Get Rid of RV Odors

May 21, 2014

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author

Odors in our RVs come in many different forms, caused by many different sources.

There are holding tank odors, pet odors, cooking, smoke, must and mildew odors just to name a few. Some odors are caused when the RV is put in storage for long periods of time and other odors are caused through normal use of the RV. Our concern today is what we can do to prevent some of these odors. I want to tell you about some RV products I have personally tested and use to eliminate some of these RV odors.

Since RVs are small in size, when compared to a house, odors tend to be more pronounced. Add to this that the RV sits closed up for periods of time, compounding odor problems even more. This leads me to one of the key factors for controlling RV odors, ventilation. Ventilation not only helps with odors, but it can limit the amount of heat build-up in the RV too. Many RV owners store their RVs outside and are concerned with leaving windows or vents open, exposing the RV to Mother Nature.

360 SiphonTo help solve this problem I recommend MaxxAir® ventilation products. They are designed specifically for RVs. One great feature about these ventilation products is you can leave the windows and vents open, even when it’s raining outside. From standard vent covers to the more powerful Maxx Fan products, these ventilation products help keep the air moving in your RV. You can check out the complete line at Watch the installation of the MaxxAir  video on You Tube

With the ventilation problem solved we can focus on other types of odors that can linger in an RV. These odor molecules aren’t just in the air, they get in fabrics, carpets, ceiling, window treatments and other areas of the RV. Pet odors, smoke, and must and mildew odors can be extremely difficult to remove from an RV. I have witnessed RV interiors that were professionally cleaned and odors like smoke still remain afterwards. I have also experimented with many different odor controlling products, but perhaps the best product I have found for eliminating difficult odors is Febreze®. The active ingredient molecule used in Febreze® kind of resembles a doughnut.

When you spray the product the bad smelling odor molecule is captured inside the hole of the doughnut, for lack of better wording, preventing you from smelling it. This brings us to the least favorite topic when discussing RV odors, RV holding tank odors. The good news is there are some very effective methods for controlling these odors too, and it doesn’t involve strong chemicals that can be dangerous to humans, pets and septic systems.

First it would probably be helpful to explain why we sometimes get a strong odor coming from the RV black water holding tank, especially when you are traveling. RV holding tanks are designed with a vent pipe going from the holding tank to the roof on the RV. The holding tank odors accumulate in the tank and can’t really be vented outside because there is no air pressure in the tank to force the gasses (odors) up and out of the vent pipe. The real problem occurs when wind blows across the vent cap on top of the RV roof, or when you’re traveling down the road. The higher air pressure forces air down the vent pipe pushing the tank gasses (odors) the only other way out of the system, through the toilet. Whenever the air pressure is higher inside the holding tank, than it is inside the RV, the odor escapes into the RV by way of the toilet when it is flushed.

The good news is there are tank vent products available to help solve holding tank odor problems caused by the design of the RV waste water system. One of those products is the 360 Siphon. The 360 Siphon is a redesigned breather system that attaches to the top of the vent pipe and actually draws the fumes out of the holding tank. It works when the RV is stationary and when it’s moving.

Here’s how it works. The 360 Siphon is designed to eliminate any possibility of high pressure occurring by creating a constant one-way draw up the vent pipe, releasing gasses into the atmosphere. Watch 360 Siphon Installation Video

Another problem associated with RV holding tank odors is the use of strong chemicals to help control holding tank odors. Some of these chemicals can dangerous to humans, pets, and the septic systems we empty our holding tanks in to. Because little water is used, in comparison to a domestic waste water system, RV holding tank waste water is far more concentrated.

The organic strength from the mixture in an RV holding tank can be fifteen to twenty times stronger than a typical waste water system. This problem is compounded when the RV owner gets some odors from the holding tank and dumps even more treatment in the holding tank, attempting to control the odors.

It’s important that we RV owners use environmentally friendly holding tank treatments that are not only safe to use, but safe for septic systems too. There are many of these products available on the market. I encourage you to try a couple of these different environmentally friendly treatments until you find one you really like.

One final note about RV odors:

Lots of RV owners experience problems with odors in the RV refrigerator when it is not being used, either between trips or during winter storage. After the freezer compartment defrosts you should clean the refrigerator and freezer thoroughly. Leave the refrigerator doors propped open and place some baking soda or charcoal (the kind you grill with) inside to absorb any odors.

So it’s safe to say that with proper ventilation and a few good RV products you can eliminate all of the tough odors commonly associated with RVs.


Happy Camping,

Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University


Touting “The Good Book”

July 4, 2013

July 1, 2013 by

RVs lined the camping grounds surrounding the Kentucky Speedway near Sparta, Ky., racewaymin_logoon June 28 as fans played cornhole, shared food and sunbathed in the summer heat. Time was spent setting up camp and relaxing before the NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 that night, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.

Racing fan Helen Camplin traveled nearly 10 hours from Toronto for her first Kentucky Speedway race. Camplin, her husband and their son had just arrived at midday on Friday and were settling in for the weekend’s festivities.

Camplin, who was sunbathing outside her RV, said she loves the atmosphere of the RV campgrounds and races. This year, the Camplins have been to the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Mich., and Talladega in Alabama.

“We like the whole experience,” she said.

She said she loves to travel with her family in their RV.

“You can pick up anywhere you want, go anywhere you want,” she said.

Hundreds of people were at the campgrounds Friday. Some people came for the races; others said they were just hanging out with friends.

Most of them made the trip to Sparta on Thursday or Friday morning. By Friday afternoon, the area outside the track started to resemble a small town with rows of RVs, campers, trucks and SUVs.

Three men — Tom Ragland, Bobby Wagner and John Wuertz — wearing matching yellow shirts handed out cookies and water to fans in Millionaires Row campgrounds.

They were also handing out Bibles. The v2 electronic cigarette men are volunteers for Kentucky Raceway Ministries, an organization with the mission of “bringing race fans to Christ.”

Ragland, of Jeffersonville, Ind., is attending the Kentucky Speedway for his third year.

The response to the ministry, he said, is very positive.

“It’s a good reception,” he said. “People are generally appreciative.”

It is the organization’s 14th year at the Kentucky Speedway and about 200 volunteers worked on Saturday, said JT Marsh, executive director of the Ministries.

Part of their efforts this year include a “Kids Zone” in parking lot E. In its first year, the Kids Zone provides an atmosphere for families, where they can come for free games and water.

“We’ll help anybody from jumping cars to helping kids,” said Larry Stone of London, who is the campground director and a chaplain for the organization, which had members working throughout the RV lots and inside the infield.

“We have such a very powerful, good relationship with the track,” Stone said. “We are not threatening. We are not in-your-face evangelism.”

Stone, who has been working with the ministry for the past 13 years, comes out every year to spread the organization’s message and work with the children.

Last year, the group passed out 5,000 Bibles and 10,000 bottles of water to fans. The Bibles, “The Good Book”,  had different themes, such as race cars and trucks.

“People are more interested if it has something to do with them,” Stone said.

On Saturday, they continued to do the same.



Winterizing Your RV (3)

October 29, 2012

 October 15, 2010 by in Woodall’s Family Camping Blog


Wash your RV outside, starting with the roof. Use recommend cleaners for the roof and camper sidewalls. Don’t forget the wheel wells where mud can collect. Clean all mildew from your awning with a detergent and bleach solution or commercial awning cleaner – rinse well and allow to dry.

Pay particular attention to your tires and wheels and getting them clean. If possible, wash the inside sidewall of the tire too. Removing any road oil or other accumulated rubber damaging dirt is beneficial.

Typical tire covers

When the tires are clean and dry, adjust air pressure to the maximum recommended on the sidewall (they will naturally loose air over the winter) and cover the tires so that they are not exposed to sunlight. Try to place the tread of the tires on a smooth hard surface rather than dirt or gravel. Some pressure treated wood boards or concrete patio blocks under the tires may be helpful.


Clean the inside. Vacuum the carpets and furniture. Clean any hard surface floors. Clean the shower stall and tub along with sinks and the potty. Clean the oven and stove top. Do not leave any grease, dirt or residue behind that can turn into a permanent stain or attract insects – like that half eaten PB&J sandwich hiding behind the couch! Additionally, this makes the spring opening much easier!

Check for rust. Anything that is showing signs of rust now will be worse in the spring. Light rust can be covered with paint from “rattle cans” without removing the rust. Heavy rust should be sanded or chemically treated before painting. Look carefully at your frame, tongue (on a TT), the carrier under your propane bottles, your battery tray. If you have a sewer hose bumper check for chips or nicks on the underside. The inside of the bumper may be un-coated and rusting. An old trick is to make a mop from foam or rags tied onto a long stick, dip into enamel paint and literally “mop” the inside of the hose bumper with paint.

If the camper is a trailer that is going to be stored outside, cover the front tongue jack with a heavy plastic trash bag and tie the bottom with duct tape or rope.

Spray the the coupler with WD-40 or marine fogging oil and cover with a plastic bag or wrap with aluminum foil.

Spray the corner jacks (scissor jacks?) with WD-40 or marine fogging oil on the screw shaft and pivot points.

Be sure all propane tanks are turned OFF. Better yet, remove them to a open shed or outbuilding with the plastic tank cover off. This will reduce the possibility of condensation that causes rusted tanks and holders.

If your camper is where it can be plugged into electricity you may be able to leave your battery(s) installed. If you KNOW that your charger/converter has a float charge function you may leave it turned on. If you do not know if your charger has a float function turn it off, disconnect the batteries, and hook up an optional low current float charger. If you have a battery ON-OFF switch on your camper, remember that if it is turned OFF the camper’s converter/charger cannot maintain the battery(s) over the winter. If your batteries have removable caps, be sure the cells are full. Add distilled water if needed.

Typical battery float charger

If you are in doubt about any of the above or electricity will not be hooked to your camper, remove your batteries and store them in a well ventilated area that is not subjected to freezing temperatures. A semi-heated garage is the best storage environment. Use a float charger in a well ventilated area during the winter or conduct a 2 hour charge with a 2-6 amp conventional battery charger once a month. Again, be sure to do this in a well ventilated area. Check water or electrolyte level and add distilled water if needed. Of course, you cannot do this on sealed batteries.

Batteries without a full charge can freeze and be ruined in cold weather. Batteries that just sit will naturally discharge and accumulate a white crust on the plates inside of the battery that will shorten their life span. Stored batteries will need “tending” as described above.

If possible, cover the camper roof. The best covers are the waterproof yet breathable commercial covers. But, “blue tarps” can be used IF they are installed so that air can circulate under them. It is a BAD idea to lay a blue tarp directly onto the roof surface because they trap moisture underneath and do not allow easy drying of the protected surface. Many ingenious ideas using PVC pipe to make tent-like bows have worked for some campers willing to go this route. Gallon jugs or 2-Liter drink bottles filled with sand and tied to the tarp grommets may help to secure it so that the wind does not turn it into a sail.

If your roof vents are covered so that they will keep rain and snow out, it is a good idea to slightly open the vent to allow for air circulation inside the camper.

If your camper is stored on dirt it can be beneficial to use a ground cover as a vapor barrier under the camper. Again, plastic or blue tarps held in place with rocks or blocks will prevent ground moisture from causing additional frame rusting or moisture from collecting in the camper’s flooring.

Elevate your front jacks so that one end of the camper is taller than the other. This will aid in water run-off and help to keep the rolled up awning drained of moisture.

If you carry a portable electric generator, put the recommended amount of fuel stabilizer into the tank and fill it with fuel to prevent condensation from forming inside the tank. If possible, run the generator monthly during the winter to keep everything inside lubricated and gum free.

Lastly, inspect the camper on a regular basis. Go inside throughout the storage seasons. Inspect for any signs of water leakage, vermin infestation (mice), and always be sure to pat “her” gently on the counter top or side and tell her that it will soon be spring again.

Read part 1 and part 2 of this series.
Professor95 will write another blog in March’s issue Woodall’s Family Camping Blog on his procedures for bringing an RV out of moth balls for the summer fun!

Do you have any tips or beneficial comments?  Please add them below.




Winterizing Your RV (2)

October 20, 2012

October 15, 2010 by in Woodall’s Family Camping Blog

Pump RV Antifreeze Into Your Water Lines. I know some people do not like to use this stuff, but it is the only sure way to be sure there is no water left behind to freeze. The pink RV antifreeze is rated as non-toxic if used as directed. Do NOT dilute the pink antifreeze – use full strength. NEVER, NEVER use automotive cooling system antifreeze (green, yellow or red) in a RV water system. Automotive antifreeze is toxic and difficult if not impossible to flush out of a RV water system.First, close all of the camper’s faucets and low point drains. Hopefully, your water heater has a by-pass valve installed that should be operated according to your owner’s manual. If not, there are by-pass kits that can be purchased and installed.

There are several different methods for getting the antifreeze into your water lines.

The proper thing to do is consult your RV’s manual to learn which of these methods is best for your RV. Some RV’s have a factory installed hose connected by a two-way valve going to the water pump so that you can just put the hose end into the antifreeze container and turn the valve to pump antifreeze into your water lines. Others advise to disconnect the intake hose to the water pump, attach a new temporary hose section to the pump then put the open end of the new hose into a container of antifreeze – then turn on the RV’s water pump.

Antifreeze can be poured directly into the fresh water tank and then pumped through the RV water lines. This last method generally uses more antifreeze than the others. Depending on the size of your RV, you will need from 3 to 6 gallons of antifreeze. If you do not have a water heater bypass, it will take an additional 5 to 10 gallons. Thus, a water heater bypass valve system can save you a lot of money in antifreeze.

Start with all of your faucets closed, pump the pink antifreeze from a clean 3 to 5 gallon bucket or water jug into your water lines until your electric pump shuts off. Do not allow the antifreeze container to become empty during this entire process or your pump will pick up air and need to be re-primed.

Go to the faucet closest to the water pump and open the cold water side. Let it run until only pink liquid comes out. Close the cold water faucet and do the same for the hot side. Repeat this process for all of the remaining faucets, shower and the toilet until all you see is pink liquid. Do NOT forget to service an outside shower. Using an empty container, return to your outside low point drains and drain the pink liquid out of your water lines – there is no point leaving it in the lines since you have purged them of all freezable water.

Take some of the recovered antifreeze and pour it into your sink and shower drains so that the traps will not freeze if they should contain any water.

Wipe any pink antifreeze off of the shower walls, bathtub or sink bottoms as it will leave a stain.

 Dump any pink liquid out of your toilet bowl; wipe the bowl dry and pour in one half of a cup of mineral or baby oil (do not use vegetable oil as it will spoil). This will keep your toilet bowl valve seal from drying out.

 Lastly, remove any water line filters such as a drinking water filter in the kitchen or a whole house filter installed elsewhere. Discard these filters. Do not try to save them for next year.

The small amount of water left sitting in the bottom of your water heater tank should not cause any harm if it freezes.

Don’t forget to be sure your “white” fresh water supply hoses have been drained of all water and are stored with the ends screwed together.

 OPEN your gray water holding tank dump valves and catch any water and antifreeze that comes out in a bucket for proper disposal in your home’s toilet. DO NOT open your black tank valve unless you are positive that the tank is clean and empty. If you did not clean and empty your black tank at your last camping or dump site, you have a big problem. You will need to add antifreeze to the tank via the toilet to prevent freezing and potential damage to the dump valve.

Read part 1 of this series

Next, the final part 3 – winterizing the RV exterior



Winterizing Your RV (1)

October 13, 2012

October 15, 2010 by in Woodall’s Family Camping Blog

It is hard for me to believe that winter’s cold winds and freezing temperatures are just around the corner for those of us that live in Central Virginia. Golly, in some of our northern states freezing temperatures have already arrived!

OK – those of you in southern Florida, the southwest and other warmer climates can laugh, but a good part of the country is going to get cold.

This, of course, means winterizing your RV. Even if it is still relatively warm where you are, you should be planning and preparing to put your camper away for the winter.

The major issue with campers and freezing temperatures is the water system. Hundreds or even thousands of dollars in damage can result if freezing water expands in water lines, the pump, potty flush valve, faucets, water heater and drains.

I have winterized all of our campers each winter over the past three decades. So, I’ve had a lot of practice in what works, and what does not.

This is my step-by-step winterization process. Hopefully it will help readers new to the process complete winterization easily and efficiently. This can also make opening the camper back up in the spring much easier and less time consuming.

Begin your winterization as you leave your last scheduled camping trip to drive home. Drain all of your holding tanks into the sewer dump at the campground. Flush your black water tank until the water coming out is clean. You can use a short clear plastic sewer hose extension installed at the dump valve so that you can see when the waste water is clean. Open your low point fresh water drains and all of the inside faucets. Leave the water heater drain alone for right now – the water in the tank is probably HOT and could burn you in the draining process. The up, down and rolling movement of the camper on the way home will help to complete the fresh water draining process – but it will not shake all of the remaining water out of the system.

Remove all perishable and freezable items. While it may be obvious that you can’t leave milk in the refrigerator through the winter, many other items in your camper that can go bad or freeze are often overlooked. For example, be sure shaving cream, first-aid kits, lotions, insect repellents, sunscreen, tooth paste, spray cleaners, OTC medications, toilet chemicals, glues, liquid wax, dish detergent, etc. are boxed and moved inside for the winter. Your OTC medications like aspirin and antacid should be added to your home medicine cabinet and used – or disposed of safely. Letting them sit in a storage box until next spring and then putting them back into the camper will result in a less effective medication due to aging. Rotate caned goods through your pantry rather than storing them so that the “Use By:” dates are not exceeded.

Clean the Refrigerator. Turn the refrigerator off and allow it to defrost. Remove all door shelves and inside racks. Wash the interior toughly with a good kitchen cleaner, one with a small amount of bleach works best. Wash the door racks in hot soapy water and dry. Wipe out the freezer section as you did the refrigerator part. Be careful of the sharp metal fins near the top of the refrigerator as they can cut your hand. When cleaning is complete, prop the door(s) open with rags or hand towels so air can circulate inside the fridge over the winter.

Remove LCD TV Sets. LCD displays can be damaged by extremely low temperatures. If your area is subjected to extreme cold this one step could save you hundreds of dollars next spring. It also makes the camper less attractive to thieves, an important step if you are storing your camper away from home.

Remove Tissue and Paper Towels. Field mice love to use tissue, napkins, toilet paper and paper towels as nesting materials. We all hope mice will not invade our campers while they are in storage, but it is not uncommon for these small furry creatures to take up residence inside a camper during the colder months. It is a good idea to leave the cabinet doors and drawers open so that dark nesting spaces are minimized. If mice are a concern, never leave any food behind and read my previous Mouse Attack! blogs.

TOP – New anode rod. BOTTOM – Anode rod needing replacement.

Drain Your Water Heater. Be sure the water is not HOT. There is a plug that must be removed with a socket wrench at the bottom of your tank. It is accessible from the outside after opening the water heater outer door. This plug may also contain your anode rod, which acts as a sacrificial metal to keep your aluminum tank from getting full of pin holes. If the rod is over 1/2 gone, you will need to replace the drain plug/anode rod with a new one before the spring opening.


Watch for part 2 – Using RV antifreeze properly



Wycliffe Bible RV Sites

September 20, 2012

(Orlando, Florida, USA)—Wycliffe Associates, an international organization that involves people in the acceleration of Bible translation, welcomes hundreds of volunteers each year who serve for a few weeks or several months without ever leaving the United States. And many of them stay at the organizations’ RV sites, located in Texas and Florida.

A majority of the volunteers are retired and travel seasonally to Texas and Florida from Canada and the northern U.S. states, especially Minnesota and Michigan. Between October and March, as many as 500 volunteers stay at the RV sites or in apartments on campus, serving at the Bible translation facilities in Orlando and Dallas.

“The level of skill and dedication these volunteers bring when they travel here is critical for Bible translation to advance,” said Bruce Smith, President and CEO of Wycliffe Associates.

The volunteers’ tasks are widely varied and can include project management, accounting, maintenance work on the buildings and grounds, administrative work, kitchen and dining hall service, and working in the mail room or medical clinic.

Some volunteers serve for six weeks, while others stay for six months. Still others stay year-round. However, volunteering is a requirement for all those staying in one of the 69 RV spaces in Orlando or 42 spaces in Dallas.

Most volunteers serve four or five days a week, typically from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 or 4:00 p.m., depending on the nature of their assignments. They also meet for devotions four mornings a week and for chapel services on Sunday evenings.

Residents at the RV sites have opportunities to get to know each other through activities such as potlucks, socials, a talent night, an orchestra, and a Friday golf league, all organized by a volunteer social coordinator.

For more information regarding volunteering at Wycliffe Associates, contact:

Donn Hallman
[email protected]


Handling RV Odors

August 6, 2012

by Mark Polk
Mark is a frequent contributing author


Odors in our RV come in many different forms and are caused by many different sources. Some odors are pleasant, like fresh coffee brewing in the morning, and some are not so pleasant. The “not so pleasant” category includes holding tank odors, pet odors, and cooking, smoke, must and mildew just to name a few. Some of these odors result from normal use of the RV and some from sitting in storage. Today I want to give you some tips to help control and eliminate some of these unpleasant odors.

Because RVs are relatively small in size, when compared to a 2,000 SF home, odors tend to be more pronounced. Add to this the RV sits closed up for periods of time and odor problems are compounded even more. This leads to one of the key factors for controlling odors, ventilation. Ventilation not only helps with odors, but can limit the amount of heat build-up in the RV too. A quick fix for this odor related problem is to install some aftermarket roof vent covers, like MaxxAir vent covers, over the existing roof vents.

They are easy to install and a great feature about these ventilation products is that you can leave the roof vents open, even when it’s raining outside. These ventilation products will keep the air circulating throughout your RV and help prevent musty odors.

With the ventilation problem solved we can focus on other types of odors that linger in our RVs. These odor molecules aren’t just in the air, they get in the fabrics, carpets, ceiling, window treatments and other areas of the RV. Pet, smoke, and musty odors can be extremely difficult to eliminate. During my days of selling RV’s I witnessed RV interiors that were professionally cleaned, but odors, like smoke, still remained afterwards. I also experimented with many different odor controlling products, but perhaps the best product I found for eliminating difficult odors is Fabreze. Lots of air fresheners just mask common odors, but in many cases masking an odor won’t eliminate it. You need something that can kill the odor causing bacteria in the air, which is what Fabreze does. After RV trips, or before storage, clean the RV thoroughly and spray Fabreze throughout. Don’t forget to spray the upholstery, carpet and fabrics too.

To help prevent cooking odors from becoming permanent odors in your RV make sure you turn the range exhaust fan on whenever you are cooking, and it’s a good idea to open a window too. To maximize the efficiency of the range exhaust fan keep the filter clean. On some RVs it is necessary to go outside and open the range exhaust fan door so the cooking odors actually vent outside. Check your RV owner’s manual for more details concerning maintenance and operation of your range exhaust fan.

When it’s time to put the RV in storage there are several steps you can take to assist with controlling and eliminating common household odors. First, thoroughly clean the interior of the RV. Remove all perishable food and leave cabinet doors and drawers open so air can circulate. Defrost the freezer and thoroughly clean the refrigerator. Leave the refrigerator and freezer doors cracked open. Put a small tin of charcoal in the refrigerator compartment to help absorb any odors, baking soda works well too.

If you decide to leave your clothes in the RV during periods of storage use some mothballs to help control musty odors and leave the wardrobe doors and clothing drawers open to promote air circulation.

This brings us to the least favorite topic when discussing odors in our RV, holding tank odors.

The good news is there are some very effective methods for controlling these odors too, and it doesn’t involve strong chemicals that can be dangerous to humans, pets and septic systems. First it would probably be helpful to explain why we sometimes get a bad odor from the RV black water holding tank, especially when you are traveling. RV holding tanks are designed with a vent pipe going from the holding tanks to the roof. The holding tank odors accumulate in the tank and can’t really vent outside because there is no air pressure to force these gasses (odors) up and out of the vent pipe.

The real problem occurs when wind blows across the vent cap on top of the RV roof, which escalates when you are traveling. This higher air pressure forces air down the vent pipe pushing the tank gasses (odors) to the only other way out of the system, the toilet. Whenever the air pressure is higher inside the holding tank, than it is inside the RV, the odor escapes into the RV by way of the toilet when it is flushed.

The good news is there are aftermarket RV products that will help solve holding tank odor problems caused by the design of the RV waste water system. These products are basically a redesigned breather system that attaches to the top of the vent pipe and actually draws the fumes out of the holding tank. These products work when the RV is stationary and when it’s moving.

Another problem associated with RV holding tank odors is the use of strong chemicals to help control these holding tank odors. Some of these are formaldehyde based chemicals and can be dangerous to humans, pets, and the septic systems we empty our holding tanks in to. Because little water is used, in comparison to a domestic waste water system, RV holding tank waste water is far more concentrated. The organic strength from the mixture in an RV holding tank can be fifteen to twenty times stronger than a typical waste water system. This problem is compounded when the RVer gets some odors from the holding tank and dumps even more chemicals in the holding tank in an attempt to control the odors.

As many of you know I am a big advocate for saving our RV dump stations. I recommend using a holding tank treatment that is environmentally friendly and safe to use in septic systems.

Enzyme based holding tank treatments, combined with a redesigned vent breather system, can effectively control holding tank odors. Don’t be afraid to put some holding tank treatment in the gray water holding tank too. When the gray tank is empty add some water, and the holding tank treatment, to the sink drains to help keep the gray water tank free of odors. I add some dish washing liquid to the gray water tank periodically to assist with breaking down and grease and keep the holding tank clean.

So it’s safe to say with proper ventilation and a few good aftermarket RV products you can eliminate all of the tough odors commonly associated with enjoying our RVs.



Happy Camping,
Mark Polk is founder of RV Education 101 and RV University


B.C Walmart Says No to RVs

October 19, 2011

by Rex Vogel for Woodall’s Family Camping Blog

SmartCentres, which owns the Kamloops, British Columbia shopping centre, installed large new signs on the lot reminding customers there is no overnight parking for RVs or trucks. (Credit:

They are usually known as a welcoming sight for RVers in need of a place to stop for the night or a few days before continuing on with their journey.

Besides being a big-box retail store, Walmart parking lots across North America have generally been hospitable to the traveling camper.

But, anyone hoping to stay in the Kamloops, British Columbia, Walmart parking lot for an extended period of time can expect to be turned away, reports Kamloops This Week.

This past summer the company SmartCentres, which owns the shopping center, installed large new signs on the lot reminding customers that overnight parking for RVs or trucks is not permitted.

Sandra Kaiser, vice-president of corporate affairs for SmartCentres, told KTW the no-overnight rules were always in place, but not enforced stringently until recently.

She said the measure is not meant to crack down on someone staying a few hours or even a night, but is intended to address RV owners staying for days and weeks.

“More and more campers were coming and staying for longer periods of time, to the point where we were losing parking spaces that we have to provide to our tenants,” Kaiser said, adding the company had received complaints from tenants in the shopping center.

She noted overnight stays made it difficult for maintenance crews to clean up the lot.

Kaiser said maintenance crews are politely reminding campers they can’t park in the lot long term.

Walmart manager Tim Labermeyer said he’s heard from some customers who expected to park at the store overnight.

However, he pointed out many of the Walmart lots that allow overnight parking are owned by the retail giant.

The Kamloops Walmart leases the property so, in this case, it is not a decision made by the store.

“We have to abide by their (SmartCentres) rules,” Labermeyer said.

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit:

He suggested Thompson Rivers University students using the lot during store hours for free parking was a bigger issue than RV parking.

The Kamloops location isn’t alone in banning overnight stays, as a growing number of Walmarts in the U.S. are starting to turn away RVs.

For a list of Walmarts where overnight parking is prohibited, click here.

Ask the local IGA store in Hinton, Alberta, how to treat visitors. That IGA invites RVers to camp overnight free on their parking lot and places large signs along the highway to make sure RVers know they are welcome.

Overnight Parking Etiquette

Some of the most respected RV consumer clubs have joined together to support your right to park on private businesses’ parking lots overnight under the following code of conduct. The code pertains to establishments that permit “dry camping” on their lots. Dry camping means camping without the use of external hookups for electricity, water supply, or waste disposal.

Industry-Sanctioned Code of Conduct (RVers’ Good Neighbor Policy)

Stay one night only!

Obtain permission from a qualified individual.

Obey posted regulations.

No awnings, chairs, or barbecue grills outside your RV.

Do not use hydraulic jacks on soft surfaces (including asphalt).

Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit:

Always leave an area cleaner than you found it.
Staying in a Walmart parking lot. (Credit:
Purchase gas, food, or supplies as a form of thank you, when feasible.

Be safe! Always be aware of your surroundings and leave if you feel unsafe.

If your plans include touring the area, staying for more than one night, or necessitate conduct not within the code, please relocate to a local campground. It’s the right thing to do!

Most of the complaints lodged regarding RV parking on business parking lots have to do with aesthetics and perceived abuse of the privilege. There are a variety of competing interests that were balanced to arrive at this industry-sanctioned code of conduct. As you can see, this Code of Conduct is nothing more than an RVers’ “Good Neighbor” policy.

Not following the code has serious consequences and is detrimental to the rights of all RVers. Already, some municipalities have passed ordinances to prohibit parking on private business property overnight.

The above Code of Conduct is also available in PDF format from the Walmart Atlas website.

You’re encouraged to print this letter and share it with others to promote these etiquette standards.

Worth Pondering…Don’t be pushed by your problems. Be led by your dreams.


RV Roadschooling

September 16, 2011

by Dana T. for Woodall’s Family Camping

While we have always homeschooled our children, now that we are full-time RVers, we boy doing school workhave found that Roadschooling (homeschooling on the road) presents some unique challenges as compared to when we homeschooled in a sticks & bricks.

Being on the road has given us a chance to visit some wonderful historic locations that we would not have been able to otherwise afford to go to without our RV.  We love to tailor our curriculum to where we are visiting; especially for history, writing, and science, but traveling full-time makes it difficult to always have, on-hand, the learning tools that we enjoyed in our house.  We have found having a laptop and printer on-board indispensable to our destination tutoring!

Of course, if you are going for a short trip, it would be very easy to find applicable information before you leave home, print it out there, and take it along.  There are some great websites that provide details and worksheets about stateshistorical destinations, and elementary hands-on science.  My children, for the most part, enjoy worksheets, so in addition to downloading interesting online worksheets, I also watch out for fun workbooks about where we are visiting.

History of Texas Museum

History of Texas Museum

Last month when we were in Texas, I found a great workbook at the Bob Bullock History of Texas Museum gift shop.  Because I have multiple ages, I went through the workbook and marked each page that I thought the kids might enjoy with a post-it flag.  On the flag, I wrote how many copies of that page I wanted depending on which children it was age appropriate for.  A quick trip to Staples, and we were set for some fun (and inexpensive) learning about a new-to-us area.

Many students use the Internet for classroom research, and travelers use it to find out about a possible destination.  Roadschooling brings both of these together.  In addition to finding out about the surrounding tourist sights and searching for campgrounds, we like to find factual information on the historical places that we are interested in touring.  Last week we visited Tombstone, AZ, the sight of the legendary gunfight between the Earp brothers with Doc Holiday, and the lawless Clanton Gang at the OK Corral.  On our way to Tombstone, we searched for a website about the deadly match, and read about the gunfight aloud; we also learned a lot about the founding of the town, including the source of it’s name.  The kids had more interest in the location knowing a bit of it’s history, we had a better idea of how to prioritize our time there based on what details we found intriguing, and the kids had a jump-start on what they would need to know to earn their Jr. Ranger badges.

Homeschoolers tend to be bookworms (and we are!) but now that we are schooling out of an rv, we are greatly limited as to both space and weight.  We don’t have much room for books, but even if we did, the weight factor of hauling them around would be detrimental to our GVW!   I have never been a big library fan – I felt that if a book was worth reading, it was worth owning – unfortunately, this mind-set  just doesn’t fit in well with the r.v. lifestyle!  But how could we school without our books?  One solution was that we bought the older kids e-readers for Christmas.

There are over a dozen different manufacturers; we chose Sony.  (the following info is based on our experience with them, so it may differ if you choose Kindle, nook, or any of the others…)  If you tend to purchase a lot of books anyway, a digital reader can pay for itself very quickly.  Our family prefers classics, and many of these books can be downloaded for free.  In fact, you don’t have to have an e-reader to take advantage of free downloads; they can be read on your computer/laptop also!  It is easy to find books based on location or historic event with literally millions of books available for download!

books organized in cupboard

magazine racks work best for our workbooks

For storing our traditional school books, we have found that it works best for us to have a container for each child’s books.  At first we used horizontal plastic boxes with lids, but we have found that, in the area we have set aside for school in this coach, magazine holders work best.  Each child has their own holders, and since the containers are vertical, the kids don’t have to dig theirs out from under others, and the remaining holders stay upright (instead of a row of slumping books), making it easier to keep those cupboards tidy.   We also use magazine holders for coloring books and info that we send away for from each state like tourist guides.

We do enjoy a certain amount of educational DVDs.  One of our favorites is Drive Thru History; they are generally location specific or about a certain person (thus you might want to watch about Benjamin Franklin when you are visiting Boston, his birthplace, or Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence was signed).  My boys especially enjoy these as Dave is usually driving some cool or unusual vehicle, and he is rather comical.

We also have found other ways to impart learning into our ‘camping’ routine.  We tend to lean towards games that have some, however small :), educational value.  My kids like the game bananagrams, which is somewhat similar to Scrabble but without a board; great for spelling, and is very compact.  Math games, like Math Dice, are small, lightweight, and easy to adapt and play with multiple ages.

We have really been enjoying our roadschooling adventure.  At first it was a challenge for this bookworm mom to adapt to life without a library on board, but we have found some great alternatives that are making our journey a lot of fun and still educational.  We are also finding that learning can be extra rewarding when we take advantage of the educational opportunities that each of our travel destinations offer.  If you have some other roadschooling ideas, I would love to hear from you!

Safe Travels and Happy Learning!



Is An RV Business For You?

September 5, 2011

by Jaimie Hall Bruzenak
as appeared on RV Home Yet?


The Las Vegas Review Business Journal has had two articles recently about mobile RV businesses. In the first, a business is foundering; in the second, a three mobile RV businesses are flourishing. Is this a viable way for RVers to make money?

Business one is a girl’s party bus that provides full cosmetology services plus takes the gals to their night out. The bus is decorated for a party complete with zebra-pattern walls, pink furniture, stereo system and flat-screen TVs plus a stripper’s pole. They park in a variety of locations to provide their services.

In the other article, “Entrepreneurs take niche goods, services to road for customers’ convenience,” three entrepreneurs are featured: an RV mobile repair business, a mobile car detailing service, and a mobile custom tanning and salon. The last does custom air-brush tanning. According to the article, what helps a mobile business succeed is finding the right niche or having high quality if you’re providing service in a broader specialty. Maybe the party bus in the first article is a niche that doesn’t jive with the market.

How does this apply to RVers who want to travel in their RVs rather than be based in one community? Having a mobile business isn’t as easy. For professions such as cosmetology that requires a license in each state, a mobile business would not work as well. Plus, a beautician relies on developing a clientele. Moving around frequently would not allow that to happen unless you came each year during a certain season. For example, some who cuts hair and spends each winter in the same snowbird park would be able to develop a clientele over time.

Another restriction is getting the word out. If you travel constantly, people may not see you enough to get familiar with you. Often customers need to see you or hear about you several times before feeling comfortable enough to buy from you. If you were parked at an RV park for a while, you would need permission from the owner, who might want a cut. And, you probably will need a local business license or at least a tax ID to run a business there.

The mobile businesses I’ve seen work provide services for RVs, such as mobile repair, repairing windshields, computer repair, and cleaning carpets. They may have a sign on their RV or their tow or toad, letting RVers know about their business. Some set up at RV events or at RV gathering places like Quartzsite, AZ in January. I’ve also met RVers who cut hair and give massages, but they do it by word of mouth since they are not licensed. Keep in mind if you offer services at RV rallies, you may be required to get a booth. There are always costs of doing business!

If you tow a cargo trailer or even have a toy hauler converted into some sort of workshop, there are more possibilities. Just pick a business that doesn’t need a state license and make sure you follow the state and local regulations for paying business license fees and taxes. Knowing lots of RVers or going to rallies or where they gather also helps. It could be a viable way to make a living on the road.

Jaimie Hall Bruzenak

Please add your comment below or email Jamie at [email protected]

reprinted with permission

Motor Homes Getting Smaller

August 16, 2011



You may have to look harder to see those convoys of motor homes headed for vacation spots this summer. The RVs are getting smaller.

While sales of traditional motor homes have grown at a respectable 6.2% rate for the first six months of the year, two smaller classes encompassing large van conversions have grown nearly twice as fast, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association reports.

“The era of bigger-is-better and more ostentatious” is over, declares RVIA President Richard Coon. Now, “The trend is toned down quite a bit.”

Blame the economy and gas prices, but also retirees who have decided they don’t need rolling McMansions for status in otherwise hard times.

“Fuel prices are driving it, but this is a cultural shift,” says Bob Wheeler, CEO of Airstream, which converts delivery-van-style Mercedes-Benz Sprinters into low-key motor homes. “There’s a shift away from conspicuous consumption.”

Though these units are priced upwards of $125,000, Wheeler says they typically don’t have the fancy paint and graphics of larger units. “No flashy paint job,” he says. Rather, it’s “understated elegance” — and up to 18 miles a gallon from the modest diesel engine, triple the gas mileage of some big gasoline-powered motor homes.

Even in the bigger vehicle classes, some RVers are downsizing. RV-maker Fleetwood says many buyers of more traditional motor homes, who formerly would have opted for 36-footers or bigger, today are buying downsizing to its 28- to 32-foot Storm line, which starts at about $92,000, says Lenny Razo, eastern regional sales director.

Those RVs are being fitted with more space-maximizing features, such as bunks that drop from the ceiling. Many buyers “are getting older, and they don’t need as much” space, Razo says.

Winnebago, too, has introduced more lower-priced motor homes and fuel-saving diesels. “In the last couple of years, people are wanting value products, not necessarily all the bells and whistles like in 2004,” says spokeswoman Sheila Davis.

Smaller motor homes also can be more versatile, such as serving as a base camp for little leaguers at games, as well as a home away from home on vacation, she says.


New RV Park Finder Phone App

August 1, 2011

by Woodall’s Campground Management August 1, 2011

The Trailer Life Directory announced that its new RV Park  Finder app is now available for iPhone, iPad and iTouch in the iTunes App Store.

The RV Park Finder application provides RVers with the  same comprehensive and accurate campground information  that they have grown to expect from Trailer Life Directory, according to a news release.

Users can search by  city, state or province to find all of the 11,800 RV parks, campgrounds, attractions and travel services that are listed  in the Trailer Life Directory. Listing information includes location, park amenities, site information, photos and website link.

All of the Good Sam discount locations are marked by red icons on the map and have the Good Sam logo in the listing.

The RV Park Finder app is also equipped with RV friendly routes and Google maps to make getting to each of the campgrounds even easier.


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