Keeping your RV in good shape often means checking things out and replacing problems before they become dangerous, expensive, or just plain nasty.
Belts and Hoses
Open the hood and take a look at the belt that powers your alternator. If your engine powers your house batteries, make sure to check that belt as well. Signs of wear or cracking of these critical belts could mean that you have
- a pulley that isn’t turning, such as from a seized water pump, or
- a belt that’s just worn out, fraying, or cracked
Worn belts seldom snap and let you know that they needed replacing a few thousand miles ago, but they are an indication of a problem in your engine compartment. They can also leave you stranded. A worn alternator belt won’t power your starting battery, so you may get where you’re going but be unable to leave.
Seized pumps of any sort means that your engine isn’t getting the fuel, coolant or oil that it needs. A poorly functioning pulley will heat the belt, causing it to stretch or break down and slip. Over time, the belt will wear out.
While you’re under the hood, make sure you check out your heater and radiator hoses. If you notice low coolant or have had any signs of overheating, either of these hoses may be failing. A sure sign of a radiator or heater problem is a green puddle under your RV.
In the event that your rig does overheat, pull over. Don’t open a steaming engine compartment. Let things cool down, and once you have the hood open, don’t touch anything until the vehicle has had time to sit. Hoses are a cheap fix for coolant problems, but burns are painful and expensive. Additionally, an overheating engine isn’t the end of the world, but this problem needs to be addressed quickly; you can cook your engine if your radiator and heater hoses are bad.
Single Function Hoses in the Living Compartment
1) Sewage Hose: The sewage hose for your rig needs to be cleaned thoroughly and handled with care. It also needs to be properly connected and extremely well cared for. If you’ve purchased a used RV, it may be safest to buy a new one.
When dumping your black tank, make sure it’s at least 2/3 full to suspend solids and get things moving. You may need to add water to it before you dump it, and many RVers recommend adding water, driving to agitate the tank, and then dumping it. Carry hose supports to keep your hose off the ground.
2) Flushing Hose: Once you dump the black tank, you’ll want to flush the system to make absolutely sure you’re not at risk of solids build-up on the bottom of the tank. Keep your flushing hose and your black tank drain hose separate from your fresh water hose. Consider getting some red electrical tape to mark both of these so the flushing hose doesn’t get used on your fresh water tank. Always wear disposable gloves when working with drainage from the black or grey tanks.
3) Fresh Water Hose: Your fresh water hose is what adds water to the tank you use for showering and washing up. You may also choose to filter this water for drinking, but make sure you confirm that with the manufacturer’s specifications. Consider replacing this hose before it wears out.
4) Propane Hose: Your propane hose is under a lot of pressure, so don’t wait for it to show signs of wear. Check it before each trip and make sure it’s flexible and showing no signs of age or decay.
5) Outside Shower Hose: Your outside shower hose is under more risk from inside than out. Do your best to drain this completely after each trip to avoid stagnant water staying in the line. If it shows signs of stress or mishandling, or has an unpleasant odor, replace it.
Monitoring Rubber and Plastic
The belts and hoses on your RV are either made of rubber or plastic, and these products degrade over time. Exposure to heat and sun will increase that degradation. As you monitor these aspects of your rig, keep an eye on your tire maintenance. New tires with sun damage are old tires that may need replacing. Keep them covered whenever possible.
The systems on your RV are much easier to protect than they are to replace. Keep an eye on the more fragile components, such as things in the engine compartment that are made of rubber and plastic and have to function beside hot metal. With prep work, you can make sure your RV travel is less likely to be shortened by a problem from a belt, hose or worn tire.