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Thursday, October 21, 2010

RV Maintenance Tips - Unwanted Guests

We had an unwanted guest in our rig a few days ago. We're still working on the mess and damages. This guest was in the form of a rodent, actually a large rat, that had climbed up the rear stabilizers and attempted to take up residency inside the rear bumper of our Montana. We first became aware of the little monster at night as it rummaged around. It was pulling insulation out of the walls and piling it into a nest. It also chewed the probe wires off the fresh water tank.

I put a few baits in the bumper and waited about three days before taking the bottom cover out from under the trailer to look around. It was ugly! To get to the area I needed to remove the rear stabilizers and back out all the bolts and screws that hold the bottom cover in place. I placed a heavy outdoor carpet on the ground under the rig to lay on before doing this. It helps save your back from the rocks and makes it easy to find screws and tools when you drop them.

Once I had all the bolts and screws out, I pulled the cover and the foiled bubble wrap insulation from under the water tank dropped down. It was covered with rat droppings, bits of insulation, and urine. The urine was bloody from the baits. It smelled really bad. There were also three mysterious four inch pieces of tiny wire laying together on the insulation among all the mess.

Rather than attempt to clean the insulation I simply cut it off and stuffed it in a double garbage bag. I used a trash picker to pull the nest of fiberglass insulation out of the bumper. It filled a five gallon bucket. Next I use a water hose and nozzle and sprayed the rest of the droppings and whatever out of the bumper, then sprayed it again with disinfectant. I decided to leave the bottom of the rig open for a few days while I figured out what all needed to be done to repair everything. It needed airing out pretty badly anyway.

One problem I had was figuring out where those loose wires were from. I needed to know what needed to be repaired before I put the rig back together. I checked all the trailer lights inside and out, stereo speakers who's wires pass through that area, the air conditioner, and everything else I could think of but they all worked. I was about to put the bottom under the rig when I saw that the wires to the probes on the fresh water tank had all been clipped off. My experience with rodents in RV's is that they always chew wires someplace and this was it. Since I had ordered a new water heater element from the local RV repair shop that morning, I called them to see if they could add a probe wire kit. No problem! It would only cost $8.00 bucks too. So I left the bottom open a couple more days while I waited for the parts. This gave me a chance to go to the local hardware and lumber supply store and pick up some replacement bubble wrap insulation too. It cost me three dollars a foot for the wide stuff, which is about four feet, and I bought eight feet of it. I really only needed about five and a half  or six but I hadn't measured and I knew my rig was about eight feet wide.

A couple of days later my probe wires and water heater element came in and I was back in business. I also found some used house insulation at my dads house that had been saved in bags and I use it to replace what had been pulled out and ruined by the critters. Altogether I needed about ten feet of regular fiberglass wall  insulation to fill the hole. It took me a few minutes to replace the probe wires and test it, then another half hour or so to put all the other parts back in place. It would have been easier to handle the bottom cover if a helper was available but I managed it alone. I filled the access holes that I could find with expanding foam and hope it prevents more problems in the future. My next project is replacing the anode rod and electric heating element. Read the next post for that little adventure.

I recently came across a series of books and manuals that cover just about every topic you can think of about the RV world and decided that I better show it to you so you could have a chance to see what's available.

There's the link; RV101

These are ebooks that you can purchase online and download immediately, and yes we earn a stipend from them if you choose to buy.

Thanks for reading, I hope you find the information useful.

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