Tip of the Day… Furnace. The furnace in an RV is a pretty simple device. It contains a burning chamber, a fan, controller and ignitor. The system starts by turning on the blower. There is a sail switch that detects if it is blowing air. Once the air is detected the controller board opens the valve for the propane and tries to ignite it. There is a temperature sensor that detects the heat. If after 10 seconds no heat is detected the system shuts down in most cases. So for inspecting, first open the outside door and check for bugs. They love the propane smell it seems. Then make sure the propane is one and turn on the heater. Listen and feel for the fan operation. You should then hear the woosh of the propane igniting. Finally the heat should come out of the vents. Pretty simple test.
Tip of the Day… Oven Operation. You may need a butane lighter for this test. Before lighting the oven, check the condition of the oven, doors, racks and burner assembly. To test the oven you will need to make sure that the propane is on. Some ovens are electric start, some you will light with a lighter. Turn the oven control to the appropriate position and light the burner. Look for a blue flame, it may have a slightly yellow tip. Note the operation.
Stove operation is basically the same. Look for signs of heavy use or rust. Lift the cover and check underneath for rust or modification. You want to check the operation of all burners. Note if any burner does not light. Look for a steady blue flame.
Tip of the Day… Refrigerator continued. We are still on the outside of the RV checking the refrigerator. You want to inspect the propane burner area. You are checking for signs of excessive heat, bugs etc. With a flashlight see if you can look up the back of the refrigerator. You want to make sure that the baffles are forcing air by the coils for most efficient cooling operations. Make sure the electric (both AC and DC) plugs are all fully seated. Close up the unit and head inside.
Inside we will want to check the operation. I like the digital instant read thermometers. Open the freezer and take the temperature. You want to take the temp at or near the rear wall by the ice maker if one is installed. It should read zero. Make a note of both the temp and the settings on the control panel. If the refrigerator hasn’t been operating for at least 4 hours you may not have an accurate reading.
Now take the temperature in the bottom compartment. There are two reading here. First at the top by the fins and the second at the bottom compartment. Note the temps. The top temp should be around 35 degrees and the bottom less than 40 degrees.
Check the door seals, locks and operation of the doors. Check the seals for signs of mold.
Using the refrigerator’s control panel switch operation between AC and Propane. Make sure there are no error messages/codes displayed.
Tip of the Day… Appliances. This is a subject near and dear to the hearts of most women and as such can not be over looked 🙂 Our RV are our homes on wheels. They can be equipped with all the conveniences of home including dish washers, washer/dryers, microwave, convection ovens, gas ovens, stoves, refrigerators, ice makers, wine cabinets, fireplaces and more.
Probably the most important appliance to check and the one that most of us do not understand is the refrigerator. Unlike the home appliance this one is designed to work on propane and DC or Electric (AC). Regardless of the operation, it works on the principle of absorption. Gas is heated to a high temperature then passed through a very small orifice to compress it. Once through the orifice it expands. This expansion cause the gas to cool. This cooling forces the gas to absorb heat (in our case from the freezer and then the refrigerator compartments). There are no pumps, condensers etc as are found in home refrigerators. Everything is done due to movement of the gases within a closed system. Heat rises, cool drops etc.
To check the refrigerator is going to take HOURS! Turn it on as soon as you begin the inspection if it hasn’t been turned on before you got there. Starting on the outside of the RV, open the inspection door. Check the area for any yellowish/green residue. This is an indication of leaking and will require the refrigerator to be replaced. Also check for signs of modifications due to recalls. Please note this is something every RV Refrigerator has probably has had done. So you want to find recall modifications. If none are found, check. Even if they are done, you will want to check the serial numbers for updates. There are two manufactures of refrigerators. Domentic and Norcold and both have websites to check the recalls. You will need the units serial numbers. One will be in the inside door area the other will be outside on the condenser. Note the model number and serial numbers so you can check the recalls.
Tip of the Day… Interior Continues. Drivers area for drivable RVs. Many drivable RV has privacy curtains. Slide the curtains closed and look for stains, tears, discoloration, shrinkage, damage and repairs. Does the fabric match the decor. Next check the sun shades. Some of these are electric and others are manual. Operate to insure operation both up and down.
Map Lights, check lights for operation. Be careful as map lights are often Halagon spot lights and will be hot, even after a few minutes of use.
Now is a good time to check out the dash. Many features will require the engine to be running. I will cover the starting with the engine check out. For now, put the ignition in the Accessory position, do not start the engine. Check the radio, lights, dash indicators etc. Note any indicator that does not seem to function. Some of these may need the engine to work and you will need to recheck them after starting the engine.
Tip of the Day — Interior Inspection Part 4 Lighting, Fans and other Components. Turn on each light and make sure they work. Operate all the light switches. Note which switches do what.
Operate all the fans. If this is a motorized unit, check the dash fans as well. Check around the ceiling fans to determine if there are any moisture leaks. Operate the ceiling vents.
When it comes to other components these are mostly safety related. Any item in this list that is missing or does not work should be replaced before using the unit.
You will need a butane lighter and a cigar or cigarette to perform these tests. Locate the LP detector. This will be near the floor usually near the water heater. Using the butane lighter, open the valve, BUT DO NOT LIGHT IT. Place it near the front of the detector. Within a minute the alarm should sound. If not the unit needs to be replaced. LP Detectors have a lifespan of 7 years at most. If the unit is older than 7 years you will want to replace the detectors.
For the smoke detector, light a cigarette or cigar and let the smoke flow into the smoke detector. The detector should go off. If not replace it.
There is no easy way to test the CO detectors other than with the test button. Press it to test. Replace if it fails to go off.
Some of the detectors will operate on batteries. If they fail to operate, replace the batteries and try again.
The final item to check is the fire extinguisher. Depending on the size and type of unit, you will need either a 5 or 10 lb fire extinguisher. If the unit is motorized (class A, B or C) you should have a 10 lb fire extinguisher. Verify that it is charged via the pressure gauge. If it does not have a pressure gauge, have the unit checked or replaced.
Tip of the Day … Interior Inspection Part 3 Furniture Conditions. Starting at the front of the rig, if it is motorized, you want to check the drivers and passengers seating. Look for separation of the fabric, stains and excessive signs of wear. Check the operation of the controls.
Move into the living area and check the sofa. Many sofas our sleeping areas as well. If the sofa is for sleeping, check the operation to make sure everything operates the way it should. Check the condition and fabric for excessive signs of wear. Check the chairs in the living area for excessive signs of wear and tear. If the chairs have multiple modes of operation, check them as well.
Now for the dining area. How many chairs? Do they fold when not in use? Check the fabric and frame for excessive wear and tear. Check the table for sturdiness. Does the table fold up or store in any way? Does it convert into a sleeping area? Check its operation.
Moving to the bedroom … Most bed have storage underneath. Lift the bed and check the operation. Lift the mattress and check for stains and condition.
Tip of the Day … Interior Inspection Part 2 Cabinets, Drawers and Doors. Open every cabinet door and move it up and down (gently). Look for loose or broken hinges. Look inside the cabinet for signs of water damage. Close the door and make sure it latches.
For the drawers you will need a flashlight. Open each drawer and examine the mounting brackets. Examine the hardware for loose or missing connections. Operate the drawer to make sure it slides easily and latches when closed.
Examine the trim around the slides and wall corners for signs of decay and damage. The trim around slide outs are of particular concern. Often water will seep in and rot the bottom of the trim. Check for tears and separation in the corners of the walls.
Tip of the Day… Interior Inspection Part 1 Ceiling, Walls and Floor. The key things you want to concentrate on are areas of damage due to moisture, either from outside or humidity. The first thing you want to do when you open the door is to use your nose. What do you smell? Does it smell musty or moldy? Did the owner spray air freshener prior to you getting there? Then like the roof inspection, start at one corner and inspect the ceiling and floor areas for discoloration and moisture. Use your hands to check for moisture along the floor and wall areas. Pay attention to the corners of all areas especially the areas around the corners of the rig. This is where the majority of leaks occur.
Check the floors for soft spots and other indications of leaks or moisture. What condition is the carpet and tiling in?
Now look at the ceiling. Any signs of discoloration or stains? Feel along the seams for any loosening of the ceiling from the roofing supports.
Tip of the Day… Interior . Shower inspection, open and close the shower door, check for proper operation. Check the seals at the bottom of the shower, check the bottom for cracks or signs of repair. Working your way up the walls continue checking for cracks and signs of repair.
Many times the shells in the showers crack due to improper installation and poor support underneath.
Moving from the shower to the sink, place the stopper in the bowl and run both hot and cold water. Make sure the hot water come up to temperature. Shut off the water and note the level of water in the bowl. Leave it in the bowl while you check the medicine cabinet. When you are finished with the bathroom, come back and note the level of the water for leaking. This isn’t a major issue but something to be aware of.
The medicine cabinet is simple, look over the mirror for signs of deterioration. Open and close the door. When it is open check for rust and broken shelves.