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  • How Does an RV Absorption Refrigerator Work? No, Really!

    How Does an RV Absorption Refrigerator Work? No, Really!

    Call me suspicious, but I am skeptical of anyone who claims to comprehend the inner workings of an absorption refrigerator. To fully fathom the depths of magic inside all those steel coils, you must understand thermodynamics, chemistry, fluid dynamics, and mechanics of materials. It’s an entire engineering education within a single appliance. Every time I…

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  • Is Anything Better than a Fiberglass RV Roof?

    Is Anything Better than a Fiberglass RV Roof?

    Until now, I’ve aimed most of my words about RV roofing at the winner by popular choice: membrane roofing. It’s what most people call “rubber roofing.” The two most popular membrane roofing types are EPDM and TPO, with PVC taking the bronze. Dicor and Alpha Systems are the two largest OEMs, I think.  But there…

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  • The Elusive High-Performance RV Range Hood, And the Art of Dehumidification

    The Elusive High-Performance RV Range Hood, And the Art of Dehumidification

    I was recently working with a customer who wanted to retrofit and upgrade his mega teardrop camper (NuCamp TAB 400, Forest River R-Pod, Little Guy Max, that kind of a camper). He and his wife, both bon vivant chefs, enjoy steaming vegetables and sauteing home-cooked meals on their 2-burner propane range. They also live in…

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  • Yes, You Should Leave Your Black Tank Valve CLOSED!

    Yes, You Should Leave Your Black Tank Valve CLOSED!

    If you’re wondering whether you should leave your RV’s black tank valve open or closed, the short answer is: Closed. You should keep it closed until the tank is ½ to ⅞” full, or you’re getting back on the road after camping. Best not to travel with a full holding tank if you can help…

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  • Picture Guide to Replacing an RV Toilet Water Valve

    Picture Guide to Replacing an RV Toilet Water Valve

    Replacing a Dometic or Thetford gravity toilet water valve is easy. It takes 20-60 minutes and only requires basic hand tools. RV toilet water valves are used on gravity RV toilets to control the flow of water when flushing. When the foot- or hand-lever is pushed down, the valve allows water to flow into the…

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  • Riddle Me This: Difference Between RV Butyl Tape and Putty Tape?

    Riddle Me This: Difference Between RV Butyl Tape and Putty Tape?

    This is an ode to butyl tape, an RVer’s third hand in times of need. Butyl tape is the secret sauce of RV construction. It’s a sticky, gooey, tacky tape that you’ll find behind entry door frames, exterior aluminum trim, ceiling fan flanges, awning mounts, and dozens of other components. It’s omnipresent. It waterproofs your…

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  • 8 Common Signs of an RV Roof Leak

    8 Common Signs of an RV Roof Leak

    In the same way that rashes, coughs, and fevers are the symptoms of a human sickness, water stains and soft spots are the harbingers of a leaking RV roof. If you learn what to look for, you can diagnose a failing RV roof before it brings the rest of your RV down with it. Unfortunately,…

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  • What’s the Difference Between Weight Distribution and Sway Control?

    What’s the Difference Between Weight Distribution and Sway Control?

    Weight distribution is not the same thing as sway control. Actually, let me rephrase that, because it’s not 100% accurate. Somewhat confusingly, a trailer with proper weight distribution will naturally tend to sway and bounce less. This is the primary reason we have minimum tongue/pin weights, after all. But this is where, unfortunately, the English…

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  • Are RVs Built to a Design Code?

    Are RVs Built to a Design Code?

    Are RVs built to a code? Yes, they are. Some of you are scoffing right now, wondering how your piddly bunk bed ladder could possibly pass an inspection. Well, actually, that’s not part of the code. RV construction code, you see, isn’t analogous to the IRC that we all know and love. RVs aren’t like…

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  • The RV Inverter Backfeed Problem and the “Poor Man’s RV Inverter Install”

    The RV Inverter Backfeed Problem and the “Poor Man’s RV Inverter Install”

    Fair warning: What I’m about to describe is not kosher. It’s not a recommended installation method, nor am I recommending it. I’m walking you through the idea so you can see the flaws and realize that there’s a better way.  Did you ever read the children’s book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”? About…

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  • Signs of a Failing RV Converter, from an RV Tech

    Signs of a Failing RV Converter, from an RV Tech

    Contrary to what the rest of the internet may tell you, RV converters are rarely fixable. In fact, some manufacturers design their converters specifically so they are not serviceable in the field (looking at you, WFCO). They either work, or they don’t. If your converter is dead or dying, you will need to unceremoniously divorce…

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  • Winterizing an RV Tankless Water Heater: Step-by-Step Guide (by Model)

    Winterizing an RV Tankless Water Heater: Step-by-Step Guide (by Model)

    If you’re a member of the RV tankless water heater club, congratulations! You now get to enjoy unlimited hot water on demand for showering, cooking, rinsing the dog, and drinking green tea.  But what’s the protocol for winterizing an RV instant water heater? Contrary to what you’ve been told, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Some…

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