Mark My Words: May – Plumbing and Electrical Issues, and Some General RVing Tips

Camper Travel Trailer

Mark NemethHi folks. A great mix of questions this month, including some RV plumbing and electrical issues, and some general RVing tips. Keep those RV questions coming! [email protected].


Hi Mark,
My old 2000 Flair motor home often gets streaks on the windshield, windows, and wall after rain. What cause these dirty streaks? Are these the results of aging rubber roof coating or aging paint coating above the window and windshield? What can we do to minimize these dirty streaks? Also, I often get lots of dust and dirt accumulated at the back wall of motor home on the highway, and they are quite stubborn to get rid of them. How can you reduce the stubborn dirt accumulated at the back of MH? Thanks in advance for your advice, Philip

Hi, Philip
Those streaks are most likely coming from the rubber roof. The rubber membrane oxidizes over time, as part of the natural ageing process. This surface oxidation is in the form of a chalky material, and rain washes some of it off and down the sides of the RV, where it dries into a streak. These streaks don’t indicate a problem, and there are a number of streak cleaning products for RVs that will help remove them. You can also wash the roof to help remove that layer of oxidized rubber. This will reduce the streaking problem. Use a rubber roof cleaner, or a mild soap and water solution, and a scrub brush, and rinse it thoroughly. BE CAREFUL on the roof, especially when it is slick with sudsy water. It’s best to do one small area at a time, and start at the front of the rig and work back to the ladder. The accumulation of dirt and dust on the rear of the RV is caused partly by oils on the surface of the road that get sucked up into the turbulent air behind the rig as you’re driving. There’s not much you can do to prevent it, but keeping a good coat of wax on the rear of the RV will make it easier to clean. If the residue seems quite oily, it may indicate a leak of oil or fluid from your RV. An occasional drip from engine or transmission will get atomized by the air flow underneath and wind up on the back of the coach.


Mark:
I have a 2010 Jayco Eagle fifth wheel which has developed an issue with running lights not working. Brake lights, signals and emergency flashers work fine. I emailed the manufacturer and asked for assistance in identifying a possible cause and received a series of electrical schematic drawings and a suggestion to search for a possible short. Of course, that wasn’t any help. I have read several comments on line which leads me to believe this is a pretty common issue but I haven’t come across any that solved my problem. I have removed the ground wire , removed the corrosion and sprayed the contact point with electrical contact spray which didn’t help. I have attempted to access a junction box where the wiring harness connects to the trailer without success. If you have any ideas that would help please advise. I would appreciate your assistance. Regards, Dave

Hi, Dave
Sounds like you’ve got an open wire either in the truck or trailer. The running lights (also referred to as “tail lights”) all operate off a single wire in the umbilical cord, and that wire is usually brown in color. First thing to do is figure out if the problem is in the truck or trailer. First, go to etrailer.com and download the wiring charts for the trailer connectors, you’ll probably have either a 6 pin or a 7 pin. Here’s a link: http://www.etrailer.com/faq-wiring.aspx

Using the correct chart for your lighting connector, turn on your headlights and on the receptacle on the truck, probe the connector pin for running lights using either a meter or a 12V test light (available from any auto parts store). If you’ve got power on that pin, then the problem is either in the cord to the trailer, or in the trailer wiring. If no power is present, the problem is in the truck wiring. Once you know where the problem is, I suggest that you take the connector apart and inspect the wiring. It’s real common for a wire to break or come loose inside those receptacles and plugs. If all the connectors look fine, then the problem is deeper in, and it may be time to get a tech involved, unless you are comfortable troubleshooting it further yourself. If you want to continue, take a look at this great article on troubleshooting lighting problems, also provided by etrailer.com. http://www.etrailer.com/faq-4-5-way-troubleshooting.aspx


Hi, Mark
If we decided to just take off with our 30 ft. trailer, do you think we would find places to stay without reservations? (Say from St. Louis west) Thx, Tom

Hi, Tom
I almost never make reservations when I travel. The only exception would be when I go into a highly travelled tourist area or to a special event. I do plan my next landing spot a day or more in advance, so I generally know where I plan to stop next when I roll out in the morning, but I’ve been known to spot something neat along the way and stop there instead. I prefer to be loose when I travel: if you have a reservation ahead, it will keep you from being able to just stop when you find a nice place, or an attraction you want to visit. In my mind, the less you schedule and plan, the more free you are. It helps to have a campground directory along (such as Good Sam RV Travel & Savings Guide), or use an app, like the Good Sam Camping app, allstays or rvparky. I also use Cracker Barrel as a fallback landing spot, especially in cities and metro areas. They almost always have RV parking areas behind the store, and the breakfasts are really yummy! Have a great trip!


Mark:
We have a leisure time van on a sprinter chassis. Our water flows fine when we are hooked up to the faucet, but will not ‘draw’ when we are underway, even when we know the water tank is full. Possible troubleshooting short of “the pump is burned out”? What might cause the pump to burn out? Corinne

Hi, Corrine
First, disconnect the RV from city water and make sure you have water in your fresh water tank. Then the first thing to check is: does the pump run at all? Locate the water pump (it may be in a cabinet or under a couch or bed inside, or in an outside compartment). Once you find it, open a faucet in the RV and turn the pump switch on. Does the pump run? If it does, but no water flows make sure the hose that comes from the water tank to the inlet of the pump is not kinked or blocked. Disconnect the inlet hose from the pump and make sure water runs through it from the fresh water tank. Also, check the hose connected to the outlet of the pump for any obstructions. If the pump runs and the hoses are OK, but it still doesn’t move any water, there may be a failure in the pump itself, and its probably time for a new one. If the pump doesn’t run with the switch on, check to make sure the pump has 12V power coming to it by measuring the voltage at the 2 wires that supply power to the pump. If you have power, and the pump still doesn’t run, it may either be a faulty pressure switch on the pump, a disconnected wire at the pressure switch, or the pump really is “burned out”. Those pumps are pretty tough, and it’s hard to do anything that will burn it out, but they do fail internally from time to time. Thankfully, a new pump isn’t all that expensive, and they’re usually really easy to swap out.


Hi, Mark
We have a 2002 dodge Roadtrek. The generator does not power any of the things such as air conditioner, microwave, refrigerator, etc. It was checked many times by mechanics but even though it works OK and is working by itself, it does not power the listed items. Help. Sharon

Hi, Sharon
Does the generator power anything? Do you have power at outlets inside the RV? If so, then it may be a wiring issue inside the coach that’s preventing the microwave, etc. from being powered. If you don’t have power anywhere in the coach from the generator, then check the circuit breaker on the generator. You may have to open the access panel on the generator to see the circuit breaker, but it’s there, and if it’s tripped, the generator will run fine, but not power your coach. If the breaker is ok, read on… Many RVs have some kind of a transfer switch that senses the generator AC output and switches the power source from the RVs power cord to the generator. These switches do fail, and that might be your problem. In some smaller RVs, instead of a transfer switch that works automatically, they either install a manual switch, or route the generator output to an RV receptacle that you must plug your RV power cord into in order to draw power from the generator. If your rig is set up this way, you’ll usually have a RV power receptacle mounted in the power cord compartment. Just plug your power cord into this receptacle and see if that gets you going. A good RV shop should be able to wring it out and see what’s up, if all the above troubleshooting steps don’t help.


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Leave a Reply

3 comments

  1. Great interesting questions. I wonder if the power of the generator is too low to start up any of these machines. Thank you for all the extensive answers.

  2. Anonymous

    On the low water flow issue when not connected to city water, check the water line from the tank to the pump and make sure there isn’t a leak or hole that would suck air. Been there done that!

  3. Anonymous

    For Corrine: Leisure Vans typically have a 2-way valve at the city water inlet. One is labelled “city”, the other “tank”. The valve should always be in the “city” position, unless you hare filling the fresh water tank. If you are disconnected from the city water and you try to run the pump while the valve is in the “tank” position the pump will do a run away and not pump any water.
    Mel