Mark My Words, December: Pest Problems, Full-Timing and Tank Drainage

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December 5, 2018

RV Pest Problems

Hi folks! More on mice this month, some advice on full-timing, a furnace that won’t blow and how to repair a leaky dump valve coupling. Remember to send your RVing questions to [email protected].

Good day, Mark!
Regarding mice in one’s RV, from your recent blog post, you reference the common use of steel wool to block potential points of entry/gaps. A friend “in the business of pest control” advocates the use of the available copper mesh products instead of steel wool. He says mice can actually chew steel wool, but not the copper mesh. Also, when handling mouse traps, bait stations, etc., one should always wear gloves (such as disposable nitrile gloves), not only to protect from handling the rodenticide, but also to minimize transferring human scent (which can deter rodents) to the trap or bait station. Hope this information is helpful! Thanks, Larry

Hi Mark,
I just read your answers for pesky mice and would like to add another suggestion. I have a 42-foot Travel Supreme that I bought used. When I was cleaning it for the first time, I found evidence of mice in many, if not all, of the compartments. I found a blog that suggested using Bounce Dryer Sheets in each of the compartments to get rid of these mice. So, I cleaned up the “evidence” and put a couple of Bounce dryer sheets in every compartment I could find (including closets under counters and holds). Since then, over a year has passed, and I have not seen one mouse or any new evidence. Perhaps it could help these folks. Thanks, Jim

Thanks, Jim and Larry for sharing your mouse-control tips!

We have used our 2015 Rushmore Lincoln model fifth-wheel a grand total of three times! Now we are finally planning a trip to Florida from Massachusetts! I turned the thermostat on to keep the chill out as we did not winterize it for the upcoming trip. Only one of the floor vents is getting “warm”! I vacuumed inside the vents in case there were some “critters” blocking the heat from flowing. The heat never reaches the temperature that I set before shutting off! So frustrated!! Please let me know if there is something else I can do. Thanks, Geri

Hi Geri,
Is there air moving through all the vents? If not, sometimes the furnaces are connected to the vent plenums with flexible hoses, kind of like a clothes-dryer exhaust vent hose. Occasionally, those will come loose, and then the hot air just blows around the furnace and goes nowhere. Have a look-see, it might be that simple. If not, then something must be blocking the air flow in the plenum below the vents. That’s a tougher one to solve. You might be able to remove one or more of the vents and using a mirror and a flashlight, look down inside and see if there’s a piece of insulation or something plugging it up. A plumber’s snake can be used to remove foreign objects from the ductwork.

Hello Mark,
My husband and I are new to the Good Sam Club. It seems like a wealth of information and helpfulness. We are just now starting on our new nationwide road trip adventure by travel trailer. We have a 28-foot Shadow Cruiser. Right now, before we embark on going the whole hog, I would like to know from an experienced person what all we might encounter on the road so that I can budget. Right now, I factor in monthly payment, insurance, food, gas, RV park fees and maintenance. What don’t I know? — Renée

Hi Renée,
That’s a pretty involved question, but if you think about it, you’re going to continue to live pretty much like you do now. A lot of folks think that full-timing would be a really inexpensive way to live. I believe that if you take what it is costing you to live right now, subtract house payments, utilities and taxes, etc., and add fuel, maintenance and camping estimates, you will come pretty close to reality. If you like to eat out a lot, you will probably still do so on the road. If you enjoy a hobby or two, chances are that you will continue to enjoy them on the road. If you like to spend a night on the town regularly, full-timing isn’t going to change that. These costs will not magically disappear just because you are living in an RV. To really save money to a significant degree, you have to make some compromises, like workamping or camp hosting and get frugal in your lifestyle. Hey, I don’t want to base every decision on the road on what it costs! For me, it’s more important to see and experience everything along the road, and to travel extensively. This all costs money! On the positive side, I think you get a lot for your money! These great experiences are worth a lot, and there’s just no way to put a price tag on the friendships and special moments. Enjoy your adventure, and don’t worry too much about keeping tight schedules either!

RV Pest Problems

Other than having to drain the black water tank first, what else must be done to replace the rubber coupler between the black water tank and the drain? The coupler is only three years old and it has already begun to rot and is leaking. Thanks for any help you can give me. — Chuck

Hi Chuck,
Yes, that doesn’t look too tough to replace. First, drain and rinse the heck out of the black tank. If you don’t have tank flushers installed, just pour water from a bucket down the toilet to rinse the tank out. Try to get it as clean as possible. It’ll make the job less annoying. Undo the clamps on the rubber piece and you’ll probably need to remove the four bolts that hold the dump valve in place as well. You should be able to pull the valve and the rubber piece out. Go to Lowes or Home Depot, and in the plumbing section, they’ll have flexible rubber couplers similar to the one you removed. Just get one that is for the same pipe diameter (3”) and use it as the replacement part.

RV Pest Problems

You can trim the new coupler if you need to. Might not be a bad idea to go ahead and replace the dump valve while you’re at it… They do wear out, and as long as you’re in there already, might as well do it, too.

I like to get some clear silicone caulk and spread a thin film on the inside of the new rubber coupler, just to help slide it in to place. It acts like a lubricant initially, then when it sets up, it helps prevent leaks. Don’t get any silicone on the dump valve innards.

Once it’s all back together, put the new clamps in place and tighten. That should take care of it.

Let me know how it goes!

Thank you very much for the help. There wasn’t anything holding the dump valve up and in place except for the original rubber coupling. It appeared that the coupling slipped down the neck, no ridge on the neck to hold the coupling in place to the tank and compressed against the dump valve, which caused it to fail. As you can see in my photos, I added a strap to hold the dump valve up and in place and to keep the coupling from sliding off of the neck. We went on a 200-mile trip and everything is still in place. Thanks again for your assistance! — Chuck

RV Pest Problems

Hey, Chuck, that looks like a good fix! The strap is a good idea, for sure. Glad it all worked out!

Happy Trails! — Mark Nemeth

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  1. Anonymous

    Mark the best remedy that we have found to keep mice out of our MH is keep a light on underneath the unit when parked, haven’t seen evidence of a mouse in our unit in 5 yrs


  2. Anonymous

    Hi Mark,
    I am facing mouse damage to my engine wiring harness. You had a comment from Larry suggesting using copper scrub pads instead of steel wool pads. All my wiring is copper and the mice had no problem chewing it in two. Remember copper is a softer metal. Steel wool pads come in different gauges. I would suggest just using a heavier gauge.