By Jack Huber
I've put together a list, some of which is from personal experience, some from witnessing others and some via word-of-mouth, of mistakes RV’ers can and do, make. I didn’t include a common faux pas if it didn’t have potentially serious concerns, so forgetting to store levelling blocks or remove chocks before pulling away, though possibly embarrassing, didn’t make the list, since the worst that would normally happen would be a broken or bent block or chock, and maybe some laughs from observant neighbors.
I’ve separated the list into two sections. One describes items you can but don’t buy and the other defines pure blunders, whether performed knowingly or not. I would imagine any experienced camper would have either done some of these or heard of someone who has. I didn’t prioritize the list in any particular order.
Things you should buy but don’t (or you get the wrong one)
TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)
The term “TPMS” has become better known as of late, but a tire pressure monitor saved my bacon last year. When one of the trailer tires picked up a screw and started losing pressure, our monitor alarm sounded almost immediately and I was able to pull over before any damage occurred. Even the tire was repairable. Without the monitor, the flat tire could have fragmented and caused severe damage to my undercarriage, or worse.
Water pressure reducing valve (AKA water regulator)
Though many campgrounds have low water pressure issues, some have significant pressure, enough to affect your fresh water system, including hoses, valves and pumps. An easy way to prevent this is to buy a water regulator for ten bucks or so, and place it between the park’s tap and your primary supply hose. I am planning to go a step further and get one with a gauge so I can more accurately tell what issues a resort might have.
Surge suppressor and polarity indicator
Power outages and surges have been legendary for some resorts, and most people know about protecting electronics in their home with surge protection but never realized that you should do the same for your RV. One thing to remember is that blackouts and brownouts also cause surges, sometimes spiking substantially, when the full power resumes. This can blow your rigs power supply system. Mine even has lightning protection.
Replacement carbon monoxide detector
Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, and deadly gas, produced by the partial combustion of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels, often associated with engine or generator exhaust. It is reported that carbon monoxide is the number one cause of poisoning deaths each year. Most RV’ers already employ carbon monoxide detectors but many are not aware that the units have a lifespan of just five years or so. You should check the specifications of your detector and schedule to replace it well within its guidelines. If you don’t have one, it’s an important must-have safety feature.
Stabilizer or anti-sway hitch
I had a 32’ travel trailer before we purchased a fifth wheel to live in and I can attest to the difference of towing with and without an equalizer or stabilizer hitch. Sway from a cross-breeze, uneven roads or even normal road speeds can become severe without upgrading the hitch. The alternative is to be super-diligent in keeping your tow slow and steady and watching closely for any sway, slowing or stopping when it occurs. Otherwise, you risk significant damage, a trailer flip, serious injury or worse.
Septic safe toilet paper
Ever heard of a poop dam? Using toilet paper that doesn’t break down can cause one of those in your tank or sewer. You can imagine how this might not be desirable.
Insect guards for refrigerator and heating vents
Bees and wasps love small openings into sheltered space in which to build nests. Unfortunately, fridge and heater vents on the RV’s sidewalls fit the bill especially well. To avoid this place inexpensive wire mesh covers over the openings. It’s a simple way to avoid a very unpleasant situation.
Heated fresh water hose or electric heat trace
Even in the far southern U.S., temps can go below freezing at night. Once they hit the 20’s for a few hours, your exposed hoses, filters and other connections can freeze. This may not be inconvenient, but if your pipes or connections burst, it can be an expensive repair. I have a heated hose for those occasions, as well as heat trace, essentially an insulated electric wire, to wrap on the park’s pedestal or anything else that makes sense to keep above freezing.
In Parts 2 and 3, I’ll delve into common mistakes RV’ers make that go beyond products you might buy.
Find Jack Huber - author, blogger, podcaster, photographer, and RV full-timer - at https://www.jackhuber.com/