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 if it’s OK to store an RV with the slide room out.
I keep my 38’ 5th wheel stored in a fully enclosed building year-round with the slides out when not camping. Can leaving the slides out for long periods of time cause any damage to the frame or other structural components of camper? —Spencer
Slide room mechanisms are designed to hold the weight of the room on rails, tracks, rollers, and even a slight amount resting against the sidewall for extended amounts of time. I have never actually seen or heard of a recommendation provided by any of the mechanism manufacturers or even RV manufacturers. However, it is generally a common practice to store the rig with the slide rooms retracted.
I don’t believe the chassis or rails could be damaged. However, here are several things I have noticed when a slide room is left out for an extended period of time.
Leaving the slide room extended in some models leaves a small hole or gap at the bottom of the slide room at the sidewall. Rain and snow can blow inside and cause moisture damage. Even though the flange of the slide room trim presses against a bulb seal, a good wind can bounce the slide room during a rainstorm and moisture can get inside.
Most slide rooms have a flap seal and bulb seal on the flange. Leaving the room extended during storage exposes it to weather, especially the sun. That can deteriorate the seal and cause moisture issues.
Additional weight on roof
Leaving a slide room extended in cold weather conditions means snow piling up on the roof of the slide room. That causes additional weight on it which is not designed into the mechanism. The amount of damage this could cause depends on the engineering of the mechanism as well as the structural integrity of the foundation and the sidewall framework. It’s something that would be hard to track or document; however, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.
Awning cover exposure
Your slide room may have an awning that extends out with the room to help keep water out as well as keep debris such as sticks and acorns off the top of your rig, Extended exposure can ruin an awning quickly.
More storage space required
Most storage facilities charge by the square foot. A typical rig is 102.5” wide. Extending the slide rooms can add 2′-3’ on each side, which could cost a lot more money just to have the rooms out!
In my opinion, it’s best to store the unit by first conditioning the slide room seals with an approved conditioner such as Protect All, then retract the rooms and button them up for a long winter’s nap!
Yesterday’s post: Schwintek slide out system problems – Part 2
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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