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The Most Dangerous Systems in Your RV

While RVing adventures can be full of fun and excitement, they can also be extremely dangerous – even your RV’s systems.

If you don’t know what you’re doing or fail to maintain your equipment, you could put yourself and your loved ones in a risky situation. Educating yourself about your RV can help keep you safe.

Today, we’ll walk through a few of the most dangerous systems in your RV and how you can stay safe while using them.

Let’s get started!

What Are the Most Common Problems With RVs?

You don’t have to own an RV long before you discover that things can and do go wrong with them. Some of the most common problems that RVers experience are leaks from failed exterior seals, poor plumbing connections, and appliance malfunctions. However, it’s not uncommon for RVers to also experience flat tires, slide component failures, and issues with auto-leveling systems.

The key to preventing these issues from derailing your RV travels is to prepare for them by educating yourself. Not only do you need to keep a close eye on your rig, but you need to know how to handle problems when they appear. It’s not a bad idea to carry some spare parts and tools to quickly fix the problem and get back to enjoying your RV.

One of the most common issues in an RV is failure to understand and use all the systems properly. This can lead to vehicle damage, injury to you or your family, or even death. We’ll talk more about the more dangerous RV systems in a bit. First, let’s look at some important hidden hazards.

Do All RVs Have Formaldehyde?

There’s not much better than that new car smell when shopping for a new vehicle. However, many shoppers failed to realize at one point that the “new RV smell” their nose detected was actually formaldehyde. Manufacturers used the product as a bonding agent and adhesive to use lighter and cheaper materials during construction.

Luckily, many modern manufacturers have ceased using materials that include formaldehyde. Some manufacturers, like Airstream, Oliver Travel Trailers, and Lance, certify that their models do not contain any formaldehyde. If you’re cruising around in an older RV, there’s a high probability that formaldehyde was used during its construction.

How Does Carbon Monoxide Get Into an RV?

Carbon monoxide is a very harmful gas that’s odorless and colorless. Because many RVs come equipped with propane systems for cooking, heating, and refrigeration, there’s a chance it could leak into the rig.

Another common way that carbon monoxide gets into an RV is through the use of portable generators. The exhaust from generators must get vented away from the rig. If an RVer runs their generator throughout the night, it could cause a hazardous and potentially deadly situation.

This is why you must ensure your RV has at least one carbon monoxide detector and that it’s working. If you’re buying a new RV, it’s likely to come with a carbon monoxide detector. However, it’s up to the owner to check it regularly to ensure it’s working correctly. Like smoke detectors, they’re next to useless if they do not have power.

Couple sitting together in RV
RVing can be dangerous if you don’t know how to properly use and maintain various systems in it.

The Most Dangerous Systems in Your RV

As we’ve mentioned, you want to familiarize yourself with the dangerous systems in your RV. Taking the time to arm yourself with a working knowledge of these systems can help you quickly identify any issues that may arise during your adventures. Let’s look at a few of the most dangerous systems in your RV so you can prepare yourself.

Your RV Propane System

We mentioned that the propane systems RVs use for cooking, heating, and refrigeration have the potential to leak carbon monoxide into your RV. However, an additional danger of a propane system is the risk of an explosion. Propane is a highly flammable gas. Even a tiny spark near a leak in the system can quickly cause a dangerous and deadly situation.

Portable propane griddles, like Blackstones, have become incredibly trendy in the RVing community. Mishandling propane while trying to ignite propane-fueled appliances can be extremely dangerous. You can create a very serious and destructive situation in the blink of an eye.

Like Carbon Monoxide, propane is an odorless gas in its original state. As a result, gas companies add mercaptan to it, which creates a very potent rotten egg smell. You should shut off your propane, open your windows, and immediately call a professional to inspect your RV and its propane system.

Pro Tip: Avoid a propane explosion by uncovering Should You Leave Your RV Propane Tanks Open 24/7?

Your RV Freshwater System

While you may be putting clean, potable water in your fresh water tank, what comes out of the faucet could be dangerous. Depending on how often you use your RV, you need to sanitize your freshwater lines every three to six months. 

Failure to properly sanitize your water lines can lead to bacteria growing in your fresh water tank and the various lines that deliver water throughout your RV. You could be ingesting bacteria and other harmful substances every time you drink water, brush your teeth, or get water in your mouth while showering. 

Pro Tip: Ensure you always have safe to use water in your fresh water system by using our guide on How to Clean Your RV Fresh Water Tank.

Your RV Leveling System

Many RVers quickly fall in love with the auto-leveling systems on their RVs. In many situations, these systems can make it incredibly easy to get an RV as level as possible. This makes staying comfortable when inside the rig easier and allows for the safe operation of slides and the RV’s propane system. However, these systems can be incredibly dangerous when used incorrectly or ignorantly.

Before using these systems, you want to get your RV as level as possible. You also want to ensure your wheels remain chocked and on the ground. You can’t simply push a button, sit back, and let the RV do all the work in every situation. Sometimes you need to make a few adjustments during the process to help it safely level your RV.

Misusing a leveling system can cause damage to the frame on your RV and cause your RV to shift and bend the leveling and stabilizer jacks. Depending on when the RV shifts, you or a loved one could be severely injured.

Having an appendage pinned under a jack with thousands of pounds of weight from your RV is not how you want to start or end your RVing adventures. Keep your hands, feet, and other body parts away from the jacks leveling your RV.

How Do You Stay Safe in an RV?

While there are some dangerous systems in your RV, you can safely enjoy your rig. However, you should take the time to get to know your RV and its systems. Arming yourself with knowledge can help you understand how to respond to a problem and avoid potentially dangerous situations.

You should always take safety seriously. But realize that removing every potentially hazardous life situation is simply impossible. So prepare appropriately, get out there, and enjoy the great outdoors in an RV!

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