Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What is RV life really like?

What's it like to live in an RV?  Trying to figure out if the RV life is for you?  We recently saw the movie The Long, Long Trailer starring Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz.  This movie is really funny & of course, exaggerated.  But, it does really capture the essence of what RV life is really like.  I also thought it was funny how attached she became to her RV and despite any of the hardships, she just loved it.  That's exactly how we feel about our RV.

To see the trailer for the movie, click here.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Somerville, MA near Boston

(Photo of Boston from wikipedia)
This week we found ourselves in Somerville, MA near Boston.  We went up there to work on a volunteer construction project doing spray foam insulation.  We were sad to leave the RV this time.  We were not able to find a place to park it because the project was in the city.  

We did make a few preparations in order to leave the RV unattended.  Lots of rain was in the forecast, so we left towels around in key locations where the roof has been leaking.  We also left the gas valve open to the RV's internal propane tank in case our small grill tank ran out of propane.  We left the thermostat on 40 degrees so that the pipes would not freeze.  We also added salt to the holding tanks.

We did also take some time this trip to do a couple fun things while we were there.  Chad took me to see our first movie since we have been married.  :-)  We went to see The Penguins of Madagascar.  We liked it - it is cute.

Our friends who were with us also discovered a great burger place!  We love burgers, and we usually like to try out any new places we find.  This one is called Boston Burger Company.  They have lots & lots of different burger combinations.

The fries there are amazing.  We ordered the garlic parmesan fries.

We came home last night to wet towels from the roof still leaking.  :-(  There was no dripping in the table area, though.  So, our roof coating fix must have helped some.  However, the inside of the cabinets on the right side of the RV was still wet.  So, we still have issues in the front and rear of the RV.  Since our roof coating didn't completely get rid of the leaks, it must be coming from somewhere else, perhaps the awning.....more investigation is required.  We are so thankful that we bought the dehumidifier!  It's doing a great job of removing all the extra moisture now in here.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

How to Live in an RV during Winter - Part 1

Today is officially the first day of winter, and it is snowing here.  :-) But, as far as we are concerned, it's been winter here in the hudson valley of NY since late October.  Chad has been really concerned about making sure I stay warm because I really don't like to be cold.  We've both done lots of research on this and have talked with other winter RVers.  So, here's a list of what we've done so far.  I'm calling this Part 1 because I'm sure we will come up with more ideas before the winter is over.
1.  Know your RV.  I think the best piece of advice that I've found was that each RV is made differently and what works for one rig may not work for another.  There are also different winter climates in different parts of the country.  So, this list is working for us.  And, we'd love to hear about what works for you. 

2.  Insulate.  To keep the RV as warm as possible, you need to prevent as much heat loss as you can.  We used bubble wrap insulation to cover the bedroom windows.  


In addition, we are using thermal curtains.

We also used plastic film insulation on the windows in the living room area.  

Many RVers also use skirting around the outside of the RV.  We plan to travel this winter, so we have not done that.  But, we would like to insulate the underside of the RV with closed cell spray foam insulation.  We also plan to coat the roof with an aluminum coating.  In addition we created a blanket fort to seal off the drafts from the front of the RV.  We also put bubble wrap insulation over the ceiling vent to keep heat from escaping.  

3. Keep the moisture out.  Once you take all these measures to keep the heat in, moisture becomes a problem from condensation.  Water was dripping down from the window that had the plastic film insulation on it.  We tried letting some cooler air in, but the most effective thing for us has been to purchase a dehumidifier.  We also make sure we use the stove vent as well whenever we are cooking.

4. Protect your water and sewer lines as well as your holding tanks.  It is generally best not to keep sewer and water lines connected in the winter.  If you do, you must wrap them with heat tape.  We connect our sewer and water hoses as needed and then make sure the liquid is drained out before we put them away so they do not freeze.  This means that the water and sewer valve are always kept closed unless we are dumping.  We looked into different ideas for our holding tanks.  The best thing we found was rock salt.  We add about 2 cups just after we empty the tanks.  We usually dissolve it with warm water before putting down the drain in the bathtub.  We also only dump our tanks when full.

Incidentally, we got lazy this week with the warmer temperatures and did not put the salt in the tanks.  And, this morning when we needed to dump, the valves were froze up.  We used a portable gas heater to thaw it out.

Our valves have been leaking a little bit anyway.  So, this just made the problem worse.  We will need to replace them soon.

5. Keep mice out.  I am so afraid of having a mouse problem.  So far, we have not noticed any evidence of these pests.  But, the best way I know to get rid of them is mouse traps.  Also, it is really important to make sure all the penetrations are sealed up really good with great stuff. 

6. Protect your refrigerator.  This may not be a problem for most RVers, but we have noticed that our freezer is icing up more than usual from the cold outside.  The refrigerator has chemicals in the cooling unit that will gel up if the outside temperature is too cold.  There needs to be a certain amount of heat in the vented compartment for it to work properly.  We have our RV parked so that the side with the refrigerator vent gets sun exposure.  But, it may be helpful to put a bat of unfaced fiberglass insulation to cover the vent holes.  Just make sure this does not create a fire hazard of any sort with any light bulbs in the compartment.  It is also important to take the insulation out when the weather warms up.  You can find more information about this here.

7. Use an electric blanket.  We absolutely love our electric blanket.   We usually turn it on about 30 minutes before we crawl into bed.  Then, we turn off the blanket.  We also use a memory foam mattress which is an insulator, so the bed usually stays really warm all night even though we turn all the heat way down before we go to bed.

8. Use thick rugs on the floor.  This not only helps to insulate the floor but also keeps your feet much warmer.   Also, invest in warm slippers.  Our floor sometimes gets wet from tracking in wet snow, so I put my slippers on immediately when I walk in.

9. Supplement your furnace with electric heaters.  It is cheaper for us to use our electric heaters throughout the day when we are at home.  We generally only use the propane furnace to warm up the RV quickly when we wake up in the morning or after we have been away all day.  The ceramic heaters are safe to use and will not create additional moisture inside the RV.  Avoid using your propane stove or oven for heat.  This could lead to asphyxiation.
Comfort Zone Multi Purpose Ceramic Heater CZ442WM

So far, we have no complaints about living in the RV during the winter.  We have been staying warm and cozy.  It is also helpful to have nice plush blankets to snuggle up with to stay warm as well.  Although, the coldest days are yet to come, I am sure.  Will see how that goes...

Would love to hear any further suggestions you all have for us.

Cold Weather RVing - The Blanket Fort

We have been getting creative to make sure that we stay warm in the RV this winter.  We've already done much to prevent as much heat loss as we can by covering the windows with insulation.  Being in the front of the RV was always much colder than the back.  and, we also noticed condensation dripping down the wall from the windows.  There's a lot of heat loss from the front windshield.  So, we decided to seal off the front area with a blanket fort. When we first set it up, we immediately felt warmer.  There was no longer a cold draft coming in.  And, then we watched the thermometer on the thermostat.  It increased another degree every couple of minutes.  It keeps the RV about 10 degrees warmer.  the condensation also stopped dripping down from the windows.  So, our tip for today is to seal off any areas where you feel cold air drafting in.

The blanket fort

Saturday, December 20, 2014

How to Insulate Windows with Clear Plastic Film

In our quest to stay warm this winter in the RV, we insulated the bedroom windows with bubble wrap insulation .  I really didn't want to insulate all of the windows that way, because it is nice to have some sunlight shining in whenever possible.  So, we opted for clear plastic insulation on the other windows in the RV.  We bought a window insulation kit .

Here's how to install it in an RV......

1. Remove any blinds and window valances so you have clear access to the window.

Our window valance has screws that attach it to the cabinets above

(Our blinds have a clip that you open on each side.  Then just remove the blind.)
2.  Apply double-sided tape around the outer edge of the window frame. 

3.  Press firmly - wait 15 minutes to make sure the tape adheres securely.

4. Unfold the film and lay it out, allowing at least 1 inch of overhang on all sides.

5. Remove the backing paper from the tape across the top of the window frame.

6. Hold the plastic film at both upper corners and apply it to the tape.

7. Remove the backing paper along the sides.

8. Press the film firmly to the sides and smooth out the surface to remove excess wrinkles.

9. Remove the backing paper from the tape at the bottom of the window frame.

10. Firmly apply the film to the bottom of the window frame.

11. Starting at the corner, move a hair dryer on high slowly across the film until all the wrinkles have disappeared.  Be careful not to get the dryer too close to the plastic or it will melt.

12. Use a razor blade to trim the excess film.

13. Replace your blinds and valance.

VoilĂ .  You are done!
Frost King V75H Shrink Window Kit 62-Inch by 210-Inch, Clear

How to Fix an RV Roof Leak - Part 1

Things are going well with our RV life.  We didn't get any rain inside the last time it rained, but it wasn't as bad as the previous storm.  Everything has dried out now and we did some research to see what we can do to stop our roof from leaking.  Chad checked everything over on the roof and couldn't find anywhere it looks like it could be leaking. But, we had to do something - cheap & fast.

We decided to try  Premier Wet & Dry Plastic Roof Cement.  It looks like black tar.  And, Chad and his dad used it to coat all of the roof perimeter, seams, and around any penetrations.  It's not pretty, but it was fast.  Time will tell if it actually works....

Coating around the perimeter
It's supposed to be another rainy week this week, so we will see how it all holds up.  We bought two cans which was just the right amount for our 30 ft. RV.  This product could also be used in our cold temperatures, so it was a good choice for us.  It's 28 degrees here right now.  In the Spring we will coat the entire roof with Premier Fibered Aluminum Coating which will insulate it and create a better seal.  That will hopefully be Part 2 of the roof leak fix.   You're supposed to wait a minumum of 30 days before you apply the aluminum coating.

Chad with his "gear" on to head up on the roof
Before he started coating the roof, Chad cut off the old TV antenna.  We don't even have a TV.  And, if we did decide to get one later, the antenna wouldn't be useful because they don't transmit signals like that anymore.

Cutting off the antenna

Apply with rubber gloves or a trowel