A Great Camping Adventure Starts With a Level Rig!
Leveling your RV is not just a recommendation. It’s a requirement. Proper leveling will extend the lifespan of your RV, increase your comfort and safety, and protect against additional repair costs. In addition, your appliances need to be level, especially your refrigerator, to operate properly.
During the leveling stage of setting up your RV, it’s great to have a co-pilot to guide you onto the center of your blocks. Sure, some modern campgrounds offer level lots, but you are equally likely to need to level your rig wherever it’s parked. Unfortunately, most travel trailers and smaller lightweight RVs don’t come with hydraulic leveling jacks. Therefore it is totally up to you to get your rig manually leveled. Now is when you need some RV levelers. Great, but what type of camper levelers should you use?
In this guide, we detail why you should level your rig, and we will go over the different types of camper levelers and accessories that will make it easy for you.
Don’t be intimidated by this process! You will get your campsite set up quickly and safely and be relaxing with fireside tales and s’mores in no time.
Why Is Leveling Your RV So Important?
So, is an unlevel RV really that big of a deal? You bet it is! There are several reasons why it’s vital to get the best RV leveling equipment you can. Here are the most important ones:
1. To Minimize Structural Stress
When your RV is not level, it can cause additional stress to door frames, cupboards, floors, plumbing, and even the chassis. Doors can fly open by themselves, and you may even have to catch some stuff falling out of your refrigerator or cupboards when attempting to open them.
By having a level RV, you ensure that your doors and cabinets open and close correctly and everything stays neatly in place. Plus, it will allow the water in your pipes to flow unimpeded, and protect the frame from the weight of your rig.
2. To Maintain Appliance Safety
An electric or propane refrigerator is most common in RVs. This type of appliance must be level to function correctly. RV fridges are prone to issues when not level because the ammonia/water solution does not flow properly, accumulating in low system points—interfering with the boiling/condensing and causing the fridge to overheat.
Appliance mishaps are most likely to occur when RVs are stationary and unlevel since RV fridges are designed for use while in motion, where the jostling of the road keeps fluid from pooling in transport.
3. For Accurate Holding Tank Readings
If your RV is unlevel, then your tank sensors will read incorrectly. Depending on the slope, the sensors may read as more full or empty than they actually are. Even drainage is affected by not allowing your tanks to empty.
It’s no fun when you think you’ve fully dumped your blackwater tank only to find fluid waste still in there. You do not want that surprise sloshing around till your next trip!
4. To Protect the Structural Integrity of Slide Outs
Slide-outs should be opened and closed only while the RV is level. Continued extension or retraction of your slide-outs while your RV is not level will create additional wear and tear and cost you a bundle in future repairs.
Additionally, when your slide-outs are open on an unlevel surface for a prolonged time, the weight is not evenly distributed, and stress points are not in the proper locations.
5. To Ensure Your Comfort
One of the foremost reasons to level your RV is for the comfort of you and your traveling companions. An RV that’s unlevel can throw off your equilibrium, giving a feeling of uneasiness. Plus, it can be unsafe and lead to unfortunate falls or other injuries. A level rig prevents people from losing their balance while moving about inside the RV.
Another major complaint from campers is how hard it can be to sleep in an unlevel RV. Depending on which end is higher or lower, sleeping at an incline is never comfortable; even worse is a decline position (or even sideways). Poor sleep is the last thing you want on your camping trip! Not to mention how frustrating it is when items roll or slip off your tables and countertops.
Steps to Level and Stabilize Your RV or Camper
Now that you know why you should always level your Rv or camper, let’s talk about getting it done. Next, we will cover each step you will need to know to level and stabilize your RV like a pro.
For clarification, stabilizing your RV and leveling it are two different but essential processes, and we will cover both of them.
Tools You Will Need:
- Bubble level
- Wheel chock
- Screw gun
- Leveling blocks
- Tri-Leveling Blocks
If you are installing a bubble level on the outside of your camper or RV, Make sure you are on level ground. In addition to the bubble level, you can also use a carpenter’s level. Lay it on the kitchen floor to cross-check with the bubble level.
Find your campsite, park your RV, (remembering to allow extra space for any slide-outs) and make sure you can access your sewer, water, and electric hookups.
Use the bubble level to determine which axis of your RV is not level. For example, is it front to back? Side to side? Both? Often, both the front to back and side to side will require leveling.
The type of camper you have will determine which axis to level first.
For example, if you have a fifth wheel trailer or a camper, you will want to balance it from side to side first. If your RV is drivable such as a Class A or a Class C motorhome, then you would level it from side to side and back to front at the same time.
Whatever the size of your RV, you will use your axles to get level from side to side. You can accomplish this by moving your RV forward or back and adding blocks under your wheels if needed.
Pull into the site and check your side to side level. If you are not level, you can adjust by moving the trailer forward or backward in the site. Different areas of a site typically have other slope conditions, and a foot back or ahead could be the difference to get you level.
If moving forward or backward does not work, you can place levelers under the lower side tires and drive upon them.
Place a wheel chock under each wheel will prevent the trailer from rolling forward. Once you are secure and level from side to side, it’s time to unhitch and tackle leveling front to back.
Now that your travel trailer is in place, you can check the front-back level measurements. Instead of rolling your RV onto blocks, this time, you’ll adjust the A-frame or fifth-wheel landing jacks down onto the blocks for balance.
Once that’s complete, it’s time to lower your stabilizers and check to be sure they have even pressure
The final step in stabilizing your RV is to create a rigid contact point between the ground and the frame of your RV. Many RVs come with built-in stabilization devices such as stabilization jacks and scissor jacks. Some of these jacks are automatic. However, if they are manual, you will need to either hand crank or use a drill adapter.
Troubleshooting Common Stabilization Problems
- A common problem often encountered is that sometimes the stabilization jacks will not reach the ground. If this occurs, place leveling blocks underneath the jack, and you should be good to go.
- If you’re stabilizing your RV on soft ground such as sand, grass, or mud, sinking can be a problem. You will need to use stabilizer pads to prevent this from happening. Two pads stacked on top of each other works well, especially when dealing with sand or mud.
- Some RVs will not come with stabilization jacks, but there are some alternatives you may use, such as stack jacks, scissor jacks, or telescoping jacks.
- Finally, if you’re leveling a fifth wheel, using a king pin stabilizer jack will provide the best stability.
Learning to set up your RV doesn’t have to be a dreaded experience, but practice makes perfect! Being prepared with the above knowledge will make your journey less stressful, and a properly leveled RV is an excellent start to your next camping trip.
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