There is no advantage to taking air out of the tires. With the tires at maximum pressure, the tire will perform and wear better, and you will get better gas mileage. Based on updated thinking, there are ultimately three keys to avoid tire trouble while towing:

1. Make sure your rig is equipped with the proper tires
2. Maintain the tires meticulously
3. Replace trailer tires every three to five years, weather they look like they’re worn out or not. Click here for more on tires.

 

Fresh Water Tips

1. Always use a high pressure white hose designated for fresh water. They are non-toxic and are “tasteless” so your water always tastes fresh. Keep the hose clean and NEVER use it for anything else.

2. Always add a pressure regulator to your hose; pressure can vary widely from one campground to another. If you attach it to the water spigot end of the hose, you protect your hose as well.

3. Always turn your water pump off before pressurizing from an outside source.

4. Carry two 25′ hoses rather than a 50′ hose; it gives you flexibility and convenience.

5. When you get home, thoroughly drain your hoses, coil them up, and screw the ends together to keep out dirt and bugs.

 

Protect Vinyl from the Sun

If you search the message boards for ideas to protect sun-exposed vinyl from cracking, the one top product that is consistently recommended by RV users on line is called “303”. Originally developed for aviation applications, it protects vinyl, rubber, plastic, fiberglass and leather surfaces from exposure to the sun. Note that this is not a cleaner – it is a UV protectant only. It isn’t cheap, but the consensus among users is that it offers better UV protection than any other product, and does not leave a slippery residue. You find “303” in our online catalog here, or you can purchase it from our parts department.

Part of the Week: Camco Water Pump Conversion Kit

Camco Pump Converter Kit

Camco Pump Converter Kit

This week we are offering 10% off Camco Pump Converter Winterizing Kit.  This kit saves you time and trouble while winterizing your RV.  No more will you have to waste anti-freeze pouring it into the fresh water tank, or disconnecting and disconnecting the connection at your water pump.  A must –have for anyone looking to save effort and labor, and money.

Bring in this coupon or mention you liked us on face book to receive your discount.  Can’t make it to the store this week?  Order online here.

For more information, click here.

Selling fun since 1969

Video: Disconnecting Your Battery During Storage


Here is a video I made, hopefully the first of many, spotlighting a cool feature about the trailers I carry, or little facts or tidbits I find interested while I am working.  This one has to do with disconnecting your battery during storage.  Any time you leave your trailer, there is a draw on the battery from different things inside the trailer that threaten to kill your battery.  Leaving a dead battery to sit can destroy it, and that can become pricey.

As it happens, Westland Camping sells and installs battery switches, and the switches cost around $30 dollars.  However, Flagstaff Trailers and 5th wheels come equipped from the factory with switches, so that makes life easier right from the box.

 

 

The Part of the Week: Camco’s Quick Turn Permanent Bypass Kit

Camco By-Pass Kit

Camco By-Pass Kit At Westland Camping Center

This week we are offering 10% off Camco Quick Turn RV Permanent By-Pass Kit.  Bring in this coupon or mention you liked us on face book to receive your discount.  Can’t make it to the store this week?  Click here to order online!

 

Westland Camping:

Selling fun since 1969

 

For more about this product, and how it can change your life, click here!

 

 

How Long Do Trailer Tires Last?

cracked tires

cracked tires

No matter is you have a travel trailer, 5th wheel or pop up camper, spring is a really great time to go over everything on the trailer and do a thorough cleaning and checking of all the appliances.  One of the most overlooked components of your trailer are the tires.

Hardly a week goes by without somebody asking us how long trailer tires last.  Trailer tires are different from automobile tires, and to really understand the differences, think about the life these tires live.  Automobile tires tend to run every day, and have direct attention.  Trailer tires on the other hand spend 90% of their lives in one spot, sitting in mud puddles, and losing air pressure.

How Long Do They Last?

The harsh truth is, after three years, you should really start looking closely at them and checking for cracks, uneven wear in the treads, bulging, or any other abnormality.  After 5 years, go ahead and start planning the funds to replace them, even if they still look ok.  If you have gone 6-7 years, now is the time to just go ahead and replace them, again, even if they don’t look bad, you are probably living on borrowed time.  If you aren’t sure how old your tires are, know that there is a code stamped in every tire made in the last decade or so that gives an exact date.  Here is a great article I ran across that breaks down the tire code so that you can be sure.

How can I Get More Life Out Of My Tires?

As with all of the other parts of your RV, UV light can be the worst thing for your trailer tires.  Over time, the plastic parts of the trailer will yellow, or become brittle and prone to cracking.  Tires, being black, tend to absorb even more rays, which can leech life from the tires, and cause them to dry out and start cracking.

The best way to help combat this is to use a tire cover over each tire that helps keep the damaging UV rays off the tire.  This is not a sure-fire solution  but it will help minimize the damage, and prolong the life of the tire.

The other main issue is tire pressure.  You want to check your tire pressures regularly, and make sure it is sitting at the max pressure when cold.  Especially when towing.  Running the tires while low can lead to “cupping”, which means that the tire is running on it’s outer edges, leading to uneven tire wear.  The opposite is also true, over-inflating your tires will make the middle portion of the treads to wear out more quickly.

Here is a video detailing a good routine for checking your tires regularly.

Do not forget your tires, they are the only thing between your trailer and the road; and a blowout is a very good way to cost money and raise your insurance rates.

 

Touching Up Caulking With Dicor Video Tutorial From Rv Education 101

Touching up your caulking is a lot more common that starting fresh or peeling all of the old stuff off.  Here is a video about how to go about it, again, brought to us by RV Education 101 and Mark Polk.  I tell you, check these guys out, they have a lot of great RV tips and videos.

How Do You De-Winterize A Trailer?

2013 PALOMINO SABRE 293 RBSS AT WESTLAND CAMPING

2013 PALOMINO SABRE 293 RBSS

With the coming of the warm weather, our thoughts inevitably turn to the camping season.  With that time of year, we all need to perform the task known simply as “DE-WINTERIZING”.  This mysterious term means different things to different people.  Usually it refers to just flushing out the water system of antifreeze from the fall, but there is a whole lot more to it than that.  De-winterizing is really the best opportunity you will have to also do a major and thorough inspection and cleaning of the unit to make sure it is safe and ready to go well before your first trip.  There is nothing more frustrating than finding a problem the night before you leave chipping away at your valuable vacation time.  Here are the main areas that you should focus on:

Water System

If you properly winterized your trailer last fall, then to start de-winterizing, follow these steps to get it back to regular operation.

Locate and open the low-point drains underneath the trailer, go inside the unit and open all of the faucets to break the vacuum and allow the antifreeze in your plumbing lines to drain out.

Close the faucets and low-point drains and fill your fresh water tank with fresh water.

Make sure (if equipped) your winterizing pump diverter is set to draw water from the fresh water tank, and turn the water pump on, and wait until it builds pressure and shuts off.  Then go to each faucet and turn on hot and cold water lines one at a time and run water until all pink is gone and the water runs clear.  Don’t forget the toilet and outside shower.

Install the Anode rod or drain plug on your water heater, and open the bypass valves to allow water into your water heater, and use the pump to fill it up making sure to bleed the air out of it so it is actually full.

Let the pump sit under pressure and listen for it to be turning on and off, this can be an indicator that there is a water leak, and the pressure is not holding.  If so, trace the plumbing lines until you find it, and fix it.  Don’t let it wait; water leaks can do a lot of damage in time.

Now is also a great time to sanitize your water system, and for more about that, watch this video.

Appliances

Once you have the water system filled and sitting under pressure, use compressed air and blow out all of the appliance access areas like the fridge and water heaters.

Then go inside and fire up all of the appliances to make sure they are working correctly.  If there is a problem, now is the time to address it, not when you are counting on the furnace at the campground…

After you check all of them, go ahead and drain all your fresh water, including your water heater.  You really don’t want to let that water sit in there.

 Exterior

Wash and wax the unit (if you are a wax person), and remove any stains or black streaks on the outside.  While doing that, wash the roof and thoroughly inspect all seals, and touch up as necessary.  For more on checking for water leaks, click here.

Also make sure you check out your tires, they are a very important component to your trailer, and many times we don’t look at them until it is too late…

 Cleaning

Go over every inch of the trailer to make sure it is sparkly clean, taking time to clean off all those things you forget to clean during regular cleaning during the season.  Click here to see a video about cleaning your fantastic fan, and here is a video about how to thoroughly clean your A/C unit.

 

Now your trailer is sparkling clean and ready to use.  Remember, the work you put into your camper today, can save you a LOT of time and money tomorrow.

Travel Trailer Tire Mainenance Video

Rv Education 101 Tire Video

Rv Education 101 Tire Video

Trailer tires are an often overlooked thing.  They are also one of the most important items.  Having a blowout with a trailer tire can not only be irritating, and dangerous to change on the side of the highway, but a blowout can lead to a lot of damage and that means a lot of money in insurance claims.  Make sure you take the time to properly inspect your tires.  Here is a video from RV Education 101 (one of my favorite youtube channels) to help guide you through the inspection process.

Rv Dump Video Tutorial…Sort of

While playing around on Youtube a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon the Official Jeff Daniels Youtube Channel.  For those of you who don’t know, Jeff Daniels is a multi-talented entertainer, with Major movies such as Dumb and Dumber and RV, and has released a couple of albums (very good ones).  He is also an avid RV-er.  There are at least two entire series of videos relating to touring the greater midwest in his RV and playing his songs.  This one caught my eye as a great example of the basics of dumping your sewer system.  Although from the video I can tell you that in my experience, he is making it harder than it needs to be, and I kind of hope he cleans up after himself…  But the basics are there, and I really enjoyed watching it.  Maybe you will learn something too, if only what not to do.

RV Slide Out Maintenance Video

2013 FOREST RIVER FLAGSTAFF 8528 RLWS

2013 FOREST RIVER FLAGSTAFF 8528 RLWS

Most travel trailers and fifth wheels being produced today have some sort of slide out.  Some are small wardrobe-only slide, and some are the “Super Slides” that run a significant length of the side of the trailer.  In all of these cases, some sort of maintenance will be involved.  Here is a short little video about how to maintain and lubricate your slide system.

Video Tutorial: How To Sanitize Your Trailer’s Water System

Mark Polk from RV Education 101 has been educating RV-ers for years.  He teaches everything from basic mainternance to how to hook up your 5th wheel to your tow vehicle.  I find him to be a great resource to help answer questions, and help those who are relatively new to owning a trailer or 5th wheel.

This video explains in an easy to follow series of steps to sanitize your fresh water system.  This is something you will want to do at least once a year, but it can’t hurt to do it more than once…

 

RV DUMPING; NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK: PART 3

bad ideaRV DUMPING; NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK: PART 3 (Back home safely)

Hello fellow campers.

I have been taking time to help keep you guys from having problems with your sewer system, and one of the most important things you can do at home, is a good cleaning.  Get yourself a toilet wand, preferably one with a flexible end to it, so the water can spray all directions, not just from a single point.  Another thing that works here is a rotary tank-rinser that is permanently installed on your black water tank.  Hook up your hose, and spray it out good.  But whatever you use, actually USE it.

This one simple task, which isn’t really all that difficult if you do it regularly, and use the Tissue Digester and probe cleaner chemicals at least once or twice a season, then you will prevent about 90% of your basic problems with your sewer system.

After all of the cleaning and rinsing, if you are going to be storing the camper for any length of time, think about getting a vented waste cap.  This allows you to store the camper with the black and grey water tank valves open slightly, so that whatever gasses or smells are left in the tank, have somewhere else to escape rather than into the trailer.  This helps prevent that toilet chemical smell inside the unit that I think everyone who has used or owned a camper knows what I’m talking about.

Ok campers, this concludes this portion of the lesson plan.  Feel free to contact me with any questions about procedures, or products, or anything else that crossed your mind.  See you next time, I’m going to go wash my hands.

Taking Care of your RV Rubber Roof

Bad Caulking

Bad Caulking.  Bad, bad Caulking.

One of the most common questions I get almost every day, is “how often do I need to re-caulk my roof?”  My answer is almost always the same: If you need to ask, it’s probably time.

Most manufacturers recommend at least checking your roof every three months.  It helps to use a good Rubber Roof Cleaner before doing any good inspection, preferably using a cleaner designed for use on a rubber roof that will add some extra UV protection.  As an added benefit, regular washing of your roof will cut down on black streaks on the sides of the unit saving you time and energy.

When you look at your caulk, you are looking for small cracks, edges that are lifting up a little or areas that have gotten very thin over time.

 

If you see any of this, then it’s time to peel up the old stuff and run a new bead.  People ask at this point, “Can I just go over the top with new caulk?”, and to that I say, I don’t suggest it.  Old caulk doesn’t adhere to the roof as well as it used to, and if you apply new caulk over it, then the bottom layer is still not sticking well.  Besides, you will use much less caulk if you aren’t trying to cover all the old stuff as well as the seam.  So clean it up the best you can, and start fresh.

 

Next is choosing the right caulk for the right job.  On the flat surface of your roof, use a self leveling caulk or “Lap Sealant” for this job.  It is liquid enough to actually fill in air gaps and seams in your bead.  It settles to create a uniform thickness.  DO NOT BE AFRAID TO USE A LARGE BEAD!  The trick is to cover the seam, and any screws, and the edge of whatever you are caulking around (TV antenna, refrigerator vent, etc…).  The point is to cover any place water can get in.

 

No other single maintenance job is quite as important for long-term health of your trailer.  One bad caulk job can cost thousands of dollars to repair, and is many times not covered under insurance.  If you are worried or aren’t sure what you are looking for, call us and we can inspect it for you and give you some suggestions.

Winter Cover For Your RV

RV COVER

RV COVER

One of the most common questions we get asked by customers this time of year has to do with whether or not to cover their trailer during winter or long term storage (a few months or more).  The answer is yes, you should.  Also, what kind of cover would be the best?  Well, I’ll give you some pointers of what to look for in a cover as well. Continue reading

Westland Camping Service Tip Video- Checking Your Trailer for Water Damage

This time of year, it is important to do a thorough checkout of your RV for loose or damages seals, as well as the rest of the things you need to do to fully winterize your trailer.  No matter if it is a 5th wheel, travel trailer of a pop up camper.  These items are probably the number 1 on the list of important seasonal checks.

 

Here is a video from the folks at RV Education 101, quickly explaining what to do to check out your trailer.

 

If you want a practiced eye looking at this stuff, feel free to call us and we will check it out for you.