It is important to take the proper steps to protect your RV from things like the weather, rodents, pests, and even foul odors. A recreational vehicle is often an expensive purchase and you’re going to want to get your money’s worth. This means doing regular maintenance and following the tips below.
Protection From Sun Damage
Extended exposure to UV rays can be damaging to multiple areas of your RV. The roof, sides, and even interior can be damaged so it’s important to protect all of it.
Protecting the Roof
The roof will be most vulnerable. If not properly cared for, the rubberized roof can be degraded by the sun. This can lead to weak spots or leaks.
One way to protect against this is to seal your roof. First, you’ll need to clean the whole surface with mild soap and a long-handled, soft-bristled brush. Make sure you also clean all the cracks and caulk around vents and skylights.
Once you’re done cleaning, apply a silicone sealer. The higher the silicone content, the greater the UV protection. A good choice is a commercial RV roof sealing product. These have higher UV protection capabilities.
Protecting the Sides
The sides of your RV can be damaged from the unrelenting sun in numerous ways. You could end up with faded or peeling paint, drying of the rubber seals, and cracks in your vinyl decals. Once you begin to have paint damage, the plastic and metal underneath become exposed to the UV rays. This leads to internal deterioration.
To protect the metal sides of your recreational vehicle, wash and wax it regularly. Washing will remove abrasive dirt, which can contain acid. And waxing will protect the surfaces so any soil that collects won’t be as damaging.
Sun damage doesn’t just occur on the outside of your RV. It can also damage the inside. Prevent this by following these tips:
- Cover all windows
- Clean and condition any surfaces that can dry, fade, or crack, such as dashboard, leather seats, upholstery, flooring, wood, and plastics.
- Control the humidity level, based on your location’s needs. Warmer climates will need to be dehumidified, whereas cooler climates will need to have increased humidity.
- Slightly open air vents to allow for proper ventilation
- Drain holding tanks
- Cover drains
- Cover exterior vents with screens
Protecting Your RV Tires
Tires can develop flat spots when parked for too long. The best solution is to move it from time to time. But if this isn’t an option, use pieces of plywood or two by four boards to place behind each tire. The wood needs to be wider than the tires. No part of the tire should poke over the board. Otherwise, this might put a knot on your tire.
While parked, your tires will be constantly exposed to the sun. In order to prevent dry-rotting, use tire covers. You can purchase these at any auto parts store or Wal-Mart, without incurring a large expense. If you don’t want to buy tire covers, you can use bungee cords and tarps. Simply wrap the tarp around the tire and secure with the cord. But be careful as these might not always stay secure.
Protect Against Rodents and Pests
Nothing is quite as unpleasant as being infested by nuisances like mice, cockroaches, spiders, or ants. And even scarier is finding a stray snake or scorpion in your camper. It’s important to protect your camper from all of these. If left unattended, these pests can cause damage to your recreational vehicle.
How to Keep Away Mice
The first thing you should do to prevent mice infestation is to seal off any access points. You’ll have to think like a mouse on this part. These tiny little buggers can squeeze through very small spaces. If the hole is big enough to see, patch it. Don’t risk thinking it’s too small. Mice can fit into a hole smaller than a dime! Check under your rig, inside storage compartments, and around the plumbing. Block these holes with any type of material. Spray foam works best.
Keep your recreational vehicle clean and store any nonperishable foods inside airtight storage containers. This eliminates the smell, which is a big attraction for mice. And since mice respond so well to smell, you can use scented repellents to prevent mice from coming in at all. Irish Spring soap, mothballs, and peppermint oil also work well. As do fabric softener sheets.
Insects and Other Pests
Insects can be a nuisance for many campers. Some common pests that often invade RVs are cockroaches, ants, flies, spiders, and even the occasional snake. Use bug repellents, insecticides, or poisonous bait to kill any active infestations. Most of these types of repellents are odorless and non-toxic, meaning they can be used in all areas of your camper.
To prevent insects from getting into your home, spray repellent on all the doors and windows. You can also place dryer sheets in your cupboards and drawers. Insects and spiders hate the smell.
To avoid infestation of ants, use powder. Simply sprinkle some around any part of your camper that touches the ground. The type of powder doesn’t matter. These are a few different choices:
- Baby powder
- Talcum powder
- Boric acid powder
Mothballs can be used to keep away moths, silverfish, snakes, scorpions, spiders, and mice. However, if you have pets or small children, you might want to avoid this option. Mothballs can be toxic, and possibly lethal if swallowed. They also give off a strong, foul smell which can linger in your RV. And even your clothes.
How to Avoid Heat, Rain, and Snow Damage
Three of nature’s most common, and difficult, challenges are sun, rain, and snow. It’s important to protect your RV from all these elements if you want to have something to enjoy for years to come. Here are some tips on how to keep your RV safe.
Staying Out of the Heat
As explained earlier, heat and the sun can cause damage to your rig. If possible, park your camper in an enclosed garage or storage facility. This will allow you to control the temperature so that your RV isn’t getting too hot. But for many people, this isn’t an option. So they turn to tarps, which are cheap and diverse to use.
The problem with using tarps is that the material isn’t breathable, which allows for the growth of mold and mildew. And the abrasive material can damage your roof. The metal grommets can scratch or rip the metal and if you tighten the straps too much, it can cause damage to the corners and roof. Another downside is that tarps don’t protect against UV rays.
Since it’s important to cover your RV to help protect it from the heat, and the sun, consider an RV cover instead. These are lightweight and flexible. And they are made to fit properly around the shape of recreational vehicles. Other benefits include being rip-resistant, breathable, easy to install, and has specially designed fasteners that won’t damage your RV.
Snow and Ice
Winter conditions can cause a lot of problems for your RV. It’s important to winterize before the temperature starts dropping. Do a walkthrough of your recreational vehicle to ensure there is nothing that can freeze and burst. This isn’t just things like canned goods. Any kind of chemical can freeze and rupture. Especially aerosol cans. Remove anything that causes you concern. Even if it’s just a cautionary measure.
You should also remove any batteries or propane tanks. Store these in a safe place, away from moisture, and preferably in a location that has warmer temperatures, like your garage.
If it has snowed, you’ll want to clear the RV roof off as soon as possible. The weight of the accumulation can cause the roof to collapse. Another problem with allowing snow to remain on your camper roof is that it acts like an electric blanket to the ice underneath. The weight of the snow will melt the ice, which can damage the seams on your roof. Opened seams can spread, causing serious structural and cosmetic problems, such as warped walls, rotted floors, and holes in the ceiling.
Use a plastic snow shovel and a ladder that you can move around the RV. Here are a few don’ts:
- Don’t use an aluminum shovel
- Don’t use a shovel with a metal tip
- Don’t use a hammer to remove any ice
- Don’t stand on any portion of your roof
Aluminum shovels can cause damage to your roof. Not something you want to happen when it’s constantly snowing. And there’s no need to be worried about removing the ice. It will melt away once the snow has been removed. Adding your weight to a roof that’s already straining from the weight of the snow is not a good idea. The roof could collapse under you. Or you could slip on an icy patch and fall off, potentially causing severe injury.
Weatherproofing for Rain
One of the most important things you can do to protect your RV from rain damage is to seal everything. Start with sealing the windows. The original seals can shift out of position or deteriorate, allowing water to get inside. Use a silicone caulk and work your way around the outside of your RV. Caulk should only be applied to clean, dry surfaces. Use rubber gloves and poke the caulk into the cracks. It should only take 24 hours to dry.
In addition to your windows, you should also seal up around your exterior lights and access panels. As well as over the water guard which is above your door, around the door frame, and pop-out seams. When in doubt, caulk it.
Sealing your roof as described at the beginning of this article is also a useful way to reduce the chances of rain damage. If your roof is sealed, there are no available spots for the rain to get inside.
How to Keep Your RV Smelling Fresh
Funky odors are one common complaint from RV owners. Some common culprits are leftover food in the fridge, the bathroom, and dirty laundry. You have to remember that the space inside an RV is small. This means that even the tiniest thing can stink up the entire place. Allow your RV to air out a couple of times a day. Especially after cooking. Just open all the windows and doors. You can do this while you’re lounging around outside or fishing.
Battle Fridge Odors
Keeping your RV clean and wiping all surfaces at least once a day will help reduce the number of bad odors. Don’t store cooked food in your refrigerator for too long. It won’t take long for one onion to funkify the entire fridge. Place a box or bowl of baking soda in the back of your fridge, and freezer, to help fight odors. And remember to tightly wrap any food or put it into airlock containers.
For dirty laundry, place it into a basket or bag and store it in your shower. This keeps it out of your way and you can turn on the fan in the bathroom, which will help reduce the smell. Opening the bathroom window can also keep the musty sock smell from traveling through the rest of the camper. The campground will just have to deal with it if they start smelling your stinky feet.
If you’re noticing bad smells that you can’t get rid of, your furniture might be the culprit. Odors can get trapped into the fabric of your carpets, couches, and chair cushions. Use Febreze to freshen up anything you can’t remove to launder. It might also be your flooring.
Carpet is certainly not recommended in campers, as it will collect and retain all the outdoor odors you’re tracking in. It’s preferable to have hardwood floors. If you prefer the look of the carpet, you can use area rugs instead. These are a great choice because you can take them out for cleaning whenever they begin to smell.
How to Keep It Smelling Good
Even if you don’t have foul odors, you may not have pleasant ones either. You can change this by using things like air fresheners for a temporary fix. You may consider burning candles as you do at home, but this isn’t recommended in a camper. Especially if you’re moving. Candles can be bumped, which is a fire hazard. And a safety hazard as hot wax can cause severe injury.
Instead of using candles, try candle warmers. This is where wax is melted using heat from a light bulb. This is a safe alternative, as you don’t have to worry about the candle flame catching something on fire. However, caution should still be used. Especially around children and pets. The wax can still cause burns and can make quite a mess if knocked over.
An alternative to candle warmers is oil diffusers, which is almost the same thing. But rather than warm up wax, it warms up … you guessed it, oil. Be cautious because the oil can also be hot and dangerous.
You could also purchase some air-purifying plants. Most of these types of plants can survive on little to no sunlight and doesn’t require frequent watering. These plants have been scientifically proven to purify the air and remove dangerous toxins. Some different types are:
- Spider plants
- Ficus (also known as Weeping Fig)
- Peace lilies
- Boston ferns
- Snake plant (also known as Mother-in-Law’s tongue)
- Aloe vera
Take Good Care of Your RV and It’ll Last for Years
Recreational vehicles are a great way to make memories for years to come. To get the best performance out of your RV, treat it with respect. Do regularly scheduled maintenance. Always perform a systems check before you start any road trip. And follow the tips above to extend the life of your RV. It’s an expensive purchase and you’re going to want to get as much use as possible from it.