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How To Keep Slide Outs Reliable, Free of Leaks

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Slide outs are a popular feature for good reason: They offer extra watertight interior space without hindering ease of travel.

But slide outs are not a feature that can be used and otherwise forgotten. Slide outs should get periodic maintenance, none of it particularly difficult or time-consuming. After all, you don’t want to get stuck at Crossing Creeks or any other camp because you can't retract your slider.

Here are maintenance steps to keep your slide out working smoothly, reliably and without leaks.

Seals Need Protectant

protectantDeteriorated seals can let water enter the interior. Interior water can cause rust, staining, and mildew, which in turn can cause odors and trigger allergies.

Keeping seals pliable and free of cracks keeps out water out — air, too, when driving. The key is preventing dry rot, which means preventing damage from ultra violet rays carried in sunlight.

Rubber seal conditioners are sold by RV dealers and camping suppliers, at home centers and online. They come in liquid form, sometimes with a built-in applicator, or as towelettes, which are used as applicants. The liquid, which can also be applied with a rag or sponge, is more economical.

Apply the conditioner/protectant by following directions on the container. It’s typically just sprayed or wiped on and allowed to dry. A frequently used slide out or one that is exposed continuously to sunlight should get a fresh application monthly.

Slide Out Mechanical Parts Need Lubricant

DryLubeThe moving mechanical parts of a slide out are no different than other automotive moving parts in that they require constant lubrication. A lubricant that is properly selected and correctly applied can do its job for up to a year.

A dry lubricant sprayed onto moving slide out parts forms a thin layer that does three things:

  • Allows operating parts to move without sticking
  • Blocks moisture, preventing rust
  • Discourages the buildup of dirt and road debris

Preventing dirt and grime is why dry lubricants are best for slide outs. Wet lubricants attract dirt and dust. Check your owner’s manual, however. If it says to use a wet lubricant, do so to keep your warranty intact, perhaps switching to dry after the warranty expires.

Don’t forget to lubricate your manual override. If power activation fails, and you can’t find the electrical malfunction, you’ll have to resort to muscle power. Activating with a ratchet and socket, or a supplied crank, takes work, so the smoother the manual system’s operation, the easier the task.

One Other Consideration: Battery Health

Slider rooms usually operate off power from a 12-volt battery bank. For that reason, check your bank for proper condition. Periodically, and before long trips, check:

  • Water level if batteries are not sealed, adding only distilled water if low
  • Cables for tight connections and cracks
  • Voltage, using a multimeter set on DC

Wear goggles, gloves and long sleeves when working on batteries. Slow-charge a battery that’s low and leave it unconnected, then check again after two or three days to see if it holds a charge. If not, have a pro test it and, if necessary, replace it. Replacing all batteries simultaneously is best unless the batteries are fairly new.

These steps should keep your slider working for a long time. 

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