Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses several reasons why you should level a travel trailer.
Can you talk about leveling a travel trailer? The stove, refrigerator, counter, floor, bathroom door? How important is it with modern refrigerators? Not sure I’m going to change habits, but retirement gives you time to think of “the right way.” Thanks for all your advice! —Bonnie
Leveling an RV, in my opinion, is very important for several reasons. First, if you have an absorption refrigerator it works by heating a solution of ammonia, chromium sulfate, water, and hydrogen that vaporizes and rises up the tube to the evaporator coils in the freezer section. Then there is a series of things that happen, but the bottom line is they turn back to liquid and need to zigzag back down the cooling unit to the start the process again.
Both Norcold and Dometic state the unit must be level to 3 degrees side to side and 6 degrees front to back. Otherwise, the solution will not flow down and will pool at a corner. It will begin to flake and eventually harden and block the flow, resulting in a defective refrigerator. Use a bubble level to ensure it’s within the manufacturer’s recommendation.
More reasons to level a travel trailer
Next, leveling the RV and stabilizing it provides a firm, level foundation for the slide rooms and mechanism to move in and out. There is quite a debate going around about this and I’m sure I’ll get comments from others that have been told to extend the rooms before leveling. However, we tested more than 14,000 extensions and retractions at Winnebago, when developing our first slide offering in 1996. We found an unlevel coach twisted the chassis and floor. and also put a slight twist to the sidewall. The room encountered resistance going in and out, which made the mechanism and motor work harder and eventually fail.
Every mechanism company that I have discussed this with agrees to level and secure the RV first. These include Lippert Components Inc., Power Gear, Kwikee, HWH, BAL Accu-Sslide, and Schwintek. Several have commented on their ongoing discussion with a few RV engineers that are recommending slides out first when the vehicle is in a “relaxed state,” then level. Some engineers “must know more” than the engineers who actually designed the mechanism.
Possible problems if you don’t level the travel trailer
And finally, leveling and stabilizing the unit keeps it from moving around as you walk through the unit. That can be annoying, but it can also create stress on the floor, sidewall and roof. All that twisting, even slightly, can cause sealants to separate or pull away, causing leaks later.
It can also cause stress points that eventually create cracks in the sidewall or roof. And an out-of-level coach can create issues with compartment doors and even entry doors.
Any time you can reduce twisting or stress on the chassis, sidewall and roof of your RV will reduce issues down the road.
So, to answer your questions – I believe it’s important to level the coach for the refrigerator. That will also provide a level plane for your slide rooms as well as a comfortable sleeping and living environment. I do not think it will affect the counter other than an unlevel stovetop means the eggs all slide to the side of the pan!
Read more from Dave here.
Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.
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