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Emergency Troubleshooting and On Camp Site RV Repairs

Updated on June 19, 2013
Randy Godwin profile image

Randy is a lifelong lover of the outdoors and especially camping. His articles are intended to help the RVer save money and time on repairs.


Camper Trailer Repairs While On Vacation

Nothing ruins a camping trip quicker than to have RV problems while on the way to, or at the campsite itself. Here you are, getting ready for a relaxing vacation with the family and suddenly the power goes out or the A/C fails to function properly.

This article is intended to help you save your vacation by using either temporary or permanent repairs while at the camping site. Although there may be some RV repairs which cannot be made on site, most can be dealt with for the time being with further repairs made when you return from your trip.

So don’t panic if your motorhome or travel trailer develops sudden problems on the trip. Read on for tips to save the vacation and spend the rest of the time relaxing and enjoying yourself instead of fretting over the repairs themselves.

Camper Emergency Electrical Repairs

1946 Spartan Travel Trailer
1946 Spartan Travel Trailer | Source
Schumacher SE-5212A 2/10/50 Amp Automatic Handheld Battery Charger
Schumacher SE-5212A 2/10/50 Amp Automatic Handheld Battery Charger

Great all around battery charger and emergency power converter substitute.


Emergency RV Power Converter Repair

Perhaps the most common RV problem one faces while on a camping trip has to do with the electrical system malfunctioning. An RV power converter is used to furnish electrical power--12 volts DC--to the lights, fridge, vent fans, and sometimes the thermostats of both heating and cooling systems. If the converter goes bad, it affects several much needed aspects of your camper.

A digital multimeter is an essential part of the on board emergency RV repair kit you should strongly consider assembling. If the multimeter indicates a lack of power from the converter then you have several options to consider. Buying and installing a new converter is one of the options, of course, but it may be possible to repair the old one when you return home. These items are not cheap or easily repaired.

This is one reason to always keep a good high amp battery charger on board your camping unit, not only for starting up the engine of the towing vehicle or motorhome, but to use in place of the power converter until repairs or replacement can be made. Add a good battery charger to your list of emergency RV repair items and you won’t be sorry you did.

The battery charge will work just fine in place of the power converter, at least well enough to power your RV while on this trip. Be sure to get one with enough amps to handle your RV’s electrical system as some campers require more power than others because of the different electrical items used on the trailer or motorhome. Simply connect it to the battery or batteries as you normally would and you are good to go.


RV Air Conditioner Emergency On Site Repair

Since the majority of camping units--whether they be motorhomes or travel trailers--are used during the summer months, it is of utmost importance they be kept in good working order. But as we all know, things don’t always work out the way we intend. Even a new RV AC can develop problems and a vacation is no time to have to sweat and worry about this particular item.

It is possible to do minor repairs while on the camp site, but there again, you waste precious time when you could be fishing or just resting. And while there are probably RV repair services close by, these tend to cost more than you might want to spare from your vacation fund. For minor repairs check out this RV AC repair article. But for more extensive repairs there are a couple of other options.

If the unit is indeed in bad shape, you might consider replacing it entirely. Using this guide, you can do the replacement in less than 2 hours and be back cool and calm. Another idea is to purchase a portable A/C unit to use until you get back home.

These unique little units are simple to use and only require a window or other outside vent to exhaust the hot air through using a small flexible duct pipe to keep your RV cool. These are also great to use at home or as an extra cooling device when camping in hotter climates out in the direct sunlight. Adding one of these portable AC units to your on board emergency RV supply kit is not a bad idea if you camp often or have a room at home without A/C.


Emergency On Site RV Or Motorhome Roof Repair

If your camping unit sits still for the majority of the year until camping season rolls around, the roof may not leak at all until it is moved to the campsite. Often the flexing of the roofing material, or even the roof coming in contact with tree limbs or other debris can cause a leak which won’t show up until the first rains strike the roof surface.

In this case there are several RV roof repair materials you can use to either temporarily or permanently stop the leak or leaks right on the campsite. I would suggest adding one of the different types of RV roof repair kits to the onboard emergency kit. Either stick on patches for holes you see, or brushed or rolled on rubber coatings for those you don’t are recommended to stop the leaks.

Even if the roof need replacing badly these roof repair kits should last until you can get bck home from the trip for more extensive repairs. Some types are listed on this page if you can’t find them nearby. You’ll be pleased you have then on hand at some point. For more precise info on RV roof repair, check out this article.

Cash Acme U008A Shark Bite Push-Fittings Straight Coupling, 1/2-Inch
Cash Acme U008A Shark Bite Push-Fittings Straight Coupling, 1/2-Inch

Available in many sizes. Great for Home and Camping!


Emergency RV Plumbing Repairs and Kits

It used to be a big problem to repair the plumbing in a camping unit, especially when not at home where repair supplies are easily found. But with today’s modern materials, it has become a simple matter to make quick and permanent repairs, or to simply add more fixtures to the present RV plumbing system if desired.

The new Shark Bite plumbing connectors have revolutionized RV plumbing and require only a few minutes to make repairs to any plumbing pipe material. Simply cut the leaky pipe at the bad spot and reconnect it by pushing both ends of the pipe into the Shark Bite connector of the correct size.

It is a simple matter of removing the connector too if you decide to do so. Simply press the release tab and the connector comes off. Be sure to order the correct sizes for the usually different size pipes which may leak on your camping unit. Add these to your on board emergency repair supplies for peace of mind and perhaps for saving quite a pretty penny in repairman costs. You’ll love these wonderful little plumbing connectors for home repairs as well.


Prepare For The Worst And Rest Easy

I hope these RV repair tips and products will help you to fully enjoy your trip as well as, give you peace of mind even if the vacation goes off without a hitch. But as we all know, there are always emergencies to face with a travel trailer or motorhome, just as in your real home.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about these procedures and be sure to check out my other complete repair articles which goes into greater detail with many of the RV repair problems you may encounter. Live long and camp as often as you can!


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    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      18 months ago from Southern Georgia

      Pete, if you have the propane cut off, then there's no danger leaving the fuse out until you find the problem. You'll need to find out what the alarm indicates from the factory or the handbook if you have one. I can't advise you from a distance, especially when there's a danger when working on gas furnaces.


    • profile image

      Pete Daily 

      18 months ago

      We had an alarm go off which was extremely loud. To shut it off,we had to pull a 15 amp fuse in the Utility, Converter circuit. With the fuse out, everything except the furnace works. Any idea about how to fix and whether there are risks in delaying would be appreciated. The trailer's a 2005 Jayfeather.

    • profile image

      Andre Letourneai 

      19 months ago

      Very usefull reading. As I have trouble with my unit, I will try to repair myself.


    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Correct Will. If you could see the sign mounted on the side of the Spartan it still says "Spartan Aircraft Mfg. Co." I suppose there was an abundance of out of work aircraft sheet metal workers at the end of WWII.


    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      According to an article I read, after World War Two, trailer factories like Airstream hired laid off aircraft sheet metal experts to build their trailers, and others, like Spartan converted to building trailers, since there was a shortage of housing.

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks Will! Not sure about the yellow trailer, but get a load of the '46 Spartan travel trailer. It uses part of the fuselage from a B-24 bomber, made by the Spartan Aircraft Mfg. Co., as the body of the camper. This one was rescued from the woods with no bullet holes in it at all and rebuilt to its present state. Thanks for the visit.


    • WillStarr profile image


      7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great article, Randy!

      (Is that yellow trailer a Boles Arrow?)

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks, Marcy! I do try to help the many camping aficionados in our wonderfully scenic country. And thee hubs of mine seem to do just that, more than I ever expected.

      And I'll miss talking to the many friends I've made here over the years too. But there's some things I cannot abide and the unethical treatment of SOME of us members is simply unacceptable to me. I've enjoyed conversing with you and appreciate your input always.


    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      7 years ago from Planet Earth

      Great guide to repairing RVs on the go. I love traveling via RVs, but I know they can have leaks a d things can break. A friend had a leak or crack or something & didn't realize it, and a hive of bees gained entry and nested in it. As you can imagine, the damage was extensive.

      Thanks for the very interesting hub - I'm missing our favorite snake on the forums, BTW.

    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Hi, tirelesstraveler. Yes, I found out the hard way to assemble an RV kit when camping season rolls around. It's almost like having a second home--and in some cases it indeed is--with minor repairs needed even if the RV is new.

      One soon assembles the most needed tools and parts when they've camped a few times, especially if they travel to isolated areas. But fortunately for most of us, there seems to always be someone at the camping area who's well prepared because they themselves have been through the same problems.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your much appreciated input on this hub.


    • Randy Godwin profile imageAUTHOR

      Randy Godwin 

      7 years ago from Southern Georgia

      Thanks for checking out this hub, Dusty! Boy, those old Airstreams are worth a lot of bucks now in this area. I've been on the lookout for a Bambi to remodel and write more hubs about the rebuild, but they are few and far between.

      No, you probably don't need an AC for the fall and winter hunting season, but I;ll bet a heater would come in handy occasionally.

      I always like to hear about your exploits building your "bunker" and I'm envious of your freedom too! Thanks for relating your travails and triumphs to me. And for your visits which are always interesting.


    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 

      7 years ago from California

      Very nice and useful hub. We had an old trailer for many years and my husband was a genius at fixing it. Last year when we had our new traveler out, we had a problem and no tools. The guy next to us did. There must be a lesson here. Always carry cotter pins and zip ties.

    • 50 Caliber profile image

      50 Caliber 

      7 years ago from Arizona

      Randy a great extensive article on the trailers. I sold out after living in one while saving and building this place. I stayed in public campsites for max days allowed then moved to another and just rotated while saving money and selling out in California. Then lived in my old Airstream until I got my bunker set with a sealed space from water and the elements. In hindsight I think a smaller bunker with a big shower area and laundry for the living area, I should have backed the trailer in and just lived in it for computing and sleeping and remodeled it to my needs inside then built my food processing area and other needs outside of the trailer in the expanse of the bunker.

      I now tow an Australian built 4x4 trailer that is a canvas area when opened with a queen size bed and slide out kitchen unit into a screened area with roll down storm walls. Pretty much a fold out house that includes a garage or 3 walled room for whatever you like. I've been thinking about the portable A/C for summer trips but most of my trips are fall and winter hunting so I'm still debating it, to cool the bunk area only for sleeping.

      Thanks for the good links,




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