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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

On the Difference between RV Stabilizing Jacks and RV Leveling Jacks

For RV owners with RVs that have their own leveling and stabilization systems, the difference between stabilizing and leveling jacks might not be apparent. However, there is a serious functional difference underlying these useful pieces of equipment for your RV. Although they perform similar functions, you must never use a stabilizing jack as a substitute for an RV leveling jack.

What Are Stabilizing Jacks? 

Have you ever had an RV set up in a campsite, but as you walked back and forth through the interior, or shifted furniture or appliances around within, it seemed like it was rocking or shaking? This perceived shaking or rocking could be attributable to a number of factors; ground that isn’t level, the suspension system, and of course, the fact that you’re moving around inside it.

RV stabilizer jacks are specialized jacks for your camper or travel trailer that extend from the frame of your RV to the ground in order to prevent both side to side and front to back swaying, rocking, or shifting. Many stabilizers take the form of hydraulic jacks like scissor jacks, though there are some tripod jacks as well.

Using a stabilizer, along with a jack pad to prevent the jack foot from sinking into soft ground, is the most effective way to prevent undue movement of your camper while it is occupied. 

Why Use Stabilizing Jacks? 

The thing about RV stabilizers and stabilizing jacks is that even on level ground, you might need to use them. Even without a slant, your movement inside of your RV can cause undue swaying or motion that is both uncomfortable and potentially damaging to your RV in the long run. Here are some of the reasons that there is value in stabilizing your RV:

     Increase comfort: For one thing, it is both unsettling and unpleasant when your RV rocks around when you’re walking or moving inside of it. Strategically placed stabilizer jacks will prevent this.

     Prevent wind from rocking your RV: It’s not only human movement that can cause an RV to sway. Strong winds can do the same; but a system of stabilizers jacks, fortunately, will prevent this. 

What Are Leveling Jacks? 

RV leveling jacks, levelers, and leveling systems are different from stabilizers because they are generally able to perform two functions. A leveling system is useful for both leveling and stabilizing your RV.

Have you ever been in camp and not on a paved surface? We’ll guess in the affirmative. We’ll also make the safe assumption that that campsite wasn’t perfectly level and so your RV was on a slight slant. To be fair, even many paved surfaces are not perfectly level. Leveling systems, and similarly, leveling jacks, are used to return your RV to a level resting position, which is very important to comfort and to your RV’s wellbeing. In short, your RV needs to be kept level, which leveling systems can provide.

Why Use RV Leveling Jacks? 

While stabilization is primarily a function of comfort, leveling systems go a little bit further. Whenever your RV rests on ground that is not level, it is imperative to return it to a level position before it is allowed to rest for any appreciable amount of time. Here are some of the reasons for this:

     Obviously, for reasons of comfort: First and foremost, there is the matter of comfort. It’s just unpleasant sitting, sleeping, or eating on a slant. A leveling system or leveling jacks will prevent this.

     Prevent things from shifting or rolling around: A leveling system will return your RV to level, which will prevent appliances and other items inside your RV from shifting or rolling around unduly.

     To prevent strain on your RV’s structure: An RV cannot be allowed to remain on a slanted surface for long periods of time without incurring damage to the structure; therefore, it must be leveled whenever it is on an uneven surface or a grade.

     To prevent damage to your RV’s fridge: Additionally, many RV  refrigerators can only be operated on a level surface or they will be damaged, involving costly repairs and replacements. 

Never Use Stabilizers As Levelers! 

As you can see, many levelers can both stabilize and level an RV, but the reverse is not the case. Stabilizing jacks lack the structural integrity to bear the weight of an RV, and so they must never be used as leveling jacks - if you have any questions at all about the safe use of equipment, make sure you get in touch with us and we’ll help you out. 

Besides, you can find the jacks you’re looking for here, whether you need the convenience of electric jacks or you’re alright using a jack with a manual crank. Check out our product pages and if you need any pointers on product specifications, give us a call at 866-332-7881.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Tips for Tip-Top Condition: Caring for Your RV Awning

Your RV awning: it’s a component of your RV that brings you so much enjoyment in the outdoors and protection against the elements. In both beautiful and inclement weather, your awning shields you and makes it easier for you, your family, and your loved ones to enjoy the great outdoors in greater comfort.

Out in camp, when you’re getting away from it all, your awning shields you against the influences of snow, sleet, rain, and more. When the weather turns sour you can still get outside and enjoy the relative creature comforts of shelter against precipitation underneath the awning.

Even when it’s not cloudy and the skies are bright and clear, your awning helps to limit your exposure to the sunlight. If you’ve had just enough rays for one day, you can retreat to the shelter of the shade. In all weather, your awning provides so much comfort and asks so little in return. It’s a thankless job.

Yet, for those of you who both recognize and appreciate the service of your RV’s awning, here are some tips for care that will go a long way toward keeping it happy, healthy, and in generally good shape in the long run. Some of these items are even passive, meaning you have to do little more than remember to close it when you’re not there.

These tips are intended for the care of slide-out awnings and RV patio awnings, but to a similar degree, they apply to the care of window awnings as well. Consult this simple intro to awning care and get in touch with us if you have any remaining questions! 

1.    Use an RV awning stabilizer: Not all awnings need one, but being prepared with one, even as a backup, is generally a very good idea. The basic premise here is that the arms that are used to extend and support the awning (whether manual or power-operated) are typically not capable of sustaining any forces on top of the relatively light weight of the awning.

Think of it this way. When you’re out in camp in a cold area in the winter and it starts to snow, your camper awning will accumulate a little bit of snow on top of it. This puts a much greater strain on your awning’s arms and supports than you think it does and can cause permanent damage. It can ruin the mechanical operation of the arms and even break them, causing the awning to collapse.

Even worse is the wind, which can put an even greater strain on an awning than a light snow load. Blustery winds are a serious problem for RV awnings; the general rule of thumb is to roll up your awning if there’s wind, but even a light breeze can damage one. That makes it a good idea to be prepared with a stabilizer kit or tie-down straps at all times.

For more information, consult the manual that came with your awning or RV or get in touch with us, telling us about your equipment, and we’ll lend you some insight.

2.    Do not leave your RV awning open when you are not present, even if you’re just inside: A good habit to get into is to keep your awning stored and away when you aren’t under it. This means keeping it closed even if you’re just inside the RV. The obvious reason for this is so you don’t get caught unaware by snow, rain, or wind, but there is another reason for it as well.

One of the main reasons that you should keep your awning furled away when you’re not under it is because UV light is damaging to most awning fabrics. It’s possible that your awning is made from UV resistant material, but that doesn’t make it impervious. This is similar to how UV light destroys the rubber in tires and why some conscientious owners keep their tires covered when they are parked.

Anyway, even if your awning actually is UV resistant, that’s no reason to let it bake in the sun. That feature is there to add some years to the life of the awning when you are under it and it’s keeping the sun’s rays off of you. It’s not there so you can leave the awning open under the sun for no reason.

Besides, keeping your awning rolled up when you aren’t using it just helps prevent any problems before they arise.

3.    Do not allow snow (or water) to gather and pool in the top of your awning: In our first point, we cautioned you to use support and stabilizer kits for your awning to prevent stress loads (like wind and snow, depending on how the stabilizer kit works) from damaging the awning. Even if you use a stabilizer kit, that does not give you free rein to allow rain or snow to collect on the top of your awning.

Actually, allowing this is basically a sure-fire way to damage your awning and cost you a lot in repairs. The awning is not meant to support any load, so even a little one is going to put a strain on the awning fabric and mechanics and ruin it.

To put it into perspective, there are two things that can happen from a strain on the awning, and neither is good. The worst-case scenario is that you damage the joints and mechanics that open and close the awning and keep it there. The other scenario is not much better.

Alternatively, a pool of water, for example, can cause the awning fabric to rip and the water to spill through. This theoretically incurs less damage than a broken awning arm, but you might be surprised how difficult and expensive it will be to replace or repair the fabric. Just prevent it in the first place and don’t allow anything to collect on the top of the awning.

4.    Use de-flapper kits or clips to keep it from flapping in the wind: Alright, you’re thinking that you’re safe with the awning open just so long as you use a supplementary support structure or kit and don’t allow anything to accumulate on the top of the awning. You’re half right; there’s one more thing to consider.

So you know that wind can cause damage to an awning, and therefore you need to support it with a stabilizer, but this is not all you need to do. The reason is this: when the wind blows, it doesn’t just put a strain on the arms that support the awning. It can cause the awning fabric to flap back and forth violently.

This may not damage the arm that supports the awning if you have been prudent about using a stabilizer, but it can damage the awning fabric. Over time, repeated exposure to the wind can cause the fabric to stretch, tear, or fray. However, there are special kits you can buy, often called awning de-flappers, that prevent this damage from happening. You can see some of them in our collection above; if you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

5.    Use awning locks and covers when you’re on the road: Some RVs come with awning locks and covers, which means you may not even need to buy a supplementary set, although not all owners know how to use them or are even familiar with them. Spend a little quality time with your RV getting to know the ins and outs of its features and you might not even have to make a purchase.

However, locking and covering your awning when it’s rolled up and stored is valuable for a few reasons, and we sell RV locks and awning covers in our collection of accessories via the link above.

Keeping the awning-covered when you’re driving (or in camp) will keep sun and rain off it, which is valuable to preserve its integrity and lifespan. In addition, locking it while you’re on the road will keep it from experiencing too much strain, which will protect the mechanical integrity of the awning.

Basically, whenever the awning is stowed, it’s a good idea to keep it covered, and when you’re driving, you should keep it locked and covered.

6.    Conduct inspections several times per year, or even every time you open it: Anytime is a good time to inspect your awning, but if you don’t get in the habit of thoroughly inspecting it every time you unfurl it, do it at least once per year.

When you’re inspecting your awning, you may be able to detect issues before they really even become issues. When you open it, pay attention to how easily it opens; do the same thing when closing it. If it doesn’t move fluidly or issues noises, it might be time for a deeper dive.

Look at the mechanical components for signs of wear or failure, and, of course, inspect the fabric itself for fading, stretching, wear, and fraying and also for signs of mold or mildew growth, which can cause a lot of damage to an awning.

If the awning checks out, roll it up and stow it and test the lock and covers (if you have them). Make sure they are still in good working order.

If you identify potential issues in your inspection, you can address them right away before they progress any further.

    7.    Wash your RV awning routinely to keep it clean: As long as you take good care of your awning throughout the year, rinsing it down with a hose is probably all of the cleaning you’ll need to do. Use a brush to remove any stains or discoloration or to dislodge stubborn dirt from the fabric and then hose it down with water.

If you have a hard time getting it clean, you can probably take care of the issue with some soap and warm water. You don’t need special cleaners most of the time, just a little elbow grease, warm water, and soap should do the trick.

A few rinses per year should keep most dirt and debris at bay, but if not, we do sell some specialized RV cleaners in our collection at the link above. Take a look through them to learn a little more about the different variations. Really, routine cleaning should be all you need, but if you need to learn more about special cleaning solutions, reach out to us.

8.    Never store it while wet after cleaning, and avoid closing it if it’s wet, generally: One thing you need to remember is that you should never put your awning away while wet as long as you can help it. It’s understandable that your awning might get wet from a surprise rainstorm and you need to store it right away to prevent damage, but if that happens, you really should open it right away after the storm has passed so you can allow it to dry off.

When it comes to cleaning, never rinse off your awning and then store it right afterward. Always give it time to dry before storing it, because if you don’t, the next time you open it there is a very good chance you’ll be staring down mold and mildew.

If that happens, you’ll just clean it again and put it away, only to see that the mold and mildew have returned once more. The best way to avoid this is simply to make sure you only ever store your awning when it is dry. That will prevent nearly all water-based, long term damage.

Contact Us for More Tips for RV Awning Care 

Following these tips will go a surprisingly long way toward keeping your awning in really great shape for years to come. Don’t allow the elements to abuse it, keep it clean and store it properly and you’ll enjoy many seasons under the same awning.

Nonetheless, if you have questions on awning maintenance, you can always get in touch with us via our live chat or by calling us. We’re ready to put our collective years of experience to work for you - so get in touch with us at 866-332-7881.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Why On The Go Water Softener is a Must For Your RV

Hard water may seem like a non-issue, but over time, it can compromise the integrity of your pipes, create an annoying residue on your dishes, and even negatively impact your skin. If you want to properly maintain your RV and get the best possible experience, you will want to look into ways to properly soften your water.

On The Gowater softener is a smart choice here if you want an easy and effective means of taking care of your RV’s water system. This convenient product allows RV owners to quickly manage the water they are using and help prevent the numerous side effects of hard water.

If you hate dealing with hard water and are actively seeking a solution, this quick guide will help you see why On The Go has the answer you are looking for. Let’s take a closer look at why hard water is such an issue to begin with, and what advantages On The Go provides with their portable product.

The Downsides to Hard Water in Your RV

For those of us who love being on the road and spending time outdoors, hard water simply comes with the territory. Depending on the hookup you have available to you at a given site, the water quality can vary drastically. Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid dealing with hard water in certain parts of the country, because it all comes down to the kind of mineral deposits present in the available water supply.

Sometimes you just have to hold your nose (literally!) and deal with it, as it’s not like there are any alternatives. In the moment, hard water may not even seem all that bad. As long as you don’t intend on taking super long showers or anything, that is.

However, the reality of hard water tells a different story and certainly makes a strong case for always having a way to soften the water you are using in your RV. What might feel like a minor inconvenience can actually pose a threat to your RV and even your health. While these are the extremes, hard water poses numerous other issues as well.

Unsightly Scale Build-Up

It’s enough work taking care of an RV and making sure it stays clean and operational, without adding extra tasks to the equation. Excessive hard water creates scaling on faucets and showerheads over time, which isn’t exactly a world-ending problem but isn’t something you want to deal with either. Scaling not only looks disgusting, but it can also impact water flow and even damage the fixtures if left untreated. Scaling is also not the easiest thing to clean off, either. This is one great reason alone why using a reliable water softener is worth it.

Water Staining

Another seemingly light issue that is actually more trouble than it is worth. The minerals in hard water can lead to staining in sinks and tubs that is obnoxious to get rid of. Why add to the workload of taking care of your RV when you don’t have to? Not only is water staining difficult to remove, it simply detracts from the beauty and quality of your RV. No reason to let it happen if you are equipped with a high-quality water softener on board!

Damage to Pipes

The same scaling that you see forming on faucet heads is occurring inside your pipes as well if hard water is present. While this isn’t an immediate problem if you are only dealing with hard water for a short amount of time, over the course of several years that can severely damage the inside of your pipes. At the very least, it can restrict water flow and encourage clogs, which is just more hassle you don’t need to deal with. In order to keep your RV fully functional, it’s worth investing in a way to soften your water.

Can Hard Water Cause Dry Skin?

Yes! The minerals in hard water can actually deprive your skin of its natural moisture, which can lead to drier skin over time. Again, it’s one of those issues you may not notice at first or over a short period of time, but after a few years of continuous exposure to hard water, you certainly might notice a problem developing.

Make The Right Choice For Your RV

On The Go water softener is portable, easy to use, and quite effective at mitigating the effects of hard water, and you can find this convenient solution right here in our store. Rather than risk compromising your pipes or having to scrub scales off of your faucets, invest in a quality water softener and you won’t have to worry about such issues.

Fast hook up, lasts up to 20 days without needing to be regenerated, works without any extra tools or even any electricity, is nice and compact, and quite affordable as well. There’s no reason to go without the proper water in your RV when you have an On The Go water softener readily available right here at rvupgradestore.com. Take a look through our catalog of RV supplies and you will find everything you need to ensure that your RV is running smoothly, including all the essentials to tackle your hard water issues!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

25 Must-Have RV Accessories for the Kitchen

In some of our recent blog posts, we covered some ground on the most important camper accessories that you really need to bring along with you when you go on a trip. These articles are helpful, but there’s just one small problem - they don’t deal in one specific area of living.

Naturally, you need toilet paper and holding tank treatment, but for very different reasons from those that necessitate a TPMS or a water pressure regulator or even a water softener. The reasons that you need any of these, likewise, are different from those making a leveling system valuable.

In this article, we’re going to focus on some of the essential RV accessories for your camper kitchen that will make your life a lot more comfortable, on the road or in camp! 

1.    A foldable tray or lap table

Whether it’s for those nights when it’s you and one other person or just for a quick snack that you make yourself in camp before getting out and about, a foldable tray or a little lap table can solve a whole bunch of problems. When you don’t have somewhere else to eat or the table is covered or stowed, a lap table will make up for it.

2.    A cutlery organizer

Yes, you may have a drawer where you keep all of your knives, spoons, forks, and other cutlery, hopefully not including your cooking utensils. However, you need a cutlery organizer, and for the same reason that you need some of the other RV accessories on this list.

When you’re driving out on the road, the RV, and everything else in it, is shifting and moving around. You can discover later that your cutlery drawer has become a Gordian knot, or you can get a cutlery organizer from our collection of kitchen accessories and be done with it!

3.    Shatterproof drinkware

Shatterproof drinkware, whether it be tumblers, pilsner glasses, wine glasses, or anything else, is a near necessity in an RV. Sure, you can get away with real glass glasses, but if you do you’re going to have shards in your cards at some point or other.

Or, you can just get some shatterproof drinkware and you don’t need to be overly concerned about bumps and spills! It’s easier to clean up a little spilled milk than bits of glass, anyway.

4.    Shatterproof serving ware

Hopefully, we don’t need to elaborate excessively on this item, since the reasoning behind it is effectively the same as the reason given above for shatterproof drinkware. Basically, invest in shatterproof serving ware, including plates and bowls, one time, and free yourself from the inevitable breakage that would otherwise follow.

5.    Cutting mats - preferably foldable!

If you cook in camp - and who doesn’t - then you’re going to need a cutting board of some sort or other. While you might prefer bamboo or some other wood or even a heavy plastic, they’re not conducive to life on the road and take up too much space. They also require a lot of maintenance. Your kitchen may need a cutting board, but if it folds up you’ll thank yourself later for the space saved.

6.    Sponge holders - if you have a sponge!

Similarly, if you cook, then your camp kitchen needs a place to clean up and places for all of those accessories to be stored. If you use a sponge when you’re cleaning; actually, even if you use a rag - a sponge holder may be very practical. It will give you a place to rest your cleaning implements when you’re not using them, and most importantly, it will keep them out of the way when you’re drying them out.

7.    Countertop extensions or sink covers to give you more space

As you are no doubt aware, the kitchen space in most RV kitchens is unbelievably limited. Just like all other aspects of RV living space comes at a serious premium. Any way you can extend your countertop space is helpful for food prep. There are dedicated countertop extensions but there are also covers you can place over your sink or stove to give yourself more room; all are useful.

8.    At least one good piece of cast iron cookware 

Even though cast iron flies in the face of “lighter is better” and “foldable is better” the quality and value of cast iron is not something to be understated. With a little bit of know-how you can do almost all (if not all) of your camp cooking with a cast iron pot or skillet. Even if your RV is kitchen-less you can dig a pit outside and do your cooking with the cast iron over the flame. They’re heavy and inconvenient, but they work, and they work forever. Just remember - no soap!

9.    Stove covers

As mentioned above, you can extend your counter space with the inclusion of stove covers, but that’s not the only reason to get them. Covering your stove is safer and it also gives you a lot more space for entertainment and general utility. Plus, it will keep your burners clean and dust-free and will give you a ton of extra space. Whether you need a bar or an impromptu workbench, you can pull it off with a stove cover.

10.  Fridge bars

This is a theme that’s going to come up over and over again in this article. It’s already been presented with our suggestion to get shatterproof drinkware and serving ware. Everything in an RV is subject to shifting around during travel, and the stuff in your fridges is no exception.

Installing RV fridge bars is a quick, convenient, and affordable solution for a whole lot of dropped foods and broken condiment bottles. They won’t prevent these issues entirely, but they’ll give you a fighting chance.

11.  Cupboard bars

See the above section for some clarification here. While you’re on the road, everything in your cabinets and cupboards is vulnerable to shifting around. Luckily, by this point in this article, you’ve hopefully made the choice to switch over to shatterproof drinkware and serving ware.

Even so, installed cupboard bars will help you stop them from clattering all over the floor!

12.  Wall mount trash cans

Despite the fact that you won’t have a lot of space in your RV kitchen, you will still create at least a little trash. It’s always best to have a designated receptacle for good hygiene and sanitation, and if you don’t have room for a freestanding trash can, there are plenty of wall-mounted options out there that will save you space!

13.  Dish drainers

Similarly, you will need a place to leave dishes to dry after you have washed them, but RV kitchens, as we have stated so many times, do not have a lot of space. Therefore, any help you can get is worth taking!

There are plenty of dish draining boards out there sized appropriately for RV kitchens, and there are some that are foldable, too. That way, when you aren’t using them, you can stash them somewhere out of the way.

14.  Odor killers

Just like how RVs are prone to the ravages of chronically high moisture levels, RV fridges, which are small and sometimes are not cleaned as fastidiously as they should be, are prone to picking up odors.

Luckily, for a small price, you can pick up odor eliminators or absorbers that will help you contend with this problem, especially in between cleanings.

15.  Ice makers or ice trays

During the hotter months of the year, there’s nothing like the refreshment of a cool drink like iced water or iced tea or iced lemonade, or an iced mixed drink.

The common factor here is ice, and not all RVs come with icemakers. However, most of them come with a fridge and a freezer. In that event, you can use simple ice trays for your refreshments. If not, for just a little more you can pick up a convenient and easy to use ice maker.

16.  Grease bins

Grease can be real trouble for your holding tanks to sort out and if you let it get out of hand it can create ugly blockages that are expensive and time-consuming to remove. Even if you pour it hot down the sink, it will eventually cool and gum up the lines or the tank.

Prevent this from occurring by limiting the amount of grease you allow into the plumbing system in the first place. Grease bins, which are enormously affordable and also usually fold up for out of the way storage, are your golden ticket for this.

17.  Soap dispensers

Soap dispensers are not an absolute necessity in an RV kitchen, but soap is, and soap dispensers give you a neat and convenient place to store them. Keep one handy by the sink and it will pay for itself within a few days.

18.  Collapsible strainers or colanders

We’ve already covered how most people enjoy cooking in camp. That’s part of the fun of being out there on the road. Whether you need to strain pasta or wash off fresh fruits and vegetables, a strainer or a colander will become very valuable, especially if you have a lot going on. Get one that’s collapsible and save yourself some space with it all.

19.  Storage bowls - preferably collapsible

Collapsibility has become a theme in this article, and the importance of storage bowls is another one worthy of note. Storage bowls are great because you can eat out of them, use them for meal prep, and much more. You can also obviously store food in them. If they’re collapsible, you’ll have a lot more space in your RV!

20.  Folding camping tables

Folding camping tables are more of an “outdoors” RV accessory, but depending on the kitchen space your RV offers, they might be a serviceable kitchen accessory as well. If it’s raining outdoors and you still need a place to seat people, a folding table is highly valuable when the kitchen table won’t suffice.

21.  A coffee maker, french press, or tea infusers

Americans run on caffeine, although preferences will vary slightly between coffee and tea. Whatever your brewing method of choice happens to be, it’s worthwhile to keep the RV kitchen capable. Stock up on tea infusers, a french press, or get yourself a coffee maker for the RV right here in our online store.

22.  Cooking utensils

Naturally, you can’t cook at all without the help of cooking utensils, even though we included so many other necessities on this list for the kitchen. We’ll let you be the final judge of what you need and don’t need, but you’ll want spatulas, forks and serving spoons, labels, cooking spoons, and more!

23.  Eating utensils!

You can’t set the table without eating utensils like knives, forks, and spoons, and not everyone in your camp is going to want to eat with nothing more than a hobo tool!

24.  Perhaps a portable dishwasher

This isn’t on the list of “absolutely mission-critical RV accessories,” especially when you consider that many RVers probably just wash their dishes and silverware in the RV kitchen sink. Still, there are some really cool, relatively space-effective models out there.

25.  Fire extinguishers - of course!

Finally, and although we have previously featured the fire extinguisher on our other lists of critical RV accessories, it has to be mentioned here once more. All kitchens need some form of disaster preparedness and a fire extinguisher is often the first line of defense. Don’t leave home without one.

This list is not completely hashed out, and there are many other useful RV accessories - including new accessories -  that you should keep in your camper kitchen. If you’re reading this and think we forgot something obvious, give us a call and let us know so we can update the posting with your feedback!

Or you could just call us to ask our advice before you head out on the road. We know a thing or two about the camping experience and we want our customers to have the best possible time when out on the road. That means we know what you need to bring along as well as what you might be able to get away with leaving behind. Give us a call at 866-332-7881 and let us know what your questions are!

Monday, December 21, 2020

What an RV Leveling System Does for Your RV


Before you hit the road with your camper, don’t forget to remember the most important camping essentials. Don’t forget to bring along spare batteries and flashlights, spare fuses for your RV, cleaning and cooking essentials, holding tank care, water softener essentials, and all the rest of them.

There are a lot, and our purpose in this article isn’t to painstakingly remind you of each and every one of them. You can consult our blog for that instead. What we’re here for today is to remind you of a different, but still critical, accessory, or system, if you will, for camping: an RV leveling system.

Some RVs come with their own leveling systems, whereas others do not. Why some would and others wouldn’t is up for you to debate. What isn’t up for you to debate is the necessity of them. Keeping your RV level, all the time, and not just in camp, is not a matter to be taken lightly.

If you’ve ever gone camping before at all then you are familiar with how not all ground is level. That is a fact to be reckoned with and managed than attempted to correct since nothing can be done to level the ground. Instead, you level your RV. Here are some of the reasons you need to make sure you use an RV leveling system and use it properly.

-       To prevent damage to your RV fridge - If you operate your absorption fridge off-level, you’re going to damage it. You might even destroy it, actually. There’s no way to sugar coat that, and by off-level, we’re only talking a couple of degrees. In short, if you run your RV fridge when it isn’t leveled you’re likely to cause irreparable damage.

This is because when it operates off level, liquid ammonia will pool and accumulate in sections of the evaporation chamber or tubing, which can block circulation and the fridge will stop working. If this goes on for too long, it will ruin the fridge. Basically, keep your RV level.

-       To prevent damage to the frame and structure of your RV - When you are in camp, but off-level, your vehicle’s frame, chassis, and other components are also off level, which will result in a lot of structural stress. Think about how a boat can be damaged by being suspended over the trough between two waves. It’s the same basic thing here; the RV is designed to support its own weight on a level surface, not on a slanted one.

-       To prevent things from rolling around, falling over, or otherwise being misplaced - It might be a minor annoyance to you, but if you open up your cabinets and spill out all the plates, breaking them, you might think otherwise. Keeping your RV level will avoid this unfortunate happenstance.

-       To ensure the comfort of your fellow campers - Finally, keeping everything level will make everything much more comfortable and enjoyable in camp. Ignoring it during the day is one thing, but sleeping on a slanted bed is quite another. Keeping things level will result in more comfort, in addition to protecting your RV’s fridge, frame, and other components.

All of those things will require you to use a leveling system when you go camping unless you are camping on very level ground, to begin with, which is rare in its own right. If your RV already came with a leveling system, then you can use what your RV provides. Otherwise, you’ll need to invest in a separate leveling system, which, if you haven’t gleaned from this article so far, is necessary.

Luckily, we provide RV leveling systems of all natures here at RV Upgrades, so all you need to do is pick out the model that fits your budget, and most importantly, your RV.

One thing we’d like you to know here is the important difference between stabilizer jacks and a leveling system, which uses leveling jacks. Stabilizer jacks are used to prevent side to side and back and forth movement of your RV when you’re setting up camp and then in camp. These increase comfort, but they are not intended to fully support the weight of your RV. Levelers are for that. If you have any questions, make sure you get in touch with us and we’ll clear the matter up.

Actually, give us a call anyway and we’d be more than glad to help you solve the problem of finding the right leveling system for your RV. All of the different levelers on our website have their own strengths and weaknesses and some are more suitable in given situations than others. Given our collective pool of experience with the RV lifestyle, we’ll answer the questions you might not even think to ask.

Call us up at 866-332-7881 if you want to learn more - we’re waiting to hear from you!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

You Need These Motorhome Accessories

Here at RV Upgrades, we’ve already covered some of the most important motorhome accessories and other camper supplies that you could need before you head out on the road. Some of them you’re going to see again in this list, and if you look through all of our blog’s entries you’ll start to get a better impression of the types of equipment and you can and cannot go without. You’ll also get a better impression of what RV supplies you need and which ones are extras for making life more comfortable but are not necessarily critical.

This list serves as a complement to those other entries. You’ll want to bring along some of these camper accessories for more than just comfort. Some of them will improve your safety on the road whereas others will protect your RV itself.

These are some more of the most critical RV accessories we could come up with. These are highly recommended, so there’s no chaff on this list. Add these to your list of essentials and if you have any questions. Don’t feel as though you need to answer them on your own. Get in touch with us and we’ll clear up any that remain!

1.    Drinking water hoses - more than one

Fastidious freshwater management when you are in an RV is not just a matter of comfort, it is a matter of safety. You will need to be managing your use of potable water as well as your creation of wastewater and the disposal of it, and you can never use the same hoses interchangeably.

Therefore you need a good supply of clean drinking water hoses, and we suggest you have a few spares on hand. Just in case you ever use the hose for the wrong thing, having a spare in reserve could be a game-changer for a camping trip.

These freshwater hoses, by the way, are not the only important freshwater management supplies that we suggest you take along. Check out our collection of freshwater supplies and get in touch with us if you have any questions.

2.    Sewer hoses

You shouldn’t be too surprised to see this item making its presence known in this list. As we mentioned right here in this article, gray and blackwater (different grades of wastewater) management are just as important as potable water management. In fact, they are even subject to regulations that you need to follow in order to comply with the law.

Now, some portable holding tanks come with sewer hoses built into them, along with connectors that make them easier to drain out at disposal sites, so theoretically you might not absolutely need to bring along a sewer hose on a camping trip. You just need to be very familiar with your wastewater management supplies to be sure.

Also, that doesn’t mean bringing along a spare is a bad idea, as long as it’s compatible with your holding tank. Take a look through our collection of sewer hoses if you decide that a spare is a good idea. Otherwise, you need one if your tank doesn’t have one.

3.    Holding tank treatment (and toilet paper and other toiletries)

There’s more than one type of holding tank treatment in our collection of sanitation supplies, but using some form of holding tank treatment is practically a must. Even if you only consider their value for the comfort they will provide while you are camping they are worth it.

Each holding tank treatment has its own mechanism of action but they all perform basically the same function. They break down the wastes in your holding tank, which makes managing the tank much easier, and easier to clean. The added side effect is that they help cut back on odors that would otherwise quickly make an impact on your camping trip.

Check out our collection, and if you’re looking for any specific recommendations, reach out to a member of our team for some guidance.

4.    Surge protectors

If you hook up your RV to shore power when you are in a campsite, and a lot of people do, there is a good chance you’re going to face the risk of a power surge or dip at some point. Power surges can be damaging to the appliances in your RV as well as to your RV’s electrical infrastructure.

If your RV is ever exposed to a serious spike, it can necessitate costly repairs, not to mention incapacitating your RV’s electrical system for the time being. You can learn more about the need for surge protection in our recent blog post, but for now, take our word for it and keep yourself covered. Check out our collection of surge protectors and other electrical equipment and call us if you want to learn more or have other questions.

5.    Shore power connectors

Unless you want to remain electrically autonomous, the use of shore power is a must. You could theoretically run off of solar power, and some people do, especially away from campgrounds. However, shore power is an economical and relatively easy way to secure power for you and your fellow campers where it is available.

Most shore power supplies for RVs are rated to either 30 to 50 amp service, so you’ll need a shore power connector that is rated accordingly. We offer a lot of different shore power connectors here at RV Upgrades, but pick a high-quality, heavy-duty model with added bonus features, like secure grips or handles for attaching or removing the cable.

6.    Spare fuses

Check out your RV’s fuse box and then perform this simple trick that will save your camping trip one day. Get a replacement (at least one, preferably more) for each of the fuses in the fuse box.

If you blow a fuse to a portion of the circuit inside your RV, then all of the appliances (or anything else) that draws power from that portion of the circuit will be inoperable until the fuse is replaced. It’s one of the quickest and easier electrical fixes anyone can make, but unless you make it, you won’t be able to close the circuit.

Doing this will save you a lot of comfort and peace of mind down the line because if you blow a fuse way out in the country and aren’t near any help, you’ll wish you could just pop a new fuse in.

7.    Jack pads, chocks, or leveling blocks - just in case

This one comes with a slight caveat. Theoretically, some RVs might not have a distinct need for jack pads, chocks, or leveling blocks, but there’s a good chance you should bring some along as a backup.

For example, if you ever need to use a jack on soft ground, then you really should put down jack pads so that you don’t sink into the earth. You might not need them if your RV is self-propelled and not towed, but they’re helpful to have on hand anyway.

Chocks are good to have around if you ever want to add stability to your RV, and as for leveling blocks, some RVs have their own leveling systems and so don’t need them. Still, they can be useful as a backup, as RVs should be kept level all the time.

8.    Pressure regulator

There are a couple of reasons that water pressure regulators for your RV are important, but we’re just going to address what is arguably the most important one here. When you hook up your RV to an external water source, your RV’s plumbing, and any appliances that draw water are at the mercy of the pressure of the source.

If the pressure in the source surges for any reason, it could damage your appliances, even bursting your pipes. If that happens, you’re going to be up against some costly repairs, not to mention a ruined camping trip. The safe thing to do is to hook up a water pressure regulator whenever you take water from an external source.

9.    Fire extinguisher

Whether or not your RV came with a fire extinguisher, you should have a spare. There shouldn’t be too much of a reason to elaborate more fully on this as it is a fundamental matter of safety. Houses and other occupied buildings and places of business are largely required by law to have them. Whether you actually have to or not, you should invest in this security measure that may someday enable you to effectively respond to a fire. You can find them in our collection of RV kitchen accessories.

10.  Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems are extremely valuable to those who operate recreational vehicles. They can improve your gas mileage, extend the life of your tires, and improve your braking and handling. These alone are reasons enough to justify the investment in one.

However, that only scratches the surface of their value. A TPMS can also give you valuable, real-time information on the temperature and pressure of your RV tires. Some of them even do so individually. Having real-time access to this information can be crucial to preventing a blowout, which is an extremely dangerous situation.

You can learn more about why you need a TPMS in our recent blog. Otherwise, check out what we offer in the way of Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems here in our store.

11.  A dehumidifier

There is a small chance you don’t need a dehumidifier, especially if you don’t go anywhere in the country that has high levels of humidity. Unfortunately, almost all of the country is routinely plagued by high levels of humidity with the notable exception of the Southwest. Check out our recent blog on signs of high humidity to see if your RV actually does have problems with high moisture levels.

If it does, shop through our collection of dehumidifiers to keep your RV dry inside and stave off problems associated with moisture like mold and mildew.

12.  Hard water treatments

Just like most areas of the country have high humidity a majority of the time, most areas of the country have fairly hard water as well. If you take your RV there and draw from local water sources, you’re going to eventually have a problem with scale.

Excessive exposure to hard water can damage your plumbing and your appliances, which is both annoying and expensive to fix. We recently published a blog on the benefits of water softeners that also gives you some pointers on what to look out for to see if you have problems with hard water.

If so, take a look through our collection of water softeners for your RV; we offer a lot of different types that can help soften your water efficiently.

This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most important motorhome accessories that you should not leave home port without. While you’re going to see other lists containing additional entries like instant pots and other RV kitchen accessories, we’ll leave that up to you and your own experiences, but these are some of the most basic essentials.

If you want to learn more about some of the other critical RV and other motorhome accessories that you should bring along with you on the road, make sure you read our blog. We’ve included links in this article to some of our other relevant blogs, but take a look through and you might surprise yourself with what else you find.

Otherwise, experience is the best teacher, and sometimes you really learn about what you need to bring along just by getting out there, doing, and then reflecting.

You could also get in touch with our customer service department. We don’t just have one of the best selections of camping accessories at great prices. We also have a pool of many years of experience in camping and RVing that we can put to use for you.

Send us a message via the live chat feature on our website or give us a call at 866-332-7881 if you want to get some more insight into what other essential accessories you could need, or why you should bring these. We’re always happy to hear from our customers and we’d love to help you out.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Do You Need a Water Softener for Your RV?

Of all the things you might need for your RV, it’s a little bit too easy to lose sight of something like a water softener for your RV. To understand what they do and why you might need one, you first need to understand the difference between hard and soft water.

Water is considered ‘hard’ when it contains high levels of dissolved minerals. Specifically, the two minerals that are taken into account as indicators of water hardness are calcium and magnesium, but there are almost always other minerals dissolved alongside them.

Water is considered soft when it does not contain a high concentration of dissolved mineral ions (specifically calcium and magnesium) in its solution. Water may either be naturally soft or it can be softened with a water softener, but most water in the United States is fairly hard. 

What a Water Softener Does 

The short answer to this question is that a water softener removes the dissolved calcium and magnesium ions from the water, making it categorically ‘soft.’

There is more than one type of water softener, but many of them trap and remove the magnesium and calcium ions, replacing them with sodium, which does not have the same harmful household effects as the former.

This is the reason that many water softeners must be ‘recharged’ from time to time to ensure that they continue to function as intended. 

How to Tell if You Need a Water Softener for Your RV 

Now you need to know what signs to look out for to determine if you need to install a water softener for your RV. Here are a few of the things to look out for to determine if you need a water softener, without conducting any formal tests.

-       Your skin or hair feels off (or dry) after a shower or prolonged contact with the water - The calcium and magnesium ions in hard water will dry your skin out, and soap has a hard time removing them

-       There are stains or scale on your appliances or in your sinks or tub - Hard water causes scale to build up on your appliances and in your sink, or stains to form. These typically look like white stains on appliances and on fixtures, but the colors can vary.

-       You constantly need to replace pipes in your RV due to scale buildup - Scale can build up in your recreational vehicle’s plumbing, causing high flow rates and pressure which can damage your plumbing.

These are some of the most common ways to tell if your water is too hard and needs a softener to bring it down to reasonable levels, but the most sure fire way is to get a professional to test your water or to use test strips to determine the hardness. This can be tough with an RV, though, because they are constantly moving around the country.

When in doubt, get a water softener for your RV. They’re effective, practical, convenient, and easy to operate, and many of them are cost effective. Here’s what can happen if you don’t install a water softener. 

What If You Don’t Get One? 

If you don’t install a water softener and you subject your RV to consistently hard water levels, here are a few of the problems you might encounter, which can be unsightly at best and expensive to repair, at worst.

-       Hard water will damage your clothes or fade them - Hard water can make your laundry fade and feel itchy or brittle, damaging it over time.

-       Hard water can make your glassware more brittle - Hard water can cause stains on your glassware, but it will also make them more prone to breakage as well.

-       Hard water causes staining and scale buildup on your appliances - Scale buildup on your sinks and appliances is unsightly, looks dirty, and is expensive to fix. It also can negatively impact the value of your RV.

-       It will damage your plumbing system and stress the pipes - Hard water will also damage your pipes over time. It will build up on the inside of pipes, increasing the pressure of the water flow and causing issues that will need to be addressed with a replacement that will become costly in short order.

None of that sounds particularly enticing, and some of those problems can only be repaired at great expense to the owner of the RV. Save yourself the trouble and install a water softener system so you never have to worry about these problems in the first place.

You’re in the Right Place to Learn More! 

If you want to learn more about hard water and water softeners, read our blog where you’ll find plenty of interesting information about your RV and how to care for it. You can also get in touch with us at 866-332-7881 for more information!