Dear RV Shrink:
We travel a lot in many parts of the country during the shoulder season. We find mostly great weather, fewer people and less camping hassle. We do encounter an occasional snowstorm. This can usually be anticipated and prepared for. However, my wife insists on having the slides out every night. She does not like dealing with the smaller kitchen area or climbing over the bed when they are in.
If the slides are out during a snowfall, I have to deal with frozen, snow-covered slides before we can move on. This often means climbing on the roof of the motorhome to sweep off the ice and snow which has accumulated.
Do you think she is being unreasonable? —Frosty in Franklin
It seems to me it would be much easier to deal with the kitchen space limitations than the ice and snow buildup on the slides. Most rigs are designed to be very functional with the slides in. (Be sure to check that before buying an RV.)
I find it wise to pull the slides in during many weather events. A strong windstorm can drive you crazy with the slide awnings flapping. If you know the chance of snow is almost certain, it only makes sense to pull them in and eliminate the hassle of dealing with the aftermath.
It is wise to carry a step ladder. A ladder is convenient for maintenance and reaching tall windows for cleaning. It also comes in handy when you need to deal with your slides.
There is also a safety issue here which your wife may pay attention to. If you had to move for some type of emergency and your slides were iced up, it would at the least slow your progress or perhaps end up causing damage to the slides. It is something we all deal with. I personally make sure my slides are clean and there is nothing to impede them every time I extend or retract.
Depending on the consistency and quantity of snow, a slide is designed to shed it like water. Knowing the cost of slide repair, I prefer to err on the side of caution and clean the snow off before retracting the slide. The slide awning will be collapsed on the top of the slide and often not retract properly until you remove heavy snow.
These issues often come down to common sense. I have left my slides out on many occasions knowing I was going to wait out a snowstorm, warmer weather was forecast, or deciding I would deal with the job of cleaning it off.
It comes down to a personal choice, but if you are not comfortable dealing with these conditions, pulling them in is as easy as pushing a button. You also might want to explain to your wife the danger of climbing around on a slippery RV roof during or after a snowstorm. —Keep Smilin’, Richard Mallery a.k.a. Dr. R.V. Shrink
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A related question: are slide toppers worthwhile? We don’t camp in the snow and most of our camping is in the southwest desert.
Two statements in your response puzzle me. One: “Most rigs are designed to be very functional with the slides in.” How many RVs have you been in? The design of RV interiors, in my experience, is not done by RVers. I seen so many that you can’t access the bathroom, the fridge, the bedroom or the living room when the slides are in. A lot of people buy an RV assessing it when the slides are out and get a surprise when it comes time to actually use it. Two: “A strong windstorm can drive you crazy with the slide awnings flapping.” I don’t see anywhere Frosty mentioning they had slide awnings. I have slide awnings and they don’t “flap” crazily in the wind. Yes, there’s some flapping but there’s also lots of noise from other areas when there’s a strong wind. If Mrs. Frosty doesn’t like a cramped kitchen when the slides are in, then cook the meal with the slides out and pull them in to sleep. It’s called compromise. An option might be to have the good wife climb on the roof to clear the snow. She might rethink her position.
I have only had the opportunity to view 2 rvs that were Fully functional with the slide in . The one we bought and one of the many we looked at before we bought our current model . Most people dont realize until later. We feel very fortunate to have a fully functional unit with all 4 slides in and 3 people using it full time and 2 Full Size bedrooms. We keep more heat as well. Personally I think slide toppers are more hassel than what they are worth. I have also seen damage done to peoples slides from the rollers when they are pulled in. Would definetly not like slide topper roller marks on my slide walls. They will also add weight, 50+ pounds per setup and we can better use that weight for something else. Alot of older rigs do snow better as well because the ceilings are not flat, many of them are crowned and two level so not only is manual clearing more streight forward but the weight distribution is angled downward for runoff and does not *sit* stationary pooling .
My husbands safety is worth being a little cramped up. I make food that can be reheated in microwave or eaten cold on sturdy paper plates or paper bowls during bad weather when our slides need to be pulled in. Make her clean the roof/slides when she is so unreasonable!
Why do you need to go on top to get the snow off before pulling in the slides? Do you have an older RV that doesn’t have slide toppers? If so and you want to keep that RV why don’t you look into having slide toppers added to your rig, then you shouldn’t have to worry about going on top to brush off snow. On another note you have a house with wheels so you can get away from the snow, so head south to warmer climates where there isn’t any snow ?
another thing to consider is the interior heat…it takes much less energy to heat a smaller space (by having the slides in)
In Yellowstone a few years ago, first part of June. For some reason we didn’t check weather. It had been beautiful. Well it snowed and we had our awning out as well as slides. Slides were ok because we were staying a few days. Awning, well weight of snow broke an arm. In all other cases we have always put slides in with any sign of strong winds, heavy rains, etc. One reason we like our North/South bed orientation. Yes, person against the closet wall has to climb in/out of bed, but small price to pay to avoid damage. Oh….I’m embarrassed to say also the Yellowstone adventure. I made my husband go up on roof to clean the satellite dish off so I could record a NASCAR race to watch after sightseeing. He didn’t seem to mind. So shame on both of us.
My home on wheels is one that is not functional with the slides in, except for getting to the bathroom and bedroom. We don’t travel in the snow though, we are using it to stay in one place for six months as we work with a railroad and we make keeping the slides cleaned off a team effort for saftey’s sake.
Talking about safety is a great idea. But if that doesn’t work maybe you can can make a deal with your wife to keep the slides out if SHE is the one who has to “deal” with the them the next day?
I’m saying this as a woman who would NEVER balk at keeping slides in for my sweet husband’s convenience and safety. He’s more important.
As a single driver I always pulled the slides in when I got notice of inclement weather. This included snow thunderstorms, high wind and at the same time I frequently pulled up the jacks