Hooking Up For The First Time
RVers are some of the friendliest, most helpful people you will ever meet. Don’t be surprised if you pull into your site and your neighbor, whom you never met, is right there to assist you with hooking up, leveling and offering advice. Never be afraid to ask for help – everyone was a first-timer at one time. RVers often ask to tour your RV if it’s a model they are unfamiliar with and likewise will invite you in to see theirs.
A Basic Campground Setup Checklist:
- If you’re new to RV camping, at check-in, ask if the campground provides an escort service for first-timers. A seasoned staffer will guide you to your site and assist you in getting parked and leveled.
- Determine if you need to back in or if it is a pull-through site. Know where your water, electrical and sewer hookups are on your RV. Position the RV so you have easy access to the hookups on the site.
- Survey your assigned site. Be sure there are no low-hanging branches or other obstacles that will interfere with the RV. If you have a slideout or awning, be sure there is room on either side for those to fully extend.
- Once you are positioned properly on your site, apply the parking brake if you have a motorhome (as a safety precaution, slideouts will not operate if the parking brake is not engaged).
- The ground is not always flat, so level your RV as necessary, using blocks or stabilizing jacks if your RV is equipped with them.
- Chock the wheels securely to keep the RV stable on the site.
- If you are in a towable RV, disconnect the unit from the tow vehicle and stabilize the trailer hitch.
- Manually pull the entry steps out or if yours are electronic, turn the switch off so the steps stay out when the door is closed. (Don’t forget to turn the switch back on before leaving or to pull up your steps before driving away.)
- If you have slideouts, remove the travel locks or brace bars. Whenever you are operating slideouts, keep all windows closed for safety and have someone on the outside watch for people, clearance and obstacles in its path.
- Make a connection. Plug the electrical shore power cord into the campsite receptacle that matches the amperage requirements of your RV. Electrical adapters may be needed, but keep extension cord use to a minimum.
- Switch your refrigerator to the AC setting to draw on the electricity rather than your propane.
- Always use a white potable RV drinking water hose. Attach it to the tank on the side of your unit and run the other end to the campground water supply. Turn on the water and check for any leaks.
- When you are hooked up to a water supply, you don’t need the 12-volt water pump, only the pump to draw water from the fresh water tank when an external source is not available.
- If you have sewer service at your site, wear latex gloves to remove the cap from the sewer hose valve and attach the sewer hose to the sewer drain outlet. Be sure to turn it so the locking tabs securely lock in place. Place the sewer hose seal in the campground sewer connection. Attach the other end of the sewer hose in the seal and securely connect.
- Prop a rock or sewer hose support under the hose to create a slight slope from the RV down to the sewer connection so everything drains smoothly.
- If you are hooked to a sewer connection, you can open the gray water tank valve to allow sink and shower water to drain directly into the sewer. It is the smaller of the two valves. Never leave the black water tank valve open.
- Turn the main LP gas supply valve on at the tank or bottles.
- Now it’s time to set up the exterior of your home away from home. Put an outdoor carpet mat down if you have one.
- Set up the lawn chairs.
- Put the awning out per the manufacturer’s instructions – be sure to close and secure your awning if storms or winds are expected.
- Now relax and enjoy your getaway.
Water Regulator – Very Important
Don’t leave home without it ….. very important to add to your RV Camping Checklist! Most campgrounds and RV parks don’t tell you, but their water pressure can go up to very high pressures at different times of the day and night. This high pressure can severely damage the plumbing and even burst the water lines in your RV causing a flooded RV. You can pick up a water regulator at most RV stores and at some RV park stores. They attach to the water faucet on the outside of your RV screws on to your water hose. Make sure to get the high volume one so your water pressure will still be good for taking showers. They are rated at 40 lbs.
RV Holding Tanks
Understand your RV holding tank and how to dump it properly before going on your trip. The RV park or campground is usually not a good place to practice the first time you hook up your hose. Try to find a dump station in your area to practice. You can often use a clean-out hole on your home’s sewer connection if you know where it’s located. When we arrive at an RV park we usually leave the black tank closed and only let the grey water pass straight through to the outside sewer. If you let the black tank fill up you will avoid toilet paper from building up a pyramid in the tank and you will be able to flush it out well with a full tank. If you don’t do this your tank could possibly build up with toilet paper and eventually plug it up. It’s not a fun job getting it unplugged. We always close off the grey water the night before we leave the park so we’ll have some shower water to flush the hose out when emptying the RV holding tanks the next morning.
When you’re ready to dump you might want to first practice with the grey water holding tank. Let just a little water out at first to make sure there are no leaks. Do not empty the grey tank yet. Go now to the black tank and dump it next. Open the valve all the way when the tank is empty and then switch back to the grey tank and finish flushing the hose with the grey water. That way your hose will be a lot cleaner. Make sure your dump hose is in good shape. They don’t last very long and develop holes and cracks quite often. Handling this hose a minimal amount of times is a good thing. I use the Flex Products. I like them the best because the hose collapses into its own holder to carry around with caps on each end. No fumbling around trying to dig it out of a bag somewhere or trying to cram it back into a storage bin.
Have a great Adventure! And don’t forget the bug repellant.