10 Common RV Repairs The Average Do-It-Yourselfer Can Fix

Making RV repairs in many cases is something the average RV owner can handle.

There are many similarities between your stick and brick home and your RV home on wheels.  The kitchen sink in both has a faucet, and you probably have a shower and toilet in both bathrooms.  So, if you have the confidence to tackle a kitchen faucet replacement in your home, you can rest assured that it’s pretty much the same procedure in your RV.

diy-rv-repairs

For the less familiar systems in your RV, there are helpful RV educational videos that can take you through the process step-by-step.

You can also use one or more RV repair and maintenance manuals which include detailed parts and instructions.

And YouTube is a great source of online videos showing you how to make RV repairs yourself.

Being able to take care of your own RV repair issues will save you lots of money over going to the RV dealership for your RV repairs, that’s for sure!

 

RV Repairs… They Happen!

Sure, it would be nice if all manufactured products never wore out, or failed.

Unfortunately, in the RV world — due to weight or cost restrictions and exposure to the elements — some RV components have a higher failure rate than what you find in the average house.

Many of the following RV repairs can be avoided altogether with proper RV maintenance and storage procedures.

 

Top 10 DIY RV Repairs

Winter can be very destructive to water systems if the RV hasn’t been properly prepared for below-freezing weather.

Common freezing related failures would include:

#1   Burst water lines or cracked fittings
#2   Leaky faucets
#3   Burst water heater
#4   Broken water pump

Assuming that draining all 3 water tanks (Clean, Gray, and Black) is part of your returning home from every trip procedure, the likelihood of splitting a tank from ice is unlikely.  However, if you tend to let draining the tanks go until later in the week, putting it off may actually lead to forgetting that simple chore.  Then, when that first hard freeze sneaks up on you, the results will be extremely expensive.  Replacing RV water tanks is usually a big project.

Plastic is a common material used throughout RVs.  Here is where the weight and cost restrictions come in.  RV toilets are a common source of problems.  When in storage, heat builds up inside the RV, rubber seals get stiff, and anything that controls water flow can deteriorate.

#5  RV toilet doesn’t keep water in the bowl, or the water valve lets water run continually

 

When you take the protective cap off your waste water drain with the intention of attaching the sewer drain hose, are you greeted with a half gallon or so of nasty water?  This can cause all kinds of problems for you.  If the waste tank shut-off valves are leaking, the liquid in your Black tank can drain away while you’re hooked up at the RV resort.  This will leave a mass of solids in the bottom of the tank that will set up like concrete.

#6  Waste tank valves leak water

 

On the subject of waste tanks, does your Black water tank monitor almost always show full?  This will be a reoccurring problem on every RV on the road.

#7  Black water tank monitor lights always show full or partially-full, even right after you drain the tank

 

I think the favorite campgrounds are those back in the woods.  The more secluded and private, the better.  Nobody likes parking amongst 300 RVs in the middle of an open field.  That’s just not camping.  Of course, there is a bit of a risk driving down a narrow road to get into the more secluded spots.  For example, that one branch that you didn’t notice hanging over the road just might become a “gotcha” moment.

#8  Hole punctured the RV rubber roof
#9  Broken or cracked window
#10 Broken rooftop vents for things like the refrigerator, A/C cover, or sewer breathers

 

Before you get out the toolbox and dive right in, be sure to consider what’s involved with do-it-yourself RV repairs.  If you take care of common home repairs on your own, odds are you’ll do just fine.  Following instructions and taking your time will be the key to success.

Curtis Carper

Curtis Carper

I’ve been involved in RVing for over 40 yrs -- including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking at home, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you've got a good idea of who I am.

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  • Kmjcpt

    in my 1986 rockwood cobra – my toilet is leaking where the toilet meets the floor – how do i get the toilet off – thick its the gasket

  • Curtis

    Kmjcpt, It’s similar to the toilet in your house, two bolts with nuts hold it down.  They may be on either side or front and back and they may be hidden under small plastic covers but they are there.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_W6CF4TM5W4QX2JTRJDFHL5DTGY Jim
    • Curtis

      Jim, because many rigs are right at the limit of their weight limitations often they have air bags installed to supplement the suspension.  They can be inside coil springs or even added alongside leaf springs.  You may have one with a leak.  Otherwise check the weight distribution of your cargo.  If you loaded one side heavier than the other you will lean too.

  • Debmc44

    In the bedroom the carpet is very wet, the holding tank is under the bed. I drained the holding tank and noticed that the pump is leaking water from the pump.  still does not seem like it is leaking enough to wet the carpet as wet as it is.  will buying a new pump fix the problem or is it another problem

    • Curtis

      debmc44, Carpeting is like a big wick, it will soak up lots of water and act like a big sponge.  A small leak over time will mean lots of water into the carpet.  If you’re certain the pump is the source of the leak, that may cure it.  Be sure it isn’t just a fitting going into the pump as they can freeze and crack during winter months.  From here I can’t say whether the problem is the pump, the tank, or a water line.  That’s something you will have to trace out so you don’t waste money replacing good parts.

      • molly

        I am having the same problem in my rv… theres a big spot on the carpet that is soaking wet. I did recently have a leak from the toilet that I thought was contributing to it since the back bedroom is right next to the bathroom, however since i have fixed the toilet leak issue the carpet in the bathroom is completely dry and the wet spot in the back bedroom remains soaking wet. I am not using my holding tank or water pump, I am hooked up to city water line and I am using a water pressure regulator at the source… could it be the water heater or something else causing this? Any thoughts or opinions would be greatly appreciated being that I will have to figure this out and fix it myself since my husband is too busy with work to help.

        • Curtis

          Molly, Tracking down a water leak across the internet is hard to do. I’ll give you some things to think on that may help. The only way the water heater can be involved is if it’s mounted in the wall near the wet spot. (unlikely). Hard to tell from here where your water lines run but that would be a possibility if the water tank is located in the bedroom. If the wet spot is near a wall another source of the leak could be a window or even a roof seam that is letting rain water into the wall where it will migrate to who knows where. Does the wet spot go away during periods of no rain? If it’s wet only after rain, seal around the windows with a thin bead of silicone sealer. If it’s wet when you use any plumbing, look for a cracked water line or fitting. I hope this helps.

          • molly

            thank you for your input… the wet spot will not go away at all. there has been no rain for the last month at least, very dry and warm outside. my husband said the water heater was in the back, but ill have to investigate further to see exactly where since he said it was hard to get to. im hoping to resolve this asap. it is wet right where the carpet meets the thin wall in back of the bathroom, i guess i have a good idea where to start looking anyway :) thank you, ive had a hard time getting any info about this issue so i do appreciate it much!

  • Jnhawes395

    Mr. Curtis,

    I have a Summerland travel trailer and when I drain the gray water tank it leaks againist the black water tank, but only because the waste port does not fit tigthly next to the black valve.  I can’t put ABS glue on the valve since I have to get it off, but is there a way to make it tight enough not to leak?  It is just held up there by tension.  Thank you ahead of time sir.

    • Curtis

      Jnhawes395, Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t understand how your trailer is set up.  Most waste systems join the gray and black outlets at one common connection where you hook up the flexible sewer hose for emptying.  Yes, there are some where you have two separate dump connections, but I’ve never seen one where they conflicted with each other.  Maybe if you could send a picture I’d have a better idea of the issue.  Click on the  +image symbol on the lower left of the post box and you can attach a photo.  

  • randy

    okay Mr Curtis,
    I have an older puller camp trailer, I just noticed the left side the has the kitchen sink and ass. cabinets , is bulging out about 2.5 -3 inches .Most people will say that the sink is leaking, not the case there has been no water hooked up to the camper and the roof doesn’t leak.

    is there any way to pull the sides in with out messing up the siding ??

    • Curtis

      Randy, Not nearly enough information. Does your RV have aluminum lap siding or is it smooth surface fiberglass? If it is smooth fiberglass you probably have delamination. That’s where the layers of the plywood under the fiberglass separate. Both expensive and hard to repair. If you have aluminum siding it usually comes in sheets that amount to two rows. They are held on with staples and must be disassembled probably from the top down. Then reattach where they pulled loose and reassemble. Then again you might have a framing issue. All these are possibilities but really I’m guessing from what little information you have given.

  • Ann Erwin

    Mr Curtis my husband and I just bought a 1985 Apollo 3300. He is having trouble with getting the air conditioner to come own. The air conditioner is under the camper and is also the heater, He can get it to come on but not the blower. I know it is hard to help with this since we are in Tx. and you are there, but was wondering if you had any suggestions on this problem. Thank You In advance.

    • Curtis

      Ann, The best I can do from here is suggest you make sure all fuses and circuit breakers are good. If the A/C is turning on but not blowing you may have a burned out starting condenser on the blower. Something an RV dealer can check for you.

  • iamnotbynit

    My brother is trying to get a 1996 Bounder RV to start. It has a 454 Chevy engine and he has checked all the fuses, battery, etc. It will turn over but won’t fire. When the key is turned off the coil wire will fire ONE TIME but that’s all and it will not crank. Can he bypass the computer( electronic ignition) and still get it to crank? what possible things will keep it from cranking that he may be able to do?

    • Curtis

      iamnotbynit, Time to call either a Ford or Chevy garage. I’m afraid this forum is limited to RV house related issues. Not much I can do to help you.

  • Tammy Owens

    Mr. Curtis , Is there any way to fix a black water tank . .we have a crack all the cross the bottom. PLZ me

    • curtis carper

      Tammy, replacing the tank is the only sure cure. Plastic welding doesn’t have much of a reputation for strength. It will just crack again.

  • Nick Schubert

    Hello Curtis, thanks for taking the time to help others out. I’ve found this site to be a great benefit, as I’m a first time truck camper owner (I bought a tent trailer at an auction once, but lets not talk about that). On my maiden voyage, I noticed the kitchen sink does not seem to drain. On further inspection, there is also a crack in the PVC elbow joint directly below the sink that is leaking. Clearly replacing the elbow joint is a first order of business, but what do you suggest to locate and fix the plug between the sink and the grey water tank? Is there anything special about removing the PVC segments from each other, or does the glue break with force?

    • Curtis

      Nick, I would recommend running a snake down the drain to clear any clog. Glued PVC joints don’t usually come apart without destroying them. I would only mess with what is cracked and leaking.

  • Laurie Steele Covert

    Curtis, I have a couple issues with our new to us 2007 19 ft. vortex toy hauler.1st. Both grey and black tanks being completely empty show on the monitor to be 1/3 to 2/3 full still full. 2nd the sink backs up so very quickly. The same happens with the tub. But, when the tub backs up, water leaks from the top of the grey water tank. Is the grey water tank really that small? Being used when we got it, I have no owners manual giving me specs.

    • Curtis

      Laurie, If I had to guess, being only a 19′ rig, probably yes, the tanks are that small. Backing up into the tub is the best indication the tank is full. That the monitors read partially full all the time is no surprise. toilet paper and food bits collect on the sensors so unless you flush out the tanks after every use they will likely always show inaccurate readings.

  • charlie

    Curtis, when I hook up water to my camper, it will not flow.. What can be stopped up?

    • Curtis

      Charlie, I’m assuming you mean when you hook up to city water. There is a check valve inside the city water port that may be stuck. You can replace the city water hookup for a pretty low price. There usually isn’t a shut off valve to deal with, but that would be the only other thing that might cause no water to flow.

      • charlie

        Is the city water port the valve that hooks screws onto the camper?

        • Curtis

          Charlie, it’s what you hook the garden hose up to.

        • charlie

          Thanks a bunch. I will change that tomorrow !!!

  • Joan Blanks Brewer

    Curtis, we have a 1999 Holiday Rambler Imperial. There are 2 bed side wall lamps that does not work. I have changed the bulbs, didn’t help. Was cleaning, getting ready for road trip and noticed that one lamp had come on. Turned it for to see if it would come back on, no luck. May be a fuse, but not use where it would be. Can you help Please. Thanks

    • Curtis

      Joan, Because one lamp came on unexpectedly I tend to suspect that you might have the wrong bulbs in the lamps. If both lights have their own on off switch I would doubt that is where the problem is, but if they are both controlled by the same switch that is another possibility,. The fuse would be in the electrical panel which could located almost anywhere, Every manufacturer does it differently. You really need to determine if there is power at the lamp using a test light. I’m assuming the lamps are 12v models and use automotive light bulbs.

  • Zeb Vincen’t Cary

    Curtis I bought a 1985 27′ Allegro and have been working non stop on it . Today My wife and I found that where the dump valves attach to the tank are breaking off the tank . At first I thought it was just the connection then I noticed a crack going beyond the connection of the valves . The tank itself is cracked plus it has spray insulation everywhere . I need to tell you that i’am disabled 4 spinal surgeries and bad hips and carpul tunnel . I have M.R.S.A. so I have been putting off any surgeries . With that out of the way I gotta tell Ya I can still do some hard work for a few hours. I was thinking of cleaning all the insulation out of my way . Then mending the cracks with plastic epoxy . then going over that with fiber glass . Or paying a shop to it we are on a fixed income S.S.D. and my wifes S.S. . but we could pay a shop . I looked up some septic tanks they run about three hundred I don’t know if I should try doing that . Or the epoxy , or pay a shop . Can you give me some advise ? Oh I forgot I spent most of 2013 in the hospital and have a huge hernia repair 14″ X 16″ piece of mesh in my abdomen . But this really isn’t heavy work .Anyway sorry but what would Curtis do ?

    • Curtis

      Zeb, In your state of health, I think you will quickly get in over your head. The only repair you can count on is replacing the tank. Patch repairs don’t have much of a track record for lasting any length of time. I hope the over all condition of the RV warrants investing the funds needed to have a reliable shop do the work.

      • S C

        Hi my name is steven. I have recently bought a 1996 discovery with a cummins engine in the back of it.my problem is the ac wasn’t blowing very cold so I bought a can of 134a.i had the engine running and the air on but as I was putting it in I heard something shut of .when I went to check the ac was not blowing and the light on the switch was off ..so I assume I blew a fuse. But I can find the fuse box with a fuse that says ac or HVAC. If you could help that would be awesome.

  • Gordon Pickett

    I am getting ready to purchase a used 2006 Lance 1181 truck camper. There are two small cracks in the ceiling coming out of fantastic fan. Is th
    is something tone concerned about.

    • Curtis

      Gordon, from here I have no way of knowing. If there are no water stains in the area and it looks like only the interior panel is involved it is likely not a big deal but without seeing it I don’t really have a clue.

  • Gordon Pickett

    I am getting ready to purchase a 2006 Lance truck camper. There are two small cracks in the ceiling coming out of the fantastic fan area. Is this something to be concerned about. Thank you so much for your thoughts about this.

  • Dave in Texas

    Curtis, I have an issue related to this topic. 1983 Winnebago Minnie RG20, a leak has developed inside the wall at the city water port but it is behind the oven, so not easy to get at from the inside. When the port is under pressure from the pump OR city water pressure (with a regulator) a small but steady drip can be seen coming down the clear fill hose. As soon as water is shut off or the pump is shut off, the leak stops. If I pull the port off of the exterior of the unit, should I be able to assess the leak at the fitting at all? It is an original fitting from ’83, so will I still be able to find one with the same hole pattern, or is the leak more than likely the hose fitting behind the port?

    • Curtis

      Dave, Yes likely you can get at the leak by removing the city water hookup on the out side. Most likely you can find an exact replacement if needed too. Amazon carries a good selection, search on RV city water hookup.