In NO way is this post going to cover the entire gambit of maintenance on an RV. Many books have been written on the subject. Google and Amazon can point you in the right direction. I just want to talk about (what I think) are the two most important aspects of maintenance, when owning an RV.
The day you purchase an RV is such an exciting day, no matter who you are, even if you already live in one full time. It’s so pretty and clean, inside and out. There is no clutter and everything has its place. The day you go to pick it up is even more exciting. You get a “professionally” guided tour of it and are shown how everything works. The first night that you use it, is even more exciting! It’s like staying at a hotel that you never have to check out of, without the maid service, of course.
But with a purchase of that magnitude comes a big responsibility: Maintenance. Left undone for months at a time, the lack of it, can wreak havoc on your rig. If you don’t have a cover on it when it is not in use, then it is bound to get dirty, not just dirty, filthy dirty. If you live in a tropical climate or even one that just gets a lot of rain you will be dealing with mildew buildup. It builds up heavily on a roof, especially when parked underneath trees of any sort. Where we currently live in California, it never rains. All that means is, there is nothing to wash away all of the dirt the wind carries and the insurmountable amount of spider webs that cling to every crevice. You can’t just pressure wash a rig either. Believe me I’ve tried to get away with that. I do use a pressure washer but always in conjunction with a brush on a long pole. Pressure washers alone, leave hideous looking stripes that only go away when all of the dirt comes back or you stop being lazy and get out the brush.
The brush I use isn’t fancy. I got it from Walmart for less than 15 bucks. The handle has a place where you can hook up a hose to the end of it and have water flow through it, if you like. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It just needs to be extendable, so you can get to those hard to reach places without climbing up a ladder. Cleaning the outside takes forever. I have hired a team of guys before to come and clean our smaller rig, but nobody cares like you do. They were sloppy and in a hurry to get to the next job. At $90.00 they priced themselves too low to do a good job. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are people out there that charge more and do a better job. I promise I won’t judge the entire world off of one lackadaisical company, but I have pride in what I do and am not going to waste my time doing a bad job. What’s the point? Might as well not have done it in the first place. Cleaning the outside from top to bottom will help your rig last much longer. I hate doing it. It is a big job, but I am always satisfied, when I am finished. The stress of it hanging over my head drifts away as I pack away my tools. I travel with my own electric pressure washer, that I picked up from Home Depot for 150 bucks.
After you have cleaned the roof, walk around up there and examine all of your caulk points. Every vent and fixture on the roof will be caulked around. The edges at both ends of the roof will have caulk too. The caulk is covering up the penetration points in your roof, especially screws. The sun WILL dry out and crack your caulk. It is very important to use a good grade marine caulk and caulk (Thickly) right over any crack, chipped off area or exposed screws. The same caulk can be used for any accidental tears caused by tree branches or in my case, penetrating the roof with the stream of a pressure washer. Making sure everything on your roof and slide outs is sealed, is one of the most important elements of owning an RV. Nothing can ruin your investment faster than water damage. One of our past RV neighbors had to learn that the hard way. They didn’t realize how quickly the sun would wear away the caulk, where their roof met the front wall of their less than one year old rig. Water will always take the path of least resistance and in this case it was between the outer wall and the inner wall of their bedroom. Not only did it start to bow the wood structure, but it also created a mildew problem. Had they not been living in it full time and caught it as early on as they did, it would have been much, much worse. If you have the means, park your rig, when not in use, in a covered awning, preferably enclosed. And if that isn’t possible, than pay close attention. Walk your roof ONCE A MONTH at the MINIMUM. Don’t do it nonchalantly. Look closely and when in doubt, CAULK IT.