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Friday, July 16, 2021

RV Leveling Jacks: Not the Same as Stabilizing Jacks

Owning an RV is sort of like owning a smaller home on wheels. It is a mobile home, after all, and with it comes no shortage of responsibilities. You almost need to get a secondary education on best practices and things to look out for in order to pay the proper level of care to your second home.

Don’t store your awning wet, or it will develop mold and mildew. Don’t leave it unfurled, either. Make sure you use a surge protector to shield your appliances and your electrical infrastructure from dangers associated with power dips, spikes and surges. Use a water softener in order to protect your fixtures and your plumbing from a variety of ills associated with hard water. The list goes on.

You can add to it the need to learn the differences between RV leveling jacks and stabilizing jacks. These two classes of RV accessories or equipment are not the same and cannot be used for the same purposes, in spite of their superficial similarities.

Additionally, there are circumstances in which an RV might only need to be stabilized and not leveled, and then there are separate circumstances in which the RV might need to be both stabilized and leveled. It all depends on what equipment comes with your RV, where you are camped and parked, and what issues you are experiencing.

Use this short guide to learn more about the differences between leveling and stabilization, the different types of equipment used to accomplish both tasks, and why and when they are necessary.

If you still have questions at the end of it, feel free to give us a call to learn more about how we can help. 

Leveling an RV

Sometimes, leveling an RV doesn’t even come to mind, mostly because it simply isn’t necessary. If your RV is parked at a paved campsite on a level surface, or at home in your driveway or in the yard, then you might not even have to give it a second thought.

However, if you are staying for an extended period of time in a campsite that is graded or otherwise off level, then there’s quite a different story. The thing is, RVs are larger, heavier and more complex than smaller vehicles, and they are not designed to stay situated for prolonged periods of time on grades. Like a house, they’re built to withstand stresses only when they are oriented properly. You can only imagine what would happen otherwise!

Whatever the circumstances that cause it, if you’re going to be camping for a while or leaving your RV in a location where it is off level, then you need to either use the RV’s own leveling system or invest in a set of RV leveling jacks or leveling blocks if the situation calls for it.

This is where it is important to note the distinction between RV leveling jacks and RV stabilizing jacks. In case you didn’t notice, RVs are large, unwieldy, and heavy. You can’t simply use any piece of equipment to level an RV. Stabilizing jacks, for their part, are not intended to carry the weight of an RV - only to stabilize it. Leveling jacks, like hydraulic jacks, or leveling blocks or wheel chocks, are expressly designed to be able to support more of the weight of an RV.

If your RV comes with a leveling system to help bring it back to grade, then you can simply use that to level the RV. If it doesn’t, then you’ll have to use a set of leveling jacks or blocks.

Why Level? 

At this point, RV owners might be wondering why they need to level their RV in the first place. You might think that the RV is fine as it is, on or off a grade, but the reality is that that is not the case. If you do happen to keep your RV on a slanted surface, you’ll need to level it for several reasons, not the least of which include some of the following.

1.    Leveling helps minimize stress on the frame, structure and interior components.

Your RV is designed to stay upright and level. Whenever you let it rest off level, you’re placing an immense amount of pressure and stress on all of the components within the RV, as well as its overall structure. Over time, this will damage the RV.

Also, allowing the RV to rest off-level will also mean that there’s more stress on doors, cabinets and appliances within the RV. It can also cause things to shift within the cupboards or the fridge, or to fall over and break, even if they are otherwise stored properly.

Speaking of the fridge, that is an entirely separate issue that can arise when your RV is not resting on a level surface.

2.    Leveling helps protect the operation of your RV absorption fridge.

Another reason that you need to keep your RV level, and one of the best of them, is if your RV uses an absorption refrigerator. These fridges rely on a flow of water and ammonia in order to remove energy from the environment and keep the interior cool.

The problem is that they are only intended to be operated while level. If they are operated when they are not level, the liquids within them will pool in the wrong areas, resulting in the appliance overheating. The best-case scenario is that the fridge suffers damage and stops working, but if it really overheats, it has the potential to start a fire.

Not sure if your RV has an absorption fridge? Play it safe, keep the RV level. Our first reason should have been justification enough for that.

3.    Leveling increases your comfort while you’re in the RV

This should be self-evident. If everything is on a minor grade while you’re camping, it’s going to decrease your comfort. Not only will it make it hard to pour a glass of water and set it down on a level surface (because where would that be?) but it will also make it harder to relax and sleep.

4.    It will help you take more accurate readings

If you’re looking to get accurate readings from your water tank or fuel tank while your RV is in camp, you had better do so when the RV is level. If it isn’t you might as well kiss your wish for accurate readings goodbye. You might think you’re running out of water when really you have half a tank left - or the opposite, which isn’t much better. In short, keep your RV level by using the proper tools.

All of these reasons are legitimate reasons that you should take leveling your RV seriously and do it right the first time. It’s sad to think that the least compelling reason among them has to do with comfort because you can actually cause real, irreversible material damage to your RV or fridge by failing to level it. 

Tips for Leveling 

Now that you’re ready to level your RV and set on doing it right the first time, the most important thing we can tell you is to make sure you’re using the right equipment. Notably, you cannot use stabilizing jacks to level an RV. It is dangerous even to attempt it, so don’t.

If you’re not using an RV’s built-in system, make sure you’re using RV leveling jacks that are appropriately rated for the load you intend to place on them. You might also want to consider getting a set of jack pads so that the jack’s bases don’t sink into soft ground. If they do, you’ll be dealing with a potentially dangerous situation. It’ll also make it extremely difficult to get the jacks out again, and worst of all, it’ll put you back off-level.

If you use chocks or wheel blocks, make sure that the blocks are at least the full width of the tire. If you use chocks or blocks that are too narrow, you may cause irreparable damage to the tires and need to replace them.

Additionally, whether with jacks or chocks, it’s a good practice to always keep at least one tire grounded. You should use the minimum that you need to level the RV and keep one tire on the ground. Think about it; you’re creating extra work if you can’t get the RV level and leave one tire on the ground.

Whether you end up using electric jacks or manually, crank-powered jacks, be sure you only use equipment that’s qualified for the job, and for the finishing touch, keep a few levels on hand. You can actually use them when you’re finished to check and see if your RV is actually level or not. 

Stabilizing an RV 

In essence, you keep an RV level in order to prevent damage to its frame and appliances and to ensure that you are more comfortable during your stay in camp. You stabilize an RV for slightly different reasons.

Sometimes RVs, or travel trailers, will rock back and forth or side to side as you move through them, once they are set up in camp. Typically, this is not associated with an off-level setting, but with the commotion within. To rectify this situation, you can use RV stabilizing jacks.

To clarify, RV stabilizing jacks or other stabilizers do not level an RV. They cannot be safely used to bring an off-level RV back to level, and can only be safely and practically used to prevent an RV from rocking or swaying.

Even with that said, there are plenty of good reasons why you might want to stabilize your RV. Back and forth motion within an RV may not cause the same issues as failing to level it, but it will compromise your comfort while in camp.

Why Stabilize? 

If you’ve experienced trouble in camp with your RV or travel trailer swaying unduly, then you might want to consider stabilizing it using the proper stabilizing jacks. The chief reason that people stabilize their RVs or trailers is to prevent bouncing or swaying, as these can be considered relatively uncomfortable.

If your trailer or RV comes with stabilizing jacks built-in (some do) you can simply deploy these. Otherwise, you can consult our collection of RV stabilizing jacks here at RV Upgrades and pick a set. Just make sure that they are properly rated for the job and that you have the tools and equipment necessary to use them.

As with RV leveling jacks, it’s a good idea to get a heavy-duty jack pad for use with your stabilizing jacks. They won’t be subject to quite as much force and pressure as leveling jacks, but nonetheless, there will be a lot of weight on them. Using jack pads as necessary will help prevent a problem removing or adjusting the jacks down the line. 

Get the Essentials Here! 

Here at RV Upgrades, we have not only RV leveling jacks, chocks, blocks and jack pads but also RV stabilizing jacks and all of the associated equipment you could possibly need for either task. It’s no trouble at all to stay comfortable in camp with a little help from our supply and expertise.

On that note, if you have any questions at all about the difference between leveling and stabilizing jacks, when you can or should use one over the other, how to use them, or what differences exist between them, please feel free to get in touch with us.

You can contact us by phone at 866-332-7881 with any questions you have, but you can also reach out to us via the live chat function on our website if you find that more expedient or convenient. Let us know how we can help and we will be glad to - and remember, all standard ground orders over $99 get free shipping!

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