Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sanitizing The Fresh Water Tanks

One of the first things we wanted to make sure we did to our trailer was to sanitize the fresh water tanks.  We have two 40 gallon tanks, so with a total  80 gallon capacity, our freshwater tanks will come in handy at our local campground that only provides electric hookups.  Since this County Park is literally 10 minutes down the road, it will most likely be our most often used campsite during our early years of using the Jayco.

As directed during our PDI (Pre-Delivery Inspection) and after reading through our owners manual, we felt ready for this fairly simple yet daunting task.  After a few YouTube videos for last minute moral support, we headed outside with our Clorox Bleach.  

Items or Tools Required:  Bleach, Old Measuring Cup, One Gallon Pitcher, Fresh Water Drinking Hose(s) 
(NOT your green garden hose)

Please Note:  If you have an ice maker or built-in cabinet mounted water filter, please turn those off and isolate them from the water system before doing this procedure!  Also, disconnect any freshwater hoses if you are connected to the city water at a campground.

And always, check your specific RV's owner's manual before beginning!

Here's a overly simplified step by step instruction for our Jayco JayFlight (and hopefully helpful to you, too!)  

Step One:  Drain the Fresh Water Tanks to about half full.  Our dealer had filled the tanks completely when we picked up the trailer, so this took awhile.  Find the low point drain (or drains in our case) and let 'er rip!  Notice:  My blue rubber gloves.  You might want those and even eye protection when working with bleach.

Step Two:  Locate the hot water heater bypass (if your RV comes equipped with one)  Our bypass valves are located on the backside of the hot water heater (as can be seen protected by the white styrofoam) below the refrigerator.  Two simple phillips head screws removed the access panel below the fridge to reveal the plumbing.   Close the intake and outlet valves to the heater and open the bypass valve.  I've circled in red the 3 valves that require a simple half turn to use as it's a bit hard to see.  

Pro-Tip:  Always remember that if the valve is in line with the pipe, it is OPEN.  Think of it as the direction that the water flows.  If the valve is perpendicular (turned across the pipe) think of it as a wall blocking the water because the valve is CLOSED.  As you can see in the photo, I closed the top and bottom valve (intake and outlet) and opened the bypass valve.

Step Three:  If your RV has a winterizing kit (pictured above attached to the water pump), this will be very helpful in adding the bleach/water mixture to the fresh water system.  If not, and as our owners manual suggests, you can pour the bleach mixture into the fresh water tank directly via a funnel and the outside fill valve.

Step Four:  A little math is required here.  The recommended mixture requires a 1/4 of a cup of bleach per every 10 gallons of fresh water your tanks hold.  We have 80 gallons, so 80 divided by 10 equals 8.  8 x 1/4 cup (or 8 x 0.25) equals 2 cups.  We didn't have an older measuring cup laying around that we were willing to get all bleached up, so we used a 16 oz plastic disposable drinking cup.  Since 8 oz equals 1 cup, 16 oz is a perfect 2 cups!

Take an old pitcher and fill it with a gallon of water.  Pour in the bleach!  Then use your winterizing kit (and water pump) or a funnel and the external fresh water fill valve and get that bleach mixture into the fresh water system!

Step Five:  Add fresh water to the fresh water tanks and bring the tanks to full!  You'll know you're full when the overflow valve under the trailer or motorhome begins flowing with water.

Step Six:  Head inside and turn on your water pump.  Then run water from every faucet using both hot and cold until you can smell bleach odors in the water.  Don't expect overpowering bleach smells.  It's faint, but it's there.  2 cups of bleach into 80 gallons isn't much, but is enough to kill any bacteria in the tanks and lines.  

Once you smell the bleach, turn off the faucets and turn off your water pump.

Step Seven:  After letting the water sit in your fresh water tanks for awhile (some manufacturers recommend even driving or towing the rig to mix up the solution) go ahead and drain your fresh water tanks again at the low point drains.  The low levels of bleach in the water are safe to drain out on the ground and I'm happy to say that a week or so later there isn't even a hint of dead grass where the water drained out.  However, this is my own backyard and if you're at a campground or RV park, they may have their own restrictions on this much water.

Also, please note, that it took about an hour for all 80 gallons to drain from our tanks.  Bring a book!

Step Eight:  Once the tanks are empty... fill them back up!  Again, use a drinking water safe hose and not the green garden hose.  

Step Nine:  Once the tanks are full, run the water pump again and run water through all of the faucets to get rid of any bleachy smells.  Turn off your water pump.  You're done!  

You will want to do this a few times a season.  We plan on doing it at the start of every season once we de-winterize the trailer and again about halfway through the season, especially if we have heavy usage.  We plan to do it once more before closing it up for the winter.  You'll also want to sanitize your fresh water system if the rig is new.  We weren't sure about the quality of the water that our dealer used to fill the tank for our PDI or any bacteria that may have grown on the tanks during storage at the factory before installation, so we went ahead and sanitized our system.

Also, we used a Camco water filter as another safe guard in cleaning our water before adding it back to the fresh tanks.  If you have an eagle eye, you might notice that we don't have a water pressure regulator on the line.  These are highly recommended, but, since we were only gravity filling our fresh tanks it's not necessary.  However, if we were connected to the city water (which eliminates the need for the trailer's own water pump) we'd be using a pressure regulator so that we don't blow out a water line.  We'd recommend you do the same!  

Happy camping!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Our First Mod! A MaxxAir II Vent Cover

We brought our trailer home on on May 13th, and I've been itching to get my hands dirty doing some mods (modifications) and some other things rather than just loading it up with goodies and tinkering with it while Lauren's at work during the day.  I decided I'd take a slow, methodical approach to this and make my first mod a relative easy one.  

We plan to leave our dogs alone for short amounts of time (a controversial topic... I know) and want them to have fresh air and always be comfortable.  It goes without saying that we love our puppies like they were our children and would never leave them alone in the trailer in high heat or extreme cold, so save your emails and outrage.  We'd never do anything to hurt our little pals, but for those nice comfortable Spring or Fall days where we can go out on a hike or grocery shopping or just plain whatever, they'll be getting some comfortable alone time with the Jayco while we're out.

One of the ways to ensure their comfort (and ours!) was to install a vent fan cover so that we can keep our vent fan open and running regardless of the weather.  After careful review online, we decided to go with the extremely popular MaxxAir II Rain Cover for RV Roof Vents.  

(Shameless Cheap Plug:  Feel free to purchase the MaxxAir II through our Amazon link below!)

I apologize, in my excitement to get started, I failed to take a photo of the Cover and it's included contents before I began.  When the kit arrives, you'll receive the MaxxAir Cover, detailed instructions, 4 Aluminum Brackets, 2 Snap Lock Cotter Pins, and an assortment of nuts, washers, and screws.

The only tools required are a power drill gun with Phillips Head drill bit, a 3/16" drill bit, adjustable wrench, and a pencil.  Easy peasy!

MaxxAir provides installation videos at www.maxxair.com and several easy to follow installation videos are available on youTube.

Let's Begin!

This is the factory provided fan vent cover from Jayco before I started with the project.  I shouldn't have to say it, but, be careful on the roof of your trailer or RV.  It's a long drop if you don't watch your step!

Step One required easy attachment of the hinged brackets to one side of the Vent Cover.  The MaxxAir hinges open for easy cleaning or maintenance.  The Cover's vents should face the rear of the trailer.  The hinged brackets can also be placed on either side of the Cover so that you may open it in either direction depending on your roof's configuration.  If you look at the first photo above, you'll see the shower skylight is to the right of the vent fan, so I decided to hinge our cover towards the left so that when it's open for cleaning or maintenance it's not resting on the skylight.

Step Two (but should have been step one!)  I forgot to open the vent fan before climbing up onto the roof, so, down I went to open it before climbing back up onto the roof to finish the project.  Remember to open the vent fan first!

Step Three:  Align the hinged brackets equa-distant from the front and back on the metal side of the vent fan.  Mark your holes with a pencil and drill using your 3/16" drill bit through the side wall.

Step Four:  Using the provided screws, Fender Washer, Lock Washer, and Nuts attach the hinged brackets to the vent fan.

Step Five:  Close the MaxxAir Cover over your vent fan.  Using the high tech writing instrument (Pencil) gently mark where the brackets should go.  Be careful not to puncture your rubber roof coating!

Step Six:  Using your pencil marks, attach the brackets to the side of the vent cover in the same way you attached the other brackets.  

Last step!  Close the vent cover and lock the cotter pins in place!  Vioila!  

Below are a few photos of the finished product:

Final Thoughts:  This was a really easy and simple task that will greatly improve airflow and temperature control inside our RV.  I'd consider this a relatively cheap (last I checked it was 45 bucks on Amazon) and highly recommended mod you can do yourself, as long as you are comfortable being on the roof of your RV.  Don't forget most RV's have rubber roofs, so be careful when placing your sharp tools (drill, screw gun, etc) on the roof.  Any puncture marks will lead to water in your RV... and water is your number one enemy!

Lessons Learned:  D'OH!  I did not realize that the sealant around items on the roof would get soft and putty-like in the heat.  It was 80 degrees out while I was doing this, and my size 11.5 sneaker caused a nice imprint (see below) in the factory placed sealant around the vent fan.  I inspected the damage for any signs that water could get in and found none.  I decided better safe than sorry and added some fresh "Dicor Self Leveling Lap Sealant" over the area just in case.  Lesson learned!