Three and a half years of grinding it out day after day living full time in a 26’ travel trailer will completely test the build quality and durability of any RV. In that time, quite a few things, minor and major have outright busted, and some we’ve just worn down. Our 26’ Travel Trailer has been a 24 hour a day endurance laboratory, and I’m here today to ask the question, WHY THE HECK DID THAT BREAK IN MY RV? Here is, in no particular order, is the list!
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Our RV Awning
RV Living isn’t the same without an operating awning. It sets and defines the outdoor space of an RV and campsite. About a year and a half into our RV adventure, a sudden gust of wind, maybe even a microburst tore the awning fabric where it meets the RV and the entire assembly collapsed. Fortunately, our insurance covered it. Not so fortunately, the new awning is tearing slowly, and the electric motor is can barely get the job done. Looks like it’s time for a new, new awning!
The Roof is Doing What?
You wouldn’t think that a roof would be an item to worry about in a 3 and a half-year-old Travel Trailer, and you’d be right! Worry about it your first year and always! Early on in our adventures, we noticed our rubber roof was ballooning as we drove. Then one rainy night, it began to drip in our bedroom. A small tear had formed between the rubber roof and metal front cap of the RV. Time for an emergency repair with Eternabond Tape. Well, that temp repair has remained in place since and so… watch your roof, and keep Eternabond on hand just in case… All Hail Eternabond!
We love our slide, and we have just one. Anytime we go window shopping at RV dealers or Expos, we marvel at all the space that slides provide in RV’s. And then we count all the possible ways those 3, 4, or even 5 slides could fail at any time, and are thankful for our simple TT. One of our two slide motors failed last summer near the end of year 3. Fortunately, we’ve been able to manually move the slide in and out, and one day, we’ll remember to actually replace the failed motor. Maybe?
Twelve Volt Water Pump, x 2!
If you typically enjoy the RV Life with full hookups at RV Resorts and Campgrounds, (and who doesn’t like a nice Resort?) you might never use your water pump! We love to boondock though, and that requires using the water pump when we’re out in the middle of nowhere. We’ve successfully killed off two pumps so far. Thankfully, someone as handily impaired as I have been able to figure out how to swap the water pumps out without getting electrocuted. If I can do it, so can you. I believe in you!
Power Jack. Seriously!
Our Power Jack has failed. You’d think this would be the simplest, hardiest, utterly reliable piece of hardware on your Travel Trailer, but no. The switch is probably the failure point. We can raise the nose of the TT, but we have to crank it down manually. I can only guess that the elements have corroded the switchgear. Look for a sealed unit if you are in the market for a replacement…
12 VOLT BATTERY
Our cheap 12 Volt Battery, like the water pumps that we wore down, was done in by boondocking. It simply got too low, too many times (too quickly) and lost its ability to retain a charge. Frankly, though, the basic battery (batteries?) that your RV comes with are really useless for anything but running your LED lights and Water Pump. You can, of course, run your propane heater in cold weather, but unless you carefully watch the pitiful charge level, you’ll damage the battery. What then, is the solution to the need for robust, reliable, long-lasting batteries, that will provide more hours of power, and charge faster than ever before? Yep. BATTLEBORN BATTERIES. Battleborn makes amazing lithium batteries and we’re saving our pennies to purchase some later this year. You can find them on Amazon here. BUT FIRST, STOP! You should properly educate yourself before making this significant investment in the RV lifestyle by contacting Diane and the BATTLEBORN BATTERIES TEAM. Please do me a solid and tell them that Robert and Jessica at Exploring the Local Life sent you!
Our oven hood light expired one week into RV ownership. Our outside incandescent lights (the white “scare” light, and orange door light) have alternately lost their lenses, and they have blown out at least two or three times each. One of our interior LED lights and its little computer-controlled brain won’t turn off and runs at 50% illumination. I’ve since repositioned it to the bathroom ceiling where it serves as a 24 hour night light. Always bet on lighting problems. And if you currently have hot, energy-hogging incandescent light bulbs, you really need to research and find LED alternatives.
Warped Kitchen and Bathroom Countertops.
You’d think that areas that are designed for and are consistently exposed to water would be designed to deal with water. You’d be wrong. RV’s are not made for full-time use, and we quickly learned that water is your worst RV Enemy. Our kitchen and bathroom countertops are no longer level and true. It’s quite disappointing, so be sure to keep an eye out for any water leaks, and no playing in the sink! Speaking of sinks, we may be looking for new ones in addition to countertops.
Water Damage? What Else…
Since we’re talking about water damage, we’ll cover other things that exist in fear of water. Baseboards, cabinets, and door frames. Really, anywhere that water touches your RV is under threat of warping. If your RV has strong, water-resistant wood, then count yourself fortunate. For us and many RV’ers, that wood, ain’t wood. It’s some form of pressed fiberboard that will swell and split when wet. Some baseboards or molding may be in order.
Fulltime living, and with young kids will really test your rig. When our children were younger, they didn’t quite understand that the curtains weren’t for wiping their noses, or for yanking on. Before too long their privacy curtains failed and the track came down. We weren’t upset with them, they are still learning and gaining experience. In the meantime, we’ve installed curtain rods and new curtains. Buying new curtains is also a great way to personalize your RV into making it your unique new home.
Call the Plumber!
One of those jaw-dropping revelations that we’ve had from personal experience and shared anecdote from RVing friends is that your plumbing can, and will betray you. Whether you just purchased your motorhome, or have lived for a while in your Fifth Wheel, check the tightness of your RV’s plumbing fixtures. Our grey tank is designed to overflow into our bathtub. This had occurred a few times while dry camping and let us clearly know that it was time do dump the grey. The last time this happened was late at night (greywater in the tub) and we resolved to take care of the problem in the morning. Morning came and the water was gone! Well, the tub’s “P trap” was loose, and the water drained into our TT’s underbelly. Be prepared, check your pipes!
We’ll continue to update you on parts failures that make you think, WHY THE HECK DID THAT BREAK IN MY RV? So stay tuned and we’ll keep you informed on our wonderful parts buying journey.
Now about that Ford pickup truck…
Since I’ve gone into problems that come from our mobile endurance laboratory, I can’t close without recommending that you read Jessica’s article about Simple RV Upgrades!