How to Inspect Your RV for Water Damage

February 26, 2009

by Mark Polk
Mark is a regular contributing author

If there is a way to get in your RV, water will find it. Water leaks on an RV can cause extensive damage and can be extremely costly to repair. When I worked at an RV dealership I saw the damaging effects that water can cause to an RV time and time again. I learned the lesson the hard way. I appraised a unit that was being traded in and didn’t identify the extensive water damage, which resulted in a thousand dollars worth of repairs. Hindsight is 20/20 and I quickly learned how to inspect for, and identify potential water damage on RVs. My recommendation is that you inspect for potential water leaks twice a year at a minimum, once in the fall and again in the spring.

Recently we went camping over the weekend and it rained the entire time. Needless to say we spent quite a bit of the trip inside our motor home. To my surprise we noticed water dripping from around the edge of the dome over the shower. I was surprised because I inspected all of the seams on the roof earlier that spring. I am aware that everything flexes and moves on the RV when you are traveling, and that this leak could have started after my inspection, but this was not the case.

When we returned home from our trip I went up on the roof, bent over, and checked the sealant around the shower dome the same way I checked it during my bi-annual inspections. Everything looked fine so I went back in the shower to look again, wondering to myself if it was condensation that caused the drops of water. I removed the trim ring from around the dome and the entire area was saturated with water. Now, as I stood there scratching my head, I was really confused. I made another trip up the ladder unto the roof. Upon closer examination, ON MY HANDS AND KNEES, I discovered two small splits through the sealant around the dome.

This is when I realized that I wasn’t really, truly inspecting for leaks, I was just going through the motions. I also realized how fortunate I was to be in the RV when it was actually leaking. If I hadn’t caught it when I did I would be the one paying those costly repair bills.

Every seam on your RV and anywhere the manufacturer cut a hole in your RV has the potential to allow water in. To protect your investment and your wallet take the time to REALLY inspect all of these seams and sealants. Water damage on an RV is similar to progressive damage to a tire. The outside of the tire looks fine, but the internal damage over a long period of time causes the tire to fail without any warning. The outside of your RV looks fine but the internal damage caused by water over a long period of time can result in the entire roof, floor or wall rotting away without you knowing it. Here are a few things to look for during your inspections.

– Always keep safety on your mind when you are working on the roof of your RV You can be seriously injured from a fall! One reader suggested that you use 2 pieces of 1/2″ plywood, 2 foot by 4 foot, to move around on and spread your weight out over the roof rafters.

– To stop a leak before it starts thoroughly inspect all roof and body seams. Consult with your RV dealer for sealants compatible with different types of materials.

– Look for any discoloration and feel for any soft spots on the ceiling around roof vents, air conditioners, TV antennas, plumbing vents, and any other openings that were cut in the roof.

– Look for any discoloration or wrinkles in the wallpaper, and feel for any soft spots on the walls around all windows, doors, vents, slide outs, or any other openings that were cut in the side walls.

– Identify the location of items like the water heater, furnace, outside shower, potable water fill and city water inlet on the outside of the RV and then access those areas from the inside of the RV and look for any indications of water damage around these openings.

– Open all overhead cabinets and look in the top corner where the walls meet the ceiling for any discoloration or feel for any soft spots. This would indicate a leak at the seam where the sidewall and the roof attach.

– Check in all outside storage compartments for any indications of water leaks or water damage.

– Check for any soft spots on the roof itself especially around the roof seams at the front and rear of the RV. Thoroughly inspect all sealants on the roof around every opening.

– Some Class C motor homes are notorious for leaks in the cab over bed area. Look for any signs of discoloration and feel for soft spots. Reach under the mattress and feel for water.

– Look and feel on the outside of the RV for any signs of delaminating. Delaminating is caused by water getting between the exterior fiberglass and the sidewall. When this happens the exterior fiberglass separates from the sidewall of the RV. You can stand at the front or rear of the RV and look down the side for any noticeable ripples or what looks like a bubble. You can also press on the sidewalls. If you feel the exterior fiberglass move it is delaminating. Often times delaminating starts around where an opening was made in the sidewall.

Don’t just inspect your RV for water damage; REALLY inspect your RV for water damage. If you do this on a regular basis you can locate and repair the source of any water damage before it has a chance to do a great deal of damage. I think I’ll start checking our motor home more than twice a year.

Mark Polk is the owner of RV Education 101, a North Carolina based company that produces educational videos, books and eBooks on how to use and maintain your RV.

Just Show up!

February 23, 2009

by Duane Careb
President RVchurchesUSA

As a believer of Jesus Christ, chances are you may have once thought; “I know that I am supposed to serve Him in some way, but I can’t discern a clear leading” or “I figured out what God wanted me to do, but now I question whether that was really my plan or His!”

Those thoughts can lead to confusion and doubt, let alone cause mental weariness and exhaustion.

Know that Jehovah of the Old Testament, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit of the New Testament have designed a unique blueprint for your life that simply requires you to just show up!

Jerimiah 29:11 God says, “I know the plans I have for you” while Jesus tells His disciples, ” I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” (John 16:12-15)

The plans are already laid. It’s as if the Trinity is saying, “All cannot now be revealed to you because you can not bear to know. Just show up and let the Father unveil His plans for your life – how to live, think, speak, serve and impact others for Christ”.

  • Moses (Exodus 3:1-4)  – who coined the phrase “Who am I?” – just showed up at the bush and later had face-to-face conversations with God.
  • Joseph (Genesis 37:18-23) – an shunned and unloved brother – just showed up and became an advocate for the Israelite s in Pharaoh’s Egyptian administration.
  • David (1Samuel 16: 10-12) – a unlikely peasant shepherd boy – just showed up and became a beloved King of Israel.

If you’re experiencing difficulty discerning or second guessing God’s plan for your life, try this – JUST SHOW UP! Just go to where He is. Discover who you are in Christ, listen for His quiet whispers, be open to other Christian’s promptings and study His words as written in the Bible.

I love Psalm 46: 10 that reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God

All you and I have to do is … JUST SHOW UP!

Detachable RV- Wave of the Future?

February 23, 2009

by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
RV Lifestyle Experts

At, a detachable RV is being featured. It is quite modernistic looking and is environmentally friendly.

Not much detail is given, but what makes it unique is that the front is detachable.

The little car by itself would likely get great mileage. The whole RV has to be light weight.

The living quarters can sleep 4 people and there is a kitchenette and bathroom. It has storage room and natural lighting.

The only disappointing thing is that this is a design from a German student and there are no plans for production. But wouldn’t this be a hoot to drive?

Visit Jaimie’s blog

Reprinted with permission

Top Five RV Insurance Claims and How to Avoid Them (2)

February 21, 2009

By Mark J. Polk

Note: This is the second of a two part series – click here for part one

After doing some research on RV insurance claims I discovered what one insurance company listed as the top five RV claims filed. Here’s a rundown of the claims are and how to avoid them.

Claim #4
The next claim the insurance company listed was for damage caused by tire blowouts. I have seen extensive damage to RVs caused by tire blowouts. Tire blowouts on RVs are caused by overloaded tires, under inflated tires, old tires and tires damaged by the ozone and UV rays.

How to avoid it
Just like the axles on your RV, tires have load ratings too. The maximum ratings are molded into the side of the tires. You need to have your fully loaded RV weighed to ensure that the tires are not overloaded. The only way to know if a tire is overloaded is to find scales where you can weigh individual wheel positions in addition to the overall weight, and the axle weights.

Another leading cause of tire failure is under inflated tires. The load rating for a tire is only accurate if the tire is properly inflated. Under inflated tires cause extreme heat build up that leads to tire failure. The appearance of the tire can look normal but the internal damage is not visible and the tire can fail at any time without warning. If you find any tire 20 percent or more below the correct inflation pressure have it removed, demounted and inspected. Driving on a tire that is 20 percent or more under inflated can cause serious, permanent damage to the tire that may not be visible.

Ideally you should check tire inflation, and adjust it if required, everyday that you move or drive your RV. If you can’t get into the habit of doing it on a daily basis you need to make it a point to check all tires weekly, at a minimum when you’re traveling. You always want to check the tires when they are cold, meaning that you don’t drive or move the RV before checking inflation pressure. The only way to correctly measure the inflation pressure in your tires is with a quality inflation pressure gauge. Don’t ever depend on your eyes to check tire inflation. There can be as much as 20 PSI difference between tires that look the same. You need to invest in an accurate inflation pressure gauge. You should get one with a double, angled foot. This makes it much easier to check the outer tire of a dual set.

The age of your tires is another factor that contributes to tire failure. If your tires are more than seven years old they should be replaced. All tires manufactured in the United States have a DOT number. You might have to look on the inside sidewalls to find it. The last three or four digits in the DOT number identify how old the tire is. Older tires used three digits. The first two identify the week of the year that the tire was built and the third identifies the year. Newer tires use four digits. Again the first two digits are the week of the year and the last two identify the year. For example 1005 is the 10th week of the year, and 05 is the year 2005. If you question the age of your tires, especially on a used RV, and you can’t find the DOT number have them inspected by a qualified tire center.

Ozone in the air and UV rays from the sun shorten the life of your tires. It’s not uncommon to see RV tires with low mileage and plenty of tread that are ruined by the damaging effects of ozone and UV rays. Ozone in the air causes tires to dry rot and deteriorate. UV rays from the sun make it happen quicker. This is especially true of the tires sidewall. Inspect your tires for checking or cracks in the sidewalls. If you notice any damage the tires should be inspected by a professional. To protect your tires from sun damage keep them covered with covers that will block out the sunlight when not in use.

Claim #5
Number five in the top five RV claims was for damage caused by rodent infestation. When RVs are stored for the winter it’s not uncommon for mice and squirrels to make their winter home in the RV. These animals are notorious for chewing through vehicle wiring and plastic and rubber lines, debilitating the entire vehicle.

How to avoid it
I don’t know if there is any proven, fool proof method for keeping these rodents out of your RV but there is a long list of ways people have tried. I will list some of these ideas that you can try to keep these unwanted guests away from your RV.

1) Possibly the most important step is to try and prevent mice and other rodents from being able to access your RV. This can be difficult because they can enter the RV through some very small areas. Start by inspecting the underside of your RV for any gaps or holes. Fill these gaps using silicone or expanding foam. A word of caution, if you never used expanding foam before you should experiment with it on something other than your RV first. When it dries it can expand a great deal more than you expect. Next, open drawers and cabinet doors inside your RV. Look in all of the corners and crevices, especially where plumbing and wiring enter the RV. If you can see any daylight mice can get in. Fill these areas with silicone or foam.

2) Remove all food from the RV when it’s being stored and thoroughly clean it to remove any remnants of food that might attract mice and other rodents.

3) If at all possible try to park or store your RV on a solid surface like pavement or concrete. Try to avoid grass, fields or wooded areas.

4) If it’s a motorized RV start it every week to run any squirrels off that may be making the engine compartment into a home for the winter. This is where a lot of chewing damage occurs.

5) If you don’t mind the smell of mothballs scatter them throughout areas of the RV to include storage compartments and the underside. I have been told that mothballs will work for a while but eventually rodents will get used to the smell and it will no longer deter them.

6) Others say the alternative to mothballs is dryer sheets, like Bounce. People swear they work and the smell is much more pleasant. The problem with dryer sheets is once they dry out they are not really effective.

7) If you are close to where your RV is being stored you may want to use conventional mouse traps and check for mice every few days. The only problem with traps is the bait can actually attract mice. I don’t recommend any type of poison. It can take several days for the poison to work and the mice will usually die somewhere that you can’t find them. If this happens you may never get rid of the smell. If you do use poison make sure pets can’t get to the areas where you put it.

8) I have talked to RVers who suggest you spray some type of insect spray (that contains mint oils) around the tires to discourage mice. The only problem I see with this is you would need to do it every few days if the RV is stored outside.

9) There are numerous ultrasonic pest controllers on the market. Some even offer money back guarantees. Again, I have talked to some people who swear by them and others who insist they don’t work. I have never tried this method.

10) If all else fails I ran across a product called Fresh Cab that claims to put off a sweet woodsy-alpine scent that will keep mice away for up to three months. I have not personally tried this product, but if you would like to read more about it go to

After a great deal of research on this topic I have come to the conclusion that the only way to really keep rodents away is to get rid of the rodents altogether. Continue to set traps for mice until they are gone and in the case of squirrels it may be necessary to trap and relocate them if there is no other method available.

I was surprised that damage to TV antennas did not make it in the top five RV claims. I have seen many TV antennas and RV roofs damaged by forgetting to lower the TV antenna. The damage isn’t just from the antenna hitting something when it’s in the raised position; it’s also because the antenna cannot withstand the force from highway speeds when it’s in the raised position. There are a couple of ways to avoid damage to your TV antenna. One is to stick to the trusty pre-trip checklist before you move the RV. Another way is hang the motor home or tow vehicle starting key, or something like a piece of colorful ribbon on the TV antenna handle whenever it’s in the raised position. This will serve as a reminder to lower the antenna before you move the RV.

Armed with this advice, hopefully you can avoid becoming a statistic in the top five RV insurance claims. Be safe and have a great time exploring this wonderful country in your RV.

Permission to reprint granted by 2009

Three Easy Ways to Share Your Faith

February 21, 2009

by Robert Ruesch

Bob and his wife Barb are members of our Ambassador Club

So, you’re traveling in your RV to places, destinations and experiences.  After settling in for an evening of relaxation and personal time with your spouse, a new neighbor comes over, starts talking and won’t quit. Once past the clichés and the predictable “Where ya call home?” exchange, a question related to your spiritual beliefs may arise.

How do you share your faith with a stranger when you now may have entered a “divine opportunity”?

God places us into situations of opportunity to share our faith – meeting seekers on the street, talking to RVers in resorts, while fueling our vehicle or even when waiting in line in a restaurant.  Any and every situation is an opportunity to focus our discussion towards eternal matters.

We – being not ashamed (Rom 1:16) but somewhat shy when expressing our spiritual beliefs – can easily miss the obvious chance to dialogue about our faith.  We don’t have to be a renowned evangelist, pastor, chaplain or professor of a famous seminary; we simply have to be just us – an Ambassador for God (Gal 5:20).

But what can you do to open a dialogue on faith?

Here are three easy ways to start that conversation:

1.  Start with a question

When I am making a phone call I always ask, “How are you doing?”  This is a simple query, but it will evoke a response each time.

Several years ago, I posed this question to a tech support guru whom I had called regarding a problem. The response to my simple question was chilling, to say the least! The tech was experiencing depression because there had been no sunshine for almost a month and his friend had committed suicide the day before my call. Ironically, this tech was also considering suicide!

What was to be a simple five to ten minute tech-support call lasted over forty-five minutes as we unpacked the depressing feelings the tech was experiencing.  A faith statement was shared, the gospel was presented and the call was concluded. A potentially fatal situation was hopefully was avoided.

While the above scenario is an exception, carefully asking questions and listening to a person’s “story” will generally present opportunities to share our faith, whether on the phone or face to face. Ask anyone a simple question – wait-staff, counter sales persons, movie ticket-takers (even tech-help personnel) – and through their answer you can seize the opportunity to share the Gospel and let the Holy Spirit do the rest!

2.  Tactfully ask the person with whom you are conversing, “How can we pray for you?”

My wife and I joined another couple for a lunch in a buffet type of restaurant where interaction with the wait-staff is typically for only a few moments as you serve yourself (always too much).  Because we always pray before our meal, we asked the table attendant if there was anything she needed for.  What followed next was an unexpected flood of tears and emotion.

She was in the middle of a nasty situation and felt abandoned, lost and lonely.  We could not have known that from her smile and servant attitude. We sincerely asked the question and she willingly answered.

Needless to say our prayer for blessing went beyond the meal to the soul that was crying out for a simple prayer. Although the outcome of that waitress’s tough situation is unknown, four Christians responded to the distress response of a simple question,  “How can we pray for you?”

We simply listened to the need, responded to the opportunity and raised the situation to our Lord for His resolution within His will.

3.    Share your faith by “heartbeat example”

You are the best person to model Christianity, God made you that way (John 15:8).  The way you live – sharing your faith by your living (heartbeat) example – is by far the best way to bring Jesus Christ into focus to a life that is blurred by the world.

Live your faith, breath your faith, display your faith through your actions and deeds(Matt 5:16). Present your faith by loving the ever-talking neighbor, by asking simple questions and offering to pray for even a stranger’s needs. These opportunities are at your doorstep for a divine reason.

We all have busy schedules, tasks we need to complete and private times budgeted for relaxing.  I personally like several TV shows that I enjoy watching.  However, many times God has other plans for us (which is why we have a DVR to electronically capture the show for a future viewing).

Each of us has a similar built-in DVR for sharing our faith – we simply need to place our personal life on pause for a few moments as we listen, share and pray in our process of “loving our neighbor as ourselves” (Luke 10:27).

We may only be traveling through a locale for a day or two. That’s relatively just a few moments during our stay on earth compared to our stay with Christ for eternity. Although our “heartbeat” life may seem miniscule when compared to our “heavenly heartbeat”, we are commanded to reach those who do not hear, understand, believe or accept the offer of eternal life through Jesus (Mark 13:10).

Have you shared your “heartbeat” example recently?

Visit Bob’s website

Gas Prices UP 14% in January

February 15, 2009

Prices are still 38% lower than the same time a year ago, and are 55% off the July 17 record high price of $4.114 (NEW YORK) — Gasoline prices edged higher Saturday and are now 14% higher from where they started the month, according to a daily survey of credit card swipes. The price of gas hit a national average of $1.855 a gallon, up slightly from $1.846 a gallon on Friday, according to motorist group AAA. Prices have been on an upward trajectory for most of the month, starting January some 23 cents lower at $1.626 a gallon.

But prices are still 38% lower than the same time a year ago, when a gallon of gas cost $2.988, and are 55% off the July 17 record high price of $4.114. It’s unlikely gas prices will hit the $4 mark anytime soon. Auto sales have been dismal and nearly every day brings more bad news on the economic front.

Another factor keeping gas prices in check is a decline in demand, which started during the typically high summer driving season. Drivers started shying away from the roads as gas prices surged to a record high in July and many continued to opt out of driving even as prices began to ease.

Gasoline is a product of crude oil and it tends to rise and fall in tandem with oil prices. The drop-off in crude during the last half of 2008 helped push gas prices lower.

Saturday, gas prices were above $2 a gallon in 5 states: Alaska, Hawaii, California, Nevada and Washington. The cheapest gas was available in Wyoming, where a gallon cost $1.535.

The AAA figures are statewide averages based on credit card swipes at up to 100,000 service stations across the nation.

As appeared in Feb 4, 2009 Passport News Blast

Top Five RV Insurance Claims and How to Avoid Them (1)

February 4, 2009

By Mark J. Polk

Note: This is the first of a two part series

After doing some research on RV insurance claims I discovered what one insurance company listed as the top five RV claims filed. Here’s a rundown of the claims are and how to avoid them.

Claim #1
The insurance company stated that it receives at least 400 claims each year involving fires around the back of the refrigerator that are caused by leaking propane lines. If you’re using your refrigerator in the LP gas mode, with an open flame, you definitely don’t want a leaking LP gas line.

How to avoid it:
To avoid becoming a statistic I recommend that you take your RV to an authorized RV repair facility annually and have the entire LP gas system checked. RV technicians have the proper equipment to check the system for leaks and to make sure the LP gas pressure is adjusted properly.

You, the owner, can periodically inspect for LP gas leaks. To do this turn on the main gas supply but do not light any pilot lights or other burners. Take a bottle of approved LP leak detector solution and dab around all gas fittings. If there is a leak the small bubbles will grow into larger bubbles. Tighten the fitting and repeat the leak test. If the problem persists turn the LP gas supply off and take it to an RV repair center to have it checked out and repaired.

Claim #2
The next claim the insurance company listed was RVs hitting bridges and gas station overhangs. RVers forget or don’t know the height of their RV and enter areas that don’t have enough overhead clearance.

How to avoid it:
The first step is to measure the height of the RV from the ground to the highest point, usually the top off the air conditioner. Manufacturer brochures often times include this information. Check the footnotes to make sure it includes optional equipment like the air conditioner. For safety measures add an additional six inches to the overall height. Write this information down and post it in the RV or tow vehicle where it can be easily seen and will serve as a constant reminder for you. When you exit the interstate to refuel select an exit that has several fuel stations so you can pick one that is easy to navigate, and has plenty of overhead clearance. If you travel on roads less traveled be sure and check clearances on all overhead bridges before attempting to go under them.

Claim #3
The insurance company lumped retracting the RV steps and awnings together in this claim. Traveling with the awning properly secured is one concern and stowing your awning in bad weather is another concern. Since the claim was not very specific about the awning I will address both issues.

How to avoid it:
When I worked for an RV dealership I saw the end result of not retracting the steps on more than one occasion. It’s easy to forget the RV steps when you are getting ready go on a trip or leave a campground. I have two suggestions about how to avoid this happening to you. First you should always use a pre-trip checklist anytime you plan to move the RV. Second you should always walk around the entire RV a second time just before pulling out. You’ll be amazed at some of the things you missed the first time you walked around the RV. I have a very thorough pre-trip checklist available in my “Checklists for RVers” e-book at

The first thing we’ll cover concerning the awning is stowing it properly for travel. Make sure the awning is properly stowed against the side of the RV and the roller tube lock mechanism is in the retract position. Make sure the awning arm travel locks are latched and tighten the black knobs on the back of the awning arms. The awning makes your RV six inches wider and you must always keep this in mind when traveling. I have seen many instances where the awning roller tube and fabric gets damaged by hitting or rubbing on something and the awning arms get damaged by catching on something. When navigating in close quarters, such as at a campground, use a ground guide to make sure you have enough clearance to avoid damage to the awning.

I’m not sure if the insurance company gets more claims for travel related damage to the awning or storm related damage. I think I have seen more awning damage caused by rain, wind and storms. You should always lower one end of the awning to allow for water run off. The weight from water pooling on the awning fabric can cause extensive and costly damage. Any wind over 20 miles per hour can also cause extensive damage to the awning and to the RV. Never leave the awning out unattended. If everyone is leaving the campsite, store the awning in the travel position. When you go to bed, store the awning in the travel position. Even when you are at the campsite, you should use awning tie downs to prevent any sudden damage caused by a high wind gust or a storm that moves in quickly.

Watch for part two of this series.
Permission to reprint granted by RV Education101 2009

Frogs, Owls and a “John Deer”

February 4, 2009

by Joy Stevensen

My husband Ed and I purchased an RV Park three years ago. In it’s initial life, the park was known as a “party park”. Through the chain of previous owners, the park had been “cleaned up” so Ed and I simply continued  where they left off.

During our first two years we noticed a need for a Sunday morning church service and in our third year we started a short service. Although it is not well attended, it has produced some unexpected results.

One is that we lost about half of our seasonal members. It wasn’t a result of hounding them to come to the services. We only told them that the service was available to them.  In a park that is struggling financially, their leaving was a bitter pill to swallow. However, we found that the drinkers left and those who have stayed – even tho they may not attend the service – are easy to talk to about spiritual things and thus the atmosphere is very comfortable. We have been able to be a part of there lives in a deeper way than just clients. Being with them in everything form weddings to funerals.

Today, as we rebuild our park, we are looking for a way to reach clients that want to be in nature and enjoy the beauty of our park where you can sit by the campfire, see the stars and sing a campfire song or just enjoy the laughter of being with friends.

We don’t have a water slide but we do have a lake full of frogs that serenade you to sleep.

We don’t have planes that fly over head but we have a owl that will swoop down like a stealth fighter.

We have a “john deer” that will walk through the park and stand in the adjacent corn fields watching us watch him.

In the evening you may hear the lowing of cattle – it sounds so gentle that way. But when the cattle are giving birth it is quite the sound to hear!

As you can probably tell, we are located in a rural community with farms all around.  We are just about 35-45 minuets outside of the Quad cities in Cambridge, Illinois. We welcome groups of  RVers  from churches and supervised youth group campers.

We have a pavilion that can be used for meetings, bands and ………. church!

In Christ,

Ed and Joy Stevenson
The Old Timber Campground

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