By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Every year, thousands set out from their stix-and-brix homes in the cold north and head south by planes, trains, or automobiles. Waiting for them at the other end, their trusty, but perhaps more-or-less permanently parked RVs. After awhile, when the temperature back home is pleasant again, it’s time to head back north. But what about the RV? How can you lay-up your RV for a hot summer in the desert?
Here are some thoughts from RVers who are in just this situation:
Humidity: Your rig may not do well sitting in the proverbial “valley of the dry bones.” Wood trim, cabinets and paneled walls may react badly to too much of a good thing. Gather up a good number of five-gallon pails, fill them up with water, and distribute them throughout the RV. The evaporating water will tend to raise the humidity inside the rig, thus helping wood not dry out so badly. Some folks put a few drops of bleach in their buckets of water, but we’ve never been convinced of the need. And if a bucket should develop a leak, bleach water on the carpet is not a good thing.
It’s not a bad idea to take a few minutes at least once a season to treat those same wood products with an appropriate oil-containing wood treatment. Most just wipe on with a rag, dry down, and wipe off the excess.
Sunlight: Old Sol can make a proper job of burning things up with UV rays. Outside, be sure to cover your tires thoroughly. Industry folk tells us that tires are best preserved when blocked from all light – so dark (black) covers that fully wrap around are best.
Inside your RV, textiles like furniture fabrics can also fade (or worse) when left in the sun. Even colorful curtains, supposedly meant to compete with the sun, can come out the loser. We’re big fans of reflective bubble insulation. The stuff comes on a roll and is basically a sandwich of thin plastic “bubble wrap” between layers of aluminum foil. Cut it to fit the windows tightly. We use a marking pen and write which window the piece belongs to so when we need it next time, it’s a natural fit. Not only does it keep out those nasty UV rays, it also does wonders for keeping things much cooler.
Some folks like the idea of keeping a roof vent or two cracked open to keep excess heat from building up. In our long-term rig, we have a Fantastic Fan with a thermostat that runs the lid up and turns on a vent fan when heat gets to be too much. It also has a rain sensor, so when the monsoon rains roll through, it shuts the lid down to prevent water from getting in the house. But as far as keeping “manual” roof vents open, we’re not too keen on the idea. Not only are they open when the rains hit, if a dust storm blows through, there’s no pressure from a fan blowing out of the house to prevent the dust from getting in.
Other things you’ll want to keep out are unwanted critters. In the desert Southwest, ants are a major source of irritation and damage to any sort of foodstuffs you might leave behind. We’ve found that scattering bay leaves on cupboard shelves really does tend to send them scurrying elsewhere. Speaking of foodstuffs, if you keep your power on, you may find that tossing jars of sugar, flour and other food items normally kept in the cupboards into the fridge (set “low”) will help preserve things. Be sure to use air-tight containers. Canned foods and sodas don’t do well left in the heat – keep ’em cool, or prepare to give the stuff away.
We’ve also found that cheap plastic “glassware” may blister. Don’t know if it’s a health hazard, but it sure is ugly. Unless you want a “conversation piece” when you serve drinks to company, stick with glass.
Come fall, a few simple measures will make your return to your RV a lot happier.