by Paul and Kerri Elders
Awning Hints: Retractable awnings can add a nice shady spot to any RV. They’re easy to use and even easier to store. Whenever you retract your awning, make it a habit to engage the awning locks, which are usually located on each end of the “roller.” It only takes a second or two, and you’ll never make the mistake of driving off with an unlocked awning, which can result in an unscheduled unfurling on the highway. When you make your final walk-around inspection before departing your campsite, remember to make sure all awning locks are fully engaged. Check the patio awning and all window and slideout awnings, too.
The easiest way to keep your patio awning in tip-top shape is by remembering two simple rules: 1. Keep it Clean and 2. Keep it Dry. If you travel during a heavy rainstorm, moisture could potentially penetrate into the edges of the awning. So as soon as you’ve parked your RV and it’s stopped raining, extend the awning and allow the fabric to dry completely before retracting it again, rinsing first if necessary.
Cleaning an RV awning is simple. Just fully extend the awning. locking the support arms securely in place to avoid any unexpected “rollups.” Rinse the top surface of the awning and apply an RV awning cleaner (available at your local RV supply house) according to the product’s label. Use a medium bristle brush to thoroughly clean your awning. Now just rinse thoroughly, and then allow the fabric to air dry completely before stowing.
A good method for dealing with more stubborn stains is to rinse the awning and apply the RV awning cleaner; then, just roll up the awning and wait 30-60 minutes. Unfurl, then brush and rinse thoroughly. Allow the awning to dry completely before stowing to avoid encouraging mold and mildew growth.
RV Garbage Disposals: When Less is More: Occasionally, RV’s have garbage disposals installed in the kitchen sink. Although a garbage disposal can be a useful accessory, it also can be a source of problems for your graywater system if used improperly. Small quantities of food scraps can be safely run through the disposal; just don’t dispose of large quantities of any solids (egg shells, large chunks of vegetables or meat, etc) through an RV disposal. Keep in mind that everything that goes down the drain will eventually end up in your graywater holding tank.
Food scraps almost always have some quantity of grease that can potentially clog your drain lines and build up in the graywater holding tank. Grease has a tendency to stick to the lines which could potentially cause water to back up through the sink. If you’ve disposed of a large quantity of grease in your system, it can also coat the inside of the graywater tank. Eventually, your rig’s sewer hoses can even become lined with grease, which can attract other adhesions. If your RV has a disposal, it’s a good idea to periodically use a graywater tank cleaning product to help cleanse the tank and lines, so you can always enjoy the convenience of this handy appliance in your home away from home.
Surge Protectors: A surge protector is an electrical device designed to protect sensitive electronic equipment from power surges, electrical storms, and voltage spikes. All sensitive electronic devices (like computers, plasma televisions, satellite receivers, etc.) should be protected with a surge protector, both at home and while traveling in your RV.
Surge protectors are rated in “joules,” a unit of measure that gives you a numerical equivalent of how much energy the surge protector can dissipate before it fails. Generally speaking, the higher the joule rating, the greater the amount of energy the surge protector can absorb (and the greater the amount of protection you’re giving your electronic equipment). Joule ratings are listed on the surge protector’s packaging; you can also contact the manufacturer of your electronic equipment to find the amount of joule protection recommended for your specific equipment.
Check the surge protector’s packaging to confirm its rated “response time.” This is the amount of time it takes the surge protector to detect a surge; go for one that responds in one nanosecond or less. Finally, you want to look at the surge protector’s “clamping voltage” rating. This number is listed in volts and represents the amount of voltage the surge protector will allow to pass through itself before suppressing the power surge. In this case, lower numbers are better. The lower the surge protector’s clamping voltage rating, the greater the amount of protection you are giving your electronic device.
One more word of advice: surge protectors can and do fail. Each power surge your surge protector is subjected to depletes a little of its stated joule rating. More surges mean higher depletion rates (in other words, each power surge devours a little of your stated joule rating). If your surge protector is several years old and has been subjected to numerous surges, you may want to consider replacing it.