8670 E Highway 69 Prescott Valley, Arizona 86314, USA | rachel@hicountryrvcenter.com | jd@hicountryrvcenter.com
 
 
Like us on:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

'Tis The Season....To Winterize

 
 
Winterizing your RV, be it a travel trailer or fifth-wheel or motor home is a bittersweet affair. On one hand, you have to do it so your precious baby will survive the cold weather ahead. On the other hand, it means the end of the camping season.

Come to think of it, there's nothing sweet about it. It's all bitter, just like the cold!

Regardless, it's one of those jobs that you have to do. Whether you have your trusted RV service center (hint, hint!) perform this task or you do it yourself, make sure it's done BEFORE freezing temperatures come and do damage to your home on wheels. While you read this from the comfy warmth of your home, let me remind you of a few things about cold weather and your RV.

Two of the most common questions we hear about winterizing is “How cold does it need to get before I winterize?” and “When is it time to winterize my RV?” Well…water freezes at 32 degrees.

No one wants any broken water fittings, broken toilet valves or cracked water pump heads. To ensure that won't happen, winterize your RV before the temperature drops to 32 degrees. Usually that's around mid to late October for this area. As soon as you're done for the season with your RV it's time to winterize it. The sooner you get it done the better; you never know when we will have our first freeze here in the high country.

Why take a chance? That's what Vegas is for!

Dry Camping – Semi Roughing It Without Losing It

My best friend, who as well as being a dedicated law enforcement officer’s wife, amazing mother, invaluable public servant employee, is also a badass hunter. She and her husband upgraded the family from tents to a small travel trailer this past year. While it’s been mostly an enjoyable new adventure, it has been at times frustrating and confusing, especially when she and her husband were on a hunt. They do what we call “dry camp”, staying in the RV with no electric or water hookups. Trying to figure out how to make the water and power supply last their entire outing has proven a difficult lesson to learn. The overload of advice, reading material, and google searches give anyone a pounding headache. Most sources talk about solar, added batteries and/or generators. While these answers are great for do-it-yourselfers who have the time and money, for many folks this is either not desirable or not an option, given space, time, ability, or cost limitations. With that in mind, I will try to give alternative tips that are inexpensive and simple and don’t require major changes to your RV.

Batteries & Extending Your Power
  • Some recreational vehicles have space for four or more batteries. Many, like vans and small travel trailers, can only accommodate two, at least without significant modification. It is sometimes possible to add more batteries, but it most likely comes at the cost of storage space. Therefore, many RV owners are limited in the number of batteries they have supplying their coach power. The best advice I can offer in this case is to use 6V batteries instead of 12V. 6V batteries are the preferred power source if you are considering or definitely using solar panels on your coach. 6V batteries have a higher and better current capacity than 12V due to the larger plates, which results in a slower discharge rate. My husband explains it to customers this way: A 12V battery is like a car having a 60-gallon gas tank and a 6V battery is like a car having a 100-gallon gas tank. An important thing to remember if you choose to switch to 6V batteries is that it requires two 6V batteries to replace a single 12V battery in your system.

  • What exactly draws power from your 12V batteries in your RV? The short answer is, EVERYTHING! Lights, computer boards on your appliances, the furnace, LP detectors and monitors, vent fans. They all draw some sort of load from your batteries, but the biggest thief of 12V power is your furnace blower motor. If you are dry camping in a cold weather situation and you run the furnace with only a single 12V battery source, you’ll find yourself without power in the morning for just about everything you need. To help extend your battery life with your daily use try some of the following things:
1. Replace your lightbulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs take roughly one-tenth the power of traditional incandescent
bulbs. They burn cooler, give better light, and last longer.
2. Turn down the thermostat on the furnace. Use it only to take the morning and evening chill off in the RV.
3. Use a couple of more comforters or blankets when sleeping to keep from the urge of running the furnace all night.
4. Turn off anything you aren’t using! Don’t leave the vent fan running in the bedroom or bathroom, shut off the lights
when you leave the room. Be the nag you are to your kids about wasting electricity!

  • If you have a generator, use it to keep your batteries charged and to run your 12V system. Many customers have on board generators and use them to charge the batteries as needed while dry camping. Others have portable generators that they power up to do the same thing. Remember that using a generator requires fuel and if you are dry camping you’re most likely not very close to a 7-11 or a Circle K for gas. Use your generator only as needed, generally to charge the batteries if they fall below 50% capacity.

Water – H2O So Important
  • Water is essential to preserve when dry camping. It’s usually the first thing to run out and the hardest to find when needed. You need to be more mindful than usual about how you use and save water in your RV. There are a few things you can do that will help your water supply last longer and keep you less dirty and parched!
1. Take short showers. Turn the water on to rinse, off while you soap up and on just to rinse again.
2. Install inexpensive water aerators on your faucets. You’ll use less water without realizing it.
3. Install a low flow shower head. Several RV accessory companies make low flow heads.
4. While brushing your teeth, don't let the water run.
5. Don’t let the water run when you do dishes. Fill a bowl or dish pan with warm water and use it to wash. Then rinse
everything together.
6. Carry a spare water container to refill your water tank during extended stays. A 6-gallon container is still manageable
for most to carry and pour into your gravity fill. You can also use it to haul water from a nearby water source.

It’s extremely important to make sure everything in and on your RV works properly before you head out to remote areas. Take a few minutes (OK, maybe an hour or so) to check the following this as they apply before your trip to the great outdoors. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure…..and a ton of curse words in the woods when something breaks!

  • Visually check your battery water levels (fill with distilled water if necessary)
  • Run the generator and keep up with routine maintenance (oil changes, filters, etc.)
  • Verify solar charge controller and power inverter operation (if using solar)
  • Check all LP appliances (stove, oven, furnace, water heater)
  • Check tire inflation (carry a portable air compressor)
  • Check propane and smoke detectors
  • Check water pump and water lines (for leaking)
  • Open and close all slide outs
  • Raise and lower hydraulic levelers
  • Check lights, TVs, radios

With a few minor purchases and changes, more conservative thinking, and just plain practice, dry camping can open a whole new world of destinations for you!

Traveling Through Traffic

Traffic delays are no fun, even when you're just taking a leisurely RV road trip. Unexpected road closures, accidents, and construction zones cause stress no matter where you're headed. If you want to stay ahead of the headaches, follow a few planning tips to avoid traffic hassles.


  • Anticipate Road Construction
Good weather is always great for RV'ing. Unfortunately, it also means it's the prime time for highway construction work. Several snowy states only have a few good months each year to complete major road construction projects. When you reach one, take it slow, and follow all construction zone laws. You'll avoid expensive traffic tickets and keep highway workers safe.

  • Plan Different Routes
It always pays to know where you're going before leaving home. Take some extra time to map alternate ways to get to your destination. There are many road trip planning tools at your disposal to plan a few different routes to get to where you want. There are a plethora of GPS devices available just for RVers. Apps like RV Trip Wizard can route everything from campground choices to fuel stops. As a bonus, RV Trip Wizard works without a GPS (but will integrate with one).

  • Use Google Maps
Don't head out until checking with Google Maps. As long as you have internet connectivity, you can use Google Maps for the latest travel times of your preferred route. Google Maps gives you real-time travel and traffic delays. If you aren't leaving right away, choose the “Leave Now” pull down menu in the left sidebar of Google Maps. This tool gives estimated travel times based on whatever time and day you'll be on the road.


  • Use Local 511 and State Highway Websites
Even the best RV trip planning tools don't always show traffic issues on all of America's highways. That's when a call to 511 will help get you where you're going. This free phone number is a road conditions hotline that's active in most states and Canadian provinces. Just dial 5-1-1 wherever you are and follow the prompts to learn about any delays along your route. If you do have internet access, you can do a web search for “highway conditions” and your state's name. Every state highway department website reveals traffic status for roads big and small.

If you happen to call a local highway patrol or law enforcement office for road conditions, please remember that the office staff and/or dispatch don't create the accidents and detours. They also have no way to magically get you out of any backup you may find yourself in. Berating, yelling at, and disrespecting them won't change anything. Don't be a jerk to them; it won't get you anywhere and you may find you need their assistance at some point!


  • Check National Park Websites
Are you traveling to a national park? If so, remember that some of America's largest and most popular national parks can take more than an hour to drive through. Go online and visit the park's website before heading out. www.NPS.gov is a great starting point to find your destination. Once there, you'll find traffic alerts highlighted on the home page.

RV road trip planning used to be limited to giant maps and the road atlas, but not anymore. Now, thanks to GPS, websites, and cell phones, technology makes driving far less of a hassle than figuring out how to fold the map back up correctly!
 

Our RV Blog From Hi Country Rec-V-Center in Prescott Valley, AZ

‘TIS THE SEASON….TO WINTERIZE YOUR RV!

Winterizing your RV, be it a travel trailer or fifth-wheel or motor home is a bittersweet affair. On one hand, you have to do it so your precious baby will survive the cold weather ahead. On the other hand, it means the end of the camping season.

Come to think of it, there's nothing sweet about it. It's all bitter, just like the cold!

Regardless, it's one of those jobs that you have to do. Whether you have your trusted RV service center (hint, hint!) perform this task or you do it yourself, make sure it's done BEFORE freezing temperatures come and do damage to your home on wheels. While you read this from the comfy warmth of your home, let me remind you of a few things about cold weather and your RV.

Two of the most common questions we hear about winterizing is “How cold does it need to get before I winterize?” and “When is it time to winterize my RV?” Well…water freezes at 32 degrees. No one wants any broken water fittings, broken toilet valves or cracked water pump heads. To ensure that won't happen, winterize your RV before the temperature drops to 32 degrees. Usually that's around mid to late October for this area. As soon as you're done for the season with your RV it's time to winterize it. The sooner you get it done the better; you never know when we will have our first freeze here in the high country. Why take a chance? That's what Vegas is for!
 
Happy Family Enjoying in the park - RV Air Conditioning in Arizona, USA
 
Picnic - RV Air Conditioning in Arizona, USA
 
Family in RV - RV Air Conditioning in Arizona, USA
 
There are those that will blow out their RV's water lines with compressed air to winterize it. While this is a quicker way to winterize, it won't guarantee that all the water is removed from your plumbing system. It's almost impossible to get enough pressure from a household air compressor to force out the water in your entire RV. Toilet valves, faucets, and water pumps most often get replaced in the spring by many who use this method. For every RVer that blows out their system without issue, there are that many who need repairs by us once winter is over.

When we winterize an RV, we pump RV antifreeze (NOT the same as auto antifreeze) through the entire freshwater system. RV antifreeze is pink in color. The first time this process is a little involved. It requires the installation of bypass valves on the back of your water heater. You don't run the antifreeze into the water heater because it gets drained. Once the valves are installed, they are permanent. The process of winterizing and de-winterizing then takes only about 15-20 minutes. Most RVs take between 2 and 4 gallons of RV antifreeze. The antifreeze gets pumped through the system at your freshwater pump. As it moves through the lines, you open all faucets until pink comes out as well as flushing the toilet until pink appears. If an RV has a washing machine, it also requires winterizing and you will use a few more gallons of antifreeze. If your fridge has an ice maker, it also needs winterizing. Any water filter systems are either bypassed or removed as well.

If you want to winterize your RV yourself but aren't quite sure what to do, give us a call or stop by our shop. We gladly talk customers through the steps and make sure you have everything necessary to do the job. If you'd prefer to have us do it for you, we provide the service both at our shop or wherever your RV is located. Regardless, don't neglect to prepare your RV for winter or think that it's not important. We hate seeing folks in a panic for repairs when they are leaving on that first spring/summer getaway due to leaks and breaks in the water system.

Old man winter is making his way here; don't let his freezing fingers wreak havoc on your RV!
 

It's a DRY Heat, but it's still HOT! How to stay cool with your RV Air Conditioning

“Help! My air conditioner isn't working and it's so hot in my RV!” I can't tell you how many times we get that type of frantic, sweat induced call in the summer from both long time RVers and those new to owning one. There are a few things you need to keep in mind about RV air conditioning and that you need to do in order to ensure your home away from home is cool and comfy.

While you're at the campground pool all day, out shopping or visiting the sights around the area, the RV is heating up inside. You've left the air conditioner off. It's 100 degrees inside when you get back to the RV at 5 o'clock at night! Immediately you turn that air conditioner on. Why doesn't it feel cooler yet?! What you need to realize is that the air conditioner has to pull the heat out of the carpet, the bedding, and the couches; out of everything inside before you start to feel cool. This takes time, LOTS of time. To keep from being miserable, here are a few things to do when using your RV A/C….

  • The first thing you need to make sure of is that you plug into at least a 30-amp service. RV air conditioners require 30 constant amps to operate. If you plug into a regular 110 house outlet and run the A/C, you'll have cold air for a few minutes and then warm or no air at all. A couple of things happen when you run the A/C plugged into 110. First, you're only getting 15 amps to the A/C, which is half of what is required. This will cause the compressor to overload and at some point, completely fail. Most times that then requires a new A/C unit to remedy the problem. Also, if you look at the adapter on the end of your RV cord that enables you to plug into 110, you'll find it is severely discolored and often literally melted from the intense heat from the overloaded cord. A potentially dangerous situation.

  • Turn that air conditioner on in the morning, and by morning I mean no later than 9AM. If you wait until noon to turn on the A/C, you'll never have a cool RV!

  • Set the fan on HIGH. Using the low setting causes the A/C to freeze up because of the lack of airflow.

  • Set the mode to COOL. Don't use the Auto setting. When an A/C runs in the Auto mode, the compressor cycles off and on, making the unit work much more than you want. Just let it run all day, it'll do a better job and you'll come back to a cool RV.

  • Use your thermostat to adjust the temperature inside your RV. If it's too cold, push it up a bit. If it's too warm, move it down a few degrees.

These tips should help you make your air conditioner work a lot more effectively for you, save a phone call to us and just help you have a better camping experience. Be safe. Stay cool!
 

CONGRATULATIONS! You're the proud owners of an RV…. Now What?!?

You've purchased that much anticipated vacation home on wheels. It's packed full of burgers, dogs, board games to keep the kids entertained if the weather won't cooperate during your outing, and a few adult beverages to relax with once everyone is finally tucked in after a long day of adventures. You can't wait to head out and explore the uncharted wilderness and still enjoy a hot shower! Hold on there Dora the Explorer! While having an RV makes seeing the great outdoors easy and oh so much fun, take the time to educate yourself and prepare. Otherwise, you may just come back from that first trip swearing that the next time you enjoy the great outdoors it will be from the vantage of the National Geographic Channel.

Any time a new RV owner comes into our shop, we ask A LOT of questions. While it may seem annoying, by the end of our conversation, we are usually asked if we could teach a class for new RV'ers. Seldom does the salesperson you buy your RV from take the time to educate you on how you correctly use it. Many times they don't have a clue; they are just that……a salesperson. With that in mind, here are a few things to do that will make your life and vacations much more enjoyable and headache free.

  • Get an index card and pen (yes, this means doing it the old-fashioned way, no technology involved).
  • Locate the model and serial number of all appliances on each appliance, including your toilet and awning and write them down.
  • In our industry, all parts are model (and sometimes serial) number specific.

I can't tell you how many times I've had to talk a husband through the process of where to find the model number on an appliance. Listening to him try to explain it to his ever increasingly impatient wife who just wants to take a hot shower is gut wrenching!

  • The manuals for the appliances list ALL the models manufactured so they are useless. They are great for starting a campfire to make smores.

  • Put a bubble level in the freezer of your refrigerator. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is to make sure your fridge is level when it's running. An RV fridge does not contain Freon. It uses a mixture of zinc chromium and ammonia to cool. There's a mouthful! If the fridge operates off level one time it can create a blockage, which once created, won't ever go away. At some point, this blockage will cause the unit to fail, forcing you to buy a new fridge. The average price for a new RV fridge is $1400.00 (cue crying here). You can now see why a $3.00 bubble level is a valuable purchase.

  • ALWAYS use RV toilet paper and RV toilet chemical in the bathroom. Yes, toilet paper from the grocery store is cheaper. Cheaper now, that is until someone like my husband comes to unclog the holding tank in your RV. That “cheap” paper doesn't break down like RV toilet paper and when you get the bill for his service, you'll wish you'd bought the correct kind. Oh, and the less than aromatic smell you'll live with until the unpleasant problem goes away is an added bonus.

Just as you plan ahead for meals, routes, and where to stop, plan ahead with the knowledge of how to use and take care of your RV. We are in the business of servicing your RV, but we really try to save our customers from costly repairs. Now go out and enjoy the great outdoors!