RVing 101 Beginners Course

New to RVing? No problem we are here to help! Check out these tips to become an expert in no time.


Rent vs Buy

There are so many types of RV’s out there from class A’s, B’s, C’s and towables. Do you know which is best for you? Take it from The RV Advisor and start your RV experience by renting. After you have taken some major trips, you’ll get a good idea of what you need and want in your RV.

Go with a pro

Maybe you have a family member or a longtime friend who owns an RV. If so, ask them to walk you through their RV and you’ll hear the benefits and negatives about their experience. If possible, plan a trip together, so you get the fun of traveling in an RV without having all the stress and pressure of operating it alone.

Put together a pre-flight routine and checklist

Consistency is a great way to develop good habits with anything, even when it comes to RVing. Make sure to check all storage compartment doors, that the steps are up, the antenna is down, check that your awning is retracted and tied up all the way (if your vehicle had one), check the fluid levels and tire pressure, make sure the emergency brake is off, and all the cabinet doors are shut properly. Make sure you check everything before driving anywhere because practice makes perfect and you don’t want to pay for a repair that could have easily been avoided.

Get to your destination as early as possible

Nothing is worse than arriving late in the day or after dark, and trying to set up camp. As a beginner, it’s a horrible way to start your experience because most likely you are not comfortable with your new vehicle. It’s best to arrive early so setting up camp can be done calmly and easily.

Pitching and locking awning

Most RV awing’s have adjustable pitches (the angle) of the awning on each arm. When you see it’s about to rain, never set your awing with a flat pitch. We recommend a slight pitch on one side compared to the other to allow the rain to drain off.

Manual awnings require special locking systems that lock and unlock, but electric awnings can be setup with the flick of a switch. To use manual awnings, you’ll need to unlock the travel locks, located on the side of the awning arms, and the cam locks on the top of awning (you’ll need an awning rod to unlock the cam locks).

Double check that awning

It’s always wise to make sure your awnings are rolled up properly and secured. The last thing you want is an awning coming unfurled from your vehicle while you’re on the interstate. It’s smart to check the awning locks work properly and you should consider adding additional locks if you feel the factory locks are not enough.

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RV Maintenances 101

Like cars, RVs need their oil and filters changed at regular intervals. This is necessary to keep your engine running properly and if left undone could eventually cause your engine to seize. This could cost you as much as $10,000 to fix the engine. Most manufacturers suggest an oil change every 3,000 to 4,500 miles, but you should check your owner’s manual for advice on your specific vehicle.
Getting your RV generator serviced is important as well. Again, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often the oil and filter should be changed. Ignoring this could cost you as much as $9,000 in repairs. Remember to run your generator regularly when your RV is stored too. If you don’t, it could cost you up to $400 to take care of the build-up on the unit’s carburetor.
You should also be replacing the air, fuel, coolant, hydraulic filters regularly in your RV. Damage costing upwards of $2,500 could result from increased fuel usage or overheating issues with the cooling system and oxidation in the hydraulic system.
Inspect the roof seals and seams of your RV every six months. Water damage can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair if it’s not taken care of immediately.
Checking your breaks and making sure they are maintained is very important for your safety and those of everyone else on the road as well. Brake damage could cost as much as $2,000 for a motorhome and $500 for a trailer.
Keep your waste water system in good condition by using biodegradable RV toilet paper. Also now again use toilet chemicals to break apart anything that may be down there.
If you have a rubber roof, make sure to have the roof treated at least once per year. This prevents the sun from doing damage. You should also have a roof inspection at least twice a year. To avoid any leaks in the roof from the rain.
Make it a must to check your tire pressure and lug nuts before every trip to avoid any break downs or road disaster.
Check your batteries before your trip. Deep cycle batteries last 3-5 years and should be replaced after their life cycle is complete.
Take your battery out during the winter months and store it somewhere warm as they have the possibility to freeze and break, voiding the warranty and rendering them unusable.

Cleaning the water tank

First, some things to consider before you start:

  • * Time – 6 to 12 hours to complete the job.* Do you have internal and or external water filters? If so, you should change them after you have finished sanitizing the RV’s tank.* Do you have a hot water tank? If you do, now might be a good time to flush out your hot water tank (and while you’re at it, check to see if you need to change the anode).
    * Read through these sanitize RV instructional steps before you begin.

Step 1: Gather all the tools, and supplies you will need to sanitize RV fresh water system. You will need:
1 external water filter (from Walmart’s RV section) 1 internal water filter – Hydro life C-2063/#5 filter is recommended 1 Clorox Regular-Bleach (unscented and non-gel). Compute how much Clorox
1 funnel with a flexible clear hose and stopper (from Walmart’s auto supply section) 1 water filter wrench (for the internal filter) 1 dab of petroleum jelly (for the O-ring on the water filter body) 1 Anode if you need it and the tools to remove it
Step 2: Drain the fresh water tank partially to about ½ its capacity not.
Step 3: Prior to use, sanitize the funnel and hose with pure bleach. Let stand for 15 minutes, then discard the bleach in the funnel. Pour the Clorox into the fresh water fill using the funnel with the flexible clear hose.
Step 4: Refill the fresh water tank until water starts coming out of the overflow hose or until you know it is full.
Step 5: Turn off the fresh water supply to the RV then turn on your water pump so you will draw water from the fresh water tank.
Step 6: Open every faucet in the RV including the hot water faucet until you can smell the bleach. When you can smell bleach, turn the faucets off. Remember to turn the power off to your hot water heater tank before you open the hot water faucets.
Step 7: Turn on the fresh water supply to the RV and add a few more gallons of fresh water to your freshwater tank. Now the waiting begins. For best results, wait a minimum of 3 to 4 hours to sanitize RV water system. We recommend waiting at least 6 hours.
Step 8: After the proper waiting interval, drain the fresh water tank until empty and refill with fresh water until full.
Step 9: Turn off the fresh water supply to the RV and turn on your water pump. Start flushing the water lines by opening all the faucets. Leave them open until the smell of bleach has diminished. If after a few minutes, the bleach smell is still too strong then drain the fresh water tank again and repeat step 8 and 9.
Step 10: Turn off the water supply to the RV and remove the external filter, replace with a new one. Make sure your water pump is off and replace the internal water filter with a fresh cartridge. Do not forget to dab a little petroleum jelly on the O-ring of the water filter body or you will have a hard time removing it next time you change the cartridge.
Step 11: See the brief overview below on how to flush the hot water heater since they’re so many different tank and configurations:
Turn power off to the hot water heater. Turn off the water to the RV and make sure your water pump is off. Open the relief valve on top of the water heater to expel any pressure in the hot water tank. Open the hot water heater tank drain valve and leave it open until all the water has drained out. Inspect and or replace the anode. Close the relief valve and the drain valve. Turn water to the RV back on again and refill the hot water heater. Check for leaks around the anode or the drain valve
After you have refilled the hot water tank, make sure that all air is expelled from the hot water heater before you power it back up again or you will burn out the heating element. Do this by opening all the hot water faucets until no air comes out and a strong stream of water. When you are sure that all the air has been expelled from the hot water tank, turn the power back on again for the hot water heater.

What is a grey water tank?

This is where the water you use in you RV goes from your shower and you’re sinks such as your kitchen and bathroom skins. Ideally, you should keep the valve closed, and allow the tank to fill up before dumping it. You should also add grey water tank treatment chemical, or your tank will start to stink. The water in the grey water tank is also very useful for another purpose– rinsing out your sewer hose when dumping your black water. You could also use a rinse wand in the toilet to rinse and flush the sewer hose, if your grey water tanks are empty. Holding tank treatments are available in RV stores. Pour the recommended amount in your kitchen drain, along with water we would recommend using a formaldehyde-free treatment.

How to drain grey water from an RV?

  1. 1. Always empty the black water first. (please refer to how to drain black water from an RV)2. Wear rubber gloves just in case you won’t get splashed, if you are very careful but3. Remove the cap that covers the holding tank outlets, and connect your sewer hose.
    4. Put your sewer hose in the dump hole, at least four or five inches deep.
    5. Secure it in place. You can use a brick or the cover of the dumping station to secure the hose firmly.
    6. You can now open the black water valve. When the tank is empty, open the grey water tank valve.
    7. Flush your tanks by refilling them, and draining them again.
    8. Close your valves, and disconnect the hose from the outlet.
    9. Lift the sewer hose from the end of the RV to the dump hole, so as to get rid of any remaining water in the hose.
    10. Run water in it, if available, to rinse it thoroughly.
    11. Disconnect the hose from the hole, and rinse the area around it, in case some spillage happened. Cover the hole.
    12. Store your sewer hose.
    13. Add RV water tank treatment to your tanks, and you are done emptying your holding tanks.

What is a black water tank?

Blackwater is used to describe wastewater from toilets, which likely contains pathogens(A bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause disease). Blackwater can contain feces, urine, water and toilet paper from flush toilets. Blackwater is distinguished from greywater, which comes from household use other than toilets. Greywater results from washing food, clothing, dishes, as well as from showering or bathing. Blackwater and greywater are separated in “ecological buildings”, such as autonomous buildings. Recreational vehicles often have separate holding tanks for greywater from showers and sinks, and blackwater from the toilet.

How to drain black water from an RV?

disposable gloves for handling the sewer hose
rinse hose for your black water flush
bleach wipes for sanitizing
clear sewer adapter to know if your tanks have finished emptying
sewer extension hose, recommend 30 feet available
coupler 90 bayonet fitting or 45 degree or straight
hand sanitizer for clean up afterwards
Step 1:
Start by pulling up to the RV dump station and lining up the black holding tank drain valve as close to the opening of the dump station as possible. This will ensure that if there is an accident, it will be contained in the dumping area. If the RV has more than one location for your drain valves, always do the black tank first. Unlock any compartments on the RV that are needed to access for dumping the tanks.
Step 2:
Put on latex or other disposable gloves (to avoid any contamination) and get the sewer hose out. Before removing the cap to the holding tank drain opening, ensure both the gray and black water valves are both closed.
Step 3:
First attach the hose to the dumb station hole first, it is a good idea to use an elbow and a hose ring to connect the sewer hos to the dump station hole. This would hold the hose in place and avoid any splatter or leakage. If you do not have access to the ring or elbow. Insert the end of the sewer hose into the dump station’s hole about eight to twelve inches (if you only insert the hoes a few inches in the hose may come out when dumbing and that will be very messy). Use hole’s cover or something heavy enough to hold the sewer hose in place just in case so it doesn’t pop out of the hole. (try avoiding anything too small incase it falls in the hole and clog the dump station).
Step 4:
Check the sewer hose to ensure it is securely clamped to the adapter and prepare to attach to the holding tank drain outlet. Start by removing the cap with the sewer hose positioned underneath to catch any drips (open end up), when any drips have stopped, attach the sewer hose ensuring the adapter is completely secured. A partially attached hose is more common than one may think, so ensure the tabs on the adapter are lined up properly with the stubs on the tank drain.
If the RV has a permanent-mount black tank rinse system, now is the time to connect it up to both the RV and the dump station water supply with a dedicated garden hose. Do not use a fresh water hose for the black tank rinse and do not turn on the water until step 5 has been completed. (A portable flushing wand may also be used for this step).