RV Tips and Tricks

Tech Topics - August 2017

by Paul and Kerri Elders

This month, we’ll take a quick look at an important and inexpensive RV fitting that needs to be in every RVer’s toolbox:  a water pressure regulator.  We’ll also investigate some bedliner options for pickup trucks and take a gander at some great reasons to inspect your exhaust system.  Let’s get going!

Water Pressure Regulators

Not all newbies know this, but no RVer should be without a simple little device called a water pressure regulator.  Available at your local RV supply house, a water pressure regulator does just what its name implies:  it controls the incoming water pressure to your RV, supplying a continuous and regulated 40-50 PSI maximum water flow to your RV’s freshwater plumbing system.

Many RVers are surprised to learn that water pressure can vary tremendously from one campground to another and even from one section of a campground to another.  While incoming water pressure to an RV should be  maintained at a level under 55 pounds, some parks’ water pressure levels can reach 75 pounds or even higher.  That’s why you need to buy and use a pressure regulator. This helps protect your RV’s internal water lines and fixtures from potential stress, damage, and leaks caused by excessive water pressure.

Several styles are available, depending on your needs.  If you’re a weekend traveler, you can buy a simple, one-piece, brass fitting style water pressure regulator that is a no-muss, no-fuss solution.  Just screw the fitting onto the supply end of your RV’s white water hose (the end you connect to the water faucet), using a little Teflon tape, if desired, for a better seal.  Another, more expensive option is a controllable water pressure regulator that has a dial face and gives you the ability to physically adjust your incoming pressure via a regulating valve.  Check your local RV supply house to see your options.

Bedliners for Pickup Trucks

Every RVer who pulls a trailer with a pickup truck knows the damage that can be done by careless loading or unexpected shifting of a load within the bed.  Not only is the noise of a moving load annoying, it leaves behind scratches, dings, and dents.  That’s why bedliners are so popular with pickup truck owners.

A variety of bedliner styles are available, including temporary mat-like liners that are simply laid in the back of the pickup as needed.  Some of these are rubberized, some are similar to carpet. If you plan to use them more than temporarily, it may be worthwhile to invest in a more permanent solution, simply because temporary liners can trap dirt and water underneath them.  Dirt and water, over time, can conspire to damage your truck bed, especially in scratched and dinged areas.

Another option is a permanently mounted bedliner, customized for your truck’s year, make, and model.  Some are made of rubberized materials, some are molded plastic, some cover the wheel wells and some don’t.  Some are glued in place, some are bolted down, and some do-it-yourselfers choose to install theirs with heavy duty Velcro.  There’s even a brush-on version of a sprayed-in liner for avid do-it-yourselfers.  An even more permanent solution is a sprayed-in bedliner, which actually becomes part and parcel of the truck bed itself.  Offering the added advantage of actually strengthening and reinforcing the truck bed, sprayed-in liners help substantially soundproof the bed from cargo and road noise.

Exhaust Inspections

Monitoring your RV’s engine exhaust system for leaks is important, because hidden exhaust leaks can potentially allow carbon monoxide to waft into the RV, especially while the engine’s idling in place (like at a stop light).  Since carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas, it can be hard to detect without a carbon monoxide detector.  EVERY RVer should make sure their rig is equipped with a working carbon monoxide detector.  Undetected leaks can pose serious risks while driving; if you experience headaches, nausea, or unusual fatigue behind the wheel, have your exhaust system checked ASAP by a qualified technician.

Luckily, annual vehicle inspections can quickly identify leaks in your engine’s exhaust system so they can be repaired.  This isn’t necessarily the case, however, for your RV’s power generator (genset).  So you, the RV owner, need to monitor the integrity of your generator’s exhaust system and have it occasionally checked by a tech.  Sometimes, a portion of the power generator’s exhaust may be routed under the body of the motorhome in older RVs, which can contribute to carbon monoxide (CO) buildup in the RVs living area if the exhaust system springs a leak.

Awareness and vigilant visual inspection of the generator’s exhaust system is your best defense.  And use your carbon monoxide detector, testing it monthly.  Do NOT just remove the batteries if this device keeps alarming.  If it’s setting off an alarm, you probably have a CO problem and need to have your RV inspected and repaired by a qualified mechanic ASAP.  If your CO monitor alerts every time you use your generator, absolutely, positively STOP USING IT until you get the problem fixed.

Happy trails!

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