Thursday, November 30, 2023


RV Daily Tips Newsletter 977

Issue 977 • September 26, 2018

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Switch off breakers when plugging in your RV?
In response to a suggestion from our resident electrical expert, Mike Sokol, that it’s best to switch off pedestal breakers before plugging in your RV cord, Tommy B wrote: “Although it makes good sense to turn off and on the circuit breakers when plugging in your RV, most breakers were not meant to be turned on/off under load. Breakers are made to do so and are marked SWD but you will not know that because the mark is inside the box. That is why the breaker trips prematurely, the mechanism is worn out. They cost more so the chances of having them are small.” Mike responds, “Yes, but in theory, all manufacturer-built campground pedestals are supposed to utilize Switch-Duty rated (SWD) breakers. But I agree that in an older campground that may not be the case.”

Keep a hose just for dumping tanks
Dedicate a hose strictly for use in tank-dumping operations. Use it for rinsing hoses, flushing tanks, etc. But be sure to keep it completely away from your fresh water hose to prevent cross-contamination. If you can, find a suitable container to keep it safely stored.

Did you miss the latest RV Travel Newsletter? If so, read it here.

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Exhaust fan doesn’t work. Help!
From reader Raymond D. in a 2015 Southwind 32
My exhaust fan in the bathroom is not working. I tested all parts in the circuit by using a small 12V battery. When hooked up, the fan works. With MH circuit, nothing. Is it a ground problem? If so, where is the ground connection? Any thoughts will be appreciated. Comment here.

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Choose Americas Mailbox! It’s the best, endorsed by which has toured its South Dakota facility and interviewed its very customer-oriented owner. Many plans available. Learn more. Or view the video interview RV Travel editor Chuck Woodbury conducted with Americas Mailbox owner Don Humes.

Today’s brain teaser (answer below): Going forward, I’m heavy, but going backward, I’m not. What am I?

JOIN THE NEW FACEBOOK GROUP: RV Horror Stories (A place to share your story about a new RV you recently bought that is riddled with defects that your dealer or manufacturer can’t or won’t repair.)


Storing linens in your RV?
Need a good place to store linens? Plastic-coated wire racks are lightweight and keep good airflow going. Here’s one possibility from

Disadvantages of buying a used motorhome
When buying used, there may be expensive hidden problems with the motorhome that won’t be covered by any warranty. When buying used, you have to rely on the word of the seller about the history and general condition of the motorhome. It is an unfortunate fact that many sellers will be less than truthful about the condition and history of the item they are selling. When buying used, you may find motorhomes that have odors from smoking, cooking, pets and general use. These problems usually won’t be disclosed in the seller’s ads.

When buying used, the interior and exterior of the coach are likely to show signs of wear and tear. When buying used, there may be a need to immediately replace tires and batteries – very common in motorhomes four years old and older. When buying used from an individual, there won’t be any financing from the seller. If financing is needed, you’ll have to arrange that yourself before you buy. —From “Buying a Used Motorhome – How to get the most for your money and not get burned.” Available on

Do you have a tip? Send it to Russ (at)

Tank Sensors Reading Full?
Restore them overnight with Caravan Sensor Cleaner
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50 ways to make money from home
This article will get you inspired, that’s for sure.  Visit this page to learn 5o ways you can make some extra cash without leaving your couch. Really! It’s true! 

Security systems for RV
Looking to buy a security camera for outside, or inside, your RV? Consult this helpful list by Small RV Lifestyle before buying. You’ll want to thank these people for doing the research for you. Click here to see the best deals on security cameras. 

Check out the long list of great RVing-related websites from

JOIN OUR NEW FORUM: RV Travel Forum (A place to meet other RVers and discuss topics related to the lifestyle. Come say hi! New users register here.)


Answer to today’s brain teaser: Ton

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John was driving in the country, lost and hungry. He was happy when he spotted a cafe ahead. Entering, he noticed a blackboard, Today’s Special: Vegetable Soup with Fried Chicken and Grilled Vegetables. “I’ll take the special,” he told the waiter. A few minutes after receiving the food he flagged down the waiter, fuming mad. “IS THIS THE SPECIAL!? It says vegetable soup BUT THERE ARE NO VEGETABLES! It says grilled vegetables, BUT THEY’RE BAKED! It says fried chicken BUT IT’S NOT FRIED!” The waiter was not accustomed to city folks and their attitudes. “My dear man,” he said, “that’s what makes it so special!”

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RV Daily Tips Staff
Editor and Publisher: Chuck Woodbury. Managing editor: Diane McGovern. Staff writer: Emily Woodbury. Contributing writers: Russ De Maris, Bob Difley, Gary Bunzer, Roger Marble, Mike Sokol, Greg Illes, J.M. Montigel and Andrew Robinson. Advertising coordinator: Gail Meyring. Marketing director: Jessica Sarvis.

ADVERTISE on and/or in this newsletter. Contact Gail Meyring at Gail(at) .

Everything in this newsletter is true to the best of our knowledge. But we occasionally get something wrong. We’re just human! So don’t go spending $10,000 on something we said was good simply because we said so, or fixing something according to what we suggested (check with your own technician first). Maybe we made a mistake. Tips and/or comments in this newsletter are those of the authors and may not reflect the views of or this newsletter.

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Roy Christensen (@guest_33363)
5 years ago

I camped in CG this summer that didn’t have breakers on the pedestal. Fortunately I have an EMS wired into my RV. Is it legal to not have breakers on a pedestal? The campground was located in Upstate NY.

Wolfe Rose (@guest_33365)
5 years ago

Can’t say what code is (Mike?), but if you encounter another, use your own main breaker inside coach to avoid plugging in under load, which would pit/wear out your plug.

Mike Sokol
5 years ago
Reply to  Wolfe Rose

That’s a great backup plan. If you can’t shut off the breaker at the panel, then shut off the main circuit breaker inside of your RV.

Mike Sokol
5 years ago

Roy, that’s a great question. But there’s no actual “law” involved so it’s not a question of being legal or illegal. The only question is if it’s a code “violation”, which your local electrical inspector may or may not care about. That’s the real problem… Every state, county, city and subdivision has someone called the AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) who’s basically the inspector in charge. And they can choose what to accept and what to ignore in the NEC (National Electrical Code). So some campgrounds may be inspected, but a great many are not. In some states you need to pull a permit to wire a campground. While in many others nearly anyone can wire up pedestals or whatever they want. Seems crazy, but that’s how it all works.

Phil Piazza (@guest_33361)
5 years ago

I read the article on whether or not to turn the power off at the pedestal. Was there a concensus turn the power off when plugging in or unplugging , yes or no? Or it depends.

Jay (@guest_33360)
5 years ago

If you have the majority of the elecrical items turned off in the RV, there will be very little load on the breaker when it’s turned on or off. If you use a surge protector like I use, it does an analysis of the system to identify incoming power issues like open grounds, reverse polarity, low/high voltage, etc. before supplying power to the RV after the breaker is closed. I always make sure that the pedestal breaker(s) are open before plugging in rather than having something that could cause costly problems with my RV.

Hey (@guest_33353)
5 years ago

Imo the brain teaser was impossible

RV Staff
5 years ago
Reply to  Hey

Hey, Hey! (Ha ha! 😀 ) Just reverse the letters in the word being described (“ton” and “not”). Have a great day. 😀 —Diane at

Becca Ray (@guest_33390)
5 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

Also, a (weight) scale is ‘heavy going forward and not going backwards’, eh?

Peterson143 (@guest_33346)
5 years ago

Buying used is a cautionary tail that requires the buyer to do their due diligence. All of the areas of caution that are listed can be said regarding buying a new RV as well. To include the comment that not all sales folks are forth coming with knowledge of sub standard issues with the units that they sell. I would say that it is just as important if not more to have new RV’s inspected by a third party because of the long term stakes involved with financing and warranty. Except for the issues from previous owners that new RV’s “should not” have I have always treated buying new (which I will never do again) to buying used as having equally important concerns that should be looked at and address by potential buyers.

Dave Telenko (@guest_33345)
5 years ago

Hey Mike Sokol,
SWITCH OFF BREAKERS: Seems to be an overall issue for both the M/H & the RV park. Just wondering how many RV’s actually shut off all their items that use 110 volts, before plugging in or un plugging to the pedestal? Hmmm I wonder if theres even a way to shut off your 110 volts? When you plug in doesn’t the inverter come on to say charge your batteries, how can you turn that off?

Gary (@guest_33348)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Telenko

Besides having the pedastal turned off before plugging in, to be safe, you need to check the polarity of the pedastal. There are a few different voltage checkers. Home Depot sells one for $12 to $15 that gives you a light display indicating whether the polarity is wired correctly and use as a guide on whether to plug in or not. In your MH you have a breaker panel that you could flip off the main breaker and avoid doing any damage to your inverter. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security and bypass checking the polarity every time. We all get in a hurry to get set up, but this is one step that could get expensive if not checked each time you plug in.

Dave Tedesco (@guest_33349)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Telenko

My surge protector has a built in timer that counts down once plugged into the power pedestal. I still turn off the circuit before I plug in the protector out of habit.

Lorraine Brenner (@guest_33357)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Tedesco

I do the same. Make sure pedestal circuit breaker is off, plug in surge protector, then power cord, then circuit breaker on. No load on power cord until surge protector has gone thru its diagnostic test (about 2 1/2 minutes) and determines all is well. Mine also shuts off power to the coach when the voltage is too low or too high. Breaking camp, I turn off the pedestal breaker before disconnecting.

Wolfe Rose (@guest_33366)
5 years ago

Your EMS takes minutes? Mine analyses everything (3 light type tests, voltage, and hot ground) in seconds and kicks on when first plugged in. Only if power is disconnected for less than a couple minutes, it does an AC compressor lockout. Maybe yours just always waits a few minutes for AC lockout when first plugged?

Jay (@guest_33362)
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Telenko

Just make sure any item that uses 120VAC is off. You wouldn’t be using the microwave or TV when setting up and things like the refirgerator and water heater, there’s usually no reason to have them on when traveling. Things that have light loads shouldn’t be of concern.
BTW, there’s a way to shut off all of the 120VAC in an RV, turn off all of the RV circuit breakers in the power center, but that seems like a pointless effort.

Mike Sokol
5 years ago
Reply to  Dave Telenko

If you can’t turn off a circuit breaker in a pedestal, the main circuit breaker (30 or 50 amps) in your RV should be turned off BEFORE plugging into the pedestal.

Jeannie (@guest_33342)
5 years ago

Re: Switching off breakers when plugging in your RV?

I say go ahead and switch off the pedestal breakers before plugging and unplugging your power cord into or from the pedestal. If the campground is too cheap to install the proper breakers, I guarantee they will be too cheap to willing pay for any damage or injury caused by not switching the breaker off first. If they have to replace the breakers often enough, it may force them to install the correct ones.

George (@guest_33343)
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeannie

Jeannie, I agree. My priority is MY safety not the campground’s breakers.

Mike Sokol
5 years ago
Reply to  Jeannie

Generally when circuit breakers fail from too many on/off transitions, they tend to open up at a lower current than rated. So the campground will indeed find out they’ve put in breakers that aren’t rated for Switch-Duty.

John Karlson (@guest_33338)
5 years ago

Re buying used motor home – spend the money and have it inspected by certified rv inspector. Worth the money – do not take the word of present owner.

Gary (@guest_33350)
5 years ago
Reply to  John Karlson

Spending money is one thing we penny pinchers hate to do but if buying used and you find the unit you can’t live without, unless you’re an ASE certified RV mechanic, bite the bullet and pay an RV mechanic to inspect and certify for you. It may cost anywhere from $250 to $500 to verify whether you found a good one or not. Thats not much to pay for peace of mind if you’re laying out $10,000 to $30,000. You have to keep in mind that an RV starts to come apart from the time its new from all the vibration and pot holes the MH is subjected to much less the parts that need work from just normal wear and tear.

Lelia (@guest_33352)
5 years ago
Reply to  John Karlson

How does one find a qualified RV inspector, other than choosing one from a website? I will hire one, but I want to be sure I don’t waste my money and still end up with problems not found by a poor inspector. Do you or others have recommendations?

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