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Mark, My Words: Q & A with Mark Nemeth – December 2013

December 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

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Hi, all:

I hope you have a merry Christmas and are looking forward to a New Year of RVing! This month, we’ll talk about leaks, refrigerators, and towing. Keep those questions coming!  mmw@escapees.com

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Hi, Mark,

We have a 1964 Silver Streak Sabre 22 travel trailer.  We love our trailer. We use one of those standard inline pressure regulators, without a gauge, when connecting to a campsite water source.  Most of the time, we’re okay, no leaks, but other times our plumbing leaks.  I have a suspicion the pressure regulator only steps the pressure down by a specific amount and not to a specific pressure.  For example, if the hose bib pressure is 120, the pressure regular steps it down by, say, 40 pounds, leaving 80 pounds of pressure.  It would be great if the pressure regulator would take whatever input pressure and step it down to say 45 pounds.  Is there such a device?  Or should I insert two in line to reduce the pressure further? On the trailer side, is this a sign that I should be considering a complete replumbing of our trailer?  It does leak when the pressure is too high, and this is a bit unnerving.  We really want to enjoy our trailer far into the future.

Please let me know. Thanks, Rick

Hi, Rick,

Congrats on your neat vintage Silver Streak! Those are exceptional units, and I always love to see one that is still in use. Most RV water pressure regulators are supposed to maintain a set output pressure, regardless of how high the incoming water pressure is. However, they can fail and allow higher pressure in the water system than it is designed for. If you are using a simple brass nonadjustable regulator, and you’ve had it for a while, I would be suspicious of its accuracy and functionality. I suggest that you either use a simple pressure gauge, like this one  http://www.rvplus.com/valterra-water-pressure-gauge-a01-0112-a01-0112vp.html to determine whether or not your existing regulator is doing its job properly, or purchase a new regulator that has a pressure gauge on it. Most higher-quality regulators not only come with a gauge, but are also adjustable. Check out http://www.rvwaterfilterstore.com/PressureRegulators.htm for some examples of these higher-quality regulators. Even if a new regulator appears to stop the leak, I suggest that you take the time to identify what part of the plumbing is leaking and make the necessary repairs. Long-standing plumbing leaks can do significant damage to the structure of the RV, and chances are that the weak spot in the plumbing system will start to leak again down the road, even with a properly functioning pressure regulator.

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Hi, Mark,

My fridge seems to run better on AC than LP; is there a reason for this? Also, I notice that my LP heaters also run better when plugged into AC, meaning that on the cool-down cycle the fan will not shut down when not plugged in to AC. I know the furnace runs strictly on DC all the time, but why would it run better when plugged into shore power? Thanks for your time. Brad

Hi, Brad,

The typical refrigerator usually operates a bit better on LP because the flame provides more heat. In your case, I would suspect that the LP gas burner or the chimney on the refrigerator needs cleaning. It is a simple process, and a step-by-step guide can be found at http://www.woodalls.com/articledetails.aspx?articleID=2147779. There are also a number of YouTube videos available on many aspects of refrigerator maintenance at http://www.youtube.com/user/FordRVRefrigeration/videos.  If this all sounds like more than you want to mess with, just about any RV service facility can perform routine maintenance and cleaning on your refrigerator. On your furnace problem: Most furnaces require at least a full 12VDC to operate properly. For this reason, when a furnace starts to act up on battery power but runs OK when you are plugged into shore power, I immediately suspect a battery issue. Your RV converter supplies about 13.5 volts to the system when you are plugged into AC power, but when you are unplugged, the batteries start out around 12.6 and the voltage drops slowly as you discharge them. Eventually, the voltage drops low enough to make the furnace malfunction. If the 12V system is healthy, this should not happen quickly. Check your house batteries to make sure they are healthy. If they are old, low on water, or the wiring and connections are all corroded, then it’s maintenance time. If the batteries are fine, then take a look at the 12V connection at the furnace. A loose connection there can create similar problems by inducing a voltage drop. If everything outside the furnace checks out, then the furnace control board might be going bad, but I would eliminate all other possibilities first.

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Mark:

How level does an RV have to be before turning on the residential refrigerator in an RV?
Angie

Hi, Angie,

Residential refrigerators are fairly tolerant of off-level conditions. That’s because, unlike the typical gas/electric RV refrigerator that relies on gravity to circulate the refrigerant in the cooling system, residential units use an electric compressor to circulate the refrigerant. Try to get it as level as possible when you park, but, generally, with a residential refrigerator, if you can walk around inside without bouncing off the walls and furniture, the refrigerator will be happy.

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Mark,

We have a 2005 40’ Itasca Horizon Diesel Pusher.  We are going to retire soon and want to tow a vehicle for our year-long “adventure” seeing the US.  We have a 2008 Ford Escape that we would like to tow if we can flat tow it on all 4 wheels.  Is this vehicle OK to tow, or do we need to purchase something else?  This one is paid for, so that would be our choice if possible! Thank you for your help! Connie

Hi, Connie,

The first place to look is in your vehicle owner’s manual. If the vehicle is towable 4-down, there will be a section in the manual that addresses “Recreational Towing.” There may be limits on how far and fast the vehicle can be towed, and there may be very specific procedures that you need to follow to enable that kind of towing. If you don’t have a manual, most manufacturers allow you to download one from their websites. In addition, there is a comprehensive list of vehicles that can be towed 4-down (without modifications) available at Motorhome magazine’s website. See www.motorhome.com and click on “Resources” / “Dinghy Guides.”

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Hi, Mark,

I have a question about how to fix the wallpaper below the dinette window in our C- class 32bhs Freelander. We noticed that the wall was a little soft and the wallpaper had some bubbles in it. It was the window that was leaking, and we had that fixed. But I was wondering what we should do about the wall, if anything? Thanks for your time. Christine

Hi, Christine,

What has probably happened is the wood panel under the window has rotted due to the moisture from the window leak. Most RV interior walls are composed of a thin sheet of wood paneling with a wallpaper or laminate applied with glue. If you are sure that the leak has been fixed, you might be better off just leaving it alone if the damaged area is not structural. To repair that area, you would first have to cut and remove the damaged wood and replace it. You would then be faced with trying to match the wall covering material. Probably more hassle than it’s worth! Just keep an eye on it, and make sure the soft area is not getting any larger over time. If it continues to spread, you will need to look into it further, as the leak may still be there, or the damage may be spreading due to moisture trapped within the wall.

mark mugshot 2013

Mark Nemeth has been involved with all things RV for more than 15 years, including almost five years on the road as a full-timer. He is the RV education director for Escapees RV Club and oversees the highly acclaimed RVers’ Boot Camp and SmartWeigh programs. Do you have a question for Mark? Please submit your question via email to MMW@escapees.com.

Please remember, material will be edited. Because of the large volume of material and correspondence submitted, individual replies will be limited to questions that are chosen for publication.

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