|Class A||Fifth Wheel||Pop-Up Campers|
|Class B||Travel Trailer||Boat Trailer|
By Gary Bunzer
Seal Beach, California
Dear RV Doctor, can you give me some important tips on storing my RV? I park my RV behind my garage and plug in to a 30-amp shore power cord. I have discovered that my battery bank of two Group 27 batteries are "cooking" and I don't know why. Sure would appreciate any input.
Dee, aggressive overcharging by the onboard converter/charger would likely be the reason the batteries appear to be “cooking.” Many RV converter chargers are equipped with what I call mediocre technology concerning the battery charge function. They serve as outstanding converters (converting AC electricity to DC electricity), but lack the complexity of a processor-controlled battery charger. Many common converters force the maximum amount of current into the battery bank at a voltage rate that’s too high. Some may taper the amount of amperage (current), but it takes special and specific charging algorhythms to push the correct amount of amperage at the correct amount of voltage at a rate that is advantageous to that type of battery, all the while considering its current state of charge at that moment in time. As a battery charges (accepts and stores amperage), the voltage and current rate must constantly be evaluated and modified to ensure that any given battery will not be overcharged or undercharged, yet charged fully. A sophisticated, processor-controlled, three-step charger is needed to accomplish this. I’m a fan of employing the stock converter as a converter only, but adding an aftermarket, multi-step battery charger just for keeping the battery bank(s) fully charged while connected to shore power. The newer technology allows for an RV to be kept plugged in all the time, without the risk of overcharging or “cooking” the batteries in the system. Some are applicable to the various types of RV batteries; wet cell, AGM, gel, etc. I would suggest you upgrade at some point. Until then, if you opt to leave the coach plugged in all the time, be sure to inspect the condition of the batteries every couple of days. Unplug the coach or disable the converter, (simply turn the circuit breaker off), if overcharging or gassing at the batteries is discovered. Some RVers have used a timer placed in the AC circuit of the converter to only allow it to operate at certain times. But I’d rather see the stock converter convert and a separate battery charger charge.
Dear Gary, do most RV manufacturers use butyl tape under the items they attach to the exterior of the RV? Is using multiple 1-inch strips under all of the area of the accessory necessary or can I just go around the edges of say a 4" X 4" item?
Robert, yes, it is the norm for manufacturers to apply a layer of butyl tape (putty tape), or some form of sealant/weather-proofing, between components and the exterior surfaces of the RV during installation. In fact, it’s a mandate. However, it's only necessary to apply the sealant (personally, I use Eternabond DoubleStick tape, available at Camping World) under all the screw locations. You don't need to place additional strips unless it creates a mounting or balance problem for that device. (I've never seen that happen, by the way.) But just a layer under the flange perimeter of whatever the widget is; where the screws go through, should do the trick. Just be sure there are no voids or gaps between the accessory and the roof or sidewall.
San Diego, California
Dear RV Doc, I have an older Tioga motorhome. The hoses connecting to the toilet are leaking. I cannot reach the connections because of the tight space, but I can see the leak with a mirror. My question is, can I access the connections another way without removing the toilet completely? It looks like the toilet might be able to be separated top and bottom. There is a seam there. If I do need to remove the toilet, do you have any advice?
Todd, there are a few reasons why water may be leaking at or near an RV toilet. By checking where the water is coming from and exactly when the water appears, you can pinpoint which cause is the culprit. If water drips to the floor from the upper portion of the toilet only during the flushing cycle, the problem is most likely the vacuum breaker. Typically a float seal in the vacuum breaker assembly is not sealing properly. On some units, the float can be disassembled and cleaned. Other models will require a repair kit. Still others may require a completely new vacuum breaker. Sometimes water will appear to be leaking only if the bowl is filled to capacity. There is a slight possibility the bowl is cracked at a point above the normal water level. This is not a very common situation, but it does happen occasionally and is usually caused by improper winterizing techniques. This is only possible with toilets made with plastic bowls. Water may also be noticed around the base of the toilet with no apparent or visible dripping from above. Chances are the seal between the flange and the base assembly is faulty, which requires toilet removal and reinstallation. If water leaks onto the floor after the flush cycle has completed, or without flushing the toilet at all, the culprit is the water inlet valve or the connection to the valve. This is what you and I both suspect with your toilet. Let’s assume it’s simply the connection at the water inlet valve that is leaking. Though the space may be tight, it’s often possible to tighten the fitting at the inlet to stop the leak. I’ve used a basin wrench in the past to reach behind the toilet and tighten the fitting without having to remove the toilet at all. Though you didn’t mention the brand, I believe Fleetwood used the Thetford Aqua Magic toilet in their Class Cs of old. If it’s absolutely necessary to remove the toilet from the floor flange in order to gain proper access to the inlet fitting, you’ll have to remove the nuts on the two closet bolts, which can be a difficult task without the proper tools. On the Aqua Magic, the bolts are located at the 5 o’clock and 11 o’clock positions when standing in front of the toilet. There should be an access hole under the seat to reach the back bolt at the 11 o’clock position. A long socket extension with a universal joint will be needed to remove that one; or a ratchet wrench can be used by reaching around the rear of the toilet. It’s a blind feel, but doable. The front bolt is accessed by turning off the water supply and depressing the pedal. It will be apparent. But I’m guessing if you can gain access to the closet bolts, you can gain access to the inlet fitting and the connection that apparently is leaking. I’d try the basin wrench first and only remove the toilet if necessary. Don’t forget, you’ll need a new closet flange seal if you opt to remove the toilet. Though the toilet is constructed in two sections, they do not come apart at that seam you see between the top and bottom halves.
Send your troubleshooting questions to Gary by filling out the “Ask the RV Doctor” form on the RV Doctor website at rvdoctor.com. Questions of general interest will appear in a future issue. Unfortunately, due to the heavy volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible. All effort is made to ensure the correctness of Gary’s responses; however, not all answers will apply in every instance. Some situations may mandate a visual inspection and further hands-on testing. If you choose to follow these instructions or procedures, make sure that neither personal nor product safety will be compromised. If you do not feel comfortable performing a procedure, call your local RV service facility or Camping World SuperCenter and schedule an appointment.