Safety First In Your RV

Mark Holloway/Flickr Creative Commons

Your RV is a place of adventure, experiencing new parts of the world, and creating memories with family and friends. We make plans, spend long weekends, haul it across the country and keep it maintained so it’s in good running order. There’s one thing you have to double check time and time again before you head out on vacation, and that’s your safety features. Your carbon monoxide detector, your smoke detector and your fire extinguisher are quite possibly the most important features in your entire RV, no matter how much you love your 50″ flat screen TV. Your TV won’t save your RV from irreparable damage in case of a fire.

Smoke Detectors

Your smoke detectors are just as important, if not more important as the ones you have in your house. Yes, they may signal when dinner is done, but they serve a very distinct purpose. They alarm you when something is on fire or causing smoke. In your house, that means you can get out, if it’s on fire, or you can find out what it is that causing the smoke and take care of it. In your RV there is a much greater sense of urgency. Your RV is exponentially smaller than your living space, so if your smoke alarm goes off. You have a small amount of time to exit the RV. Hence the reason they are so important. If any part of your RV is causing smoke, you need to get out of it immediately.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

There’s a gas out there that is colorless and odorless and can kill you. Scary, I know. The bad part about it is that most, if not all, of our RVs are equipped for propane, which emits carbon monoxide when burned incompletely. If your appliances aren’t in tip-top shape, you’re at the risk of having a carbon monoxide leak. Always keep a carbon monoxide alarm in your RV.

Fire Extinguisher

As I mentioned earlier, your RV is smaller than your house. That means fire can spread quicker and overtake your entire RV in a matter of minutes. When you’re cooking dinner, a grease fire is the last thing you want to happen. RVs come with fire extinguishers as a standard feature, but they do have a shelf-life on them, always check the dates and replace as necessary. Fire extinguishers can prevent your RV from going up in flames, but only if they work!

As a rule, I always check my detectors using the “Test” button and keep tab on my fire extinguisher’s dates to make sure my family and I are protected from tragedy.


Conserving Electricity In Your RV

Serendigity/Flickr Creative Commons


We’re all making a push to use less energy. In an RV it can be tough because so much of the creature comforts of home are rooted in being hooked up to the electrical power supply. Not only can we make a difference in electrical consumption, we can also extend the life of our batteries by using less and not letting power go to waste. Here are a few tips I’ve pulled together that we do when we take our RV out for a trip.

Turn off your lights, radios, and televisions when you aren’t using them. This can save a ton of energy and and if you’re running off of your battery, it will eliminate battery drain.

Unplug your phone or computer chargers when not being used. Even if your computer or smartphone isn’t hooked up to it, it’s still pulling current from the wall outlet. Unplugging them from the wall will assure that you aren’t unnecessarily sending electricity to nothing. It’s also a good idea to unplug your chargers if the electronics are fully charged, this will extend the life of the battery in your computer or smartphone while also eliminating draining your RV power supply by charging  battery that is fully charged.

Maximize your daylight hours. If you go to bed late and get up late, you’re wasting precious daylight and using powered lights to stay up.

Use rechargeable batteries for flashlights, reading lights and lanterns.

Monitor your RV batteries using a digital voltmeter and always recharge it at or before reaching 80 percent discharge. This will prolong the life of your battery.

Don’t use your appliances unless you really need to. Those appliances are an energy hog and the longer you run them, the quicker your battery is gone.

Invest in solar panels. They reduce our dependence on always being attached to an electrical outlet. Plus, we can boon-dock whenever we want to! If you’ve got a roof on your RV, you can put a solar panel on it and have it continuously charge your batteries.

What energy-saving tips have you learned out on the road?



Get to know your RV’s fire extinguisher

I recently talked to a full time RVer who had the scare of her life and lived to tell about it thanks to a handy fire extinguisher she had mounted by the stove in the kitchen.  After she read one of my blog articles about how quickly RV fires can spread, she purchased fire extinguishers and mounted them in the kitchen, bedroom and compartment of her home away from home.  This is one of those purchases you make and hope you will never use.  Having a fire break out in your RV is very dangerous as it can spread very, very quickly. The bottom line is that you could never have too many fire extinguishers when you travel and the magic number seems to be three. Watch the video below for some basic instruction on the right way to operate your extinguisher:

A good rule of thumb is to have one fire extinguisher for every 10 square feet of your RV.  Makes sense to me.  Also don’t just assume that your fire extinguisher is fully charged. One important thing to remember about fire extinguishers is that they need to be checked periodically.  I guess this is like changing batteries in the flashlight.  Even if you don’t use the flashlight, you will have to replace the batteries with time.

But above all, your personal safety should be your biggest concern. If a fire should happen to break out in your RV, the best decision you can make is just get out of it. All of your things can be replaced, but your life cannot be. It’s better to exit your RV and know you will safe than try to fight an expanding fire that could potentially trap you in a very dangerous situation.

Take time this week to check your fire extinguishers, buy them if you don’t have them and make plans to play it safe!


Memorize The Clearance Height Of Your RV

Why is it so important to know the EXACT clearance height of your RV? Certainly there isn’t an overpass that you can’t fit under, right? Well, not if you are visiting Durham, North Carolina. Labeled “The Toughest Bridge Ever”, it stands 11 feet 8 inches off the ground. That’s 1 foot 8 inches taller than a basketball goal.  Anyway, this is a 100 year old railroad trestle that has taken many hits from trucks and RVers who not only don’t pay attention to the warning sign, but obviously don’t know the height of their RVs. Check out the NBC News video below for a few of the bridge’s “Greatest Hits”…pun intended.

The crazy thing is that it hasn’t been knocked down yet. That’s one tough bridge.

So, how do you avoid having your RV added to the victims of low bridges and overpasses? Simple, just tape a note card to your dash with the height of your RV written on it. Be sure to remember to measure to the highest point, don’t forget that A/C unit! Chances are, you might not encounter a bridge this low, but you never know, so it’s better to be prepared. The consequences of not knowing the height of your RV could cost you an A/C unit, or even shear off the top of your rig. Boy, wouldn’t that really put a damper on your RV vacation?

One more thing, it’s not just bridges and overpasses that you need to worry about….just ask this guy.

Let’s just say that if you are ever thinking about putting your RV on consignment, you are going to need to have your roof still intact. However, if you happen to not heed my advice, PPL Motorhomes has a great selection of replacement rooftop A/C units.


Eliminate Sway with LockArm Stabilizing Bars

Stability. There is nothing more important than controlling the sway of your travel trailer, or fifth-wheel when your landing gear is in the down position. How many of us have stepped into our RVs and felt that somewhat unnerving shake or sway? Probably more often than we’d like to admit or even remember. Nothing is more annoying than having a seemingly unstable RV while camping. Don’t worry, PPL Motorhomes has exactly what you need: LockArm Stabilizing bars. This innovative LockArm stabilizing bar attaches between the frame and the leveling jacks to increase stability. They are affordable, extremely easy to install and attach directly to the your jacks. Plus, once they are on, they are on. There is no need to remove them as they fold up with your jacks, which directly translates into saving much needed cargo space.

By eliminating most fore-and-aft trailer movement, strain on your jack mounting is eliminated as well. The LockArm mounts to all current leveling/stabilizing jacks and even 5th Wheel Landing Gear. Again, the telescoping tubes travel up and down with the jack for easy set up and storage. Each unit contains two Lock-Arms and mounting hardware. There is some drilling required, but certainly it isn’t anything you can’t handle on your own.

If you are interested in adding more stability to your travel trailer or fifth-wheel, then you really should consider adding LockArm Stabilizing bars to your jacks. They really do make a world of difference. Get rid of the sway today, give PPL Motorhomes a call.

Dump And Clean Your RV’s Septic System

This is something that every RVer needs to know: Dumping and Cleaning your septic system. One of my goals with  to educate RVers a little on how to maintain the creature comforts of their RVs so that they continue being comforts and not pains. In this case, having your own private restroom facilities in your RV is fantastic, but it doesn’t come without one big drawback… dumping and cleaning.

Now, no one truly likes talking about this stuff. But, like everything else on your RV it’s going to need attention during every trip and that means dumping and, ultimately, cleaning your black water tank facilities. Let’s just say that, “yes, it’s a dirty job” and “no, you can’t avoid it”. So what’s the best way to tackle this stinky chore? Check out the video below from RV Geeks. They do a really good job at explaining what you can expect and how you can make this a quick and painless job.

Sometimes RVing isn’t always green pastures, beautiful scenery and amazing cookouts. In order for your RV to give you years of hassle free service, you are going to have to keep up with your regular maintenance and cleaning processes. Unfortunately dumping and cleaning your black water tank and system isn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but it has to be done. If you use the video above as a simple guide, I don’t think you’ll have any issues and will be able to complete this task quickly and mess free. Make sure you subscribe to their YouTube channel too… lot’s of really great info to be had there.

If you need septic system parts or products, PPL Motorhomes has a huge selection of pretty much everything you’d ever need to perform a repair, or do a quality cleaning . If you have any questions about your black water system, don’t hesitate to give us a call, I’m sure we can help you out.

What Do You Do If Your Motorhome Hydroplanes

I got to thinking. I know we got some recently foul weather across the state this year. I wonder if there are any special articles about what to do if your motorhome hydroplanes? I looked and didn’t really find anything, so I’m going to write one. Everyone has heard about the possibility of a hydroplane for any vehicle, and that includes motorhomes. Personally, I have not been exposed to that scenario so this “advice” is subject to correction by any reader at anytime. If you can offer advice, or even correction leave it in the comments section below. It is more than welcome.

The way I would approach a motorhome hydroplaning incident would be the same as I would if I were driving my car. Now I know the weight differential poses a significant variable, but physics is physics. I mean let’s dissect it. Why does it happen? Where does it happen?

It happens on roads that are seeing rainfall for the first time in a while. If your area hasn’t seen significant rainfall recently, dust, dirt, oil, and sand all build up and form a thin, slick, slime on road surfaces. Add water on top of that and you have the perfect condition for the rubber of your tires to lose contact with the pavement. That’s one way. The other is on roadways with poor drainage. In both cases speed can play a role.

Here’s a vintage video on hydroplaning that is pretty descriptive:

So, slow down in the rain, or just after the first rainfall in a while. Try not to hit the brakes hard, or at all even. DON’T OVER-CORRECT!!! It’s a waste of effort when your tires aren’t even touching the ground. When they finally do, then you careen in the direction you are steering into.

I hope that no one has ever had to handle a RV or Motorhome hydroplane. If you have, leave me a comment and tell me what you did, or didn’t do, in your particular situation. `


RV Roof Repair Made Easy

As you probably are already well aware of, UV can severely damage your RV’s roof over time. If you think about it, your roof is exposed to the elements almost continually when not in storage. UV can cause cracks and deteriorate caulking and sealants. It’s important that you check the condition of your roof every year. A leaking roof can really cause some serious damage to the interior of your RV. At the very least, it will totally ruin a trip if you encounter heavy, or continuous rains. Fortunately, there is something you can do on your own to maintain your RV’s roof. PPL Motorhomes offers a great selection of repair kits that you can work with at home and reseal, or fully repair your RV’s roof. A great product is Brite-Ply EPMD rubber roofing, it’s long lasting and very easy to apply

Photo from

Brite-Ply EPDM Rubber Roofing makes recreational vehicles quieter by eliminating roof rumble and noise from wind, rain and hail. It assures a water tight roof that is maintenance free and saves energy through its heat reflecting characteristics. EPDM sheeting is highly puncture resistant, has superior tensile strength and tear resistance, and is both reflective and refractive to UV rays. The best part is that Brite-Ply EPDM Rubber Roofing  passes the 20 year accelerated aging test with no discoloration.

If you have any questions about Brite-Ply EPDM, or any other repair kit, or service PPL Motorhomes offer, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you keep your RV roadworthy at all times. If you have any other products you’d recommend for roof repair, let us know, we’re always interested in hearing about new products that make the RVer’s life easier.

Stabilize Your Fifth-Wheel

I get asked this question all of the time: “What’s the best way to stabilize my fifth-wheel before unhooking at a campsite?” The importance of having a properly balanced RV is critical for safety and necessary for comfort. Aside from an unbalanced fifth-wheel being dangerous, your really don’t want to navigate through or camp in an RV that is listing to one side, or the other. For some RVers, getting an accurate level and balance isn’t much of a problem and for others it’s a total nightmare.

I think back to how many times we had to balance our Fifth-Wheel on less-than-level camping locations. As I mentioned, the last thing you want is your rig slanting, or on a tilt. Now one of the great things about working at PPL Motorhomes is that I am privy to seeing and testing RV gear and gadgets of all kinds, and in this case,  Fifth Wheel Stabilizer Jacks from BAL were a life saver.

Now this was a few years ago and I’ve since traded our fifth-wheel for a Class B (RV Nana 2), but I can say, without reservation that BAL stabilizer jacks made my life so much easier. The BAL stabilizer jack is an amazing product. It’s a tripod stabilizer that provides full side to side frame overhang stability and really helps maximize front to rear trailer stability.

The best part about using a stabilizer jack like the BAL is that you eliminate all of the trial and error associated with lowering the king pin onto a tripod stabilizing jack to achieve stabilization. Plus, it’s really simple to operate with the extendable jack screw for final adjustment. The jack screw handles fold down to use and fold up when not in use or for storage.

If you have a fifth-wheel, and are tired of the guessing game when it comes to balancing and leveling, you really should look into getting one of your own. PPL Motorhomes is an authorized dealer for BAL and can supply most of the products made by BAL, so if you have any question, do hesitate to call us. Keep your trailer balanced with PPL and BAL.

Fire Prevention Inside and Out Of Your Consignment RV

Fire prevention in you RV is something that I’ve written about before and take very seriously. I know all of you know that a fire in your RV is never a good thing, but do really know how combustible your RV can be? Aside from a myriad of fuels and accelerates housed within your RV, the walls of your rig are made from wood and acts as tinder. If a fire does break out your RV can be consumed in a matter of minutes.

Let me reiterate, a fire inside your RV is no laughing matter. If there is a fire on board, your best course of action is to get out and call the Fire Department. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you be surprised at how many people believe they can control a fire. There are hundreds of fires each year due to carelessness and accident. One of the easiest ways for your RV to catch fire is during stove operation especially when using grease to cook. A grease fire can turn into a 5 foot exploding column of flame if not extinguished properly. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before, but if you have a grease fire on your hands NEVER EVER EVER throw water on it because this is what will happen.

All I’m asking is for you to be careful when you are using fire for anything. Grilling, campfires, cooking inside etc. The damage you can cause by carelessness won’t necessarily be confined to just your RV or your campsite. Fire can spread uncontrollable in a matter of moments and consume your RV or the woodlands/park around it.

Always have a couple of fire extinguishers on board your rig and know where they are at. Just another friendly anti-fire reminder form your PPL Motorhomes and RV Nana.