Tuesday, February 23, 2016

RV high water mark

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
Here is one I haven't seen you address yet.

We recently had our toilet water​-​valve stick​ and not close all the way.​ It eventually filled the black water holding tank and back​ed​ up into our trailer. We were sitting outside and did not notice the problem until water was dripping out onto the ground.

Fortunately, it was not as bad as it sounds. We were not hooked up to water. Our water storage tank went dry and most of the water spilling out of the toilet was fairly clean.

My husband, without hesitation, decided it was my fault because I used the facilities last and​,​ ​knowing we had a problem, ​he told me​ because it sticks​ to be sure to pull up on the pedal ​whenever I flush the toilet.

In my defense, since he knew we had a malfunction he should have corrected it immediately. Would you rather be my defense lawyer or his?
--Jump or swim in Sweetwater

Dear Jump:
It doesn't amount to a hill of beans who​'s​ to blame. I could make a case for both of you, but a better reaction would be "live and learn."​ ​

I would bet you won't do that again.

It happens more than people like to admit. Not just with the toilet, but other spigots. We once had a loom​,​ we were storing in the showe​r​,​ fall over and turn on the tap. We were in a hurry to catch the Durango​,​ Colorado train to Silverton. ​We p​ulled quickly into an RV park, hooked up the water, turned it on and took off. Luckily the park manager saw water flowing from our rig and shut it off.

It makes you a bit gun shy, but eventually you realize that these are not common events and as long as you are careful, RV plumbing is very reliable. The problem with a self-contained system is that your drain field is a gray/black water tank. Once they fill​,​ there is only one place for the water to go and gravity will always make sure it gets there.

I am assuming you have the valve fixed by now. It could be something as simple as ​toilet ​paper in the slide mechanism or the pedal needing some lube.

I am a big fan of checklists and notes. If you have a problem that calls for actions out of the ordinary, it would be wise to give yourself a reminder with a bright colored ​P​ost-it note.

Don't post it on your forehead, they are really hard to see there.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

RV TV rerun

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
The flat screen TV in our rig just went berserk. When we turn it on, it turns itself off and back on every couple seconds.

My husband wants to take it to a repair shop. I said, "It's cheaper to buy a new one." He says this one was engineered to fit in the trailer.

To me it looks like the same TVs they sell at Walmart. Is there something special about RV TVs? Am I being unreasonable? I know we live in a throw away society, but part of the reason is the cost of fixing an appliance compared to replacing it.

We are not that handy. If something breaks, my husband usually hits it several times, then I run down and buy a new one. Any help with the TV, or my husband, would be greatly appreciated.
--Hit and Run in Roswell

Dear Roswell:
There is nothing special about a TV in an RV. Buying a new replacement or fixing what you have should be a personal decision after exploring the cost, warranty, and hassle of doing each.

My first suggestion would be to try to figure out what is wrong with the unit you now have. TVs are now much like computers. Before you do anything rash, like hitting it, unplug the power cord and count to sixty before plugging it back in. You would be surprised how often that reboots everything and magically fixes a glitch your device might be experiencing.

That procedure could also work with your spouse.

If you do decide replacement is necessary, you will most likely get an upgrade from the set you now have. Technology continues to improve TV quality, and prices continue to drop. You should have no problem finding a unit that will fit perfectly into the space that now holds your present TV.

Take special care when mounting a new device. Fastening it securely is very important in a vehicle, especialy if it's located above the cockpit. Everyone wants to be on TV, but no one wants to be under one.

--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

RV Slide Flooring Fear

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
We have discovered a dirty little secret the RV industry has. I am sure we are not the only ones who feel entrapped by manufacturers and dealers when it comes time to replace carpeting in an RV with slides.

We just discovered that the cost of putting new wood plank flooring down was going to cost us over seven thousand dollars because the slides have to be removed. The materials cost one-tenth of that, so labor is where they make all the money.

Now we know how people felt when Jesse James boarded a train and left with all their valuables. 
--Watching our money slide away in Sarasota

Dear Sara:
I hope you still have your hand securely fastened to your wallet. If you want work done on your rig you don't go with the first pitch you hear and consider it the gospel according to the manufacturer.

There is usually an easy work-around to your dilemma but you have to work at figuring it out. I recommend using RV forums so often, I am probably beginning to sound like a broken record. But again in this case, that is where your answer lies.

There are all kinds of slide mechanisms. You have to figure out how yours function. You may have more than one type. Common slides are supported by rollers or friction shoes. Going from carpet to vinyl can sometimes cause scratching so you need to understand your slide mechanism and often do a work-around.

I couldn't agree more that the industry is steeped in a tradition of highway robbery when it comes to inevitable renovations. Two of the biggest rip-offs include interior flooring and exterior finish.

I have done a couple flooring jobs in my RVs over the years. If you are handy it is really no more complicated than doing work on your home.

My suggestion would be to leave the flooring under your slide in place. Cut the carpet in front of the slide and use staples or a transition border to secure the carpet under the slide. When you bring the slide in the first time you can put a thin protective surface down and see if the slide runs on it. If it does, you can buy "slide slickers" that are made to protect your new flooring from the slide mechanism.

An easier solution is to use an area rug in front of the slide on your new flooring. That will protect the new flooring and let your slide work the same way it was designed.

One of the best resources online for information is a guy named Ernie Ekberg. He specializes in RV floor renovations. Not only will he do your job much more reasonable, he is very generous with his knowledge and seems to be willing to help those who want to tackle the job themselves.

You will also find a plethora of opinions online as to which type of flooring to use. That is a personal choice but you should consider what is involved with each type, pros and cons, care, etc.

Do your homework. A fool and his money are soon parted.
--Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Needy RV

Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
My husband is a sucker for every pitch that comes down the pike. He is always buying some gadget that is going to save us money in the long run, save our lives in an emergency, or save our equipment from impending doom.

Since we bought our RV it's always something. A chemical for the toilet that will kill the smell and save the valves, gadget for the refrigerator that will keep it from exploding into a fireball, a water filter and pressure gauge to save our plumbing, or a surge protector to save our electrical system.

Last week we needed a tire monitoring system to let us know we have a flat. Do we really need all this stuff​? ​

If it is so important, why didn't it come on our brand new motorhome. It cost​s more than our first t​wo​ houses. Seems like they could have included all these gadgets if they are so crucial.
--Pitchy in Palm Springs

Dear Pitchy:
Many of these things can be purchased with a new rig. Some are personal choices you might want to think of as insurance policies. It is no different than deciding if you want to purchase the extended warranty on a new electric toothbrush.

People that have never owned an RV often do not realize what they may need or want. After you get a few miles under your belted tires, you start making decisions on items that may help you monitor your equipment, make your environment safer, or give you some peace of mind.

I agree that some seminars are geared toward sales. I have been to many that tend to exaggerate the possibilities of problems in an effort to convince the audience to make a buying decision.

There are enough RV forums online that can give you first​-​hand experience with all these problems. Use this resource to get a second opinion on any options, gadgets, or solutions that come across your radar.

Some things you can live without, but I would give cautious thought to safety items.

Some equipment monitors are designed to protect you from situations that are not at all common. These are items that you will have to decide on an economical basis whether the cost outweighs the risk for you personally.

You probably don't need the doorbell that plays 34 different songs​,​​ ​but then​,​ who knows, your husband may go to that seminar too.

Just don't let him get satellite TV. He will spend all day watching QVC.

  --Keep Smilin', Dr. R.V. Shrink