Solutions to some frustrating motorhome problems that occur, sometimes as a result of safety devices that are just doing their jobs.
By John Mang
Motorhomes are built with numerous safety features and protection devices designed to keep the occupants and the vehicle secure. However, if you are unfamiliar with these safeguards and how they work, they can lead to quite a bit of frustration. Here are some suggestions to help you better understand these devices and take action when they do their job.
A wall plug voltmeter is a good device to have to determine whether the RV park’s electric service is putting out 120 volts AC. If not, be careful that you do not burn out your air conditioner, microwave oven, television, water heater, washing machine, etc.
If the outside entry steps do not automatically retract when the key is turned in the ignition, check the fuse block under the hood. The location for the step fuse is shown on the underside of the cover panel for the fuses. If you find that the fuse is not blown, take a piece of sandpaper and shine up the fuse blade. Corrosion can sometimes prevent good contact. Failing all else, check the magnet on the screen door. It should line up with the electromagnet on the screen jamb.
Some exterior RV doors are built with a block foam center sheet, covered by a hardwood perimeter, and lined with a metal edging. If the hinges on the door come loose, you will need to replace the hardwood perimeter under the metal edge to give the hinge screws something solid to bite into.
Most generators glean their fuel from the motorhome’s fuel tank. If the generator stops running or fails to start, check to see how much fuel remains in the motorhome’s fuel tank. Even if the tank is not empty, there might not be enough fuel for the generator to run. Most motorhomes have a protection device on the fuel tank to ensure that a certain amount of fuel will be reserved for driving, and in some motorhomes, the cutoff may be as high as 30 percent. If you plan to use your generator often during an extended stay, fill up the fuel tank before you set up camp.
If you are certain that your leveling jacks are retracted, yet the warning light and audio alert indicate that the jacks are still down, you could be in for a very aggravating day if you have to be on the road. But before you depart, look under the steering wheel on the firewall. You may find a contact device that can be unplugged to stop the warning light and alarm until you can get the motorhome to a mechanic to diagnose the problem. We drove 60 miles with the warning alert sounding because we did not know what to unplug.
If the porch light does not come on, take the cover off and see whether the light socket is grounded to the metal base of the fixture. So many electrical problems are due to poor grounding.
Should your refrigerator go through several cycles where it goes on for 45 seconds and then goes off while operating in the LP-gas mode, there’s a good chance that the thermocouple (the sensor that protrudes into the flame) needs to be replaced. If the thermocouple is hot, it sends a message to the circuit board to leave the gas valve open. However, if the thermocouple cools and no message is sent to the circuit board, then the electromagnet shuts off the gas.
If your slideout will not extend when you engage the switch, check to make sure the parking brake is on. If it will not retract when you’re ready to leave, check to make sure the driver’s seat is pushed all the way forward.
If your cook stove or water heater fails to operate because it is receiving no fuel, check to see whether the LP-gas detector has been activated. The detector may have sent a message to the electromagnetic valve at the tank to shut off the gas.
If you have a TV selector box on which you can opt for cable, antenna, or VCR as your signal source and you are having trouble getting a picture on your television, make sure you’ve chosen the correct source. A booster device often is employed to help provide a better signal when the TV antenna is used.
If you buy a preowned motorhome, check to see whether the windshield glass is firmly fixed in the rubber trim molding. Also, check the mirror doors on the closet to determine whether the metal frame is secure around the mirror glass. Before you write the check, make sure all the windows slide as they should. Does the medicine cabinet door stay shut while you are driving? We had to use glue to bind the medicine cabinet door to the hinges.
Water heater “” temperature-pressure release valve
All water heaters should be equipped with a temperature-pressure release valve. If this valve is leaking water, check to see whether your water temperature is set too high. Should the valve continue to leak, it should be replaced.
Water heater “” exhaust
If black soot from your water heater’s exhaust is making a mess on the side of your motorhome, take a dry water hose and poke it through the water heater’s exhaust pipe. There may be a mud dauber nest inside. Also, check the burner tube. I found a spider web blocking the flow of propane, as well as the mud dauber nest in the exhaust.
These are just a few things to keep in mind when something in the motorhome isn’t working right or seems to be amiss. Read through your owners manual to learn about other warning and safety devices in your motorhome so you’re not left scratching your head when they are activated.