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How am I going to fix that whatchamacallit?

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Sorry for all the "what if" scenarios on this forum... however, as a newbie to the RV lifestyle, these questions come to mind and everyone who responds has so much helpful information gathered over many, many years! 

Here's my question: 

Let's say that you're not very mechanically inclined. You may have a basic understanding of how a vehicle works, or the bare-bones knowledge of your electrical or water system in your MH. But, something goes wrong. Sure, it's very situational. But let's say, for example, the water that used to be hot has turned cold. Or the jack that was lowered is stuck in that position and won't raise. Or the fridge has gone out.... WHATEVER this situation is, how do would you handle the situation? Remember, you're not mechanically inclined and don't necessarily carry the tools to repair these things yourself. 

You're in an RV Campground. Do you call a local plumber or electrician to fix your problem? Do you jump on this forum and ask questions first? Do you search the yellowpages for an RV specific mechanic to drop by your site and fix your problem? What do you generally suggest? 

 

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Talk to a neighbor. If they have much experience, they've already fixed a similar issue. Or they know who to call. If they don't, talk to the office. Often, the local tradesmen won't work on RV's, so an RV specific repair-man is needed.

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47 minutes ago, Darryl&Rita said:

Talk to a neighbor. If they have much experience, they've already fixed a similar issue. Or they know who to call. If they don't, talk to the office. Often, the local tradesmen won't work on RV's, so an RV specific repair-man is needed.

X2

Linda

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Ask a neighbor or ask at office.  Unless your in a camp with all new RVs, someone will know how to help, some would help for a beer or cup of coffee.  I'll take either one... LOL.  Always been a handyman and have not met much I could not figure out.  Well, I won't touch gas, everything else is game. 

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How do you fix them now?  Do it the same way.

I agree with previous responses.  If you want to fix it yourself, ask a neighbor or the office. Almost all will be willing to help.

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This isn't meant to be flippant but if you walk out to the area of the camper that your having problems with, scratch your head about every 3-4 minutes, looked confused, if there is any foot traffic at all or anyone outside sitting in their campsite, someone is bound to come over and offer to help pretty quickly. If your not getting the desired response, throw out a couple loud "Dang Nabit's" (in case there are kids around) and that usually gets the traffic flowing your way. 

While my humorous little story is only slightly tongue in cheek, I'm trying to say that my experience is campers are a very friendly, helpful group and those among us that do have some "Handyman/Handywomen skills" generally won't let someone that has met their match with a problem struggle too long by themselfs before we come over and see if we can be of assistance. I end up either fixing or assisting with fixing something on someone elses camper at least a couple times a year and I only camp about 30-40 days a year currently. I've helped people that had their awning sprung/bound up because it got away from them when they tried to put it up. Helped a neighbor with a furnace that wouldn't heat, a frig that wouldn't cool, etc over the years. 

 

And I know I'm no campground hero or unusual because I've seen it and heard from many others of campers doing the same for others.  

 

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If you spend enough time in your RV the day that something doesn't work will come. But it really isn't any different than traveling and something is wrong with your car, in that you check local sources and then find a way to deal with the problem. As previously mentioned, RV folks are a friendly lot and many will offer help if they know you need it. The campground staff will usually know who is best to call if in a commercial park and if a public park, check with the campground host.  In most cases, you do not want to call a local plumber or electrician as they won't help you unless you happen to choose one who owns an RV. What you look for is a mobile RV repair service. If nobody in the campground knows of one, call the nearest RV dealer as they most likely do know of one if they do not have such a service. If the problem is not an emergency and there is time to do so, you can often get a lot of help here to do some repairs yourself. If you have any basic skills at all then you should carry some basic tools and a simple meter and you should take the time to learn how to use them all before you need them. A simple meter is particularly helpful but carrying it around does nothing for you unless you practice with it first. The internet is ripe with videos on repairing things on an RV and Google almost always can help you learn some basics. You would be well served to take some time now to read a few things that help to understand some of how the RV works. I strongly suggest Mark Nemeth's The 12V Side of Life, parts 1 and 2. I suggest also that you go to Amazon and select at least one book on RV care and maintenance to read and keep with you as a reference. 

If you only spend time in populated areas there will always be help at the end of your cell phone, but the freedom of RV living really comes from the ability to go where few other people spend time. You can do that with far more confidence if you take some time now to prepare yourself to handle the simple problems that may crop up. There is very little in life that can be done well and with confidence without making some effort to learn the basics. 

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I've helped a number of people fix stuff while camping.  I have the tools and am familiar with all of the RV systems.  If someone asks, or if I see someone working on their RV, I'll stop stop by.

 

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I think it is wise to carry a basic set of tools even if you aren't mechanically inclined. Little stuff can crop up, that even a novice can figure out how to fix it. Also, with Youtube, internet search, and forums like this one, a novice will find clear instructions on diagnosing and repairing a lot of RV and vehicle problems. But, not helpful if you don't have some basic tools. 

I also agree with others who advised that there is usually someone in a campground who will eagerly help. But, why make them lug a heavy tool box over to help you fix something simple.

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Having a few tools (besides a credit card and cell phone) is certainly going to be helpful. If you can fix it you will have the tools to do the job. If someone else is helping you, the tools will be at the place where the problem is, not across the road.

Back when our kids were learning to drive they all knew where the jumper cables were kept and how to use them. When they got their first cars I gave each of them a set of jumper cables. If they needed the jump, they had the cables. If someone else needed the jump they were prepared to help.

Since I do some construction work I have a small set of tools with me in the Foretravel, and a few have to travel in the car. I've pulled out my tools to help people more than once. Yes, there are times when the best thing is to call someone who really knows what they are doing, but most often the problem is pretty simple.

And yes, usually all you have to do is open the hood in a campground and several guys will immediately come over to see what's broke and offer to help.

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1 hour ago, IBTripping said:

II also agree with others who advised that there is usually someone in a campground who will eagerly help. But, why make them lug a heavy tool box over to help you fix something simple.

My tool bag was pretty light but it did let me tighten up the screws in the bracket for my Fantastic Fan that were working loose. And to take down the day/night shades I replaced with curtains.

Linda

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I was hanging out with a neighbor last night and this subject came up.  Both of our wives have said, "You're not happy unless you've fixed at least one thing each trip, are you?"  Can't deny that I like fixing stuff, and happy to help someone.

 

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If neighboring help is unavailable, call a mobile RV repair service. RV park office's usually have business cards from at least one such service in the area.

Edited by Ray,IN

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The suggestions of finding a neighbor for advise/help and seeing if the office has contact info for a good RV repair facility is spot on.

General RV books and even most of the manuals that came with your RV may be of little use when most things break down.

Being a member and frequently visiting a brand specific online forum for your RV can be a game changer.  When we initially began RVing and purchased our Montana fiver I learned a ton from the Montana Owners Forum (MOC).  If something went wrong those folks could immediately tell you how to fix it.

 

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Not being "mechanically inclined" does not mean stupid and unable to learn.  If you travel in an RV, it is all but essential to have some modest knowledge of how the systems work.  It is worthwhile spending some time looking at the operator manuals for the RV and appliances.  Most of the manuals will give you a good understanding of the systems involved and most will also have troubleshooting guides in addition to providing information needed for routine settings and use.  You should also carry some basic tools.

If you are a homeowner, there are equivalent skills you need to maintain your house.  At a minimum you should be able to replace the water filter on your refrigerator or the flapper on a toilet.  

If you don't want to spend the time to learn or are just plain incompetent, plan on spending time, money and inconvenience finding and waiting for someone else to handle the issues.

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4 minutes ago, JimK said:

Not being "mechanically inclined" does not mean stupid and unable to learn.  If you travel in an RV, it is all but essential to have some modest knowledge of how the systems work.  It is worthwhile spending some time looking at the operator manuals for the RV and appliances.  Most of the manuals will give you a good understanding of the systems involved and most will also have troubleshooting guides in addition to providing information needed for routine settings and use.  You should also carry some basic tools.

If you are a homeowner, there are equivalent skills you need to maintain your house.  At a minimum you should be able to replace the water filter on your refrigerator or the flapper on a toilet.  

If you don't want to spend the time to learn or are just plain incompetent, plan on spending time, money and inconvenience finding and waiting for someone else to handle the issues.

Well said , Jim . That's exactly how it is .

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7 hours ago, JimK said:

It is worthwhile spending some time looking at the operator manuals for the RV and appliances.

One of the helpful things I did was go through all the manuals and list the frequency of maintenance various things required. Then I made a chart of those so we could reference it when preparing to move and once a month and once a quarter and once a year for which items were in the column for that time. There's no way we would have remembered to do all those things without that chart.

Linda Sand

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22 hours ago, sandsys said:

One of the helpful things I did was go through all the manuals and list the frequency of maintenance various things required. Then I made a chart of those so we could reference it when preparing to move and once a month and once a quarter and once a year for which items were in the column for that time. There's no way we would have remembered to do all those things without that chart.

Linda Sand

I am totally puzzled by this.  I cannot think of a single maintenance item for my RV.  Stove, none.  Refrigerator, none,  Microwave, none, Hot water heater, none.  Furnace, none.  Water pump, none.  Propane, none.   Solar  panels, none.  AGM batteries, none.  

Of course, I do have to take my truck to a dealer for service periodically and I change the generator oil annually.  Once I even changed the spark plug on the generator.  I don't know why but after 8 years it seemed like a good idea.  At that time I also checked the generator air filter but that seemed to be in good condition.

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27 minutes ago, JimK said:

I am totally puzzled by this.  I cannot think of a single maintenance item for my RV.  Stove, none.  Refrigerator, none,  Microwave, none, Hot water heater, none.  Furnace, none.  Water pump, none.  Propane, none.   Solar  panels, none.  AGM batteries, none.  

I'm guessing you never read your manuals. Filters need to be changed, generators need to be exercised, behind and/or under fridge needs to be vacuumed, etc. Then there are things like checking hoses, turning a mattress, tightening screws, checking tire pressures, etc. My Mom regularly cleaned the terminals in her car battery and it lasted 15 years before she even learned they usually only last 5 years. Preventive maintenance is a good thing for vehicles as well as bodies.

Linda

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If you've never changed your anode rod in your water heater I'm sure the tank is corroded and eaten out pretty badly. I usually change mine annually. Around here mud dauber wasps get into everything from fridge to furnace vents, drain hose ends, etc. plugging things up. They need to be cleaned out almost monthly in warm weather, which in Louisiana is 9 months out of the year. Your fresh water tank needs sanitizing regularly, particularly if not used for a month, like when on city or worse well water, as harmful bacteria can grow rapidly in warm weather. Your black and gray tanks need cleaning out with enzyme digester often too. Even on maintenance free batteries the terminals need to be checked for tightness and corrosion occasionally too. Hinges, slides, steps and seals need lubing, rubber needs dressing and the roof and gutters needs cleaning and protecting. And that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

I think it's often a matter of one doesn't know what they don't know.

Chip

 

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1 hour ago, sushidog said:

If you've never changed your anode rod in your water heater I'm sure the tank is corroded and eaten out pretty badly. I usually change mine annually.

Only Suburban water heaters use an anode rod. Atwood/Dometic utilize an aluminum tank with no anode rod. Lots of folks don't have to mess with the anode rod...

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1 hour ago, mptjelgin said:

Atwood/Dometic utilize an aluminum tank with no anode rod. Lots of folks don't have to mess with the anode rod...

Having an aluminum tank doesn't mean there isn't an anode rod.  Whale Seaward heaters use magnesium anodes in their tanks.

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2 hours ago, sushidog said:

I think it's often a matter of one doesn't know what they don't know.

Which is why I read manuals. How else am I supposed to know? In fact, when we are thinking about buying a particular RV, I often sit in what would become "my" seat and read manuals. That keeps me in the seat long enough to know if the seat is actually comfortable or if it just feels good to get off my feet. :) 

Linda

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