What’s Your Expiry Date

I was looking at all the batteries I pulled out of Blue Streak when we winterised and it caused me to think (no, it didn’t hurt) about expiry dates. In all caravans there are item that “expire” and need to be replace as part of our general maintenance. The thing is some of these item need to be replaced annually (they have expired) while other item have “time in use limits”. Following is my list of things with “expiry dates” that need to be checked and scheduled for replacement as part of our trailer maintenance program.

Trailer Interior Expiry

Batteries

I am not talking about the 12 volt house batteries here (that doesn’t mean they don’t require maintenance). What I am focussed on in this blog post are the batteries in all the miscellaneous systems such as:

  • Smoke Detector – 9v which is usually found in the galley/main living area
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector – 9v which is usually found in the sleeping area
  • Dometic Furnace/AC Digital Thermostat – single AA
  • Indoor/outdoor Weather Station + Sender – 6xAAA
  • Moto Walkie-Talkies x2 – 4xAA
  • Radio + TV Remotes – CR2025/2xAAA
  • TST Tire Pressure Sensors – 4xCR1632

This is our list system batteries, your’s may differ. Never-the-less it is important to consider that these system batteries expire annually and need replacement.

Propane Leak Detector

While propane leak detectors specifically don’t have an expiry date.  I would suggest the wise course of action is to replace them every 7 or 8 years. Nothing lasts forever and this electronic device is very important. They’re usually mounted near the floor (because propane is a heavy gas) and are either white or black in colour with a “green” glowing led light when working. They are not difficult to replace.

Fire Extinguisher

This is usually found near the galley and/or exit door of your trailer. They are often small, 2lb – 10 second blasting, dry chemical units. The number one concern is to check the pressure regularly either by the gauge or the test button. Another concern is that in time the dry chemical will sink to the bottom and harden, defeating the fire fighting function. As far as I am concerned you really can’t fight a fire in 10 seconds. The dry chemical units also leave a messy white dust that goes everywhere (yuck!). They do have a date of manufacture on them and should be replace every 5 years. We have replaced ours with the “Element Fire Extinguisher” – it has a 50 second exhaust time, leaves no mess and never requires replacement or maintenance.

First Aid Kit

You do have a first aid kit – right? First of all I recommend a “Prepper Type” First Aid Kit because if you’re a Boondocker like we are, you should never underestimate the level of emergency you may experience in the middle of nowhere. In saying that, whether you buy it or make it, it will contain medications etc that will expire. So it is important to periodically go through it and replace the expired item.

Fresh Water Filters

There are two types mostly used by RV campers. 1) Built in filter system or 2) Disposable filters. Whichever you use they have a limited life span – usually expressed in “gallons of flow”. We use the simple Belvita RV Inline Water Filter which is commonly use by a majority of RV Campers. While it is unlikely you will max out the usable value of this type of disposable filter in a season, it is important that you consider it “expired” at season end. Use a new fresh filter next year – just saying!

Trailer Exterior Expiry

There are three items on the exterior of all trailers that have “expiry dates” – let’s look at them.

Tires

Tires are complicated, yep they are. This is because people seem to forget they exist (no I’m not kidding). Our first trailer was a small T@B which we owned just over 10 years (loved that little trailer). Since we only put about 2000 miles on it a year all I every did was check the air pressure (when I thought about it) and glanced at the tread (looks OK?). I never really gave much thought that tires have a time limit for safety. Consider what happens to a trailer tire (which are steel belted) when they fail at say 70 MPH? (Boom Shaka Laka Boom – my apologies to Sly and the Family Stone)  On our Airstream they would literally beat the inside of the wheel well to death, tearing out the liner and tearing up the aluminium skin, destroying water and LP lines etc. OH YEAH! thus causing $$$$$$$ of damage.

OK-OK expiry date – first let me say that we have a tandem set of wheels on Blue Streak, i.e., 4 tires. It is important to always buy tires in a set with the same manufacture date. Each tire is dated – there are 4 number on the tire which give the week and year it was manufactured. I highly recommend that you consider tires expired no later than 5 years after manufacture. Now, even before that we check the tires closely for damage, cracking and wear before each trip. We also use a Tire Pressure Monitoring System which monitors pressure and temperature, two critical factors for tire safety.  It may seem like a waste of money to replace perfect good looking tires every 5 year.  Yep, well, the cost of a blow-out is much more expensive (your choice, your risk).

Propane Tanks

We have two 30lb LP tanks that feed the Stove, Furnace, Hot Water and Refrigeration Systems on Blue Streak. These 30lb Tanks have an use time expiry date. If you examine the collar of your tank you will find the date of manufacture on the top ring of the collar and the certification limit on the bottom ring of the collar (usually 10 years in Canada). Once this limit of certification has been reached, the tanks will need to be recertified before they can be filled. It is also a good idea to visually examine the valve area for rust or compromise periodically. This will also be done by the technician each time you have the tanks filled.

We also carry 2 x 20lb LP tanks.  One is to run our outdoor kitchen and the other lives in the back of Red Dragon (our F-150) to run our Champion Generator. The same rules apply.

Break-away Switch

While the Break-away Switch specifically doesn’t have an expiry date on it.  I would suggest the wise course of action is to replace it every 5 years. This bit of electrical apparatus happens to initiate the electric brakes on the trailer if the trailer breaks away from the tow vehicle. So it’s rather important (understatement). Think about how this switch is exposed to the elements – you know: rain, mud, dust, snow. So besides testing it each season to make sure it works, think about replacing it as I suggested, every 5 years or so – it’s not a hard nor expensive job to do.

So, that’s my expiry date – what’s yours??? 😎

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