RV Trailers and Motorhomes

There is plenty of information out there on the purchase, use, and maintenance of these vehicles. I’m just collecting some information here for my experience.


Parkable Log Cabins


There are two common “rubber” roof materials, either one of which may be on your RV. It is important to know which one you have since caulk, patches, and “paints” are not generally compatable with both and so you need to get the right stuff for your RV.

How do you find out which type of material your roof is? If it is black on the underside then it is EPDM. If it is the same color on the topside and the underside, it is TPO. Go inside and find a ceiling vent, like in my RV I have in the bathroom. Unscrew and remove the plastic trim from the vent opening, and voila! If you see a rubbery material pulled down into the opening and stapled in place, you are looking at the roof material stapled there during manufacture.

My RV has EPDM roofing. The roof is 31′ x 8′ with a 3′ x 13′ slideout and a 2′ x 6′ slideout. Summed together, that is 300 square feet.

Here’s How to Repair a RV Roof

Dicor Products says it is critical to prepare the roof with the cleaner/activator (Sku 32150) before applying either coating (second part) to ensure maximum coating adhesion.
The primer/cleaner(#32150) can cause damage to finish and decals on the side of an RV. Plastic sheeting is recommended to be secured on the sidewalls and front/back for protection. If primer/cleaner contacts a surface other than a rubber membrane it should be rinsed immediately.
At approximately 300 sq.ft, 2.5 quarts of Primer(item# 32150) are needed.
I need 5 gallons (One gallon of EPDM type coatings will cover 125 square feet per coat, and my 32 foot RV with two slideouts is 300 square feet.), and I wanted to use the thermally enhanced ceramic type just for my final coat, but Camping World says not to do that.
Like Dicor’s EPDM Roof Acrylic Coating, CoolCoat extends the life and beauty of rubber roof membranes in forming a protective barrier with superior resistance to harsh weather and ultraviolet light. CoolCoat should last a minimum of 5 years before reapplication.
A medium nap roller is used. An instructional video can be viewed here. Instead of the EPDM Acrylic Coating(RP-CRC-1), the CoolCoat(RP-IRC-1) is used in its place. The prep work and application process is still the same. – See more at: http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/dicor-coolcoat-rubber-ceramic-coating-gallon/70508#qanda

Air Quality

Cabins, RVs, mobile homes and really any old and/or unused homes or shelters can be habitable, and in an emergency you are likely to need to use one. So what to do about the dusty/musty and potentially disease-ridden air in these structures?

First, of course, do what you can to be sure water is not leaking in from rain or plumbing. Clean and dust and air out the structure as best you can, and be sure to wear air filtering masks or the like while doing it. In a pinch you could wrap your face with some damp cloth.

Your last step, and this can be continued while you are living in the space, is air purification. You don’t want to simply mask smells; you want to remove the particulates and/or any mold or mildew type organisms that cause the smells. Two methods have come to my attention. The first is activated bamboo charcoal, which is said to be very effective in absorbing and eliminating odors and the substances that cause them from the air and even from the walls and crevices of the shelter. I’m sure activated charcoal could be made onsite, but unfortunately I don’t know how it is done (yet). The second air purifier that I have found to be effective is essential oils: a blend of essential oils based on clove oil. The product I have used is Plague Defense and I trust this supplyer to make a high quality product. It has many uses, and I think using this regularly and keeping a fresh unopened bottle with your bugout supplies is an excellent idea.


Fix delamination:

Ten tips for fixing delamination:


Furnace Manual

Hot Water Heater Manual

Lots of RV Manuals

Gray-water and Black-water Tanks

The GeoMethod says,

Never put regular toilet tissue in your RV’s black tank. Only use toilet tissue which is approved for RV and/or septic tank use. Regular toilet tissue may eventually dissolve, but not before causing a clog in your black tank. …

(but someone responds: “I have had some “RV approved” tissues that were worse than the old Life Magazine jokes, and had all the dissolving properties of a sheet of aluminum. Then there are others, the ones that dissolve while you’re using them … there are some regular commercial tissues that seem to work fine. At this point, we use the same thing we use at home – Costco. So far, this seems to be about the best we’ve run across” … and someone else … “Have used Scotts paper for years in all TT’s and MH’s just remember after you have cleaned out the problems use plenty of water when you flush and sewer valve closed, flush black tank with a full tank.”)

When my RV is parked and not in use I place stoppers in the sink and tub drains. This forces the wastewater tanks to vent through the vent pipes to the outside instead of through the drains into the RV. Water evaporates. Once the drain traps dry out during periods of non-use, nothing is there to prevent gasses (odor) from venting into the camper. Use stoppers when your RV is stored.

copyright(c) 2004 Charles Bruni

Gray Water Tank (from Holding Tank Basics)

If you use the RV for more than a week with the gray water valve open then it’s a good idea to close the valve, add holding tank chemical and allow the tank to fill. This helps flush out any buildup of stuff from the kitchen sink and keeps the tank fresh. It is quite possible for a gray water tank to get very stinky unless it’s flushed periodically.

Black Water Tank (from Holding Tank Basics)

The black water drain valve should be left closed until the tank is 2/3rds or more full. This helps avoid the solids building up right under the toilet and assists flushing everything out. If the tank is not 2/3rds full when it is time to break camp, simply add water through toilet.

It’s a good idea to close the gray water valve the night before breaking camp. Then when it’s time to unhook, drain the black water tank first then the gray-water tank thus flushing the black-water completely through and ‘rinsing’ the sewer hose. The procedure works but I don’t always remember to close the valve the night before.

I use a rinse wand which attaches to my utility hose and goes down through the toilet into the black water tank. It really works fast at flushing and rinsing the tank. With all the freshwater going into the tank eventually the sewer hose is flushed clean also (don’t do this while folks are waiting behind you to use the dump station).

I don’t rinse the black water tank every time I dump but an occasional rinse does help control odor especially during the hot summer months.

After the black water tank is drained and flushed close the valve and add enough water to cover the bottom of the tank and then add the tank chemical … for odor control. (But see next…)

Useful Water Chemicals from the GeoMethod


This stuff is amazing and it works. Buy a couple of boxes of powdered water softener at the grocery store. … I prefer Calgon Water Softener because it dissolves quickly in water. … Dissolve two (2) cups of the water softener in a gallon of hot water. Then (close the tank drain valve, and), pour the solution down the drain into the empty tank. Use two cups of softener for each wastewater tank in your RV. (Softener is good for both gray and black tanks. For the black tank, also do this:) Add a cup of laundry detergent to the black (commode) water tank at the same time you add water softener. This will help clean the tank. The gray water tanks should already contain soap through normal use. … Then use the tank(s) normally until it is full and drain it normally. …

Too little water softener may not be of sufficient concentration to work effectively. Too much water softener will NOT hurt the tanks. So, if the amount you used didn’t quite do the job, then use more the next time. Don’t forget the laundry detergent. …

The water softener makes the solid waste let go from the sides of the tanks. … With softened water gunk washes away instead of sticking. …

I use a clear plastic elbow connector to attach my sewer drain line to the wastewater outlet on my RV. It allows me to see how well things are progressing during a wastewater dump. Before I began using water softener regularly the black water tank’s water was brown, the galley tank’s water was brownish, and the bathroom tank’s water was white. The first time I added water softener to the tanks the water coming from the black water tank was actually black (not brown) and the kitchen tank’s water was also black (not brownish). The bathroom tank’s water remained white. That told me that the water softener had actually done what I had intended for it to do and made solid waste, which had been stuck to the interior of the tanks, let go and drain away. I added water softener (and laundry detergent to the black tank) to all the wastewater tanks for the next few dumps to be certain all the solid waste possible had been cleaned away. The wastewater only appeared black on the initial treatment. I now add water softener and detergent to each tank once after every few dumps to maintain the system.

Occasionally, I pour a half gallon of liquid bleach into each tank to deodorize, sanitize and disinfect them. I add the bleach when the tank is about half full, and then continue to use the tank normally until it is full and ready to dump. I no longer use the blue toilet chemical because it isn’t necessary. I have no odors coming from my black water tank. The chlorine bleach kills the bacteria, which is primarily responsible for waste water tank odor. Generic brand liquid bleach is cheap and very effective.


Most fresh water contains sediment. Sediment will accumulate in your wastewater tanks and your fresh water lines. It also tends to discolor your sinks, tub/shower, and commode. I use the disposable type and have found that they eventually fill up and begin restricting the fresh water flow resulting in low pressure. That’s how I know it’s time to get a new filter. It works, it’s cheap, it avoids problems, do it. When I fill my fresh water tank I attach the filter to the end of the hose and fill the tank with filtered water.

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